Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Book Review: All Together Now – The Beatles Complete (For All Musicians)

ON the surface this looks like a fantastic book and a long overdue replacement for Ray Connelly's execrable “THE BEATLES COMPLETE.” However digging a little deeper you find a number of bizarre failings.

On the plus side 

The layout is a very clear, well laid out single melody lead sheet (plus chord boxes). The transcription is obviously the work of someone who actually plays guitar, which is a pleasant contrast with some Beatles books. The large plastic spiral binding means it’s easy to lay the book out flat (though I have my doubts about how hard wearing the binding will be). A fantastic instructional DVD by David Harrison with Justin Morris & David Weston covers two songs (Here There & Everywhere & I Saw Her Standing There) beautifully though it seems to be there just to advertise “The Beatles Play-Along Chords Songbook.”

The book includes many hard to find Lennon & McCartney compositions, which is nice.

On the other hand...

It’s not complete. ‘Complete’ can mean many different things when it comes to the Beatles catalogue. It could mean every song released by the Beatles during their career. It can also mean every song written by the fab four during life of the band. This is neither, and there is no rhyme or reason to the songs selected.

First there are no covers (except Maggie Mae). You get Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance & Power To The People but not Instant Karma & Cold Turkey. You get McCartney’s Oo You but not Teddy Boy, Every Night, Junk, or Love in the Open Air. The tracks recorded by Peter & Gordon tracks don’t include Woman. Cilla, Billy J Kramer and all the other Epstein stable hits are here minus One and One is Two by The Strangers. The most glaring omission is the track that’s considered by many to be the best Beatles song they never recorded - Come and Get It by Badfinger.

It’s also NOT ‘For All Musicians’. If you’re expecting Bb parts, bass lines & drum part you’ll be disappointed. For that you’ll need The Complete Scores (and a magnifying glass).

The ordering of the songs is bizarre. I can only describe it as chronological as far as albums go with each album’s song being arranged in alphabetical order. With a few exceptions. Confused? You will be. I guarantee it.

The single line melody format works well but on some songs it’s notoriously difficult to decide which is the melody and which the harmony. Nevertheless I’m sure on some songs they’ve transcribed the wrong line.

Last, and most unforgivably, a lot of songs are in the wrong key. Help, Nowhere Man, You’re Going to Lose That Girl, Norwegian Wood, the list goes on and on. Day Tripper is in Eb for goodness sake! The keys seem to be chosen at random rather than for any reasons of playability or vocal range. Shoddy.

Buy this book if...

you’re desperate for the songs that the Beatles DIDN’T record.

Otherwise get The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook, if you want to strum and sing (it’s chords and lyrics only, no melody notation) or The Beatles Complete Scores if you want a more complete and accurate book. Though neither book is perfect they are streets ahead of this one.

In Conclusion

– another in a long line of bungled efforts at presenting the Beatles back catalogue.

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