Days In The Life – A Father and Son on a Beatles Tour

days-in-the-life_origAt first glance this Beatle book looks to be an unlikely coupling of two broad and un-related concepts: the places visited and lectures delivered across seven US states by professional Beatles music scholar Aaron Krerowitcz, all wrapped up as a road-trip journal by a father and son duo (the son being the aforementioned full-time Beatle expert, and his dad John, a retired journalist and keen bird-watcher).

While the overall approach is a touch quirky (birding and Beatles?), as a whole Days in the Life – A Father and Son Beatle Tour hangs together. Not only is it a charming tale of two blokes out on the road, it’s also a vehicle to deliver lots of interesting Beatle facts, observations, history and, importantly, the context of the band’s music and its continuing success – especially around the American experience of the Beatles.

It’s clear that as a former journalist, Aaron Krerowicz’s father John can write. The sections of the book he pens are engaging and relate not only his sometimes humorous bird-watching exploits across the course of their journey, but his ability to put some history into the book. John relates his generation’s first-hand experience of this group from Liverpool which formed such a lasting bond with US teenagers back then. It’s a bond that endures today.

Son Aaron meanwhile has youth and some solid graduate and post-graduate musical scholarship on his side. The fact that he is so young initially confounds some of the folks who come to listen to his library lectures. How could someone who was born fifteen years after the Beatles broke up be so knowledgable? They generally leave impressed.

Of course when you do book reviews it’s good to try to find out more about the author – and a popular chat forum turned up the following un-solicited recommendation from an avid  Beatle fan who attended one of Aaron’s library presentations (this time on the Sgt Pepper album):  “I came home last Thursday, picked up the paper and saw my local library was having a presentation on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper. I figured I would go – it’s close, it’s free, it’ll be fun. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to learn anything. I’ve been listening to, and reading about the Fabs for over 35 years at this point and this is a free program at the local library – how good is it really going to be? Probably some fan like me, who’s going to just tell you about the sound effects, John’s Mr. Kite poster, A Day In The Life being based on newspaper articles, and the run-out groove.

I was wrong, and very, very impressed. Aaron Krerowicz is a composer and music educator in his late 20s pursuing on-going Beatles study. In November 2011, Aaron won a research grant through the University of Hartford to explore connections between mid-Twentieth Century avant-garde art and the Beatles. His presentation covered most of the obvious stuff any Beatles nut would expect (which was extremely well researched and presented), but he also spoke to the music theory and composition behind the songs, which I found really enlightening. He presented clearly, and never spoke over people’s heads when discussing some of the more esoteric stuff, which is a real gift. He highlighted multi-tracks to isolate certain parts of the songs he was referring to, which was also really illuminating.

You’ve got to admit, that’s high praise.

Best bits from the book Days in the Life? Aaron’s writing on how he, a classical music aficionado, came to get so deeply into the Beatles in the first place. Anyone who can list The Beatles 1 album as a favourite alongside Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and J.S.Bach’s violin concerti is OK with me. Also, his insights into particular songs – for example the genesis and recording of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’, one of John Lennon’s best from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – make for interesting reading.

As far as the sections written by John Krerowicz, his recollections of witnessing that first, black and white, US TV performance by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show bring a personal, family-level insight into what the broadcast meant cross-generationally in the United States. That, and his highly descriptive writing about the simple joy of travel and being out on the open highway, were highlights for me.

What didn’t work? The three pages of photographs of (admittedly) over-priced Dallas Cowboy merchandise in the club’s AT&T Stadium gift shop, the three pages of drawings from a family game of Telestrations, and an unnecessary joke about Michael Jackson. Otherwise, this is a great little book.

For more details about Aaron, his lecture schedule and other activities check out his website. Details about his other Beatle books can be found here, and for examples of Aaron’s Beatle scholarship, have a look at his video series  Beatles Minute – One Analytical Nugget in One Minute.

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door Biography

Just got a copy today of George Harrison – Behind The Locked Door by Graeme Thomson and am taking it away on holiday this week to read. Looking forward to it immensely:george-harrison-biog Here’s a review from the Chicago Tribune.

The Beatles on Compact Disc – First HMV Box Set

We’ve been slowly plugging away at collecting the HMV Beatles on Compact Disc box sets from 1987. These were issued in limited numbers as part of the celebrations around the Beatle back-catalogue being released on CD for the very first time in Britain.

Previously we’ve posted on the Sgt Pepper box set, Magical Mystery Tour, and also the Beatles (Red) 1962-1966 set.

Just this week those three have been joined by the first set release in the series which contained not one, but four CD’s: Please Please Me; With The Beatles; Beatles For Sale; and A Hard Day’s Night. It carries the catalogue number BEACD25:Beatles on CD front

The box lid lifts off to first reveal a “Beatle Fact Sheet”. This is a single 12″ x 12″ sheet of paper, printed on one side only:Beatles on CD fact

Underneath the “fact sheet” are the four UK CD’s, stored in slots on a black plastic inner tray:Beatles on CD discs

Underneath those four CD’s is a 224-page book, The Book Of Beatle Lists, written by long-time Beatle historian and writer, Bill Harry. The book is stored in it’s own slot within the plastic tray:Beatles on CD holderBeatles on CD bookBeatles on CD book2

Inside the lid of the HMV box there’s a song list for each CD and a picture of the band:Beatles on CD lid

Plus the limited edition number is stamped here:Beatles on CD number

A Beatle Music Book – and a McCartney CD

Went browsing at an opportunity shop (or “thrift store” if you are in the USA) and found two items of interest.

The first is a sheet music collection of great Beatle tunes called The Beatles Rock Score:Beatles Rock1_0001

There are some good photos inside on the lead-in pages:

Beatles Rock1_0002As you can see from the images above, the book contains the music for twelve songs, scored for small groups:Beatles Rock1_0003

The book is part of a series, with other titles covering The Rolling Stones, The Doors, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and U2 to name just a few. These are listed on the rear cover:Beatles Rock1The other find is of only mild interest, but at only $2.00 who could resist?

It’s Paul McCartney’s 1987 release All The Best!, only this time the CD was manufactured in a country that now no longer exists – West Germany:All the Best1 All the Best2 2

A closer look at the small print:All the Best2

We already have this CD as an Australian release, and also a US version. That’s because in each country these CDs have different running orders and song selections. See here for the background on that.

New Klaus Voormann Book – Revolver 50

Klaus Voormann has a new book due for release in the first week of August called Birth of an Icon – Revolver 50.

It celebrates the background story to his now classic front cover design for the Beatles Revolver LP, released on the 5th of August, 1966.

His book, done in a graphic novel style, tells the story from his perspective as a musician and artist who was called by upon by the Beatles, then nearing the height of their fame, to come up with something special, something new, different and lasting.To say he was put under pressure is something of an understatement.Rev 50 Cover Resize

It looks like it’d be a really interesting read.

Pre-orders for The Birth of an Icon – Revolver 50, which will be hand-signed by Klaus Voormann, 
have a pre-sale price 46 Euro (+ shipping & handling costs).

“…it is good for me to see the other side of a story I know so well and to realize aspects like the sheer panic that Klaus must have felt at being asked to do our album cover. In the end, the Revolver cover was a classic and this book is another.”  Sir Paul McCartney

“…your Revolver book – it brought back such great memories – even farther back than Revolver…I hope it sells a million copies!…the Revolver cover was incredible and perfect for that album.” – Ringo StarrRev 50 Page 2 ResizeRev 50 Page 5 ResizeRevolver

Three Beatle Books

We attended a huge charity bookstall is support of the very important work done by the Lifeline organisation. They hold these book sales regularly and there’s always a very good selection of music books, Compact Discs, and sometimes vinyl LP’s.

This time around we scored three nice Beatle books.

The first we spied in the stacks was The Beatles Album by Julia Delano:Beatles Album 1

Published by Bison Books in the UK, this dates from 1991 and is a large-ish hardback book with a dustcover. Inside it is a chronological re-telling of the Beatle story, mostly pictorial:Beatles Album 4 Beatles Album 3The rear cover:

Beatles Album 2The second book we found was Geoffrey Giuliano’s The Illustrated John Lennon, published by Sunburst/PRC in 1993: Lennon 1

It is a thin hardback with a dustcover.Lennon 3

The book is part of a series and an accompanying item to Giuliano’s similarly formatted The Illustrated George Harrison. (There’s also an Illustrated Paul McCartney in the set – which we don’t have).Lennon 2

The final book we found was David Sheff’s Last Interview: All We Are Saying – John Lennon & Yoko Ono. This version was published by Sidgwick & Jackson in 2000:Lennon Interview 1It is the UK release in hardback, and is a revised and updated edition of Sheff’s original publication from back in 1981 which was called The Playboy Interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (which we also have in paperback, published by New English Library press in the United States).

As Google Books says: On the 21st anniversary of his death, a poignant John Lennon document back in print [detailing] Lennon’s last interview before his assassination on December 8, 1980. It was first published in Playboy in a 20,000 word format in November that year. It saw limited distribution in the US in its full form as a 200-page book, reflecting 20 hours of tapes made that September, but was never seen elsewhere, and is now a collector’s item. This new, revised edition is published with the rare participation of Yoko Ono.

Lennon Interview 2