Get Back is largely the 2021 Peter Jackson film of same name in book form, featuring photographs from Linda McCartney and Ethan A. Russell, as well as frames from Michael Lindsay-Hogg & crew’s film footage, and a script put together from the audio recordings by John Harris. I mostly came for the pictures, and as a Beatles fanboy from way back—thank you Candy Flip—I’ve been on a bit of a binge recently, owing to the fiftieth anniversary of their albums. This copy is one of the Target Exclusive copies, and includes four “lobby cards” in an envelope at the back of the book.
If you’re curious what these lobby cards look like, well… I am too. I left the envelope sealed with the thought that the book might be more valuable one day if the envelope remains sealed. Of course, since this book was printed in the, what, millions? of copies; since I bought it from Target of all places, it’s doubtful that this thing will ever fetch much more than the $40 I paid for it, not in my lifetime, anyway. Oh well.
For a proper Beatles fan, this book is more or less a no-brainer. For a Linda McCartney fan, well, there are better books, as the vast majority of images—3 or 4 to 1—came Russel’s archive. For a Russell fan, well, he has a fancy-looking monograph out, featuring some of the same images from Get Back, as well as pictures of The Rolling Stones and others, all individually varnished and on fancy paper, but you could get three of these Get Back books for the price of one of those…
I fall into the first two camps and this is my first introduction to Russell. I almost pulled the trigger on his fancy book, but refrained. At this moment of 2022, I’m sorta not buying photobooks. In looking through the book, I admit that I’m far, far, more interested in the Beatles—all of whom were at least 15 years younger than I am now—and barely pay any attention to the photographs themselves, as photographs; I’m only able to see Paul or George or John or Ringo, or some combination, or Yoko or George Martin, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Peter Sellers, Billy Preston, and any number of other people in the Beatles retinue.
It strikes me that this may be a strange sort of book to “review” on my photography/photobook blog. And I suppose it is, perhaps, but not ever so much. There are many, many photographs and film stills, and many, many words. The Beatles joke, argue, cajole, pout, and make, well, maybe not their best work, but some greatness for sure. At one point in the film—and I didn’t find this part in the book as I haven’t read every word in every part, yet—Paul is noodling around on the guitar, Ringo joins in, and they sorta bash away together for a little, trying this and that, and suddenly “Get Back” is right there: the chord progression, the chugga-chugga beat and many of the lyrics. It took maybe 10 minutes and there was the song, not in its final rooftop concert form, but probably 90% and easily recognizable. Anyway, anyway, Get Back is, more or less, a photobook… it’s just one that features pictures of perhaps the most famous and “best” musicians of the last 50 or 60 years, made by a couple of really skilled photographers.
And, anyway, it’s my blog and I’ll review whatever books—or whatever—I want to, as sloppily and lackadaisically as I like.
Overall, I rate Get Back a sorta noncommittal Recommended, if you’re into The Beatles at all, and the color off of the late 1960s era color stocks, and Peter Jackson & Co.’s remastering, is fabulous and not to be missed.
Get Back was printed in a massive edition and remains available all over. The “Target Exclusive” edition that I have features, as mentioned, the 4 lobby cards in a sealed envelope at the back. There may be other “special” editions from other big box and global retailers. So if you want a copy, they’re out there. The special lobby card edition came with its own ISBN, and non-special, ordinary, bog standard editions are also readily available, and for far cheaper than the $40 I paid…