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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

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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.

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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.

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Solid account of Beatle’s Abbey Road and the last days

A nice account, well researched. A welcome addition to the Beatles catalogue of books, especially at the end of their career.
Highly recommended for the musical input as well as history.

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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.

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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.

4 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!!!!

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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 :)

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  • terramazon
  • 31-03-21

love the history and tech behind one of the greats

love the history and tech behind one of the greatest Beatles albums of all time

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-03-21

Sweet journey

I can't imagine the same experience reading this book as to listening. I kept my music app waiting in the wings. I'd hear the critique of a song that made me say WHAT? Off I went to bring up the song and thoroughly listen. Critics are out of touch sometimes. Let it be is still an amazing song. I found myself emerged in music before and after Abbey Road that I absolutely love still today. I discovered songs I didn't know existed. It must have taken me 2 days hitting pause & play, back & forth. Finding different takes on songs while in the music app was cool, hearing them messing around and all. Totally enjoyed this listen. There are sad times also but ya it was a sad end.
Sweet, Insightful, journey even tho.

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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.

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  • sean kilkenny
  • 10-02-21

History Unfolded

As A young boy, I listened to the Beatles like every one else during that musically historical time period. Abbey Road was my favorite. To hear how it all came together and then fell apart was moving and a little sad-again.

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  • Laurie
  • 12-01-21

Thoroughly Enjoyable

I really enjoyed this book. Learning all the details behind the Beatles last album was extremely interesting for someone who is a life-long Beatles fan. “You never give me your money” - finally all the work that went into the medley and where it all came from! Pretty fascinating. Well researched and written with an underlying love and respect for these timeless artistic treasures.

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  • Tal
  • 05-01-21

techy

kind of technical, but overall a fun inside look at an excellent album. Beatles fans should like it.