Warman’s “Beatles Field Guide” Book

We found a cute little Beatle book the other day. It’s called Warman’s Beatles Field Guide. Published in 2005 it is a small (but thick at 512 pages), pocket-sized book listing prices and descriptions for a wide range of Beatle collectables.  Beatle Guide 1

Inside you’ll find articles on “Why the Beatles Still Matter” and “Ranking the Beatles” as well as commentary and information on their post-break-up and solo careers.

But the biggest and most interesting chapters are the sections on “Memorabilia” – which is a comprehensively illustrated price guide (in 2005 US$ of course!):Beatle Guide 3

The “Singles” (again lavishly illustrated and with indicative prices):Beatle Guide 5

And then a lengthy section detailing each of the “Albums”: Beatle Guide 4

These sections are all based around the US releases only – but it’s a great ‘ready-reference’ style book with a huge number of photos, background information and examples for each of the entries. A really worthwhile little book to have.Beatle Guide 2

Fab Gear – The Beatles and Fashion

DSC03479

Earlier this week we scored a pristine copy of this Beatle book from one of our favourite discount bookstores – Basement Books in central Sydney. In fact it was still sealed in heat-shrink and so it is absolutely a mint copy.

The title of this large, coffee-table style book says exactly what its content is all about: Fab Gear – The Beatles and Fashion, and author Paolo Hewitt (his blog is here) focusses on that topic exclusively. DSC03487

This book contains a wealth of photographs, like the one above, which are included because they show the variety of fashion over the years, the fine cut, or the design details of what the group were wearing at particular times. Look at those jackets John and Paul are wearing. This photo was taken at the London Palladium in February, 1965. John’s is a particularly stylish, four-button cut, while with Paul it’s the detail of the doubled-up buttons and cuffs, and the buttoned down shirt with no tie which are interesting.

As you browse through Fab Gear Hewitt gives information about where the Beatles purchased their clothing (or where they had it made), and who they knew and followed in the industry. It becomes clear that the Beatles indeed were style gurus very interested in clothing, fashion, and the design of what they wore – both as a group and as individuals. In the photos below Ringo is dressed very much in a Mod style, with his three button suit and button-down polka-dot shirt. John sports a look that Van Morrison would appropriate years later. The pair’s stylish but casual look is in contrast to the smaller, earlier picture where the band is dressed far more formally:DSC03486From the earliest stages of being a band the Beatles had a keen sense of themselves as being more than just musicians. They were a force for change and what they wore was another way of pushing the boundaries. Hewitt’s book is divided up into five main themes to examine this thesis: the early years and influences from the late1950s in Liverpool and Hamburg; the early 1960s in London and Brian Epstein’s influence on their look and style; the mid-to-late1960s and Swinging London; the Beatles and their affect on hairstyles; and a chapter dedicated to the Beatles’ venture into creating and selling their own fashion designs at the Apple clothing boutique:

DSC03482

In fact this book has one of the best chapters we’ve seen on the ill-fated Apple shop set up to sell Apple clothing and which the Beatles opened on December 7, 1967 at 94 Baker Street in London. It closed its doors just seven months later. Not only do we get the back-story to it’s inception and speedy downfall, we get images of hand-drawn designs, fabric samples and prices:DSC03483

This clip, from the movie Hot Millions, provides one of the few filmed glimpses inside the Apple shop:

There was also a separate Apple Tailoring shop (at 161 King’s Road) which included an Apple Hair salon in the basement! It is at Apple Tailoring we discover an Australian connection in the form one John Crittle. Crittle was a fashion innovator whose designs the Beatles had been taken with since the Sgt Pepper days. When they wanted to start their own tailoring company they turned to him. He’s pictured below – and if you don’t think you know his work, think again. Crittle designed the suits worn by three of the band (John, Ringo and Paul) as they walked across that famous pedestrian crossing outside the EMI studios on Abbey Road:DSC03481We are very much enjoying dipping into Fab Gear. There are so many interesting stories and you’ll never look at a Beatle album cover, publicity shot, promotional film, or magazine/newspaper image the same way again. For a quick spin through the history and influence the band had on fashion (and that fashion had on them) it’s an indispensable book. We guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t know about the Beatles:DSC03485DSC03490DSC03488DSC03491DSC03480

Two Beatle-related Second-hand Finds

A couple of weeks back we got the chance to re-visit the harbour city of Newcastle in New South Wales. We’ve previously scored some Beatle goodness there (click here, and here) and this time was no different.

The first item came from Rices Bookshop on Hunter Street:DSC03469DSC03470

The Long and Winding Road – An Intimate Guide to the Beatles is a soft cover book (124 pages) by Ted Greenwald*. Published in 1995 in the USA, it details the history of the band from different perspectives. There are biographies, discographies, details of major stage appearances, films, significant books, as well as details about Beatle family and friends. As you can see, the layout inside is rudimentary, but there is a lot of information here:DSC03471

The book is mostly chronological and there are lots of Beatle photographs, record cover images, and examples of memorabilia inside: DSC03472 DSC03473 DSC03474

Just up the road from Rices is the Indigo Bookshop. They usually only sell second-hand books, but this visit they also had some boxes of used LP’s on display which we’d not seen before. In one box we found this little Beatle-related rarity:DSC03475DSC03476

As you can see this example has some water damage to the cover (which looks worse in the photo than in reality), but the vinyl itself is in mint condition. Denny Laine of course was a long-time McCartney collaborator and member of Wings. It’s no surprise then that Paul and Linda McCartney feature on a number of tracks of this 1984 solo album by Laine. Also represented are fellow ex-Wings members Steve Holly, Denny Seiwell, Lawrence Juber and Henry McCullough.

The song ‘Send Me the Heart’ was co-written by Laine and McCartney in 1974 and has Paul on bass. It was recorded during the same Nashville Wings sessions for ‘Junior’s Farm’.

‘I Would Only Smile’ was made at the same time as the sessions for the McCartney/Wings release Red Rose Speedway (1972). Similarly ‘Weep for Love’ was an out-take from the recording sessions for the Wings 1979 LP Back to the Egg. It features backing vocals by Paul and LindaDSC03478DSC03477

So, once again the second-hand stores of Newcastle come up trumps!

* Ted Greenwald is also the author of The Beatles Companion – The Fab Four in Film, Performance, Recording and Print, published in 1992:Beatles Companion 2

Double Fantasy – Lennon & Ono in Vanity Fair Magazine

For those of us not well-heeled enough to shell out A$870 (for the standard edition), or A$1933 (for the deluxe art edition), perhaps this Vanity Fair magazine slideshow of images from a new book by photographer Kishin Shinoyama will just have to do….Double_Fantasy_1Double_Fantasy_2

Double Fantasy: John Lennon and Yoko Ono is published by Taschen Books:Double Fantasy 3

The Taschen site has some additional images in a slideshow, too.

Shinoyama’s 800 images were captured in just two days in 1980 – during the period John Lennon and Yoko Ono were in recording sessions for their album Double Fantasy. It was Shinoyama’s images that were used for the record and CD cover, front and rear:Double Fantasy 4Double Fantasy 5

And also for 1884’s Milk and Honey:Milk and Honey 1Milk and Honey 2

Eight Arms to Hold You – A Book Celebrating the Beatles “Help”

Crowdsourcing (or kick-starting) has been defined as “…the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers…” and it’s become all the rage as a way to get new projects of all sorts off the ground.

For example a friend just crowdsourced A$10,000 in funds from fans and well-wishers to help pay for studio time to record her new album. Heck, Neil Young even used it to back the multi-million dollar development of Pono, a new high-definition digital playback system.

Now comes an idea for a crowdsourced Beatle book called Eight Arms to Hold You – The Forgotten Archives:8Arms3It’s called Eight Arms to Hold You because that was the working title of the 1965 Beatle film now better known as Help!.

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the movie’s release.

Cue the specialist archival restoration publishing company, Archivum which has launched an ambitious plan to produce a limited edition, high-quality book detailing the making of that historic film – using as its centrepiece a huge cache of rare and previously unseen photographs taken during the making of the film. But to pull it off they need the help of Beatles fans around the world to pre-order the book in a variety of forms. Collectors and keen Beatle fans can help contribute to the creation of a unique, limited fan edition, with every pledger who pre-orders the first edition being immortalised with their name in the credits.

Through direct-to-fan site, Pledge Music there’s also the opportunity to directly play a part in the content, with the best stories, memorabilia and fans photographs being included. In addition, pledgers also gain the chance to attend book launches at the legendary Cavern Club and other famous Beatles venues. Alongside the collector memorabilia contributions will be great, previously unseen photos like these lavishly sprinkled throughout:8Arms18Arms2

The book will have over 250 photographic pages, featuring fully restored colour and black and white photographs. Find out the full details at pledge music.com

Lennon – “In His Own Write” and “A Spaniard in the Works” 50th Anniversary Editions

The final instalment in the Christmas/birthday gift series* features three books.

We were alerted to the impending publication of the first two last year by Wogblog. These are two faithfully reproduced replicas – re-published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of John Lennon’s two literary works. The first is In His Own Write (from 1964):

Own Write coverOwn Write rear

The back cover (above) contains a short biography penned by Lennon, done in the quirky word-play style of the whole book: I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn’t get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn’t pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P, G, and R’s) records might seem funnier to some than this book, but as far as I’m conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I’ve ever ready. God help and breed you all.

In His Own Write was John’s debut as an author, a book of stories, drawings and poems that was received with great critical acclaim and became a phenomenon – selling over 600,000 copies in the UK alone and revealing a hitherto unseen side to Lennon’s artistic output and talent.

Then, in 1965, came the follow-up A Spaniard in the Works, which continued on in a similar vein:Spaniard coverSpaniard rear

Published by Canongate Books in the UK, these are both very nicely made little hardbacks and while we haven’t ever seen or owned a copy of an original release, they look to have recreated the originals well. They’re both very reasonably priced, and form a nice addition to the collection.

Here are two typical pages from inside In His Own Write:Own Write pages

And a typical couple of pages from A Spaniard in the WorksSpaniard pages

While looking around the web to track down these two books we came across a third publication by John Lennon – this one is a similar collection of stories, drawings and poems, but this time published after his death:

Skywriting cover

Skywriting by Word of Mouth is sub-titled And Other Writings, Including “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. It was first released in 1986 and includes an afterword by Yoko Ono. Like the two other works detailed here, this book contains miscellaneous writings and cartoons. It was written during the five years that Lennon took off as a holiday from the music business and he always intended to have it published.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” section kicks off the book and it is not the same as the famous song. It ranges over 23 pages and details his life with Yoko, and talks about the Beatles’ break-up: “When I finally had the guts to tell the other three that I, quote, wanted a divorce, unquote, they knew it was for real….I felt guilty….I had Yoko – they only had each other….”, and “I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that”. Lennon says that he has no hard feelings against his former bandmates: “In retrospect, the Beatles were no more an important part of my life than any other (and less than some)”.

Lennon mentioned the manuscript in a 1980 Playboy interview: “At one point… I wrote about two hundred pages of mad stuff”. The manuscript was stolen from the Lennons’ apartment in 1982, and later recovered in 1986, when Ono had it published. Here’s a typical couple of pages:Skywriting pages

So, three books under the Christmas tree to complete our collection of John Lennon solo literary works.

P.S. Both In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works were gathered together in one volume in 1966 by Penguin Books in a book called The Penguin John Lennon. We found a second-hand copy in a bookstore in 2010. It has been re-published with different covers many times since. Quite by chance the Chained and Perfumed blog also posted an image of one of them just a couple of days ago….

* See also here, and here for more 2014 Christmas/birthday posts. 

The Beatles Lyrics – Hunter Davies

Continuing on the theme of recent Christmas and birthday gifts which have added to our ever-growing Beatles collection….

A very welcome birthday present was a copy of Hunter Davies’ new book The Beatles Lyrics – The Unseen Story Behind Their Music. This came out late last year and we’ve been keen to get our hands on it since. It joins his very good The John Lennon Letters from 2012. Davies is a prolific writer on many topics and is of course the first authorised biographer of the Beatles.Beatles Lyrics coverBeatles Lyrics rear

Davies makes the point in his introduction to The Beatles Lyrics that the work of the Beatles has been analysed ad nauseam – that is apart from the lyrics themselves. And so he set himself the task of tracking down as many original, hand-written examples of the songs as he could and then to use those to give new insights and background to each song. It makes for a fascinating read.

This Irish Times review sums it up well (and is worth reading in full): The result of these endeavours is a treasure of a book, a forensic, song-by-song exploration of the band’s creative process. Each set of lyrics is given a context by the author: the story or inspiration behind them, where and when they were written and what the band was doing at the time. Alongside these he produces John, Paul, George and Ringo’s first handwritten expression of the song, usually scribbled but occasionally spelled out in painstaking capitals, on scraps of paper, unpaid bills, hotel notepaper or whatever happened to be at hand when inspiration struck.

There’s another great review here.

As well as lots of insights, facts and information about each song there’s a wealth of visual content to pour over. Davies has painstakingly tracked down 100 original manuscripts from collections around the world. Most private collectors were happy to have their treasures included, but for security reasons (these items are now incredibly valuable) just about all of them wished to remain anonymous. The result is that we get to see gathered together for the first time a huge number of reproduced examples of the Beatles songs in their original form – jotted down on any bits of paper they had to hand. Here are three examples. The first from Lennon/McCartney (which was also artistically illustrated with felt pen by Paul McCartney at the time):Beatles Lyrics page2

A song from the hand of George Harrison:Beatles Lyrics page1

And finally – an example from Ringo Starr:Beatles Lyrics page3

As Davies says: “At last Ringo had done it – composed his first Beatles song…..”

You can hear an interview with Hunter Davies on Australian radio by ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly from October, 2014:

In the US the book has a different coloured cover:

Beatles Lyrics US cover