The Cambridge Companion to The Beatles, edited by Kenneth Womack (Cambridge University Press)
“(George) Martin was more impressed with the Beatles charisma than their early material.”
The Cambridge Companion to The Beatles is an excellent collection of essays concerning the band’s work. This compendium manages to cover their musical career from simple rockers to complicated composers without missing a beat. The chapter, “The Beatles as recording artists” quotes freely from recording engineer Geoff Emerick. Although it’s a fine summary in a couple of dozen pages, it does not take the place of Emerick’s essential work, Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Beatles.
As with every account of the Beatles, things start out fine and fun before ending in the train wreck of the band’s dissolution. We begin with Meet the Beatles and end up with the mishmash digital meddling – and mess – of Love. It remains, all in all, a sad story. (Hey Jude, anyone?)
One of the writers notes that major educational institutions – like Cambridge – now see the Beatles as a bona fide topic of scholarly inquiry. Fine, but collections like this one completely omit the spirit of the Fab Four; their human energy if you will. This reviewer thinks that mythologizing the Beatles is more destructive than constructive. After all, as John Lennon said, they were just four guys in a band. That was enough.