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Here, There and Everywhere From the Beatles' recording engineer Geoff Emerick comes a fascinating memoirfeaturing never-before-told stories of the Fab Four. Full description
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Here, There and Everywhere
Here, There and Everywhere
My Life Recording the Music of THE BEATLES
Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey
Foreword by Elvis Costello
Number Three Abbey Road
Meeting the Beatles
A Hard Day’s Night
Innovation and Invention: The Making of Revolver
It’s Wonderful to Be Here, It’s Certainly a Thrill: Sgt. Pepper Begins
A Masterpiece Takes Shape: The Pepper Concept
All You Need Is Love...and a Long Vacation: Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine
The Day I Quit: The Making of the White Album
The Calm After the Storm: Life After the White Album
An Anvil, a Bed, and Three Gunslingers: The Making of Abbey Road
And in the End: The Final Stroll Across Abbey Road
Fixing a Hole: The Apple Years
Drainage, Lizards, and Monsoons: The Making of Band On The Run
Life After the Beatles: From Elvis to the Anthologies
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy
· Foreword ·
by Elvis Costello
It has been ten years since Geoff Emerick and I last worked together. One of my favorite memories of that last occasion is Geoff politely cursing the recording desk when it proved impossible to make it distort in an attractive and interesting fashion.
So many of the sounds in today’s recording studios come out of little boxes that merely imitate the sonic innovations of the past. The range of choices is vast but, in unimaginative hands, it seems to create fewer surprises.
Despite all the endless theorizing about pop music of the 1960s, the contribution of a small handful of engineers is still not fully appreciated. Inspired by particular musicians, these innovations brought about a change in the very nature of the recording studio, from a place where musical performances were simply captured in the best available fidelity to an experimental workshop in which the transformation and even the distortion of the very sound of an instrument or voice became an element in the composition. Not that you would ever hear any of this grand talk from Geoff Emerick. You could not meet a more modest and self-effacing man.
When we first worked together in 1981, I had decided to take a very different approach to the recording of what would become the album Imperial Bedroom. My first album had been recorded in a total of twenty-four hours of studio time; the second took eleven days. Now the Attractions and I had booked AIR Studios for twelve weeks and granted ourselves the license to work on the sound of the record until it reflected the mood of the songs. We would hire anything that seemed to help: a harpsichord, a trio of French horns, or even a small orchestra. If we were not to be railroaded to that deadly place called “Geniusville,” where every passing notion in the mind of the musical submariner is mistaken for sunken treasure (believe me, the recording studio can have more than a passing resemblance to the depths of the ocean), we would need someone to retain perspective, to bring some kind of order, and to occasionally act as a referee.
This is how I met Geoff Emerick, a tall, gentle man with a resonant voice and, at that time, an occasionally jittery pattern of speech that I put down to his almost constant intake of vending-machine coffee that blended nicely with the taste and aroma of melted plastic. Over our weeks in the studio, an instrumental tone or sonic effect that seemed fleetingly familiar would suddenly appear, but we never got the impression that Geoff was shaping the sound from a clichéd “box of tricks.” The songs and the moods of the performance always took precedence over the way they might be filtered, altered, or changed on their way to tape. By the end of our time together, we found that Geoff had helped us produce the richest and most varied-sounding record of our career to date.
I had made the band promise that they would not pester Geoff for Beatles stories, but as we got deeper into the process of recording and mixing, the occasional anecdote would emerge. These tales never sounded worn out or rehearsed. There was never a hint of self-aggrandizement or boastfulness about them. They were usually used as examples of how a problem might be solved. The fact that the “problem” might have generated the sound of “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” seemed merely incidental.
Well, now we can all enjoy Geoff’s reminiscences about his most famous work. Without meaning any disrespect to George Martin, I think I could find many contemporary musicians and record makers who might agree with me that Geoff Emerick would be regarded as the coproducer of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by modern definitions. What makes this memoir so entertaining to read is that these fabulous inventions and innovations always seemed to be made out of elastic bands, sticky tape, and empty cotton reels. It was the stuff of the hobby shop or do-it-yourself enthusiast rather than the computer-assisted boffin, and always in service of a brilliant musical idea rather than in place of it. None of this is told with any sense of pomp or portentousness, although there is certainly plenty of youthful enthusiasm, described in the accounts of Geoff’s work as a teenage assistant engineer on the very first Beatles’ sessions.
The fact that four young musicians from Liverpool were assigned to the EMI comedy imprint, Parlophone, and staff producer responsible for the comedy output, gives us a glimpse of a number of casual regional assumptions and the hierarchies of early ’60s England. American readers may only be able to equate the class-bound stiffness of Abbey Road to something out of Monty Python. I remember Geoff telling me about the staff engineer’s Rebellion of the White Coats, in which they donned ludicrously mismatched sizes in response to a management directive that they once again wear these garments—last seen in the days when they had to handle the more volatile wax medium of recording—just as hair started to creep over collars that were now sporting floral ties.
The book captures the mood of claustrophobic England that was suddenly illuminated by such imaginative music. It was still postwar England, in which the buses stopped running very shortly after the pubs shut. If I had to give a précis of the contents, it would be in the sentence, “We recorded ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and then I went home and had some nice biscuits.”
Geoff would be the first to say that none of the sonic flights of fancy that he helped shape in the music of the Beatles would have been possible without the incredible apprenticeship and experience offered by working at Abbey Road in the early to mid-sixties. How else could anyone find themselves working with Otto Klemperer and a symphony orchestra in the morning and Judy Garland in the afternoon, with chances of a late session with The Massed Alberts? Needless to say, it will always be the sessions with the Beatles that arouse the greatest curiosity. For once, you are not hearing an account of the events from someone with a vested interest in your agreeing with their mad theory. This is the view of a contributing participant, one who offers unique anecdotes and some surprisingly critical opinions.
I’ve had the experience of arriving early for a session and overhearing Geoff lost in playing the piano for his own amusement. He plays very well, in an elaborate, romantic style. However, it takes a very unique temperament to sit behind his other instrument, the mixing desk. It seems best if you have enormous patience, good judgment, generosity, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. You will find all of these qualities in the pages of this book. I am very glad that Geoff has gotten to tell his tale.
· Prologue ·
Silence. Shadows in the dark, curtains rustling in the cool April breeze. I rolled over in bed and cast a weary eye at the clock. Damn! Still middle of the night, exactly four minutes later than the last time I looked.
I’d been tossing and turning for hours. What had I let myself in for? Why on earth did I ever take George Martin up on his offer? I was only nineteen, after all. I shouldn’t have a care in the world. I should be out with my mates, meeting girls, having a laugh.
Instead, I’d made a commitment to spend the next months of my life cloistered in a recording studio day and night, shouldering the responsibility of making the most popular group of musicians in the world sound even better than they ever had before. And it would all be starting in just a few hours’ time.
I needed to get some sleep, but I couldn’t turn off my brain, couldn’t ease myself into slumber. No matter how hard I tried to fight them off, bleak thoughts consumed me. That Lennon, with that sharp tongue of his, he’ll have my guts for garters, I just know it. And what about Harrison? He always seemed so dour, so suspicious of everyone—you never knew quite where you stood with him. I pictured the four of them—even friendly, charming Paul—ganging up on me, reducing me to tears, banishing me from the studio in disgrace and shame.
Dinner began repeating on me. I knew I was working myself up into a state, but I was powerless to stop either the stomach churning or the mental agitation. Just hours before, in the bright sunshine of daylight, I’d been confident, even brash, certain that I could handle anything the Beatles might throw at me. But now, in the darkness of night, sleep-deprived, alone in my bed, I could only feel fear, anxiety, worry.
I was terrified.
How had it all come to this? I began reflecting on the events that had led up to this point, like a tape rewound and played back over and over again. As the sweet arms of Morpheus began to embrace me, I was carried back to a rainy morning just two weeks previous.
“Give us a ciggie, will you, mate?”
Phil McDonald was bumming a smoke from me as we sat in the cramped, brightly lit control room, waiting for yet another recording session to begin. Forced to adhere to a strict dress code, we were both dressed conservatively in shirt and tie, despite the fact that most of the rest of our generation were parading around Swinging London garbed in brightly colored Carnaby Street “mod” gear. Just a year younger than me, Phil had been at EMI Studios for only a few months (it wouldn’t be called “Abbey Road,” after the Beatles’ album of the same name, until 1970) and so was still serving his apprenticeship as an assistant engineer. We’d developed a good camaraderie, though once the tape started rolling, I became his boss. In the lull between the time we’d set up the microphones and the moment the doors would burst open with the loud bustle of musicians arriving, we’d quietly share a cigarette, making our personal contribution to the stale, smoky air that permeated the EMI complex.
The phone beside the mixing console rang loudly, shattering the peaceful atmosphere.
“Studio,” Phil answered crisply. “Yes, he’s right here. Do you want to speak with him?”
I began to walk toward the phone, but Phil waved me off. “Okay, I’ll tell him.” Turning to me, he reported with the slightest twinkle in his eye, “They want to see you in the manager’s office, sharpish. I reckon you’re in deep shit for something. Don’t worry, I’ll do a good job replacing you as EMI’s latest boy wonder.”
“Yeah, right—once you figure out which end of the microphone to stick up your arse, you’ll make a fine engineer,” I retorted. But as I headed down the corridor, I had a growing sense of unease. Had someone reported me for messing about with the wiring or for using a nonstandard microphone positioning? Was I in some kind of trouble? I’d been breaking so many rules lately, it was hard to think of which transgression was getting me called on the carpet.
The door to the studio manager’s office was ajar. “Come in, Geoffrey,” said the imperious Mr. E. H. Fowler. Fowler, who was in charge of day-today operations for the entire facility, had originally been a classical music recording engineer and was generally an innocuous figure, though he had a few quirks. At lunchtime he used to wander around the studios and turn all the lights off to save electricity; at 1:55 he’d come back and turn the lights back on. There was something in the tone of his voice that told me I wasn’t in trouble after all.
I stepped inside. Seated beside Fowler’s desk was George Martin, the lanky, aristocratic record producer I had worked with for the past three and a half years on sessions with the Beatles as well as with Cilla Black, Billy J. Kramer, and other artists in the Brian Epstein fold. George was well known for getting to the point, and he didn’t beat around the bush that morning. Without waiting for Fowler to say a word, he turned toward me and dropped a bombshell.
“Geoff, we’d like you to take over Norman’s job. What do you say?”
Norman Smith had been the Beatles’ regular engineer since their very first artist test, back in June of 1962. He had manned the mixing console for every one of their records since then, including the hit singles that had launched them to international stardom. Norman was an older man—probably George Martin’s age, though none of us ever knew exactly how old Norman was, since it was common practice to lie about your age on job applications in those days—and quite authoritarian. He certainly knew his stuff. I had learned a great deal assisting for him, and there was no question that he was an integral part of the Beatles’ early success. In all my dealings with the band, I had gotten the sense that they were quite happy with the work he did for them.
Norman was ambitious, though. He was an amateur songwriter and he had dreams of being a recording artist in his own right. But most of all he wanted to become a producer; there was gossip that he even had aspirations of eventually taking over George Martin’s role. We had heard rumors through the studio grapevine that Norman had been lobbying top management for a promotion throughout the Rubber Soul sessions in the fall of 1965, but with a catch: he wanted to be a staff producer for EMI and continue engineering for the Beatles at the same time.
George Martin, who was also head of the Parlophone label, put his foot down: that was not going to happen. Either Norman could continue to be the Beatles’ engineer or he could be a staff producer, but not both. With one eye on a promising young band he had spotted in a London cl...Présentation de l'éditeur :
Geoff Emerick became an assistant engineer at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in 1962 at age fifteen, and was present as a new band called the Beatles recorded their first songs. He later worked with the Beatles as they recorded their singles “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the songs that would propel them to international superstardom. In 1964 he would witness the transformation of this young and playful group from Liverpool into professional, polished musicians as they put to tape classic songs such as “Eight Days A Week” and “I Feel Fine.”
Then, in 1966, at age nineteen, Geoff Emerick became the Beatles’ chief engineer, the man responsible for their distinctive sound as they recorded the classic album Revolver, in which they pioneered innovative recording techniques that changed the course of rock history. Emerick would also engineer the monumental Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road albums, considered by many the greatest rock recordings of all time. In Here, There and Everywhere he reveals the creative process of the band in the studio, and describes how he achieved the sounds on their most famous songs. Emerick also brings to light the personal dynamics of the band, from the relentless (and increasingly mean-spirited) competition between Lennon and McCartney to the infighting and frustration that eventually brought a bitter end to the greatest rock band the world has ever known.
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