Review by Joshua Lapin Bertone
If someone wanted to learn how the Beatles recorded “Strawberry Fields Forever”, it wouldn’t take them long to find out. There are tons of books out there which detail every step of the song’s birth from John’s composition of it to the even...tual recording of it at EMI Studios. Beatle scholars have no difficulty finding out every tidbit about the recording sessions. Unfortunately, one wouldn’t have the same luck if they wanted to learn about how Wings “Little Lamb Dragonfly” was recorded. There are limited resources out there for those who wish to learn about recordings sessions the Fab Four did after they split up.
Luca Perasi saw the void and filled it. His book “Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013)” covers just what its title implies. The book begins with the secret 1969 recordings for the “McCartney” album and ends with entries on “New”. While the “Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium” covers similar ground, that book is almost fifteen years old and new information is always coming to life. “Recording Sessions” even corrects some material which was incorrect in “Eight Arms”.
Each song gets its own entry. The entry details where and when the song was recorded, who played what instruments on it and other miscellaneous details. Luca interviewed many musicians, engineers and other industry professionals to get the story straight. In doing so he’s brought never before heard stories onto these pages. He even had Monique Seiwell (wife of Wings first drummer Denny Seiwell) consult her diary to get some recording dates and locations correctly. That’s what I call following up on leads! Tony Clark, an engineer whose name should be familiar to McCartney fans, also helped consult on the book and gives a great introduction.
This isn’t a complete look at Paul’s recording career. In order to make the book’s mission statement more obtainable, only McCartney penned compositions are covered. This means that non-McCartney written songs such as Wings “Medicine Jar” (written by Jimmy McCulloch) and various cover songs aren’t represented. While their absence is notable, the wealth of information on the rest of the catalogue is more than enough to make up for it. When you’re being served a five course meal, you don’t complain that there isn’t enough bread. I’ve seen some reviews bemoan the book’s lack of pictures, but I didn’t read the book for photos. I wanted a book that would tell me the story of Paul’s post Beatle recording career, and this more than delivered.
I consider myself a McCartney scholar, and I’ve read many books on his recording career. There were many times in this book that I found myself learning new pieces of information. There were some surprises and lots of interesting stories. I was very impressed with the amount of research Luca took in putting this together. This book is a must have for any Paul McCartney fans and belongs on the shelf right next to Madinger and Easter’s “Eight Arms To Hold You” and Lewisohn’s “Complete Beatles Recording Sessions”.