Wednesday, March 20, 2013

John Lennon: Starting Over - the making of Double Fantasy

I am enjoying this book very much.  It is called Starting Over - the makeing of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy, by Ken Sharp.  The author takes us into the studio during the summer of 1980.   And he interviews all of the main players who created this album - the producers and engineers, and the crack lineup of musicians John assembled - some he had not previsouly met.   John made of this one-off house band mostly on known reputation, referrals, chops, and their age.  He wanted guys that also grew up with the songs he loved - like those of Carl Perkins.  The musicians and characters are/were Jack Douglas – arranger and producer.  (Noted for work on Aerosmith's breakout records Toys, Rocks, etc.)  Earl Slick – lead guitar.  Hugh McCracken – lead guitar.  Tony Levin – one of this blogger's all-time favorite bass players.  George Small – keyboards.  And Andy Newmark – (Roxy Music!) on drums; whom John kept instructing to "play it more like Ringo does" all the time.  The album was released in the early fall of 1980, and in a real coup, it was on the newly formed Geffen label.  The recording sessions at The Hit Factory (many notable records - Graceland, Born in the USA et al.) were supposed to be Top Secret - but word did leak out during the sessions - attributed in the book to half of Cheap Trick - who were invited in to play on two songs, but ultimately - the versions of those songs with Rick Neilsen and Bun E. Carlos were thought to be too rough for the overall softer theme of the record.  What I like about the book are the short vignettes the players tell of the time between takes and the BEATLES stories John would tell them.  Most of these guys we in awe of being in the studio with him - but they quickly knew is was going to be fun - and business, and pros all of them - they gelled quickly and learned John's and Yoko's songs.   The author also weaves in posthumous quotes from John.

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