A New Beatle Book – ‘The Beatles’ Liverpool’

Now that international travel is slowly becoming more feasible for many of us again, a visit to Liverpool – the city where it all began for The Beatles – might just be back on your travel “must do” list.

If so, it’d be nice to have a guide to point you in the right direction when you get there.

Liverpool, on the banks of the River Mersey always looms large in any discussion about the formation of the band and their influences. Many of the physical places they lived or frequented have become key parts of the Beatle story. It is of course the city where John, Paul, Ringo and George were born, grew up in, and knew well.

Now a new guide book The Beatles’ Liverpool – just released – takes you there by gathering more than fifty Liverpudlian localities. The fully illustrated guide then explains why those particular places played such a key role in the band’s development and success.

Of course there are the obligatory entries for the childhood homes (Menlove Avenue for John, Arnold Grove for George, Forthlin Road for Paul, and Admiral Grove for Ringo); there’s the background to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields; The Cavern Club; and the well-known St Peter’s Church, Woolton where John first met Paul.

But there are many more obscure listings too. Like Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight; the Neston Institute in Wirral; and 4 Rodney Street, birthplace of Beatle manager Brian Epstein.

There’s also a handy two-page guide map pinpointing the location of all the places mentioned in the guide.

If you’re planning a Liverpool visit, this book would be an essential to take with you – and it won’t cost you any excess luggage fees. At just over 44 pages The Beatles’ Liverpool is compact and light enough to easily slip into a travel bag or backpack to have with you as you walk the streets of the historic city.

Even if you’re still a way off physically getting to Liverpool, you can dive into The Beatles’ Liverpool and pay a visit vicariously. It’s the perfect armchair alternative to actually being there.

Author Mike Haskins was himself born and raised in Merseyside – and he still lives there! He’s worked as a scriptwriter and researcher for TV, radio and the stage, and has published over fifty books.

WIN A COPY OF THE BEATLES’ LIVERPOOL (NOW CLOSED)

Courtesy of Pitkin Publishing and Batsford Books in the UK, we’ve have two copies of The Beatles’ Liverpool to give away to two lucky readers.

All you need to do is provide your name, email address and have a go at answering two easy Beatle Liverpool-related questions. Just click on the link below to enter:

https://beatlesblogger.survey.fm/the-beatles-liverpool-giveaway

Good luck!

UPDATE:
Thank you to everyone who entered. And congratulations to the two readers who were first in with the correct answers!

They are Fred, from Ontario, Canada; and Diane from New York, USA. They will receive a copy of The Beatles’ Liverpool book, courtesy of Pitkin Publishing and Batsford Books.

The correct answers to our questions were:

  1. In their early career band members purchased many of their instruments from which famous Liverpool music store? Hessy’s Music Centre
  2. Ringo’s family hails from Liverpool’s Dingle area. His Mum worked at pub called The Empress there. In what way did Ringo put that building on the map? It’s on the front cover of his Sentimental Journey LP

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!)

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?

Two Lennon Books, and an Apple CD

With COVID-19 restrictions now easing quite a bit in most parts of Australia (sadly still not for our friends in Melbourne, Victoria – we’re thinking of you guys!), some of the previously closed opportunity shops around Sydney are re-opening and getting back to normal.

One near us that’s been completely closed for at least six months has suddenly opened its doors once again, and so a forage there over the weekend turned up a couple of interesting items.

With what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday looming large this coming Friday, it was a coincidence that all three of the finds where Lennon-related.

They are two books, We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 and John Lennon – In My Life.

We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 is by journalist and author Paul Du Noyer.

This is an original Australian edition paperback in a large format, dated 1997. It’s a book that’s been published and re-published numerous times over the years. According to Du Noyer’s website, the latest version is from 2020. The book is also available in German, Spanish, Italian and Czech language editions.

The title says it all: it is the track-by-track story of John Lennon’s last ten years, revealed through the music he made.

In fact we already had a revised and updated UK edition of this same title (in a small paperback format from 2010), but this earlier edition has a slightly different layout. Here are some images of what’s inside:

The second book is quite a fascinating account from former Lennon friend and personal assistant, Pete Shotton (as told to Nicholas Schaffner):

Pete Shotton’s friendship with John Lennon spanned more than thirty years, from the time they met as children in Liverpool to their last meeting in John’s Dakota apartment building in New York. They grew up together in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton and Pete stayed close right through his friend’s rise to fame, wealth and stardom – not as a hanger-on, but as a trusted buddy or mate whom Lennon valued. He was someone who knew Lennon well and didn’t treat him like a star.

Nicholas Schaffner is an author and acknowledged Beatle expert – probably best known for his book The Beatles Forever. In this book Shotton and Schaffner reveal an insider’s view of many of the key public events in Beatle history, but also the private life of John Lennon throughout his career.

As you can see, the text is accompanied by many photographs and documents to help tell the story. This book is well worth seeking out if you haven’t got it already. It was first published in 1983. Here’s the rear cover (and yes, it’s a reverse image of the front):

Also in amongst the CD’s at the opportunity shop was this Apple recording. The photos are ‘as-found’ as they tell a bit of a story in themselves:

This is John Tavener’s The Whale. Tavener was a young classical composer signed to The Beatles’ Apple label in 1969. And it was John Lennon who was influential in making that happen. From the CD booklet:

“Although it was Ringo Starr who became Tavener’s main contact at Apple and who was responsible for getting The Whale onto disc, it was in fact Lennon – contrary to stories elsewhere – who took the first initiative and provided the composer with an introduction to the company. [They] first met in 1969, at a dinner party in London’s Hereford Square, and they marked the occasion by swapping tapes of their latest works. Lennon brought along his avant-garde experiments with Yoko Ono, whilst Tavener played extracts from his opera Notre Dame Des Fleurs, and the BBC recording of The Whale. On the strength of the opera, Lennon invited Tavener to join Apple, although it was The Whale which eventually sufaced on the label.”

The Whale is based on the the story of Jonah and the Whale, and has been described as both a ‘dramatic cantata’ and a ‘Biblical fantasy’. It is performed by the London Sinfonietta and the London Sinfonietta Chorus, conducted by David Atherton. It was recorded in 1970. This CD edition though came out as part of the Apple Records re-issue program in 1991/1992.

It’s interesting to note that the original purchaser of this disc (her name and address is on a sticker on the back) paid $46.99 Australian for it at the time! That’s US$33.74 by today’s exchange rate, or £26 UK pounds. That’s a lot of money – even today. It would have been a huge amount in 1992. The record store JB Hi Fi (it’s a big Australian music chain store) has put a “JB Hi Fi Special Import Sticker” on the spine of the jewel case.

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

New George Martin Biography – Maximum Volume

We have reviewed author Ken Womack’s work previously on beatlesblogger.com

He’s a recognised authority on The Beatles and their enduring cultural influence. His latest work is the first in what will become a two-volume biography devoted to Beatle producer, Sir George Martin.

First published last year in the United States, then quickly followed by a UK edition, the first installment is called Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Early Years: 1926-1966).

Here’s the US jacket:

And here’s the somewhat more tame UK cover

This book is long-overdue. There have been surprisingly few in-depth studies of the life of one of the most influential figures in popular music, a career spanning more than 60 years.

In Womack’s book we learn that George Martin scored his first real job in the music industry pretty much by accident when he joined the recording giant EMI as an A&R man for Parlophone Records and that in the 1950s being in A&R (or Artist and Repetoire) didn’t mean you were a producer – it was more about talent scouting and the artistic and commercial development of the artists signed to your label.

Martin had a natural musical talent and great training, and he’d had some success with comedy and novelty records for Parlophone. But he needed more than that. By the early 1960s to keep his label afloat George Martin needed to hit it big with a pop group – and soon.

Though he had tons of creativity, drive, and a solid musical background, Martin’s main handicap was that he had little knowledge or experience of the world of Rock & Roll.

Then, into his life walks a young, four-piece outfit from Liverpool.

These guys knew a lot about Rock & Roll, but had no knowledge about studios and how to record their music. The pairing of the two was a marriage made in heaven. What George Martin was able to bring to the table fitted perfectly with what the Beatles needed – and together they went on to make magic.

It wasn’t always plain sailing though, and Martin often had to be tough and give as good as he got because the Beatles were hard task masters. They were ambitious, confident, and didn’t suffer fools lightly. But George Martin had the chutzpah and the musical knowledge and ability to carry it off:

Martin: “Let’s have one more go at the backing, then we’ll record your voices separately. This time, we’ll get it exactly right.”

McCartney: “Why—what was exactly wrong?”

Martin: “The tuning sounded wrong. And you, George, should be coming in on the second beat every time instead of every fourth beat.”

Harrison: “Oh, I see.”

In its essence, this brief exchange demonstrated what people in the Beatles’ inner circle understood implicitly: namely, that George was possibly the single most influential person in their world, really the only one who could impinge upon the nature of their music. Even Brian [Epstein], whom they held in extraordinarily high esteem, held little, if any, sway in terms of influencing the direction of their creative lives. At one point, when Brian dared to offer an opinion about their efforts in the studio, John coolly replied, “You look after your percentages, Brian. We’ll take care of the music.” (pg. 252)

In Maximum Volume Womack candidly – and comprehensively – tells the story of George Martin from his very humble childhood and early adulthood, through to the heights of success he and the Beatles enjoyed globally. It’s a great read, a real page-turner in fact as the detail behind that enormous success unfolds.

As one reviewer put it, the book contains enough fresh information and informed insight about the group’s early years to satisfy [even] the most devout Beatlemaniac.

Maximum Volume takes a similar approach to that of Mark Lewisohn’s well-researched and highly regarded multi-volume telling of the Beatles story: there are footnotes detailing where Womack is getting his information and where his quotes come from; there’s an extensive bibliography; and there’s a comprehensive index. All these things point to the thorough research undertaken by Ken Womack and the efforts he’s gone to put the life and work of George Martin into a context that can be supported by facts.

The importance of this approach to writing about the Beatles, or any subject or person for that matter where so much has been written over many years, is imperative. Sifting through the mass of it to find those kernels of truth about your subject before forming it into an accurate and entertaining narrative is paramount – and Womack pulls it off. For a great reflection on this subject it’s worth a listen to the Something About the Beatles podcast episode called “The Beatles and the Historians“. See too the show’s interview with Ken Womack himself: “George Martin – Maximum Volume“.

Womack’s second and final volume on the life and work of Sir George Martin will be published in September this year. It’s to be called Sound Pictures: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin (The Later Years: 1966-2016).

In the meantime, enjoy Volume One – Maximum Volume. It is highly recommended.

A Couple of Op Shop Beatle Books

Browsing my local “Vinnies” (St. Vincent de Paul Society) op shop recently turned up a couple of nice Beatle books. Both are very interesting, and both are in excellent condition.

The first is a large and heavy hard back edition of Barry Miles’ The Beatles Diary – An Intimate Day by Day History:

This particular edition dates back to 1998 and is published by Omnibus Press. It has appeared in numerous other forms and has been reprinted many times. It is still available on Amazon.

Barry Miles goes back a long way with the Beatles having first met them in 1965. They became involved in a number of his artistic and literary pursuits (the Indica Gallery and The International Times are just two examples), and he eventually ended up working for them as label manager for their experimental Zapple Records (see one of his other books: The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label for a complete history of what happened there).

Miles is also author of the 1997 authorised Paul McCartney biography Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, so he’s something of an insider.

In this book, an extensive day-by-day account of the group, he begins his story in wartime Liverpool and ends it in the dying days of the 1960s. The Beatles Diary – An Intimate Day by Day History is chock full of interesting information, facts and photographs – all coming together to form a revealing personal history of the Beatles. I mention the photographs specifically because this book is lavishly illustrated: 

Here’s and example of a typical text page:

And here’s the rear cover:

The second book we found on the Vinnies shelves was an equally thick and heavy hard back called The Beatles – 10 Years That Shook the World

As you can see by the logo top right on the cover, this was published (in 2004) in association with Mojo, the highly respected music magazine people. At first blush the book looks like a compendium of a wide range of articles taken directly from the magazine and simply re-printed in the one place. That in itself would be a fantastic repository of writing on the Beatles, and it is true to a point – but there’s much more to this book as well.

It has a Foreword by Brian Wilson, and appears to have a wide range of specially commissioned additional articles and reviews from the likes of Bill Harry, Keith Badman, Mark Lewisohn, Ian MacDonald, David Fricke and Hunter Davies, to name just a few. Alongside these is a running chronological diary of key events, breakout boxes with a fascinating variety of additional information and facts, and (again) a wide variety of great pictures, labels, record covers, and memorabilia:

The Beatles: 10 Years That Shook The World is published by Dorling Kindersley and Mojo. For an Amazon “Look Inside” click here. In short, this is an astonishing resource and very welcome in the beatlesblogger.com library. 

Paul McCartney Now & Then – Part Two

OK. This is where I have to admit that my Beatles collection might be getting a little out of hand….

One of the most visited pages in this Beatles Blog so far has been one I wrote in October last year when I picked up a paperback version of a book called “Paul McCartney – Now and Then”.  You can view this entry here if you missed it. For some reason a lot of people have visited that particular blog page.

I was sitting at the computer the other day and just glanced up at a bookshelf nearby. The shelf I was looking at contains a lot of the Beatles or Beatles-related books I’ve acquired over the years. I suddenly found myself staring at the cover of a book called, wait for it, “Paul McCartney – Now and Then”…….not the paperback one I’d posted about earlier, but the original hardback edition. I’d forgotten I had it!

Its in a larger format and has a different cover to the paperback:

Now and Then (Hardback Edition, 2004)

Here are the two books side-by-side:

Now and Then (2004 Hardback, with 2006 Softback edition on right)

If you’d like a peek inside the hardback version, Amazon UK has one of those “click to look inside” features for the book.

The fact that I only just realised I had two different copies of this book is making me worried….

SEE ALSO: Paul McCartney – Now and Then – Part One