Beatles fans have long accepted the standard story that the band’s agony in 1969-70 was a dark affair, as evidenced by the bickering and boredom of recording sessions documented in the movie “Let It Be”. and the “cardboard epitaph” (as one reviewer called it) of the resulting final album, shelved for months before being controversial by “mad genius” Phil Spector. A major new officially sanctioned film project and glossy book will deliver a revisionist vision that straightens out those tense days.

As legend has it, the 21 days spent recording, first at the Twickenham movie studios and then at their brand new Apple studios in January 1969 were a dark time for a collapsing band, but, as l ‘writes novelist Hanif Kureishi in his introduction to the new book’ The Beatles: Get Back ‘:’ It was actually a productive time for them, when they created some of their best work. And it is here that we have the privilege of witnessing their first drafts, the errors, the drifts and digressions, the boredom, the excitement, the joyous scrambling and the sudden breakthroughs that led to the work that we know. and now admire.

The book and films invite us to travel to this January, the start of the Beatles’ last real year as a band. The double album “The Beatles” (forever affectionately nicknamed “The White Album”), released on November 22, 1968, was still number one in the charts. It had also been recorded under some tension, but the Liverpool quartet, the biggest group in the world, had now regrouped in London for a new project, initially titled “Get Back”.

The point was, plain and simple, that the Beatles had signed a contract in 1963 to make three films for United Artists, and only “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” had been delivered. The group had hoped that “Yellow Submarine” would complete the engagement, but the full cartoon was not accepted as such. Thus, the “prison release card” from a documentary to show the group rehearsing and recording.

The idea behind the album was to capture the band “live in the studio” without overdubs or effects; “Come back”, in other words, and that was originally the title of the album, before it became “Let It Be”. But here are the problems, as history sees it: The Fab Four weren’t so fabulous together anymore and they didn’t like getting up early every day to create music in a very cold and sterile movie studio surrounded by cameramen and other technicians.

Playing on the Apple Roof – Photo by Ethan A. Russell / © Apple Corps Ltd.

In addition, John Lennon now had Yoko Ono on his heels, and his ubiquitous presence severely broke the Beatles ‘no ladies’ rule for recording sessions, as did Paul McCartney’s Linda Eastman, with her camera.

In a particularly revealing scene from the movie “Let It Be”, McCartney and George Harrison had a tiff. Harrison found the whole experience unbearable and left abruptly on January 10, not returning until 12 days later after his band mates agreed to his request to immediately drop the austere atmosphere of Twickenham in favor of the under- studio. state-of-the-art flooring at their Apple Corps headquarters, 3 Savile Row, London.

“The Beatles: Get Back”, released October 12, 2021, is the first official independent book by The Beatles themselves since their story “The Beatles Anthology” in 2000, which was accompanied by three-volume double albums when they were released. eventually opened their studio archives.

The new 240-page hardcover tells the story of the creation of their 1970 album, “Let It Be” through candid, transcribed conversations drawn from over 120 recorded hours of studio sessions. These were edited by musical writer John Harris, one of whose books, “The Dark Side of the Moon, The Making of the Pink Floyd Masterpiece”, is on the shelves of the Budapest Times.

Photo by Linda McCartney / © Paul McCartney

“The Beatles: Get Back” contains hundreds of previously unseen photographs, the majority of which are taken by two people who had privileged access to their sessions – Ethan A. Russell, an American photographer trusted by John and Yoko, and Eastman, another American. , who was to marry McCartney on March 12, 1969.

The book also includes a preface written by New Zealand Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, perhaps best known for his film. adaptations of JRR Tolkien‘s “The Lord of the Rings and “The Hobbit “. Its three The feature-length documentaries, also titled “The Beatles: Get Back”, will premiere on Disney + on November 25, 26 and 27, 2021.

Jackson’s Films re-examine the sessions using over 55 hours of original 16-millimeter footage filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director of “Let It Be,” and now restored.

As is known, the three weeks of recording culminated with the last historic “rooftop concert” which took place atop their own Apple Corps office building, stopping off central London.

The recording sessions that generated the album and the movie “Let It Be”, both finally released in May 1970, represent the only time in The Beatles’ careers that they have been filmed for so long while they were. in the studio creating music.

When it was all over, the disillusioned and disinterested group left the “Get Back / Let It Be” audio tapes on the shelf. In a last burst of energy, they recorded a final album, “Abbey Road”, intermittently in February-August 1969. It was released in September 1969.

The paused “Get Back” tapes were then handed over to Phil “Wall of Sound” Spector for some salvage work, and he bowled McCartney in particular by adding strings and vocals to what was originally intended as a back to basics project. “The Long and Winding Road”, for example, received a new musical arrangement with orchestra and choir.

(In 2003, McCartney pushed the album “Let It Be … Naked”, his revisionist version of the album minus the offending overdubs, although he tinkered with himself. The late George Harrison and John Lennon did were no longer there to object. Ringo Starr, we suspect, was easily persuaded by bossy McCartney to accept the idea.)

All in all, the short-lived “Get Back” saga ended a spectacular career which, half a century later, still sees The Beatles considered the greatest band / band to ever walk the planet. The films and the book “The Beatles: Get Back” aim to bring the story to a much happier ending.

See YouTube for a preview of Jackson’s “Get Back” movies


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