Just another Beatles book? Not quite.

Everytime I even think about putting my pen to paper and writing that “great Beatles'” that I know is inside of me I think of titles like this.  There are book about The Beatles’, and then there are things that are much greater.  Jonathan Gould’s awesome tome definitely falls in the latter category.

It’s about so much more than the Fab Four.  It’s bigger than a dissection of songs and chords.  It’s all encompasing of an era.  It encapsulates so much, and really takes you back in time.  If you haven’t read this one yet then you absolutely should NOT miss this title.  It’s one of those essential titles that all music fans should read.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Finally, what the world has been crying out for: a book about the Beatles. This is forgivable sarcasm when you consider that there are more than 500 of them already. I must have about a dozen of them myself, and have read a dozen more. These range from the indispensable – Ian MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head, Bob Spitz’s The Beatles, the Hunter Davies and Philip Norman works and, for my money the most fascinating of them all, Devin McKinney’s inspirational, insanely ambitious Magic Circles – to some of the shoddiest and most opportunistic verbiage you will encounter in the course of a reading life. Anyone with any sense of professional pride now writing about the group must feel like a treasure hunter going over ground that has been thoroughly ransacked by hundreds of people, some armed with pretty sophisticated detection equipment.

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New Lennon book collects John interviews.

So sorry folks for the lack of regular updates since the New Year, but things have been busy around here.  We have been playing with redesigning the blog and making some changes to things around here.  Please bear with me as I make some changes, and bring in some really new and exciting content!

We are looking at more ways of making the blog even more active for 2009 , and should unveil a great redesign in the coming week(s).  For now, though updates will be a bit spotty.

For now though it looks like a new John Lennon title is collecting some interviews from the late-great legend. We look forward to hearing more details about it in the near future. It looks promising.  Any new Lennon titles is always promising.


Here’s what we’ve read.

New Book Collects John Lennon’s Essential Interviews

JOHN LENNON: The Essential Interviews collects the pop music legend’s most candid and inspirational interactions with the media. Available for advanced order and immediate delivery from Rock Reader Books here: (http://www.lulu.com/content/5363419), this exciting new book – which is also now available for download – will be formally released March 3, 2009 through traditional and online book retailers.

Beginning in the sensational heyday of the Beatles, The Essential Interviews traces Lennon’s personal and creative evolution over the span of the next fifteen years up until his tragic murder in December 1980. Allowing the iconic musician to tell his own story, JOHN LENNON: The Essential Interviews finds the genius behind most of the Beatles best songs, delivering the memorable, newsworthy sentiments that captivated the media and record buying public alike.

Compiled by pop music journalist John D. Luerssen specifically for Rock Reader Books,

this project offers direct perspective from Lennon on how the following legendary sentiments took shape:

“Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

“Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.”

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”

Thanks for John

HarperCollins signs McCartney bio.

I cannot think of the last time I read a really earth shaking biography of Paul McCartney.  There aren’t just that many high-quality titles out there about our dear boy Paul.  I mean, some of the history has yet to be written.  If he keeps putting music out that’s been as good as his last few albums, and the few tracks from his upcoming LP. 

I must say though, that one of the best music books period that I have ever read was about McCartney and his avant garde side,  The Unknown McCartney by Ian Peel.  If you have never seen it before, it’s well worth hunting down. You will learn of things that you haven’t heard or seen before.  This book will need an update though once the new Fireman album comes out.

Here’s what we’ve read.

HarperCollins has acquired a new biography of Sir Paul McCartney by Bob Dylan biographer Howard Sounes.

The book, as yet untitled, will be published in autumn 2010. Natalie Jerome, editorial director for Harper Non-Fiction, bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown for an undisclosed sum. The book will be published simultaneously in the USA by Da Capo Press, and in Canada by Doubleday, with translation rights sold in Germany, Denmark, Finland and Holland.

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BOOK: “Hey Jude” and the Death of Sixties British Pop

We have read those books about the songwriting of The Beatles.   We have read about the history of the 1960’s.  Heck, we’ve read about The Beatles as businessmen.  Lots of these topics have been approached and regurgitated many many times. Most of us probably know it by heart.

There are, however, few books that delve into the history of the music business in a readable, entertaining, way.  Something that moves beyond simple businessmen and promoters recalling what it was like to scrape together concerts.  Something more than just listening to producers and engineers reminisce about how challenging it was to get by on 4-Track tape machines and how it was magical, and forced them to get creative.  Readers want more than just recalled mamories, business ledgers, and cultural impact pieces.  If that sounds like something you are looking for then read on dear friends.

Book Cover

Here’s what we’ve read.

Gordon Thompson is Professor of Music at Skidmore College. His book, Please Please Me: Sixties British Pop, Inside Out, offers an insider’s view of the British pop-music recording industry.  In the post below he looks at the end of 60’s Brit-Pop.

Tucked into a tight lane off busy Wardour Street in London’s Soho district, the Beatles gathered on 31 July 1968 to begin something they had done only a few times previously: record outside the safe confines of EMI’s Recording Studios in Abbey Road. They had grown increasingly dissatisfied with EMI’s reluctance to invest in competitive equipment, while bands like the Rolling Stones and the Who had been recording in American studios for years. These bands flocked to Los Angeles both because of the recording culture and because of technology that EMI had postponed installing: eight-track recording decks instead of the four-track decks common in British studios. When the Beatles arrived at Soho’s Trident Studios for “Hey Jude,” they intended to add vocals to their EMI four-track recording of the musical backing. However, when they heard playback on the eight-track Ampex decks through Trident’s sound system, they immediately relegated the first tape as rehearsal and began working anew.

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Paul McCartney and Yoko furious over John Lennon’s ‘gay lust’ book.

OK ladies and gentleman I’ve have begun reading this book, and I must not have gotten this far yet.  Boy oh boy does this little bit of news make the book that much more interesting.  The news sounds like something out of the tabloids to me.

This is not the first time that we’ve heard grumblings about John Lennon lusting after another man. We all know that allegedly John Lennon and Brian Epstein supposedly did or did not have some kind of tryst on a trip to Spain together in 1963.  It did happen, it did not happen, we really do not know for sure.

In this new book Phillip Norman accuses Lennon of further lust with his bandmate Paul McCartney and his own mother.   Now, that’s just taking things a bit too far.  I personally don’t believe it. 

Here’s a description of the book, John Lennon: The Life, by Philip Norman.

For more than a quarter century, Philip Norman’s internationally bestselling Shout! has been unchallenged as the definitive biography of the Beatles. Now, at last, Norman turns his formidable talent to the Beatle for whom belonging to the world’s most beloved pop group was never enough. Drawing on previously untapped sources, and with unprecedented access to all the major characters, here is the comprehensive and most revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.

This masterly biography takes a fresh and penetrating look at every aspect of Lennon’s much-chronicled life, including the songs that have turned him, posthumously, into a near-secular saint. In three years of research, Norman has turned up an extraordinary amount of new information about even the best-known episodes of Lennon folklore—his upbringing by his strict Aunt Mimi; his allegedly wasted school and student days; the evolution of his peerless creative partnership with Paul McCartney; his Beatle-busting love affair with a Japanese performance artist; his forays into painting and literature; his experiments with Transcendental Meditation, primal scream therapy, and drugs. The book’s numerous key informants and interviewees include Sir Paul McCartney, Sir George Martin, Sean Lennon—whose moving reminiscence reveals his father as never before—and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candor about the inner workings of her marriage to John.

Honest and unflinching, as John himself would wish, Norman gives us the whole man in all his endless contradictions—tough and cynical, hilariously funny but also naive, vulnerable and insecure—and reveals how the mother who gave him away as a toddler haunted his mind and his music for the rest of his days.

I’ll give you my own thoughts on this once I finish the book for myself in a future review.  For now, this news leaves more than a few people (Yoko and Paul) steaming mad.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Sir Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono are furious after a new book they helped with accuses John Lennon of wanting a gay relationship with Macca.

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New John Lennon biography to hit shelves.

Our bookstores are overwhelmed with books about john Lennon.  We all know this.  There are tons of them out there.  Moreso than any other member of The Beatles, there are more books about John Lennon than any given person can deal with.  I know, I own most of them.  Most of these books are unremarkable.  Most books are simple retellings of an familiar story.  It is a rarity, at this point, to get any real insight into the figure of Lennon.

When I read the initial announcement about this new title, though, I got excited.  This upcoming book about John Lennon looks to be different.  This title, John Lennon: The Life, is penned by one the world’s foremost Beatle scholars, Philip Norman.  If anyone is not familiar with his book, Shout!, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.  You should be headed to your library to check it out immediately.  It is an indispensible title in anyone’s Beatles’ library.

This book, undoubtedly, will be no different.  Look for our own review in the near future.


 Here’s what we’ve read.

Phillip Norman wrote one of the first and still one of the best Beatles histories (“Shout!,” 1981), and though he claims to have corrected many “inaccuracies and misjudgments” from that earlier work, there just isn’t much new to say about the group’s historic, hysterical popularity or John Lennon’s role in it.

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Mike Douglas producer to write Lennon book, and wants your help.

It appears that fans of John and Yoko will have a new book to look forward to in the near future.  In this title we get a first-hand account of John and Yoko’s time on The Mike Douglas Show.  Again, I love the little peaks into these moments in history.  It really makes history come alive, and once again we get this small portrait, a window in time. We get to see the great energy that John and Yoko had on the show.  It truly was entertaining.

This book project is a little different, however.  We, the fans, may have some input into the project itself.  The author, Michael Krauss, was the producer of the Mike Douglas show.  He is asking for a fan’s perspective of the book, and wants your input.  If anyone live close to Connecticut, or would like to email Michael Krauss and his team, it looks like they would like to talk about the project.

Here’s the scoop that I got from Michael Krauss’s people in an email:

My boss is Michael Krauss who may be familiar to you as the producer of the Mike Douglas show at the time when John and Yoko co-hosted. He was telling me stories of the good old days when the topic of the beatles came up and he mentioned his pivotal role in the Mike Douglas show as the producer and the guy who had the idea to contact John and Yoko. He’s decided to create a scrapbook-coffee table book type thing out of pictures, files, old interviews, and other doodads.

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A new book on the business/breakup of the Beatles due in 2010.

It looks like Mark Lewisohn may have some competiton in the near future on the reference book front.  It seems that the press releases and announcements are getting farther and farther in the future.

This book looks more than promising, and is long overdue.  I’m glad in a way that it won’t come out for two more years.  The Apple vs. Apple section (hopefully) will shed some light on the long and arduous process of getting our Fab Four into the downloading game as well.  A well researched look at Apple records, and the business end of the Beatles as has been long overdue.  We’ll kep you posted.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Will Sulkin at the Bodley Head has acquired UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights in Peter Doggett’s You Never Give Me Your Money – Moguls, Monsters and Moptops: The Amazing 40-Year Battle to Own the Beatles. The deal was struck with Rupert Heath at the Rupert Heath Literary Agency, and the book is scheduled to be published in April 2010, the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ break-up.

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Book REVIEW: Beatles for Sale: How Everything They Touched Turned to Gold.

I really thought that I had read everything there was to know about The Beatles.  Scholars and fans of the Fab Four have read a lot of the same re-hashed stories of their rise from working-class Liverpool to the center of the entertainment hurricane.  They were, as John liked to put it, in the eye of the hurricane.  We know the stories.  The history has almost become a cliche.  It’s been told time and time again.

Rare is it that a Beatle book stops me in my tracks, and at least puts a new spin on the Fabs and not only entertains me, but also reveals layers and bits of the Beatles onion that I had not seen before.  I am not a stranger to author John Blaney’s previous work.  He wrote what I consider to be one of the best reference/discogrpahy works on any artist.  His previous book, John Lennon: Listen to This Book,  is nothing short of stellar, and I highly recommend seeking it out. (Check out our review of that title.)

Blaney’s newest book takes readers into the eye of the hurricane, and shows us how the Fab Four really were responsible for creating the (20th century) modern music industry as we know it.  Prior to The Beatles arrival to the music scene the public had not seen mass-marketing of artists, and gigantic world tours.  For the first time, readers and fans really get to see the ins and outs of how The Beatles were strategically placed to take over the world through extensive touring, merchandising, and packaging as a product. I know that sounds like a bash, but it’s a huge part of Beatle history.  They really were the model for the way the majority of our music is sold and spread to the masses.  The book reads as a narrative history, at a whirwind pace. 

What is most interesting to me in this book is how little control the group itself had over how they were packaged and sold.  We know, and are shown in this book, the shoddy business practices that were afforded to the artists themselves.  We get to see how little say the group had in how their likeness and images were used and sold as a commodity.  It almost makes you feel sorry for the boys, but its the price you pay for success.  For anyone who is interested in peeling back the layers and seeing the business and promotional side of The Beatles, John Blaney goes behind the current and shows the Beatle machine hard at work, even today, and the view is fascinating. 

Here’s what we’ve read.

Beatles For Sale is a brand new way of looking at a story you may think you know inside out. Author John Blaney shows for the first time how the group and their inner circle invented so much of what we now recognise as the modern business of making and selling rock music. This was certainly not because Lennon, McCartney, Epstein, and the rest had a clear vision of the way things ought to be. Very often it was simply down to making things up as they went along (because no one had been there before and no one knew how to do these things).

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Expert says The Beatles’ full story still to be told.

There are a million books about the Fab Four.  There are a ton of them out there.  They run the gambit between exquisite, and a shambles.  There is one scholar who time and time again has really set himself apart though.  There are Beatle authors, and then there is Mark Lewisohn.  His work really sits above all the rest.  There are no other Beatle books like his.  They define essential.

Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn gives a talk at the Beatles story exhibition

Mark Lewisohn is raising the bar yet again.  His upcoming tome on the history of The Beatles will stand as the definitive work on the Fab Four.  It’s a three-volume set, and a chronological history of our beloved group.  This title, to me, is the most anticipated Beatle-related release since the Anthology itself.  It will keep all of us fans busy for some time to come.  I, for one, cannot wait.  Maybe it’s the librarian in me, yes folks, I am a librarian by day, but I cannot wait for thsi book.  Maybe I’ll camp out on the night of its release.  

Here’s a question for you then, dear reader’s. 
What’s on your Beatle required reading list? 
Please share your favorite Beatle books in the comments below.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Their impact was felt way beyond the musical world. For that reason alone, there has probably been more written about the Beatles than any other group.

But renowned Beatles expert and professional historian Mark Lewisohn believes the full story of the four guys from Liverpool has still yet to be told.

Last night, he told an audience at the city’s first Beatles literary festival how he has undertaken a mammoth 17-year project to tell the definitive history of the group and of the times in which they lived.

Mr Lewisohn is currently hard at work on the first of what will eventually be a three-volume biography of the Fab Four, the first time any pop or rock group has been subjected to such in-depth scholarly treatment.

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