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Here, There & Everywhere - Geoff Emerick's Life Recording The Beatles
Jan 14, 2007 (Updated Jan 14, 2007)
by Michael Scapp
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:An honest and different take on The Beatles' life in the studio
Cons:Possibly just for Beatles fans.
The Bottom Line: The best insight to The Beatles and the making of their music that I have ever read.
I love The Beatles and the music they had made. Not only that, but The Beatles also have great stories behind their music, and their private lives as well. I have read about a dozen or so books on the lives of The Beatles as a group and individuals, and never had I felt that I had such a front seat to The Beatles as presented by Geoff Emerick in his recollections with Here, There & Everywhere. As Paul Schaffer's quote on the back of the book reads, "...the cat was there."
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Written in the stars
The history of the Beatles is one we can look back on and point to where all the places and happenings where the stars aligned and fate lent a hand to produce the greatest rock band that ever was. We see how certain people have come into their lives and others had left and the outcome of all these elements of fate. There are ex-band members like Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best, who had they remained within the Beatles, and it would have been a very different history. The manager that discovered them, Brian Epstein who groomed them and taught them how to be stars. Their producer George Martin was the perfect choice to help shape and better their music with the perfect arrangement or accent. Well, it just so happens that Geoff Emerick seems to have been destined to become the Beatles sound engineer eventually as well.
Geoff starts the book with a brief recollection of his initial gig as The Beatles sound engineer with the creation of their album Revolver. He then swiftly goes into a chapter or two of his adolescence and how he became engulfed with the inspiration of not making music, but the actual recording of music from a very young age. When he was in high school and almost graduating he made the mandatory trip to the guidance counselors office and told him that he wanted to work in a recording studio and make records for artists. His guidance counselor tried talking him out of it because it was not so "proper" a career and mostly because he didn't know how he could help Geoff with that decision. His guidance counselor told Geoff that he would see what he could do, as he did happen to know someone who worked at EMI studios. Geoff also had written letters to some of the recording studios in London in hopes to gain employment. A few months later, his guidance counselor gave a phone call to Geoff, and told him he was able to obtain him an interview at EMI due to the actuality that someone had been let go only just recently. Geoff was hired at the ripe age of fifteen years old after a bizarre interview and began work the next day. We see fate step in for the reason that the very next day after Geoff's first day, The Beatles came in to their very first session.
Emerick started off as assistant sound engineer, and actually had done the majority of the jobs that goes along with recording music with the exception of Producer. He met a number of famous people and a highlight was sitting down with Judy Garland. Of course most of the story focuses on his interaction with The Beatles.
Promotions and New Techniques
In 1966 when Norman Smith, the sound engineer who worked with The Beatles since day one, found work elsewhere - George Martin had the higher ups at EMI promote Geoff to engineer. When Geoff was finally at the helm, he was just eighteen years old and jumped right in to trying different approaches to recording.
EMI had laws within its walls about everything, including recording. You had to place certain microphones at a certain distance of particular instruments. If you broke these laws, it could result in job termination. Geoff figured he had a bit of leeway since he was working with the biggest band and pretty much had broken every regulation EMI had in place. He right away changed Ringo's drum sound by miking them closer and stuffing the bass drum with an old blanket. It was also very important to Geoff to get Paul's bass to sound deeper and more to the fore. If you listen to their albums pre-Revolver you can notice an immense improvement in the sound of all the instruments.
Working with the Beatles
Geoff always had a great time with The Beatles, especially Paul who was most forward and affable to Geoff. There were countless late nights, like on the recording of the Pepper album when it was virtually just Geoff and Paul. Paul loved the way Geoff was recording his bass sound, and would now stay after the other three went home and stick his bass line on last. Paul figured he could shape the best and most melodic bass lines if he recorded them after everything else.
Geoff also states that he was constantly a bit weary of John Lennons mood swings. Geoff has seen Lennon speak his mind and not suppress anything, and result in a very bad atmosphere in the studio. Lennon was very moody, and especially when the drugs he was using turned to heroin. George Harrison always kept to himself, yet complained a lot, most likely due to the fact that Lennon and McCartney did not have the forbearance to spend too much time on Harrison's songs. Ringo was also quiet as a rule most of the time, and he always seemed to be feeling down. Well, this is how Geoff Emerick read The Beatles anyway.
During 1968 during the making of The White Album, Ringo quit for a couple of days, George Harrison quit as well, and toward the end, even Geoff Emerick had enough and walked out. This year was the commencement of major Beatle hell according to Emerick. The Beatles had turned into prima donnas and would demand unnecessary labor on everybody. It wasn't fun anymore. First, there would be all night recording sessions that would often end at dawn, because John Lennon wanted to do his song Revolution over and over and over again. Soon, Paul reciprocated when it was time to work on his song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, which lasted for about two weeks from 2pm to about 5am. He never seemed satisfied and had The Beatles perform the song countless times. Then there was Yoko Ono, Lennon's lover, she was also there offering unwelcome suggestions to everybody into a microphone which Lennon demanded she have, "Beatles do this song again" or "Beatles will add more guitar".
The thing that got mostly under Geoff's skin was John Lennons new friend Alexis Mardas, also known as "Magic Alex". "Magic Alex" was given free reign of the control booth and wandered where ever he wanted, he would look under the console and announce that EMI's equipment was crap and he could of course build something spectacular - and John Lennon would eat it up, while everybody else saw right through the 'magic'. After Geoff walked out on the sessions, he would not work with The Beatles until the Summer of 1969 when they laid down the tracks for the Abbey Road album.
After the break up
Geoff was lured away from EMI by Paul McCartney to work at Apple, to build a studio and be the sound engineer. "Magic Alex" was there, but had wasted a lot of money and time building a studio that didn't work, so Geoff came in and built a real class studio. He worked with Ringo Starr on his first solo album, Sentimental Journey and other Apple acts like Badfinger. Unfortunately, after the year it took to build the studio, Ringo was smitten with the idea of building a studio that recorded solely film scores. This was to be built on top of the beautiful Apple studio that Geoff Emerick built. In order to comply with a whim of one the Beatles, Geoff's studio was torn out in order to fit Ringo's studio, which ultimately never was built anyway. Geoff found work with George Martin again at AIR studios and was very happy there.
He also worked with Paul McCartney over the years on a few of his solo albums, he only goes into detail with the recording of Band on the Run, which also won Geoff his second Grammy, (his first was for best sound for Sgt Pepper in 1967).
Although, the book was mostly about The Beatles, on the few pages he reserved for his life told a lot. His childhood especially was covered, and his adult life outside of recording was touched upon. He mentioned that his wife Mary, whom he met through Chrysalis Records died after a battle with cancer shortly before Paul's wife Linda died from cancer.
Now, I didn't get the impression that Geoff Emerick was tooting his own horn at all. Yet at the same time, from his mind and imagination had come recording techniques that have become the norm for even today. He also hinted that George Martin always tried to glean all of the glory as the man behind the magic of Beatles music. Even going to extremes as clearing the control room whenever press came about so as not to chance any piece of credit not all go to himself.
Geoff Emerick certainly makes his claim as a major force behind many of the Beatles recordings. He did this much in the same way Paul McCartney had done with the biography Many Years From Now written by Barry Miles, where Paul tells the reader that he was the major songwriting force on many Beatle songs that he had received no credit whatsoever. These two books are not about boasting at all, but it's really a matter of setting the record straight.
Unfortunately there are no pictures in the usual center of the book. That would have made for a great bonus to see some photos of Geoff Emerick in the control booth, or even some of the old usual pics we have seen already of The Beatles recording in the studio. There is a picture of Ringo Starr presenting Geoff Emerick with the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording, Non Classical for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band in a small mock celebration that they staged at EMI for some photo ops.
Like I've stated in the beginning of this review, I've read many Beatle biographies, and Geoff's style almost comes across as an expose to the tantrums, the pettiness and the squabbles, and at the same time, the love the camaraderie and professionalism of the band and all from a view only shared with perhaps a handful of people in the world. The question is would Geoff Emerick have been as famous as he is, and in demand as he was had it not been for The Beatles? Most certainly not, yet after reading this book - Would The Beatles have been as acclaimed, and fresh sounding even forty years later if Geoff had not been there to realize their imaginations and bring them to fruition? Yeah, that's a good question.
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦More Beatles-related Epinions from Scapp70♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
Please Please Me
A Hard Day's Night
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The White Album
Real Love (CD Single)
Free As A Bird (CD Single)
Tropical Tribute to the Beatles
Bach On Abbey Road
Red Rose Speedway
Band on the Run
Band on the Run - 25 Year Anniversary Edition
Venus and Mars
Wings at the Speed of Sound
Should Paul McCartney Go Back On Drugs?
The Walrus Was Paul
Top 20 Favorite SOLO Beatles Songs W/O
Blast From The Past
Plastic Ono Band
All Things Must Pass
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