Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pepper spray

Everyone's been getting a bit flustered about the 40th anniversary of Sgt Pepper this month, so perhaps it's time to unleash a savagely bitchy piece of writing from Dylanologist Clinton Heylin, in an attempt to restore the natural balance of things.

Heylin's introduction to Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions (1960 - 1994) begins by laying into the most famous "sessionography" book, Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, in which the writer, a celebrated authority on the Fab Four, analyses The Beatles' recording career. But he does so in a way which Heylin sees as highly ignorant...

Lewisohn... was the man who informed all those who purchased the CD version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - courtesy of some liner notes already ODing on hyperbole - that the sessions for Sgt. Pepper were "perhaps the most creative 129 days in the history of rock music."

I could have called this book "129 Days of Studio-Time" but it is most certainly not about the fey indulgences of the Fab Four in the winter of 1966-67... To put Lewisohn's (staggeringly ignorant) "most creative 129 days in the history of rock music" in context, Dylan managed to record his entire studio output up to and including 1976's Desire in just 90 days!

Beatles schmeatles, then. Although the introduction is brilliant, the rest of the book is so intensely geeky, I'd hesitate to recommend it to even the most obsessive of Dylan fans. Sorry, Clint.

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