With The Beatles: Inside Beatlemania

We were in the city of Sydney last week and dropped by our fave discount bookshop to see if there was any Beatle treasure lurking there. And there was. Stacked on one table where multiple copies of this very beautifully produced large-format hardback:01_Beatles

The book’s full title is LIFE With The Beatles: Inside Beatlemania, and it features hundreds of never-before-seen and rare photographs by Robert Whitaker, who was hired by the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein to document what was happening to the band for two crazy years between 1964 and 1966.

Typical of LIFE magazine, the book has a wealth of great and unusual images:09_Beatles04_Beatles

A Google search revealed a website for a company called Li’l Robin, the people who actually worked on the design and layout of the book. Their site has more images from inside. It’s very much worth a look. Li’l Robin has also produced a digital version of this book:03_Beatles_iPad-566x379Nice. Amazon has a “Look Inside” if you would like a further peek at the contents.

Four Second-hand Beatle Books

There’s nothing like poking around second-hand book and record fairs for an hour or two looking for Beatle treasure – especially if the monies raised are for a good cause.

Every year the Lifeline organisation holds a huge used book sale at Knox Grammar, a posh private school on Sydney’s upper north shore. It is BIG. A very large hall in the school grounds is filled to bursting with books – and usually a wide selection of CD’s too.

This year we were lucky enough to get there late on Day One of the sale before everything had been picked over too much. Here’s what we found:Winding Road frontWinding Road rearNeville Stannard’s The Long and Winding Road – A History of the Beatles on Record was first published in 1982. Back then (and you have to remember this was pre-Internet!) it gathered together for the first time knowledge about every Beatle record and song – for both the UK and US markets: who wrote each song, why, how and when; how, when and where each was recorded; how many copies sold; chart positions; cover images and other artwork. That sort of info was available – but never gathered together in the one place. In this sense Stannard’s book was a trail-blazer and remains a valuable reference work. The book we have here is the second edition (published a year later in 1983) and as such has many corrections and revisions to the original. Really good to have in the collection.

Next find was A Day in the Life – The Music and Artistry of the Beatles by Mark Hertsgaard.Day in the Life frontDay in the Life rear

Got to admit we don’t know much about this hardback. Mark Hertsgaard is a journalist and author better known for his writing on climate change and so this work on the Beatles looks to be born from a personal love and knowledge of the band and its music. It was published in 1995 and reviews posted online look good. Looking forward to reading it and learning more!

Mark Hayward, the author of The Beatles – On Camera, Off Guard (2009) is also responsible for this earlier Beatles work:Beatles Unseen

Hayward is an avid collector of Beatle images and over thirty years has built up one of the largest collections of Beatle photographs in private hands. The Beatles Unseen (2005) is a large, hardback book where the best and most interesting private photographs are curated and presented. Mostly informal, un-posed images, they shine an insiders light on the band – a “behind-the-scenes” look at their home and work life. It is a book you can flip through and dip into at random – sort of like a family album. Typical is this sequence. It shows the 1968 wedding of Paul McCartney’s brother Michael McCartney (a.k.a. Mike McGear) to Angela Fishwick in the village of Carrog in North Wales. Paul is with then girlfriend Jane Asher:Beatles Unseen1Beatles Unseen2Beatles Unseen3Beatles Unseen4“Unseen” family photographs are also the theme of the final book we walked out of the Lifeline second-hand book fair with:Lennon Family Album fronyLennon Family Album rear

Nishi Saimaru began working with the Lennon family in 1976 and served as their personal assistant and photographer until 1979. As a companion to the Lennons during their travels both in the US and in Asia he was able to capture family members in private moments while on the move – on holiday and at play. This sequence, taken in 1978, shows John, Yoko and son Sean with friends and neighbours at a birthday party held in Central Park, New York for both John and Sean (they share the same birth date). John was thirty-eight and Sean was three:Lennon Family Album1Lennon Family Album2Lennon Family Album3Lennon Family Album4Lennon Family Album5The John Lennon Family Album is a soft back book published in Australia in 1990. It was originally published in 1982 in Japan, and again in Japan in 1990. We believe there were also US and UK editions of this book.

 

Imagine – The Story of a Song

Charles J. Shields is a respected biographer and author. His literary studies of Kurt Vonnegut (And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life – 2011) and Harper Lee (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee – 2006) have been widely recognised as significant works on these two authors.

Now he’s turned his attention to one song. And a significant song at that: John Lennon’s “Imagine”.imaginecover

“Twenty-two lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world to repair and change itself,” said Rolling Stone. Only 183 seconds long, the simple melody and poetry captured the wounded hopefulness of its moment–and transcended its time to inspire generations that followed.”

In Imagine: The Story of a Song Shields traces the song’s origins. Interestingly, he begins with the fire-bombing of Tokyo during Yoko Ono’s youth, and the violent death of Lennon’s mother during his adolescence. From there he moves through Lennon’s post-Ed Sullivan skepticism to John and Yoko’s “Bed-In” events of 1969 and unearths the secrets of this one song’s lasting import. If music can change the world, “Imagine” came as close as any song might. This short Kindle book (37 pages) is its story.

Imagine: The Story of a Song is available as an Amazon Kindle for US$4.99. You can even have a brief “look inside” before you buy.

Shields is also the author of this brief thought piece on John Lennon entitled “5 Surprising Ways John Lennon Changed the World“.  Worth a look.

Great New Beatles Book – “Beatles 101″

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide by Richard Buskin is an impressive new Beatles book for anyone just starting out on the Beatle knowledege journey, or for die-hard fans who want to know more. It is a genuine one-stop-shop containing all the vital facts about the band:Beatles 101 frontBeatles 101 rear

There is so much information and research in here. There are individual chapters which could have been whole books, for example the eight-page chapter on The Beatles Anthology. It’s a great example of Buskin succinctly summarising every aspect of this significant Beatle project. Everything in the rest of the book is similarly very nicely distilled and concise. It is also very easy to read.

Beatles 101 is not presented as a purely chronological walk-through of the career. Topics are tackled more by categories of interest. That means you can easily dip in at various points and read very well-written and well-informed articles across a wide range of different aspects detailing the life and works of the Beatles. At the back of the book, for example, are a series of great, original interviews with some of the key people who worked with the band in the studio. There’s George Martin of course, but also the likes of Norman “Hurricane” Smith, Ken Scott, Glyn Johns, Alan Parsons and Eddie Kramer. We guarantee that even the most knowledgable fan will find something they didn’t know here.

This book also has some great photos – many not previously seen (especially of people and places) which all help to illustrate the wealth of information the book contains. This includes one very early shot of author Buskin standing beside another mad Beatle fan – who just happens to be a young Mark Lewisohn. The two didn’t know each other at the time – it is just a co-incidental snap of two fans, taken outside the gates of Strawberry Fields in Liverpool….

But perhaps the greatest and most unique visual element to Beatles 101 is the many colour plates depicting original artworks by Eric Cash:Beatles_TheIntroductionBeatles_HeyJude

These are terrific. We should also say that the company which produced the book is marketing a range of iPad, iPad Mini and iPhone covers featuring some of the best Beatle images painted by Cash and used in this book. They look great and you can order them online at Eric’s site, or through Amazon:Eric Cash2Eric Cash1

As well as being an author, Richard Buskin co-hosts (with Robert Rodriguez) a great new Beatles podcast called Something About the Beatles. This, in our humble opinion, is one of the best podcasts going around.

Beatles 101 – The Need-to-Know Guide is published by Parading Press.

If you’d like to hear an informative and fun interview with Richard Buskin about Beatles 101, have a listen to the podcast Fab4Free4All. Download Episode 94 in which the guys spend a good hour with Buskin discussing the book. It’s well worth a listen.

All the Songs – The Story Behind Every Beatles Release

Another Beatles book has come into the collection. It is an impressive one which we are surprised we missed when it was released just last year. Maybe it became overshadowed by Lewisohns’ massive Tune In, and Howlett’s Beatles BBC Archive books – also released last year and both with great publicity and much fanfare.

All The Songs – The Story of Every Beatles Release is up there with them as a reference work and a piece of research. Principally the work of two Frenchmen, Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon (assisted by American Scott Freiman, and with a Preface by the legendary Patti Smith), this book huge and is pretty much as it states in the title – each album and each song on that album dissected and explained in great detail.All the Songs Front

Here’s the rear cover:All the Songs Rear

It is a big, heavy book – 671 pages in all – and with a great layout, lots of photos, memorabilia, and artistic flair in the design and layout:All the Songs ContentsAll the Songs Please 1All the Songs Please 2

There is a good amount of detail too, plus lots of snippets of information if you just want to casually browse:

All the Songs Detail 1All the Songs Detail 2Some background on All the Songs from the official press release:

Drawing on decades of research, the authors recount the circumstances that led to the composition of every song, the recording process, and the instruments used. Organized chronologically by album release and illustrated with 600 black & white and color photographs, this information-packed book provides readers a comprehensive look at how The Beatles changed music forever.

Throughout the song-by-song recording history are informative details such as John Lennon’s purchase of a 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri for £100 in Hamburg, in 1960. Diving into The Beatles’ song and album recording process, readers discover that The Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me, was recorded in one epic 12-hour session in 1963 for £400. In contrast, they spent month after month in 1967 layering sounds on a four-track recorder to create their masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Praise for All the Songs:

“Enough technical tables to please everyone’s inner nerd” — The Wall Street Journal

“[This] doorstop collects a galaxy of Beatles song data into impressively simple and digestible form. Beautifully illustrated.” — SPIN

“If you’re looking for yet another attractive book to place with a Beatles coffee-table tableaux, there’s Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin’s ‘All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release’ ”— Chicago Tribune

“[All the Songs] should delight casual listeners and make even hard-core Beatlemaniacs smile.” — The Dallas Morning News

There are more reviews here, and here, and there’s an interesting Q&A with the authors here.

You can see the first 21 pages in high quality on the publishers (Black Dog & Leventhal) website, and Amazon has a “Look Inside” if you would like to see more.

Time – The Beatles Invasion

This commemorative magazine is now finally available from newsagent stores in Australia:Beatles Invasion 6

It seems to have different covers for different markets. Here are two variations we’ve found:Beatles Invasion 2Beatle Invasion 4Amongst the many commemorative publications in this 50th anniversary year Steve Marinucci at Beatles Examiner gives Time’s The Beatles Invasion an “A” rating: “This is a great book. Spitz’s text in the 114 pages sticks to the American invasion in 1964 from the arrival to the end of the tour in Miami.”

Marinucci also gives The Smithsonian and Grammy magazine The Beatles in America (which we mentioned here) an “A-“.

If you’d like to see more of The Beatles Invasion Amazon has a limited “Look Inside” feature where you can get a better idea of the contents. Despite the different cover the layout and content inside looks to be exactly the same. It is a great little book with terrific text and photos.

The Beatles Are Bigger in Britain than the US

Looking at a copy of the UK version of Kevin Howlett’s The Beatles: the BBC Archives: 1962-1970 at our favourite Sydney discount bookstore we noticed something odd.

We already have a copy of the US edition (published by Harper Design) in the collection, but this UK one (published by BBC Books) looked and felt different….

Turns out it’s BIGGER (US on the left, UK on the right):IMG_0451IMG_0447

And what is printed on the rear of the box which holds the book is different, too: IMG_0454