Strange/Unusual Find of the Month

A small local library was having a clear-out. They’d decided that their shelf space was at a premium and so books that they had more than one copy of, those which hadn’t been borrowed in a while, and those that’d been in storage for years, had to go.

Rather than just throw them away they kindly put them all out on tables and invited locals to browse choose whatever they liked – for free.

We scored a couple of Beatle treasures.

The first is Hunter Davies’ iconic early The Beatles – The Authorised Biography dating from 1968. This is a genuine UK first edition. It’s an important book because, despite the glossing over of some aspects of their lives, it is the only authorised biography of the Beatles written during their career.

The cover has that clear plastic film libraries use to protect the dust cover, so it looks a little beaten up – but is really in very good condition for it’s age (click on images for larger versions): The rear cover has those four terrrific Richard Avedon portraits:

Inside are some more pages of great photos:

What we really like is that the library hasn’t remove the old-school borrowing card and date stamp sheet inside the back of the book!

The other title was Peter Brown’s The Love You Make – An Insider’s Story of The Beatles:

Again, some interesting photo pages inside:

And the original borrowing card and date stamp sheet still intact:

This is a UK first edition from 1983. Again, it has lived a good life, but is not in too bad condition for it’s age. Peter Brown was a Beatle insider having been a personal assitant to their manager Brian Epstein and an executive at Apple Corps. Wikipedia says the critics are mixed in their views on this book, with some stating it is not a true representation of the facts as it ncludes recollections of episodes that Brown could not possibly have been witness to. Still, an interesting addition to the collection.

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Beatle Books, Books and More Books….

Quite a few new Beatle or Beatle-related books have just been announced or recently released, and so we thought we’d mention a few worthies. Here’s a round-up:

The Beatles Lyrics by Hunter Davies was released as a hardback book last year. It’s now slated for a paperback release this October:Beatles Lyrics

The book features analysis of the Beatles song catalog and images of the Beatles’ hand-written song lyrics. If that is actually the new cover (above) we reckon it looks cool. For any record collector or Beatle fan it definitely says”Pick me up and look inside”. If you, do we can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. We got the hardback edition last Christmas and have been dipping in and out of it all year.

Here’s one we stumbled across on the web. We haven’t read it yet but there’s a great review on The Daily Beast about a new book called Allen Klein – The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll. Yes, it’s a very long title, but also a fascinating re-think by author Fred Goodman of the impact and influence of one of the music industry’s bad boys of management – the late Allen Klein. Klein was brought in to run the Beatles’ Apple company and very soon became the lightening rod that split the band, with Paul McCartney on one side and John, George and Ringo siding with Klein on the other. This is very much a business book with lots of financial details, but Goodman makes the nuts and bolts really interesting, linking them to the seismic shift in music-industry economics that Klein instigated. This book is out now and there’s a “Look Inside” on Amazon if you are interested to read more:Alan_Klein

Klein and Harrison Klein Lennon and OnoHere’s another that we don’t own and haven’t read yet. We were just walking through a large bookshop the other day and accidentally spotted this one on the shelf:

See Hear Yoko

The inside cover says See Hear Yoko was conceived expressly for Yoko Ono as a gift between friends on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. It’s a visual portrait of her as an artist, activist, wife and mother, from her days with John Lennon through to the present. Legendary rock and roll photographer Bob Gruen was welcomed into the lives of John and Yoko during their years in New York City, when Gruen served as their personal photographer. He continues to document Yoko today. Approached by his friend Jody Denberg, who had logged twenty-five years of interviews with Yoko, Gruen collaborated with him to create an extraordinary birthday gift. Gruen selected more than three hundred classic color and black-and-white photographs—accompanied by text by Denberg—to illuminate the story of Yoko Ono. Again, Amazon has a “Look Inside“. There are some truly great images here.

The Zapple Diaries: The Rise and Fall of the Last Beatles Label. This one should be very interesting. Due for release on September 28 in the UK (but not until March 1, 2016 in the US) this book is written by Beatle insider Barry Miles and, as the publishing blurb says, it’s the first full-length illustrated examination of the Zapple label—an Apple Records off-shoot and Beatle experimental label:Zapple DiariesOn Zapple the Beatles hoped to release a range of spoken word and avant garde recordings – all part of their “…ambition to be leading members of the counterculture movement”. As it turned out Zapple was short-lived, surviving for just six months or so in 1969, and only had two official releases (Lennon and Ono’s Unfinished Music No.2: Life With the Lions, and George Harrison’s Electronic Sound). Author Barry Miles ran Zapple, so this should be an interesting insight – especially on the closing down of the label by one Allen Klein (see above). The Amazon UK and Amazon US sites both have a bit more info, and you can pre-order the book there too.

Finally, a new children’s picture book from Macmillan that introduces the next generation of fans to the story of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Focusing on the early years, Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles shows how four boys from Liverpool became the bestselling band in history:Fab Four Friends

Written by award-winning children’s author Susanna Reich with fantastic illustrations by Adam Gustavson, this book traces the Beatles’ roots through each boy’s childhood and teen years. Evocative language and richly-detailed paintings tell the story of the band from its earliest days as a skiffle group to its explosion onto the world stage. Amazon has a “Look Inside” for more. This is out now. We think you (and your kids!) will love it.Fab Four Friends Rear

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

The John Lennon Letters – New Book

“John Lennon lived and died in an era before computers, emails, twits, tweets, and twitters, hence he handwrote or typed letters and postcards to his family, friends, fans, strangers, newspapers, organisations, lawyers and the laundry.  Most of his letters were funny, informative, campaigning, wise, mad, anguished, poetic.  Sometimes they were heartbreaking.  We know from his lyrics and his two books of poems that he had a way with words, but his letters have up to now never been collected and published, and in many cases their very existence has remained unknown.” – Hunter Davies

In the month that should have seen John Lennon’s 72nd birthday comes a great new and very insightful book – “The John Lennon Letters”:

This book features almost 300 letters that were recovered by famed Beatles biographer Hunter Davies with the help of major auction houses in the UK and US.  They include a page from the “Daily Howl,” a  homemade newspaper John created when he was 12 or 13; a page from a homemade book John penned at age 11; letters to relatives including his mother, father, son, half-sister, cousins and aunts; to his first wife Cynthia (including his first ever written correspondence to her which was a homemade card celebrating their first Christmas together); early fan letters, countless items to friends, journalists, dignitaries, record executives, and of course to the other Beatles.

It is all compiled and edited by Hunter Davies, who this week gave an interview to Australian radio host Philip Clark on the ABC’s Radio National Breakfast program:

The book reveals Lennon’s emotional states – highs and lows – and much about his songwriting. It includes hand-written Beatles set-lists, drawings, lyrics to never-recorded songs, and even grocery lists from the later parts of his life.

It is the first-ever compilation of John Lennon’s musings and paints a unique, intimate, and rather emotional portrait of one of music’s – and the world’s – most beloved and enigmatic figures.

(click images to see larger versions)

“The John Lennon Letters” is published by Little, Brown and Company.