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Solid State

The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles
Narrated by: William Hughes
Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's 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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  • Cargod63
  • 2019-12-11

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
  • 2020-02-18

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.

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  • Tad Davis
  • 2020-05-15

Good story

Kenneth Womack has put together a fascinating and richly detailed narrative of the Beatles’ last album, Abbey Road, and some of the turmoil that preceded and followed it. (Abbey Road was the last album they recorded, but not the last one they released.) I've read many books about the Beatles, as well as biographies of them as individuals, and yet somehow in Womack’s telling the story of this period still sounds fresh.

There are many side avenues to the story, all of them thoroughly explored. One is the installation of a new solid state 8-track recording system at EMI. (The unique sound rendered by this equipment plays a major role in the story, hence the title of the book.) Another is George Harrison’s surprising interest in the Moog Synthesizer. Each member of the group emerges clearly as an individual, all of them involved in projects outside the group, and three of them, at least, busy laying the groundwork for their post-Beatles careers.

The album itself begins to take shape when McCartney and Lennon start piecing together unfinished songs to create the “Long One” — the medley that would dominate the second side. Lennon is slow to come around, partly because of a car accident, partly because he and Yoko are struggling with heroin. But track by track, the pieces begin to fall into place, especially with stellar contributions from Harrison. When most of the recording is done, George Martin brings in a small orchestra for a few days to record his accompanying score. The results are brilliant.

It's almost too good to be true, and as if to prove the point, the book keeps going long after Abbey Road is released. There's still the matter of the unused tapes from the “Get Back” sessions to work through. After rejecting several attempts by Glyn Johns at culling an album from the material, John Lennon — without Paul McCartney’s knowledge — hands the material over to the King of Overproducers, Phil Spector, with results that some people have loved and some have hated ever since. (To make the context of this review clear, Peter Jackson’s “remix” of the Let It Be documentary remains far in the future: it seems likely that yet another version of the Let It Be album will arise from this project, and we're due for a 50th anniversary remix anyway. But that remains to be seen.)

Then there are the lawsuits, the Paul is Dead hoo-hah, the story of the first couple of solo albums, and the almost laughable offer from EMI to take George Martin back as an on-staff producer.... for a fraction of what he was making as an independent contractor.

It's a good, tight story, if a little diffuse at the end. William Hughes does a straightforward job narrating it.

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  • Ken Harris
  • 2020-03-10

Beautiful Story Told With Love

What a great book! The Abbey Road story in great detail. Loved it. Would love to read more about the Beatles.

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  • Kelvdog
  • 2019-11-09

great book vital Rock history great insight

can't wait to listen to this again. might get a few reruns over the years