Beatles Books

A Brief Review of buying Beatles stuff

I have alluded to several books on this blog and so, with Christmas long gone and books, book tokens, book sales and replacements being favoured activities here are some thoughts about books and buying Beatles stuff in. Since I first wrote this blog Mark Lewisohn has published his new meisterwerk Tune-In (2013), which covers everything you ever wanted to know about the Beatles up to Love Me Do. Not only is it a real work of scholarship that moves past the errors in earlier works (by others) to provide both a definitive and balanced account of the flaming pie that gave us The Beatles  but it is a is now the key text for fans as he has interviewed many of them to help contextualise the narrative. I will be rereading it for pleasure.

Records; Of course I am assuming that you will have already gotten the remasters, a key topic of this blog, and they produce a great narrative of Beatle life, but if not I would recommend the following five albums in order.

1) White Album; “the greatest group in the world at the height of their powers” Marmalade Skies

2) Revolver; when then they learnt to play the studio with Geoff Emerick.

3) Hard Days Night; Merseybeat in excelsis 5th Best British Rock Album according to Q in 2000 and composed entirely of Lennon-McCartney songs

4) Rubber Soul; great folk-rock influenced epic by Dylan & Crosby as they lift off (with one last blast of misogyny)

5) Abbey Road; the most polished and 21st century sounding of their albums; White Album Part 2 meets Love Part 1

Acidheads, mellotron-freaks and prog-revivalists (hello Italy!) should head to the Magical Mystery Tour for a breakfast of semolina pilchards and an English tan. A painless MashUp of all things Beatles for the kids is the wonderful Love! The show in Las Vegas is worth seeing too; it feels just like sitting next to Ringo in Abbey Road studio 2 as the music is from the master tapes 🙂

BOOKS

Before I wrote this blog I thought there were only two Beatles book that anyone would ever need and they were both British. Ian McDonald’s “Revolution In The Head” and Mark Lewisohn’s “The Complete Beatles Studio Recording” (now out of print) which both put you at the centre of The Beatles world in the 1960s. Perhaps that is still all that you will ever need to read however recent American scholarship and enthusiasm pretty much trumps those two, in my opinion. Yes I can’t believe it either! So what are the other books worth buying?  Read the rest of this entry »

The Word is Love

Nostalgia, the pinpricks of precise memories, can be triggered by certain smells, sensations or sounds. I have my fair share of these and also experience the ghostly effects of deja vu from time-to-time. But I always have strong images associated with pretty much everything in the Beatles catalogue, because they came out when I was young and impressionable. Day Tripper reminds me of the sudden hush descending on the queue I was waiting in for a haircut at Boarding School the day after it was released and we finally got to hear it. We Can Work It Out reminds me of chipping my brother Dave whilst playing football in the garden with him.

Rubber Soul simultaneously reminds me  of being in Boarding School, where I heard it, and of escaping from there, where it pointed; Signpost and direction. Rubber Soul was the first Beatles album I bought and so was the first I took to heart and spent time decoding the unknown world it was revealing to me.  Unlike the couple of other albums I had at the time it didn’t seem to be offering me a bunch of catchy songs for entertainment, but rather to be grappling with the malleable human condition; Rubber Soul indeed. When The Beatles had sung Please Please Me they were actually trying to please us. However, with Unbutchered remaining unreleased,  Rubber Soul was the first album that said, hey we are different and we have something original to say. This time their artistry, and that alchemy which was typical of the Beatles studio work, had something to work on and the quality to realise it. A defining characteristic of the Beatles was anticipating trends and this time the Byrds lookalikes on the sleeve were ahead of the hippie revolution. Consequently for me The Word (Love) is the exemplar track. My story is about hearing it and the actions it inspired.  Read the rest of this entry »