Solid State

The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles
Narrated by: William Hughes
Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
4.5 out of 5 stars (136 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

What listeners say about Solid State

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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!!!!

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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 :)

1 person found this helpful

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For Beatles Geeks

This books gets deep into the details, bit not so deep and/or technical that a more casual fan will be turned off. Very thoughtful and incisive for those who are interested in the last year of recording the Fab Four.

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Fascinating!

Entertaining start to finish! Technical but not so much as to be distracting to the story. Very well done.

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much to learn here about the last Beatles album

The book gets off to a rough start with a little too much explanation of recording technology given. How the Beatles were recorded, at first, seemed irrelevant to me as an explanation of what makes the music great. However, when we get to the actual recording of Abbey Road, the narrative catches fire. Though I've read a good share of books written about the Beatles "Solid State" was a revelation that brought me to a new understanding of this extraordinary album.

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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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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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great book vital Rock history great insight

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

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  • Brian Hartgen
  • 10-16-19

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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  • Penny Lane
  • 05-08-20

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.

1 person found this helpful