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The Beatles announce Get Back, first official book in 20 years

The Guardian logo The Guardian 16/09/2020 Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The first official Beatles book since seminal Anthology in 2000 is to be published in August 2021.

The Beatles: Get Back will tell the story of the final Beatles album, Let It Be, drawn from over 120 hours of transcribed conversations from the band’s studio sessions. It will accompany Peter Jackson’s feature documentary of the same name, also set for release that month.

The book documents January 1969, with friction building in the band as they recorded music for an intended TV special – George Harrison walked out of the sessions at one point and John Lennon described them as “hell”. The music they made, though, would be among the most poignant in their catalogue, and the sessions built towards the group’s final live performance, on top of the Apple Corps building in London on 30 January 1969.

The songs they recorded were later mixed (including with controversial input from Phil Spector) and eventually released in May 1970 as Let It Be, instead of the original title Get Back. It followed the recording and release of Abbey Road in September 1969, and was released a month after Paul McCartney’s departure precipitated the band’s split.

The book’s introduction is written by Hanif Kureishi, who describes the period as “a productive time for them, when they created some of their best work. And it is here that we have the privilege of witnessing their early drafts, the mistakes, the drift and digressions, the boredom, the excitement, joyous jamming and sudden breakthroughs that led to the work we now know and admire.”

Jackson will write a forward, and the book will also feature hundreds of previously unpublished photos by Ethan Russell and Linda McCartney. Guardian writer John Harris edited the transcripts of the conversations.

Those taped conversations also feature in Jackson’s film alongside selections from 55 hours of unreleased and restored 16mm footage. This footage was made by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, initially for the TV special, and eventually included in his documentary Let It Be. It was released alongside the original album, and earned the band Oscars for best original song score.

The Beatles: Get Back is being published by the Beatles’ company Apple Corps in tandem with Callaway Arts and Entertainment, whose founder Nicholas Callaway said: “The creativity and inspiration expressed in this landmark book and in Peter Jackson’s film are as important and relevant today as ever.”

The previous official project Anthology was a major archival project straddling albums, a TV documentary and book.


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