GET BACK by Doug Sulpy


The Unauthorized Chronicle of the Beatles' Let It Be Disaster
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 In a rather extreme act of completist devotion, two Beatlemaniacs describe in bleak detail the woeful January 1969 recording sessions that were more selectively documented in the film Let It Be. The film presented the Beatles as bored, bickering, and bitter pop veterans whose creative energy had nose-dived in the year and a half since their Sgt. Pepper album; Sulpy and Schweighardt corroborate that impression in their moment-by-moment descriptions of the (bootleg) audiotapes of the sessions. They list every song performed, no matter how fragmentarily, and give fairly bloodless paraphrases of all the chatter picked up by the microphones. Besides endless repetitions of the mostly third-rate material that wound up on the Let It Be album and several other songs they would record a few months later for Abbey Road, the Beatles famously recorded a slew of rock-'n'-roll oldies, sometimes as warm-ups but more often as attempts to inject some fun into the grim proceedings. The documentary film of the rehearsals was supposed to serve as the introduction to a televised live concert, but the band's indifference and indecision reduced the concert plan to a handful of songs performed on the rooftop of Apple Records' London headquarters. George Harrison, frequently rebuffed or condescended to by John Lennon when he tried to introduce new songs, quit the band for a few days; the zoned-out Lennon allowed Yoko Ono to serve as his voice in band decisions; Ringo Starr scarcely spoke; only Paul McCartney seemed to care what songs the band should even bother finishing. But the only news here is confirmation that most of the oldies the band ``performed'' amounted to muddled, abbreviated japes, not full-out covers. The actual tapes would evidently make pretty dour listening; this description of them lacks even the personality that would be the tapes' only selling point. For diehards only.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15534-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997