Per Gessle contributed to a book, The Beatles – Album by Album: The Band and Their Music by Insiders, Experts & Eyewitnesses, published in 2019. It’s an original telling of the Fab Four’s story. This informative work tells the story of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr from the band’s formative days in Hamburg to the split in 1970.
General Editor is Beatles insider Brian Southall, a former Press Officer at EMI (dealing with the Beatles’ solo projects) who began writing about music in the 1960s on a local newspaper. He published his first book – the official history of Abbey Road Studios – in 1982.
For this book, Brian gathered a team of experts – including former Apple Records CEO Tony Bramwell, singer Steve Harley, Sir Tim Rice and producer Chris Thomas – to write about each of the band’s record releases, from Please Please Me to Let It Be.
The English edition of the book is available HERE for example, but it’s also published in other languages.
It’s a very informative and well-edited Beatles book including tons of photos from studio sessions, live appearances, travelling etc. You’ll find info about each one of the Beatles albums including what the Beatles said about them and also what the critics said. Very enjoyable reading not only for die-hard Beatles nerds.
Per talks about the Beatles quite often in interviews and he can’t really put together a podcast top list of his favourite songs in different topics without adding a Beatles hit. His love for the Beatles’ music is neverending and even if you might have heard most of what he tells in this book, it’s always great to read his enthusiastic thoughts on music.
PG about Rubber Soul
Per says in the book that he loves the sleeve because he loves John Lennon’s jacket. He has the cover picture by Robert Freeman in his office. He thinks the album has a very cool title.
’Norwegian Wood’ is one of my favourite tracks, then ’Think For Yourself’ with the fuzz guitar and ’Girl’ because of that magic Lennon voice. There were three writers but there were also three singers, which meant you never got bored with their sound.
Per thinks maybe the reason they were able to do all their music in such a short time was because there were three generators. They had so much energy and so many ideas that maybe they just had to pour it out. Per says in the book that we will never see that sort of output again in our lifetime. He also adds that pop music’s essence is to reflect the era when it is born.
PG about Revolver
I always say 1966 is the best year for pop music – and that’s because of ’Revolver’, which is such a great album. ’And Your Bird Can Sing’ is my favourite track and ’Taxman’ is such a great song. ’Here, There and Everywhere’ was played at my wedding; and they make it sound simple but if you try to play it, it’s really complicated.
In the book Per shares that he thinks it’s almost a perfect album and loves the sleeve by Klaus Voorman. He thinks this one is much heavier than Rubber Soul and it’s the last album where the songs were classic Beatles pop music but still had that edge in the production and the sound.
The guitar sound is heavier, it has much more rock to it than ’Rubber Soul’, which is much more of a pop record; and I think that’s what appeals to musicians and writers about ’Revolver’ – the hardest thing to do as a writer is to come up with a great pop song and make it raw, make it rough.
Mr. G tells in the book that in 1981 Gyllene Tider was the biggest band in Sweden and they released a special EP with four cover versions including the Beatles And Your Bird Can Sing, which he translated into Swedish and thinks it sounds really terrible. They tried to make it similar but weren’t capable. [GT’s cover is ‘Och jorden den är rund‘ from the ‘Swing & Sweet’ bonus EP to ‘Moderna Tider’. /PP]
We were in our early twenties and it was just like a throwaway thing – you could do that back then, just after punk and new wave – but today you can’t really touch that stuff.
PG about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
In the book Per tells wherever you went, when it was released everyone played it, no matter where it was. It doesn’t happen today with any artist.
PG about The Beatles (The White Album)
Musically, I remember ’The White Album’ the best as I was nine years old. It was just an amazing record. It was so mesmerizing. I was really into pop music very early on because I had an older brother who showed me around pop music. I must have first heard it when it first came out: my brother would have bought it when it came out.
Per tells the author The White Album was so cool and Dear Prudence is his favourite song. He also always loved Cry Baby Cry.
There is some rawness to that album that is very appealing to me; and it felt like it was a wild album after ’Sgt. Pepper’ was more controlled.
Mr. G says in the book that everything about the album was special. He mentions Richard Hamilton’s white sleeve and the fact that it wasn’t too common to have lyrics printed with the album. Since English is their second language, being able to read the lyrics while hearing it was great.
I still have an original numbered album. The cover is a blank page and it goes so well with what the album is all about – it’s a blank page and was so different from ’Sgt. Pepper’.
Per thinks it was a magical record that opened up your imagination a lot. Not releasing any singles from the album is the opposite of how it is today and how it was in the fifties when it was all about singles.
Mr. G tells in the book that Benny Andersson from ABBA said once to him that the only song that he wished he had written was Martha My Dear and Per can understand him very well.
To be able to write and play it you have to have a certain musicality that you can’t really learn, it has to be inside you.
The track ’Revolution 9’ was unbearable when you were nine years old but looking back it was the perfect follow-up to ’Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ’A Day in the Life’. Back then you had never heard anything like it before and that was obviously the only track you skipped when you played it.
Per says in the book that the production on The White Album is much more raw than Sgt. Pepper.
There is a hint of studio tricks but there’s also ’Helter Skelter’, which is like a jam session and ’Back in the U.S.S.R.’, which they could have played live just the way it was recorded.