On Valentines Day – A Beatles “Love” Find

What more could you want on Valentines Day than to find a bit of Beatle Love treasure?

Rummaging through some old theatre programs at our local St Vincent de Paul Society thrift shop (the equivalent of Goodwill stores in the US), what should we come across than a thick, lavishly illustrated program from the Beatles/Cirque du Soleil production Love, which is still showing at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

This is a beautifully produced book, about the same size and shape as an LP record, and it’s filled with photographs, drawings, cast details and information about this long-running success story – which last year celebrated its tenth year in production. love-cover

Inside there are fantastic drawings, illustrations, and photographs from the stage show – like these:

love-1 love-2 love-3

Impressively laid out, with some four page fold-out sections included, this particular theatre program seems to date from around February, 2008 as inside on the credits page in small print it says “Love.02.08”. The photograph of co-Music Director, Giles Martin is a decidedly youthful one:

love-4

Right in the very centre of the book there are two pages of Beatle Love stickers. In the copy we found the previous owners have only removed two – the rest are perfectly intact:love-stickers

Here’s that full credit page in more detail:love-creditsAnd the rear cover:love-rearA nice Valentines Day find……(click on the images to see larger versions).

The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for the Beatle fan who has everything, then look no further. This fabulous book just out is sure to fit the bill:beatles-fab-finds

If your Beatle fan truly DOES have everything, then The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four will confirm it. And if they don’t, this book will provide an abundance of tempting new objects of desire to be on the lookout for.

Either way, for old hands with large collections, or those just new to collecting, this is a book to dip into, browse and enjoy.

Author Noah Fleisher had a front row seat to the amazing growth and skyrocketing value of all things associated with The Beatles. As the former Public Relations Director for the respected Heritage Auctions in the United States, and through his friendships with dealers and colleagues at other auction houses, Fleisher witnessed the emergence a new era of Beatlemania. He’s written numerous other books about collecting (on topics like Modern Furniture and Children’s Books), but his position within one of the top auction houses put him in the box seat to see and research first-hand thousands of collectable Beatle items over the years.

Not only is his book filled with a huge number of facts, background and information on the band and the many collectable items they have generated as a result of their ongoing success, it is also richly illustrated. Every page is in colour and carries a wealth of photographed examples to illustrate the text. To prove it, here are just a couple of pages, chosen pretty much at random:fab-four-inside-3 fab-four-inside-4 fab-four-inside-1 fab-four-inside-2

(for larger versions click on the images)

There are sections dealing with objects from the band’s early years, their instruments, their movies, photo shoots, merchandise, autographs, hand-written lyrics, and of course – the records, especially the rare ones. When you get the combination of records and autographs (see above for a couple of examples), then you’re talking about some very high-value auction items. Incidentally, the prices fetched for the various items in the book are mentioned throughout.

As it says on the rear cover (see below), The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four is filled with delights and insight. “Readers will discover John Lennon’s lost Gibson guitar now worth millions; the most expensive vinyl record in the world; the sculpted bust featured on the album Hey Jude – along with a fascinating and fun cache of rarities, oddities and never-before-seen items that tell anew the story of The Beatles”.

The section on Lennon’s Gibson J-160E steel string is expertly told by Andy Babiuk, author of the book Beatles Gear. There’s also a lengthy interview with Babiuk included, and lots of photographs of other guitars and drum kits that the Beatles used.

“The story of the Beatles has been told many times though never directly through their collectibles” said Fleisher. “The fact is that the market in Beatles collectibles is as hot as it’s ever been and the respective value of collectibles from each period of the band’s existence tells the story of John, Paul, George and Ringo in a fascinating and fresh way.”

Showcasing more than 600 images from the top music auction houses in the world, and interviews with a wide array of experts and authors, The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four is not only a fun and wonderfully visual read but it’s a great reference and resource for fans and collectors alike.

Highly recommended. (And if you’d like to have a further “look inside”, visit Amazon).fab-four-rear-cover

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.