The reams of paper already devoted to McCartney biographies might conceivably make up a small forest on his Scottish farmland, so what is there to recommend about Sounes’ addition to the subject? Arguably, it’s the author’s name itself that’s the major draw, Sounes having earlier been praised for Down The Highway, his meticulous study of Bob Dylan.
Where Sounes scores, both here and in his Dylan tome, is in scything through the wild undergrowth of facts, misinformation and myths to present a level-headed portrait of a musician who, obviously, is still held in fascination by the public. Fab is unsurprisingly light on shock revelations or headline-grabbing scoops but, having conducted more than 200 new interviews to make sure every letter is crossed or dotted correctly, he’s produced something akin to the definitive take on an extraordinary career.
Few interviewees give away more than they have before, but it’s surely a bit of a coup to have sat down with former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos to get the inside skinny on the disastrous episode when The Beatles snubbed an invitation to meet the presidential household. Sounes is also admirably responsible in his dissection of the Heather Mills years, sifting through the tabloid salaciousness to outline chains of events with the confident, dispassionate eye of a seasoned and reliable journalist.