From Beatlefan #92, Jan/Feb 1995

"Drugs, Divorce and A Slipping Image: The Unauthorized Story of The Beatles 'Get Back' Sessions" by Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt.The910, Princeton Junction, NJ. Published November 1994. 305 pages, trade paperback. $29.95.

You must admit the "Get Back" sessions in January 1969 at Twickenham Studios did not produce what one can call a work of art. This material represents The Beatles at their very worst as performers. For that reason, you might think a book on this subject would be a complete waste of time and effort.

Nothing could be farther from The truth. ~Drugs, Divorce and a Slipping Image~ is, along with the Lewisohn books, the most valuable Beatles volume put out in recent years.

Doug Sulpy, editor in chief of The 910 magazine and his writing partner, Ray Schweighardt, spent years analyzing the various vinyl and CD bootlegs and tapes from the sessions. The result will amaze the reader. Among the newly discovered information is that the Beatles knew going into the project that they might be breaking up Time and again they discuss breaking up if the sessions fold.

Also discussed is the negative impact Yoko Ono had on the sessions. John Lennon let Ono take control by making decisions for him, much to the irritation of the other three Beatles. Paul McCartney tells the film crew he resents writing music in Ono's presence and even Ringo Starr, who reputedly had the best relationship with Ono, is not happy with her being there.

Linda McCartney (then Eastman), on the other hand, seems not to be interested in becoming involved in the group's affairs. Linda " suggests The Beatles work out their differences away from everyone else, including herself and Ono. Linda appears to have wanted The Beatles to work and felt she shouldn't be at recording sessions or business meetings-a completely different attitude than that of Ono, who seems to dominate and control Lennon as much as Pamela Courson wished to control Jim Morrison of The Doors. And Lennon lets this happen.

New insight into George Harrison's leaving the group indicates that Ono's negative dominance over Lennon and John's use of heroin were just as much a factor, if not more, as Lennon and McCartney's lack of musical respect for George. (This also confirms Peter Brown's statement that when he was preparing I "The Love You Make" in 1980, Harrison told him that he was disgusted by Lennon being wasted on heroin.) Lennon's contempt for Harrison is made evident when he suggests that Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix replace the absent George. He doesn't seem to care whether Harrison is there or not.

The biggest surprise is this book's revisionist look at McCartney's role in The Beatles during this time. Many Beatles scholars have said Paul's alleged bossiness broke the band up. If anything, McCartney seems to be doing his damnedest to keep The Beatles together.

It's the moribund attitude of the other three that makes McCartney appear bossy.

Starr throughout remains distant and quiet, as if his opinions don't count-although McCartney makes a big deal of respecting Ringo's wishes that The Beatles don't play outside of England.

This book uncovers a wealth of information detailing the bickering that went on during the sessions and how The Beatles dealt with each other. It doesn't cover everything, because not all the session tapes are available on the collectors circuit, but a companion book updating the information is planned.

Currently available only in a private printing, this book deserves to be picked up by a major publisher. It's a must for all Beatlefans.

Peter C. Palmiere Click here to return to the rmb home page.

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