The Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition by Andy Babiuk
By Chris Loeffler |
The Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition by Andy Babiuk
Across the Universe with the Definitive Story of the Fab Four’s Gear
by Chris Loeffler
The Beatles are, without a doubt, the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time, and in 10 brief years created dozens of musical paths later bands would journey down in an effort to define the meaning of Rock. While some of their Brit contemporaries are still carrying on 50 years later, the Beatles continue to capture the minds and hearts of generations of music lovers new and old despite having not performed together for over 45 years. One of the benefits of being pioneers of a sound is the sheer amount of gear and sonic experimentation to which they had access, and it fell upon Andy Babiuk to seek information from sources near and far to put forth what he considers the ultimate catalog of the gear used to create the legendary recordings of the Beatles. Let's look at this revised and expanded new edition of Beatles Gear: Ultimate Edition, published by Backbeat Books.
What You Need To Know
- Andy Babiuk also wrote Rolling Stones Gear, and for those familiar with that earlier book,Beatles Gear takes a similar approach, covering the band's formation, early years and first musical instruments, The book then proceeds to document all of the instruments used by each member of the group on each recording session and tour. From John’s first guitarat age 14 up to Phil Spector taking Glyn John’s raw tapes and (arguably) heavy-handedly turning the final Beatles album into the orchestral extravaganza that was Let it Be.Whereas the original edition of Beatles Gear weighed in at 258 pages, this ultimate edition breaks 500 pages with added stories, photos, and facts shared with Babiuk by rabid fans after the initial edition’s publication.
- After a brief introduction describing the conditions in post-war Great Britain and the influence of early American rock and roll to set the stage, the book describes the first meetings of John Lennon and Paul McCartny, and their earliest musical influences, the records they listened to, their early instruments, jumping from acoustic to electric, and how the Beatles were formed.
- Moving on from there chronologically, the book starts its instrument coverage with John’s £7 Gallotone Champion acoustic that he ordered from a catalog in 1955 after unsuccessful attempts to talk his aunt and then mother into purchasing one, all the way up to the Epiphone Casino used on their final album, Let it Be, in 1969. The book is packed with comments and quotes from the band themselves about the gear they used, as well as many insights and information about their lives and careers (some of which you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else), although the emphasis is definitely on the gear they played.
- Amplifiers, basses, guitars, keyboards, drums and effects are all covered in great depth, as are the more specialized and unusual instruments such as dulcimers, harmonicas, electric sitars and more that were used on various albums and tours.
- One of the highlights of the additions to the Ultimate Edition is an expanded story of the John Lennon Gibson guitar, which reads part-gear nerdery and part-detective story.
- Since the book covers the subject matter in chronological order, it's easy to locate information about specific gear that the band members used during various years, albums, tours or eras, making it an excellent research tool. It also includes a comprehensive and helpful index.
- Published 14 years after his already painstakingly researched Beatles Gear book, this masterfully researched and lavishly illustrated 509-page book is the definitive work on the subject of the instruments used by the Beatles over the course of the band's history.
- Information on the specific recording gear may be thinner than an aspiring engineer or producer would likely seek (although there are rich clues hidden in the photos for eagle-eyed gear hounds to discover, and there's always the book Recording the Beatles). Also the flow of the book could have benefited somewhat by separating the story of the band from the gear.
With huge photos and great gear shots, the engagingly written Beatles Gear Ultimate Edition is equally likely to appeal to Beatles fans, gear hounds, engineers, and those interested in world history and how it shapes pop culture. Beatles Gear is massive, with thick paper stock, glossy pages, and a sturdy cover. It's obvious that a tremendous amount of research went into this, and it couldn't have been done without contributions and input from people within the Beatles’ organization. Informative and entertaining, and with a impressive amount of photos of rare instruments (including shots of the actual instruments used by the band, many of which have never been published before), it's a visual delight as well. Whether you read it cover to cover, browse through the various chapters randomly, or use it as a research tool, it's bound to entertain, elucidate, and delight. It really is the definitive volume on all the gear used by four young chaps from the UK who happened to change the world forever.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.