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Summary

In Solid State, Kenneth Womack offers the most definitive account of the conception, recording, mixing, and reception of Abbey Road

In February 1969, the Beatles began working on what became their final album together. Abbey Road introduced a number of new techniques and technologies to the Beatles' sound and included "Come Together", "Something", and "Here Comes the Sun", which all emerged as classics. 

Womack's colorful retelling of how this landmark album was written and recorded is a treat for fans of the Beatles. Solid State takes listeners back to 1969 and into EMI's Abbey Road Studios, which boasted an advanced solid state transistor mixing desk. Womack focuses on the dynamics between John, Paul, George, and Ringo and producer George Martin and his team of engineers, who for the most part set aside the tensions and conflicts that had arisen on previous albums to create a work with an innovative (and among some fans and critics, controversial) studio-bound sound that prominently included the new Moog synthesizer, among other novelties. 

As Womack shows, Abbey Road was the culmination of the instrumental skills, recording equipment, and artistic vision that the band and George Martin had developed since their early days in the same studio seven years before. A testament to the group's creativity and their producer's ingenuity, Solid State is required listening for all fans of the Beatles and the rock 'n' roll.

©2019 Kenneth Womack (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about Solid State

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The Wrong Reader for this Book

I've read a lot of books about The Beatles and was awaiting this one for months. Kenneth Womack always researches his books to a high standard. However, the reader was totally wrong for it. The overall delivery was inept, and in some parts it was as though he was not in tune with the subject. He also mispronounces words. Paul Woodson narrated the two George Martin books by the same author, and although he is American, he really tried hard to do them justice. He was fluent, clear and was obviously interested. But what they really should have done was to get David Thorpe to read it. Now he would have been ideal casting - the master for this kind of work. While I like the book, I'll have to return it because with this narrator, I'll never listen to it again.

4 people found this helpful

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Good book, bad reader

Terrible choice of reader. Why would you use an American for a book with extensive quotes from the Beatles? It's not hard to direct an audiobook but this director found a way to fuck it up.

2 people found this helpful

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Insightful

Opens up the story behind the Abbey Road album, as well as the technology, processes and relationships behind it….

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This is something special.

I came to this book hoping to learn something about The Beatles and their final sessions in the studio. I’m interested in the recording process and love The Beatles and always refer back to them as a high point for recorded music, so this looked promising. I got what I’d hoped for within the first hour of listening, but the thing I also got, that I’d not imagined I would, was a narrative as compelling as an excellent novel. I was listening to Murakami’s 1Q84 at the same time as listening to Solid State, and I kept forgetting that one was a novel and one was not. There was just such an incredible narrative pull. I’m sure this was assisted by William Hughes’s excellent reading, and I think it’s important to highlight this. He read with complete engagement and that’s a major plus for a listener.

The Fabs themselves emerge as complex, difficult, and gifted very young men. McCartney’s drivenness comes through very clearly. Ringo’s as much the hero of these recording sessions as anyone, and I’m really pleased Womack chose to highlight this.

Of course George Martin and Jeff Emerick in particular, deserve as much applause as it’s possible to give for their production work, and this book illuminates their (and several others), ‘above and beyond’ ethos, when it came to this album.
Listening to the album now, is an even greater experience.

1 person found this helpful

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The book told it as it was.

There are many different books on this subject, but this book tells it as it was. I know because my teenage years were spent being a true Beatles fan from there beginning to the end.
David aged 73.

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Couldn’t stop listening

Even though I don’t know the album Abbey Road very well I couldn’t stop listening to this audiobook.

Well narrated with only a couple of mispronunciations, and tons of information about the Beatles.

I really enjoyed it and I think it may have been free too!

Obviously now I have to start listening to both Abbey Road and Let it Be again!

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And in the end …

Somehow in the carnage of their later years, and amid increasingly bitter personal relations, The Beatles continued to produce history-making music. This book chronicles the making of Abbey Road, but also looks at the Get Back sessions and Let It Be - it analyses the latter stages of the band’s work and is highly detailed, exploring the production technology as much as the composition, while also examining the behind-the-scenes turmoil engulfing the band. The level of detail in the earlier part of the book will be almost overwhelming for all but the most committed fans, but it becomes more gripping as it moves on, blending a musicological appraisal with a wider look at the personal tensions that blighted the band’s terminal stages. It is a bit disorganised, jumping around chronologically, and there is some annoying repetition of phrases - eg ‘associated with’ makes too many appearances, so maybe better editing was needed. The narration is fine, arguably a bit Marmite, but it worked for me; at times I increased the speed of narration to 1.5 before reverting to 1 after settling into it. This is a good summation of the endgame of the world’s greatest band, and well worth a listen for fans of the Beatles, and indeed music fans generally.

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its Beatles not Beadles..

the book felt like its been meticulously researced using sources who's worked closely with the 'Beadles ' ...

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interesting to a certain degree

of course this is for Beatle fans but it was fleshed out a bit with info from other sources.
it was nice to hear about them using a transistor desk rather than a valve desk .
but I didnt come away from the book learning much more than I knew already.
it would of been nice to have a narrator that was British the narrator on this book had a bit of the "wonder years" feel to it which made it feel distant to the author.
otherwise not bad for an included title so no passionate complaints.

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Kenneth Womack made an old codger smile

I am an old codger who enjoyed the Beatles when they were first around. Always a fan, I have read a great number of books around and about the Beatles and thought I wouldn't find much in this audiobook that I hadn't heard about before. I was wrong. Mr Womack has gathered the old stories together and put them together with a sprinkle of fairy dust into a much clearer, more detailed narrative context than I had previously known. The inclusion of the developing technical environment and its influence on what the Beatles could magic into existence is like buffing up an old copper pot to reveal a fresh, gleaming revelation of how the Beatles developed from youthful Mop-tops to independently minded Men. I was one of the youthful teenagers who were devastated by the Beatles fragmentation, and I admit I didn't understand at the time why the group couldn't go on forever. I was even resentful of Linda and Yoko for breaking up the group. The truth is the public thought it owned the Beatles and didn't want to allow them to grow up. The psychological pressure they were under must have been intolerable.- and yet in the end they gave us back much more than we deserved..

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  • Cargod63
  • 11-12-19

For real Beatle fans

This book is for the fanatic Beatle fan not your everyday Beatle fan. A lot of technical info. A lot of insight I haven’t heard before. If you’re not a study of the Beatles may be a bit boring. I loved it became I am a fanatic. Just make it through the first chapter and it’s all good after that.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Tina
  • 18-02-20

It's all about the recording studios

This book is not about The Beatles relationship, music or songs. Focuses 8n unneccessary details about the recording studios and other small details about the recordings. Nothing really about the group.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Gregg Anderson
  • 12-06-20

A detailed look at an AMAZING album!!!

For some reason most books and documentaries about the Beatles tend to gloss over the recording of Abbey Road. Probably because it was recorded last, but released before the horribly Phil Spector produced "Let It Be" album and it doesn't flow into the narrative the way they want. Well this book bucks the trend and goes into great detail about the band and great technical detail about the actual recording process. It shows us how the Beatles really were at the time for better or worse

John: Paul you are too bossy and use all the time in the studio to do your songs!
Paul: We had to record my stuff because you didn't write anything due to you and Yoko spending your time doing heroin!!!

I'm paraphrasing and being cheeky of course. You need to read and learn from the actual book and not my overly simplistic recreation. You will also enjoy hearing about a solid state mixing board, and that is no small feat. Bravo Kenneth Womack for a great book! Also William Hughes provides solid narration.
A must buy for Beatle fans!!!!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tennyson98
  • 05-09-21

American accent for a British writer???

Why?? I don’t get it. Can’t imagine what went through the producers mind.impossible to suspend disbelief.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Victoria JD.
  • 31-08-21

Fascinating Book About Abbey Road LP and Studio

This does have a lot of technical stuff in it, but I really enjoyed it. I understood more than I thought I would. Really good acct on how the Beatles ended up quitting their group. Some nice insights as well. As a lifelong Beatles fan I'm glad I found it!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dean Bowlus
  • 02-03-21

Very Satisfying

To any Beatles fan ( about 90% of us ) a very satisfying audible listen. There are a lot of details on the recording of the iconic Abby Road.
Solid State is also the story of the final days of the Beatles, and the initial days of their solo careers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Yaakov Gorensteyn
  • 10-07-20

Good book, nice and detailed.

A fascinating look at the Beatles' last great work. Especially great for sound engineers like myself as it also touches on the technical side of the sessions. Also it's something to hold us Beatle fanatics over until the rest of Lewnson's opus comes :)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Scott
  • 07-05-22

Excellent, amazing summary of Abbey Road and the Beatles final days

I have read many Beatle books, maybe I had forgotten a lot of things but this is by far the best summary of Abbey Road I have ever read, this book is as good or better than the book titled “the love you make” published back in the 80s. Many things brought out in this book were totally new to me and really cool, but again maybe I just forgot them ha ha.

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  • Arturo Pardo
  • 07-04-22

Beautiful!

I learned a lot, specially listening to Abbey Road in a very different way.

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  • James Paris
  • 31-01-22

An in-depth book on the album “Abbey Road”

The reader of this work will truly enjoy the way that the author describes the making of the iconic Beatles album “Abbey Road.” In this, the author describes the daily challenges met by the band as they tried to put the album together. He also tells us about the various efforts in the songs that were recorded in the midst of the various trials and tribulations experienced by the band. I found this to be a valuable compilation of many aspects of one of my favorite albums by my favorite band. You will enjoy it too.