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).
The book details the ups and downs of the group as they promoted, advertised, and sold records, played concerts, sold merchandise, made films, and set up publishing and record companies of their own. It is a story of naivety and greed, inexperience and luck, gullibility and ingenuity. It is the story of every aspect of how The Beatles made money (and how virtually every group since then has followed in their footsteps).
Source: Jawbone Press