Russian Fans Celebrated in Major New Book About Beatlemania in the Soviet Union

The people of Russia and the former Soviet Union have long had their access to Western art, culture and information suppressed and curated by the State. Just look at what’s going on in the country right now.

Consequently it’s always been hard to be a Beatle fan, especially when bans on Western popular music were actively policed and the consequences for flouting the laws could be devastating. Just take a look at this post from earlier this year. As we said then: there was a time when you had to be tough and take risks as an individual to be a fan in public. The KGB (a.k.a. the Soviet secret service and other authorities) came down very hard on anyone who dared to say they “….loved Lennon more than Lenin”.

Witness also the lengths that Beatle fans went to in order to listen to their favourite band’s music, right down to covertly cutting tracks onto old x-ray film. This became known as “music on bones” and you can check out our article on that here.

Subsequent to the fall of the Soviet Union things have become a little easier but it’s still been a relatively rocky road for Russian fans compared to those of us in the West.

Now comes a book that tries to sum up what it was like to be a Beatle fan across those years and into the solo Beatle years as well. It’s not about the Beatles themselves, but about how they were loved in the USSR. The English translation of the book’s title says it all really: How We Loved the Beatles: The History of Beatlemania in the USSR.

By the way, the author Dmitry Karasyuk is a totally blind man.

You should know that How We Loved the Beatles: The History of Beatlemania in the USSR is in Russian, and at 760 pages it is quite some undertaking. It contains many memoirs (funny and tragic) of both famous and very ordinary people. There are also many personal memories, and many, many photographs from fan archives. Almost every page has images or memorabilia related to the times. Here are just two random samples:

At the end of the book there is a short description in English. This is worth reading as its an excellent overview of the sort of information this book contains and what it is trying to achieve (click on image to see a larger version):

We mentioned how tough it was being a Beatle fan in the USSR. Here’s just one story from the book to help illustrate that – a story with a real twist in the tail:

In the early 1970s a young man buying Beatle records was detained at a flea market and taken to the local police station. There one of the police officers (police in the USSR were called militsiya) had an “educational conversation” with him (i.e. he gave him a slap on the wrist) saying that it was not good for a young builder of communism to listen to such enemy capitalist music. Later the young man happened to meet that same militsiya on the street. And the policeman asked: “If I give you a tape could you please record some Beatles music on it for me?”

Another very interesting section of How We Loved the Beatles: The History of Beatlemania in the USSR contains chapters about the Melodiya and Antrop companies which eventually released Beatle and solo records in the USSR – both officially, and not so officially.

The author spoke with former employees of Melodiya. They talk about how Beatle tracks finally came to appear on records in the 1970s, how Beatle and solo records were officially released in the 1980s, and where the sources for these releases came from.

The author also found Andrey Tropillo, the founder of Antrop Records, and in a long interview with him Tropillo tells how he created/launched the company, how and where he pressed vinyl, how they made alternative sleeves, and much more. And how, in the end, Antrop turned into Santa.

It’s not known whether the publisher will eventually translate the entire book into English. This, we’re told, is quite a challenge because there’s a lot of original Soviet youth slang which can’t be translated into other languages “in all its beauty”.

This love of all things Beatles endures. This young woman (whose name is Jane Enenko) is in the book. She hails from remote Siberia, and was invited on stage during a 2015 Paul McCartney tour:

We realise How We Loved the Beatles: The History of Beatlemania in the USSR is aimed at a very special market. The fact that it is written in Russian dictates that. But it is such a labour of love, and so comprehensive in it’s scope, we thought it very worthy of a mention here.

Russian-speaking fans of The Beatles living outside of Russia can buy the book from the German online store Esterum: Russian books worldwide, which is located in Frankfurt. It is also available from this online book store in the EU – in Riga, Latvia.

FYI here’s the rear cover. (Click on the link to see a larger version and to read the text – if you understand Russian!)

McCartney’s ‘The Lyrics’ Wins British Book Award

Paul McCartney, no stranger to the odd prestigious award, has just won another.

His book The Lyrics:1956 to the Present has taken out the award for Best Non-Fiction Lifestyle book in the 2022 British Book Awards (otherwise known as The Nibbies):

Strangely Sir Paul’s acceptance speech (pre-recorded and played to the audience at the awards ceremony) could not be included in the YouTube clip.

Here’s some more info on the other books that were on the shortlist.

The judges wrote that The Lyrics was: “A work of art”; “a unique piece of publishing”; and a book that “belongs in a museum, not just our bookshelves.” They praised the two-volume set as a “fantastic visual diary”, singling out the original hand-written lyrics.

The book was supported by a free exhibition at the British Library and McCartney in Conversation at the Southbank Royal Festival Hall.

Publishers Allen Lane coordinated a global launch, simultaneously in 11 languages, attaining extensive broadsheet and radio coverage. Plus the book was released in multiple translations.

Ringo’s New Book – ‘Lifted’

Ringo Starr has a new book out. It is called Lifted – Fab Images and Memories From My Life and Across the Universe.

Speaking about the book Ringo said: “I am not writing this book as a Beatle historian. I’m writing this book as a Beatle — and there’s only a couple of us who can do that.”

Asked about it’s origins, Starr explains: “I didn’t keep all these photos. These fantastic images came back to me in recent years from here, there and everywhere — online and off — and have somehow helped me get back to seeing my life with The Fab Four through fresh eyes. A lot of the photos in this book I spotted on my phone and on my computer and “lifted” them because they brought back so many fabulous memories.”

“So this a book full of Beatle images that many people haven’t seen and stories that I’m sharing with a little help from my longtime writer friend David Wild. We’ve all been through a pretty tough time for a lot of people who’ve been locked down, and this book has really lifted my spirits and took me back to where I once belonged in a whole new way. And in the end, that’s why this new book is called Lifted. The Beatles changed my life forever. So it’s about getting back and giving back.”

Lifted is only available online from the Julien’s Auction House site, and there are two editions to choose from.

The standard ‘Collectors Edition’ costs US$59.00. It is a handsome-looking coffee table style hardback. It seems to have a been popular seller as it’s already in a 2nd Edition print run on the Julien’s site.

There is also a ‘Signature Edition’ that costs US$495.00 and is limited to 1000 copies. The same ‘Collectors Edition’ book comes presented in a velvet outer bag and the book – each one signed and numbered by Ringo – is contained in a custom box.

Proceeds from the sale of Lifted will go to the charity The Lotus Foundation, which does good work across a range of worthy causes.

Ringo has been out and about promoting the book, especially on social media. Here’s a photo we lifted from Instagram:

If the name Julien’s Auctions sounds familiar, it is the company that managed the 2015 once-in-a-lifetime auction, curated by Ringo and his wife Barbara Bach, featuring thousands of items from their London estate, and their Beverly Hills and Monaco residences.

There were artworks, clothing and jewelry, furniture, memorabilia, musical instruments (including seven drum kits owned and played by Ringo), gold records, cars, and much, much more. There was even Ringo’s personal UK 1st mono pressing of The Beatles White Album, No: 0000001. It sold for US$790,000!

You can get an overview of what was on offer here. And the full list of all lots is here. They are fun to look through. Interestingly, a portion of the proceeds from this auction also went to The Lotus Foundation.

Reader Unboxing Video of McCartney ‘The Lyrics’ Limited Edition

We’re guessing that many of you had Paul MCCartney’s The Lyrics book under the Christmas tree this year.

Not so many though would have been unwrapping the Limited Edition.

That’s the one actually signed by Sir Paul, and there have reportedly been just 175 copies made available worldwide. However, that most likely means 175 for the US market, and 175 for the UK.

Either way, it’s the one that comes in a unique and quite distinctive bright orange box with blue lettering. The design inside is different to the standard as well – as one lucky reader in New Zealand has just shared with us when he received his unique boxed set.

His name is Simon and somehow he managed to get a copy of the Limited Edition sent to him from a UK book store. It is number 105/175. Simon’s done this unboxing video for us of him opening his treasure:

See also Paul McCartney The Lyrics – How Many Translations?

The Beatles, Get Back and London: On the Trail of a Timeless Story

In the lead-up to the release next week of the Peter Jackson film The Beatles: Get Back, John Harris, editor of the new book of the same name, takes us on a fascinating journey to the three key locations in the making of the Let It Be album. It is delightful:

McCartney ‘The Lyrics’ – How Many Translations?

While looking around the web shopping for Paul McCartney’s fabulous new book The Lyrics, we stumbled across a couple of different translations, and it got us wondering how many countries were getting versions of the book in their own language?

There are of course two main English editions. The two most common of these are the US edition in the green outer box:

And there’s the UK edition – which has exactly the same content as the US, but externally is quite different in design:

Also worthy of mention is a third English language version of the book: the Limited Edition. This one is actually signed by Sir Paul. There have reportedly been just 175 copies made available worldwide, though as one reader points out there have been two different signed books with the number #95 sold on eBay. Each had a different publishing logo, raising doubt on the accuracy of “175 worldwide”. Maybe it is 175 in the US, and 175 in the UK. Either way, it comes in a distinctive bright orange box with blue lettering. The design inside is quite unique too – including the two volumes inside which are also in that distinctive orange binding:

Then we get onto the translations, and those we’ve been able to uncover (to date) all seem to have the same outer box and book binding as the US green version above.

Here is the German:

And the Dutch language edition:

Next up is the Spanish:

And close by (in terms of geography) there is the Portuguese:

There is a French language edition too, and it seems to come with an outer box re-design as well:

The Italian translation has only just been released (9 November). There aren’t any great images of how it is packaged yet – but we’ve asked one of the translators and can confirm that this is the cover:

As you can see, like the French edition, the Italians have gone for a white outer box. The translation has been done by Franco Zanetti and Luca Parasi, who is author of the highly regarded Paul McCartney reference book Recording Sessions (1969-2013).

A further confirmation that this is the way the Italian edition is presented are the images in this advertisement that the publishers, Rizzoli Libri, was running on Amazon:

And finally, two unexpected translations – one in Finnish:

And the other in Swedish (thanks to reader Ole for sending this one in). Interesting that the front covers of the two books inside appear to have the images and super-imposed lyrics used for the rear covers of the books in the rest of the world:

Is that all? Do you know of any others?

Let us know using the ‘Leave a Reply’ link below if you have any updates and we’ll publish them here.

Listen to McCartney Read from “The Lyrics”

If you’re keen on hearing Paul McCartney actually reading from his new book The Lyrics, then you’ll be interested to learn that BBC Sounds in the UK has produced a short audio series called Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs.

The series features ten audio extracts from The Lyrics book, with the author himself reading aloud 10 of the entries.

Check out the Introduction here:

Then, follow the links here to listen to all ten episodes. They include songs like ‘All My Loving’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Got to Get You into My Life’, right up to ‘Pretty Boys’ from last year’s McCartney III album.

The Lyrics spans McCartney’s career writing popular music from 1956 to the present. In it he talks about his life and song-writing through the prism of 154 key lyrics.

Host of Inside the Songs, John Wilson, also interviewed Paul McCartney extensively for an episode of the BBC series This Cultural Life. You can hear that interview in full here (or just click on the image below):

Paul McCartney – ‘Grandude’s Green Submarine’ Book and Audio Book

Two new McCartney items to add to the collection today.

Paul McCartney has written another children’s book. It follows on from his Hey Grandude!, kids story released in 2019.

This one is Grandude’s Green Submarine and once again the story has been illustrated by the talentented Canadian artist, Kathryn Durst.

And, as with the previous title, there’s also a separate audio book on CD – with McCartney not only reading his story but also providing the original music. This is along similar lines to the Hey Grandude! audio book, but the music is different and its played by him and band member, Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens.

Firstly, here’s the book cover, front and rear. It’s a large-format hardback with a protective dust jacket:

Just like the Hey Grandude! book, if you take the dust jacket off, there’s a completely different cover design underneath, front and rear:

The design of the book is stylishly done and has lots of nice touches. Here are two pages from inside to give you a feel for the contents:

And this is the audio book CD, which has Paul himself reading the book. Penguin Books has once again packaged this up nicely in a gatefold cover with a decent booklet. The CD takes all the elements from the book and carries them through the whole design. Here’s the front cover:

And the rear:

They’ve gone to some trouble, making it a gatefold:

And here’s the booklet containing the credits (and two biographies):

(As usual, click on the images to see larger versions)

McCartney’s The Lyrics: Special Edition

Penguin Books, publishers of Paul McCartney’s forthcoming book The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, have announced there’s to be a Special Edition.

It is a very limited boxed set of the two-volume compendium of 154 songs with accompanying stories, photos, drafts and artifacts associated with each song from the McCartney archives.

Just 175 copies of this will make their way into the world, though as one reader points out in the Comments section below, there have been two different signed books with the number #95 sold recently on eBay. Each had a different publishing logo (Liveright Books = US, and Allen Lane = UK) thus raising doubts on the accuracy of 175 worldwide number. Maybe it is 175 in the US, and 175 in the UK? Either way, this edition is actually signed by Paul McCartney, and comes in a bright orange textured outer binder with the words to ‘Hey Jude’ embossed in the fabric. Very tasteful.

The Special Edition is being distributed only to selected bookstores in the UK and the USA, and has a recommended retail price of US$2083.00 (or UK £1500.00), though some stores appear to be taking bids on the signed book, a bit like an auction.

The stores with the Special Edition in the UK were all listed on a Penguin Books website for a few days, but this now seems to have disappeared. Perhaps all copies have been sold already? The stores in the US are listed here.

For us mere mortals (i.e. poor people!) it joins two other more affordable editions. The one to be published in the UK under the Allen Lane imprint has this outer box and plain book spines for each volume:

And the other – in the US – will be published by Liveright Books. Their edition comes in a bright green outer box and has an image of McCartney on each spine:

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present is published worldwide on November 2.

On Saturday, November 6 there’s to be a special event in London Paul McCartney In Conversation where he will appear live at the Southbank Royal Festival Hall along with the book’s editor Paul Muldoon. Tickets for the live event, and to join in online, are on sale here.

The official McCartney YouTube channel has also released this teaser video with Paul speaking to Bob Mortimer at the British Library about the inspiration for his song ‘Rocky Racoon’.

UPDATE: Just on the orange, signed, limited edition above – here is one very excited owner giving us a bit of a look at his US Liverlight book, number 30/175!

Like Some Forgotten Dream – Book Review

In the lead-up to the re-mixed Let It Be album and all it’s associated special releases, and The Beatles: Get Back – the mammoth three-part, six-hour Peter Jackson film looking at the final days of the Beatles as a band – its tantalising to speculate on just what might have been had the band not called it a day back in 1970.

Enter Daniel Rachel’s new book, Like Some Forgotten Dream – What if the Beatles Hadn’t Split Up?

The first part of that title derives from the first two lines of ‘Real Love’, a John Lennon song recorded long after his death by the “Threetles” – the three surviving members of The Beatles: Paul, George and Ringo. Its a clever reference to exactly what is going on in this book: what if this incredible band actually went on to record again instead of going their separate ways in 1970?

This requires the reader to susupend disbelief for a moment around what is a very big “what if” question, but basing that suspension firmly around evidence and real events. Author Daniel Rachel steps us through a very well-researched premise that things in fact could have – with just a few changed decisions by the Beatles – worked out very differently.

This book is not a novel. It’s what I’d describe as ‘informed speculation’. It takes real facts and cleverly strings them together to form a narrative that proposes a possibility. Its a bit like that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors which examines an alternate reality of what might happen in a person’s life if just one or two decisions are different.

In-depth and scholarly, this book is, on the whole, exceptionally well-researched. Even if you can’t bring yourself to believe the book’s central premise, along the way you’ll learn heaps about The Beatles, their music, and what was going on around them at the time of their break-up.

Author Rachel delves into events and real statements made by John, Paul, George and Ringo in interviews that play into the story he is telling. As he states in his Introduction “Often, this necessitated taking words out of context to serve the argument, but it is important to stress that no words have been invented. Like Some Forgotten Dream is a fantasy [but] the information used – dates, facts, interviews – is all genuine.” He goes on: “The fantasy involves retracing the last years of the group’s working relationship, from the personal and the political to the artistic and the financial. The tragic death of manager Brian Epstein, the fragmented recording of the White Album and, in 1969, the problematic Get Back/Let It Be sessions that spawned a year of internal rancour and bitterness.”

Rachel skillfully re-evaluates all these areas, and through this we as readers catch a glimpse of an alternative to what really happened – a world where the band fought just a bit harder to stay together, compromised a little more, and negotiated their way through all their disagreements to release another Beatle album to add to the canon.

Like Some Forgotten Dream is presented in two parts. Part One: ‘Don’t Upset the Apple Cart’ examines the world of the Beatles pretty much from 1966 (the time they decided to stop being a touring band) through to late 1969/early 1970 and the eventual, drawn-out demise of the band. The sections on the Twickenham and Apple Studios Get Back/Let It Be sessions, their final live roof-top performance, and the sessions for Abbey Road are fascinatiing in their detail – essentail reading as we await the release of the newly remixed Let It Be album and its many outtakes due later this year.

Part Two is called ‘Four Sides of The Beatles’. It imagines that John, Paul, George and Ringo stay together to release one more double LP. This is based on a real suggestion put forward by Lennon in the dying days of the band: that each Beatle gets one side of an LP and is given free reign to fill it with their own songs. Daniel Rachel calls this album Four Sides of the Beatles and again, using real events and what actually transpired once they became solo artists, posits what those songs might have been.

Again, we learn heaps about the origins of real songs – songs which in many instances were released on solo albums. But here we’re invited to imagine what the end results might have sounded like with magic Beatle dust being sprinkled across each track as all four band members contribute to them in different ways.

I was a little sceptical about this book at first. I’m not usually big on speculative stories like this, but because this is not a fictionalised account but rather a premise firmly based around facts to build it’s case, Like Some Forgotten Dream turns out to be a fascinating read. It is well worth you it seeking out.

Daniel Rachel is a musician turned award-winning author. His previous books include the NME and Guardian Book of the Year Isle of NoisesEvening Standard Book of the Year Don’t Look Back in Anger, and Walls Come Tumbling Down, which was described as ‘triumphant’ by the Guardian and ‘superlative…brilliant’ by Q magazine, and was awarded the prestigious Penderyn Music Book Prize in 2017.

Like Some Forgotten Dream is published by Cassell, an imprint of Octopus Books. It was released on August 26 in the UK, and will be available in other territories shortly.