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Author Topic: Geoff Emerick  (Read 20128 times)

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raxo

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2007, 10:42:48 PM »

Quote from: 568
[...]
One of the most surprising things I read was how he seemed to feel that George was a mediocre guitarist, couldn't get his leads down, was flubbing up a lot, and had to be "rescued" often by Paul, or George Martin's overdubs. I have a hard time believing all that, but hey, Paul did do the lead on Taxman (George's song, of course), Emerick says it's because George couldn't get it down correctly even after lots of practice!
[...]
I like George a lot but I believe that this could be true :-/ ... Paul helped them a lot improving their own parts from the very begining ... I can remember some examples: Paul giving John the clue for his guiding vocal in Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite or arranging drums for Ticket To Ride (George's guitar part on it too) ... and many others (apart from almost everything for his own songs) ... George was a great guitarist and composer but he was the youngest too and was learning through the 60s while he was giving the best of himself 8)...

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harihead

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2007, 05:39:46 AM »

Yay, a discussion of George the guitarist! As some of you know, I have been making this my special field of study lately, to my increasing joy and satisfaction.  :)

As I mentioned in another post, I have become a Simon Leng groupie. His book, While my guitar gently weeps: the music of George Harrison is just spectacular. He really knows his musical history and the different skills that are required for composing different styles of music. Other music theorists, feel free to join in, but my answer to both Raxo and Alexis would be to read this Q&A by Leng. This is the article that spurred me to buy the book, and I'm very glad I did:

http://www.riprense.com/simonlengq&a.htm

Scroll down to the middle, below the "George is flying" picture, and you'll find the two questions most relevant to this discussion.


Additionally, if you believe Rolling Stone, then Paul playing the lead on Taxman was a compromise. George wanted the band to play his song, so they (Paul, John, and George Martin, who all had veto power over George's compositions) said sure, but Paul wanted to play lead. John liked to play lead as well on occasion, as it made a nice change for him, although he never pretended to be as good a guitar player as George. Paul often liked to play all the parts himself; I think he's the one who most under-valued George's abilities. (His comments regarding "Free As a Bird" indicate that he never did realize that George had any particular talent, even though George for decades had been sought out by other bands to add his unique signature style to their records. "It'll sound like My Sweet Lord," was his self-proclaimed initial reaction, until he heard what George did and realized that people considered the solo one of the strengths of the song.)

I think George's playing was excellent for when the group started; reputedly he was one of the most fluid and adaptable guitar players around. He could play the country & western licks, ballads, rock-n-roll-- anything but blues, basically, which was not in his background. Then the "hero" style of guitar playing came into vogue in the mid-sixties. Paul was eager to jump on this bandwagon, but George was not a virtuoso player, he was a melodist. The current fad did not play to his strengths. He did develop his own completely unique rock-n-roll slide method later on, but he was blind-sided by the new trend because he had a different background. It's not that George was "learning to play" in the Beatles-- he never would have held his place in the ambitious young band if so. It's that the world changed, and his style of playing was (for a few years) not as fashionable. Ironically, his thoughtful melodies stand up well over the decades, whereas people tired of the "hero soloist" fairly quickly.

Also, I think it's a little unfair to criticize George for being "slow". When Paul and/or John wrote a song, they worked on it an average of 3 hours--typically at John's house, in the afternoon, on a completely different day. They then brought that composition into the studio, and George had to develop his parts cold while the band worked out the arrangement. He never had the luxury of hearing the tune before that moment or knowing what the authors wanted until they demoed their already-thought-out work to the band. If he'd heard the tune the night (or week) before, as the authors did, he certainly could have been mulling approaches. As it was, he had to be brilliant off-the-cuff and on tape-- a much harder proposition, if you ask me. So if it took him 8 hours *gasp* to develop and learn the world's first-ever completely backwards guitar solo (and play it identically twice, because they double tracked it)... well, that just doesn't seem to me to be a horribly long amount of time, considering the classic nature of what he constructed cold upon one hearing.
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Kevin

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2007, 09:47:56 AM »

Unforunately, I've never rated George that highly. He wrote some good songs (I'm only talking Beatle days here), but I believe that if I was hanging out with the two best writers in the business and only had to come up with a couple of songs a year I would have been alright. But then again, L&M would have overshadowed most people, and he was always being squeezed out by them, so he's in a bit of a no-win situation.
I'm no guitarist, so I find it hard to judge. The only reference point I can use is that when George isn't playing lead no one really notices (it's only when you read it in a book you go "oh, THAT was Paul!). That can't be good. And when almost every other guitarist went bluesy in the late 60's it seems George couldn't follow. But harihead has adressed that. Maybe it would have been different if he had become infatuated (like his peers) with John Mayall instead of Ravi Shankar. Did George take the wrong turn?
I think that old rock'n'roll maxim that an artist's true worth is judged by their third album is interesting. The 1st is generally good because it contains all the songs they've saved over the years (ATMP).The 2nd is generally OK because it's Album One Part 2, (LITMW). But the third is the real acid test - the artist normally has to come up with a whole bunch of new material and a new direction - the public won't accept Album One Part 3. And unfortunately George comes up with Dark Horse. And really, in the general publics eye, he never came back as a solo artist.
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raxo

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2007, 02:35:50 PM »

Quote from: 551
[...] Other music theorists, feel free to join in, but my answer to both Raxo and Alexis would be to read this Q&A by Leng. This is the article that spurred me to buy the book, and I'm very glad I did:

http://www.riprense.com/simonlengq&a.htm[...]

[...] It's not that George was "learning to play" in the Beatles-- he never would have held his place in the ambitious young band if so. It's that the world changed, and his style of playing was (for a few years) not as fashionable. Ironically, his thoughtful melodies stand up well over the decades, whereas people tired of the "hero soloist" fairly quickly. [...]


Thanks for the link, harihead, wonderful article!  :)

It seems somehow that Leng agrees about George "learning through the 60s" ;):
"Leng: I think you are right. George reached an important peak as a finger guitar player around 1969
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harihead

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2007, 04:06:56 PM »

Quote from: Kevin
I'm no guitarist, so I find it hard to judge. The only reference point I can use is that when George isn't playing lead no one really notices
This sounds like the debate I had with my drummer friend who was vigorously defending Ringo!  :D I think we all have our prejudices about what we listen for in a song. For me, the drumming just doesn't stand out, so I take Ringo's contribution to the Beatles more lightly. As a guitarist, I can play the chords for any John or Paul tune; very nice melodies, and I enjoy them. I wish I could play more George music, but I can't. My fingers won't bend that way! I think part of our appreciation is what we know.

Really neat list of 3rd albums, Raxo. I just love it.  :D

Quote from: Kevin
in the general publics eye, he never came back as a solo artist.
I do agree with this, and I think it's a shame. George wrote many lovely and enjoyable tunes throughout his life, but he gave up on promoting them, so very few people have heard his solo work. It's painful watching these retrospective tributes, because the commentators all struggle to find "hits" from George's later work. His best work isn't top 40 type stuff.

Quote from: Raxo
other three had to develop their own parts in the sudio too (and there were a few cases when they didn't include a guitar solo at all) and they used to do this quickly
I won't argue that Paul was a faster solo writer than George. All the evidence backs this up. George's preferred method was to mull, to find the melody within the chords and tease out a second melody line that would compliment the song. Paul had the gift of writing melodies almost instantly in his head.

The point Leng was trying to make was, Who cares how many minutes it took for a solo to be constructed? We hear it forever after in its finished form; do we care if it was composed in 20 minutes or 4 hours? Is it a better solo because it was written more quickly? Our only effective measurement is how much we enjoy the song after it's complete.

The point I was trying to make is that even this so-called "long" period to develop something that will endure (in the Beatles' case) for decades is not very long. I'm a muller in my creative process as well. I often have good ideas or insights overnight. I rely on my subconscious process. I love exploring different people's creative processes. I really enjoyed reading about how Paul and John would develop songs. I just get a little weary of George getting knocked because we have such a fascination with quickness in our culture that we can't appreciate any other creative method.

As to your side remark, "Eric also played the solo on Something" -- if Eric did lay down a track, it was not used on the recording. Geoff in his book describes how George laid down a new version of the solo live while the orchestra was playing (they only had one track left to use, so the two instrument pieces had to be recorded simultaneously). In one of Geoff's rare moments of (eventually) appreciating George, he writes (paraphrasing), "Oh, crud, this is going to take all night, the orchestra costs a fortune, he'll screw it up..." yadda yadda yah (Geoff's usual commentary regarding George). To Geoff's surprise, George is completely calm and pulls off this stunningly beautiful solo that is note perfect in time with the orchestra. They did 2 takes, I believe, although I'm not sure which take is used.

See, it's just a different way of working. George developed his solo, practiced it, and went in to do it again. Geoff didn't hear any difference in the notes; he felt that George wanted to redo it simply because he felt he could express more emotion. Considering the success of the song, I'm going to applaud George's intuition on that one.  :)
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alexis

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2007, 04:31:37 PM »

I'm not a guitarist, but one thing that has always caught my attention is that George had such "clean"-sounding notes - pure, intense, not like his fingers are half-on / half off the notes. Off the top of my head one of the best examples I can give of this is his solo (right after John's) in Yer Blues. Such control!

Yeah, he wasn't a guitar god in the sense of flash, show, and heroic solos, as one of the above threads mentioned.  But I also definitely agree with the above poster that his guitar, understated but melodic and precise, was exactly what the Beatles needed. And he could rock it out ... how about his work on Sgt Pepper reprise - loud, distorted, CLEAN, and exactly what the song wanted!

For another example of not-flashy-but-perfect-for-the-song guitar from George (again, just off the top of my head, I know you guys can come up with better ones) how about his his work on "When I'm 64". It's so smooth it's almost smarmy, sort of like he's actually making fun of Paul by pretending to be a Las Vegas lounge act guitarist!

Of course, all this talk about George's guitaring doesn't address his amazing ability to sing harmony. Yeah, it wasn't the lead, or even the almost as prominent "lower" harmony, but his subtle (again!) middle harmony completed the Beatles vocal sound in the early days - think "This Boy", "All My Loving", and a billion others.

Though I am way over the top regarding John (and then Paul), I definitely have no trouble at all saying - "Go George, go!".
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Alexis

raxo

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2007, 07:30:47 PM »

I think that George had the same time to develop his guitar part for the song as Ringo or even Paul/John (depending of who was the composer in each ocassion) ... and that they all had to experiment with the song ... Can't Buy Me Love or I'll Be Back are early examples that we know thanks to the Anthology I ...
Quote from: 551
[...]George wrote many lovely and enjoyable tunes throughout his life, but he gave up on promoting them, so very few people have heard his solo work. It's painful watching these retrospective tributes, because the commentators all struggle to find "hits" from George's later work. His best work isn't top 40 type stuff. [...]
Couldn't agree more, harihead ... the best example could be Gone Troppo: he refused to promote it and it was a failure in sales terms but it includes 3 (out of 10) songs that were good enough to be in his Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989 ... as many songs as Cloud Nine (that it's one of his 4 best albums) ... that has to mean something for sure! 8)
Contributions:
Thirty Three & 1/3 (1 song)
George Harrison (3 songs)
Somewhere in England (2 songs)
Gone Troppo (3 songs)
Cloud Nine (3 songs)
Quote from: 551
[...]
As to your side remark, "Eric also played the solo on Something" -- if Eric did lay down a track, it was not used on the recording. Geoff in his book describes how George laid down a new version of the solo live while the orchestra was playing (they only had one track left to use, so the two instrument pieces had to be recorded simultaneously). In one of Geoff's rare moments of (eventually) appreciating George, he writes (paraphrasing), "Oh, crud, this is going to take all night, the orchestra costs a fortune, he'll screw it up..." yadda yadda yah (Geoff's usual commentary regarding George). To Geoff's surprise, George is completely calm and pulls off this stunningly beautiful solo that is note perfect in time with the orchestra. They did 2 takes, I believe, although I'm not sure which take is used.

See, it's just a different way of working. George developed his solo, practiced it, and went in to do it again. Geoff didn't hear any difference in the notes; he felt that George wanted to redo it simply because he felt he could express more emotion. Considering the success of the song, I'm going to applaud George's intuition on that one.  :)

Thanks for that info, harihead :) ... now I'm confused and interestied, it's not that I believe in that post I copied talking about Eric and Something but I would love to be able to read/listen to that interview where George said that it was Eric ... I'm patient, but I wish I can read/listen to it soon ...

Quote from: 568
[...]Though I am way over the top regarding John (and then Paul), I definitely have no trouble at all saying - "Go George, go!".

In my case it has to be: Go, John, go!!!! ... and Go, Paul, go!!!! ;D
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zipp

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2007, 09:09:44 PM »

Quote from: 568

For another example of not-flashy-but-perfect-for-the-song guitar from George (again, just off the top of my head, I know you guys can come up with better ones) how about his his work on "When I'm 64". It's so smooth it's almost smarmy, sort of like he's actually making fun of Paul by pretending to be a Las Vegas lounge act guitarist!

I think George is a great guitarist and was great in the Beatles.
But it's a bit depressing to find out that he didn't do ALL those great solos.
Taxman, for example, but also Good Morning Good Morning.
And the example you give of When I'm 64, according to Ian McDonald, it wasn't George but John!

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alexis

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2007, 09:36:37 PM »

Quote from: 410

I think George is a great guitarist and was great in the Beatles.
But it's a bit depressing to find out that he didn't do ALL those great solos.
Taxman, for example, but also Good Morning Good Morning.
And the example you give of When I'm 64, according to Ian McDonald, it wasn't George but John!


Oh my goodness, these things are MORE than a bit depressing. Can I just pretend I never read them?

(... though the off-the-cuff comment I made (above) of the solo being a spoof on Paul might actually hold water if it was John doing the solo  :) )
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Alexis

zipp

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2007, 10:00:00 PM »

Sorry, alexis, didn't mean to depress you in that way.
Cheer up.I think your avatar is really good!
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raxo

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2007, 10:05:40 PM »

Quote from: 410
[...]
Cheer up.I think your avatar is really good!

How? I don't believe you!  :P ;D
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alexis

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2007, 10:12:45 PM »

Quote from: 410
Sorry, alexis, didn't mean to depress you in that way.
Cheer up.I think your avatar is really good!


Thanks for the buck up, zipp  :) I'll just go to youtube to watch some early live shows, it'll all be OK!

And thanks for the avatar comment ... right back atcha!   :)

 -
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Sondra

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2007, 04:02:59 AM »

The whole George guitar playing thing in Emerick's book was very interesting. I was surprised at how incompetent he made George seem. But then he also made John look very technically challenged, incredibly moody, and overly eccentric as well. It seemed like John didn't understand how anything worked and had not patience or interest in ever finding out and that he was nasty and inconsiderate one minute and a sweet angel the next. Paul on the other hand seemed to be able to accomplish everything with ease, had all the groundbreaking ideas, and was always friendly and accommodating no matter what the situation. This somehow made me question Emerick's perception on things. He also made Ringo out to be unfriendly and sort of underhanded. Now either Paul is the real genius behind the Beatles and an all around great guy that guided the others in such a way that he alone should be credited with making them the biggest band in the world, or Geoff's opinion on the four guys is somewhat tainted by his friendship with the McCartney. All I'm saying is that I'm not sure his memory of things is totally accurate.
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harihead

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2007, 04:27:45 AM »

Your skepticism puts you in fine company, Sandra. I like how this review sums it up at Amazon.com:

Quote from: Publishers Weekly
Less remarkable are Emerick's personal recollections of the band members. He concedes the group never really fraternized with him
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All you've got to do is choose love.  That's how I live it now.  I learned a long time ago, I can feed the birds in my garden.  I can't feed them all. -- Ringo Starr, Rolling Stone magazine, May 2007<br />

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2007, 04:36:57 AM »

I think most people say the same thing about John and his moods. I think Emerick was probably pretty accurate in describing him in that respect, but I don't think he was as ignorant in the studio as he made him seem. He probably just didn't communicate well in the way Geoff was used to. Lennon was coming from a creative standpoint and Emerick more technical. John obviously knew what he was doing but didn't care to sit there explaining it in a way an engineer could understand it.
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Bobber

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #35 on: February 01, 2007, 08:57:30 AM »

I think Paul was most interested when it came to studio things. He was willing to learn and might have been to one with whom Geoff had most contact at the time. That could have influenced Geoff's perception of things
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Kevin

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2007, 09:35:27 AM »

Quote from: 297

Interesting, let's see:
John's 3rd solo album: we can consider that it was Sometime In New York City (1972)
Paul's 3rd solo album: we can consider that it was Wild Life (1971)
George's 3rd solo album: we can consider that it was Dark Horse (1974)

... not exactly good examples of their solo career, I think, but which one was the best!!! ::) ... if it's unfair for John's and Paul's why not for George's? They all released better albums before and after that 3rd album!!!  :-/
But I agree with Kevin: the 3rd album can be seen as the real test for most of the artists! ;)

Dang. I knew someone would do that. It's not a golden rule of course, but George's situation is a little different. Prior to ATMP he had been a song-here song-there kinda guy. It really was his first real effort as a recording artist, while G & P were already established recording artists. (make sense?).
But I'm sure there are plenty of instances where the 3rd album blues doesn't apply, but you can see their point.
As for which is the best? STINYC for me. It's a musical powerhouse, and the lyrics are OK by me. Poor John - it was supposed to be his maesterwerk wasn't it? I think he just totally misjudged his audience, who wanted nice Beatley songs.
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raxo

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2007, 10:54:32 AM »

Half of the album is credited to ... Yoko!!!(except in 4, she's included in all of the tracks credits ... John and Yoko copying Paul and Linda?) :P

Woman Is The black person (Lennon-Ono)
Sisters O Sisters (Ono)
Attica State (Lennon-Ono)
Born In A Prison (Ono)
New York City (Lennon)

Sunday Bloody Sunday (Lennon-Ono)
The Luck Of The Irish (Lennon-Ono)
John Sinclair (Lennon)
Angela (Lennon-Ono)  
We're All Water (Ono)

Cold Turkey (Lennon)
Don't Worry Kyoko (Ono)

Well ... (Baby, Please Don't Go) (Ward)
Jamrag (Lennon-Ono)
Scumbag (Lennon-Ono-Zappa)
Au  (Lennon-Ono)


Anyway, the "3rd album" rule, with these three? artists, only makes clear which are their worst mainstream works ever! ;D
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harihead

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2007, 02:52:34 PM »

Quote from: 216
I don't think [John] was as ignorant in the studio as he made him seem. He probably just didn't communicate well in the way Geoff was used to. Lennon was coming from a creative standpoint and Emerick more technical. John obviously knew what he was doing but didn't care to sit there explaining it in a way an engineer could understand it.
I'm agreeing with Sandra and Bobber about this. I think Paul really was more interested in techy stuff. As he and George were both producing other artists, it served them to learn the lingo. John just didn't care to learn that particular part of it. He would say, "Make me sound like the Dalai Lama singing from a mountaintop," as opposed to, "Let's distort that by 47 microdecibels and retard the applification curve, all right?"  ;D

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Re: Geoff Emerick
« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2007, 05:25:43 AM »

Quote from: 551

It's amazing how George couldn't play a note in the studio.....

Huh?  I hope, in some way, I am taking this out of context.
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