Books on The Beatles reviewed…
Appreciating that he is not the only one, Iain Robertson is a Beatles fan, who was fortunate enough (as a child) to attend the London film premiere of ‘Hard Day’s Night’ and he retains a fascination for the ultimate ‘boy band’ right up to date.
By Terry Burrows
ISBN: 978 1 78097 929 8
Possessing a wealth of music-related titles to his name, Terry Burrows is an experienced and talented London-based wordsmith, whose determination was to create the definitive story of the pop band that changed the world. It is fair to state that what it lacks in over-wordiness (a tendency for which many other writers on the subject might be accused) is more than compensated for, with an array of superb monochrome and colour images and pertinent details about the ‘Mop-top Four’ that may have been missed elsewhere. Despite the occasional burst of hyperbole, the story of the band and its members is explored in fine detail. However, it is abundantly clear that Mr Burrows recognises the value of his subject matter and an early timeline related to their first decade of existence would appear to mirror some of the more landscape-altering moments of the 1960s-1970s. Thus, his grandiose title for this full-size, 192pp coffee-table book cannot be judged to be anything other than true and reliable. After all, this is the band that revolutionised pop music and mastered its evolution through LSD-influenced punk, rock music and progressive rock, sampling folk, jazz and comedy, long before the more earnest purveyors of this musical tapestry claimed the niches as their own. Yet, they were also influential in the fashion scene; they defined an era and, yet, lasted for only a brief period, much of their work having been done. Their music remains, occasionally refreshed by the son of ‘fifth Beatle’, George Martin, and still as popular as ever…a remarkable legacy that this excellent book underscores in first-rate readable form. Each of the band members is detailed and the ten chapters (effectively, one year each of their incredible decade) are followed by a comprehensive discography of albums, singles and compilations, supported by US albums and single releases. Concise and meaningful, I have no qualms about recommending it for any music fan but especially to Beatles fans.
The Complete Beatles Songs
By Steve Turner
ISBN: 978 1 78739 077 5
Everyone’s an expert! For whatever reason, probably more to do with the watertight Apple copyrights that are exercised with religious fervour, should anybody dare to breach them, trying to find Beatles’ lyrics online can be fraught. Mind you, Beatles’ music was not readily available on sharing websites for many years, which makes this large format, 352pp paperback all the more relevant to an ardent fan. The author has carried out comprehensive research and provided a definitive analysis of all the songs written by The Beatles. Yet, the content is significantly more than that. There is a useful explanatory block of text alongside each set of lyrics, as well as relevant photographs to each period. The chapters are determined by album title, from ‘Please Please Me’ to the final ‘Anthology 1-3’. It is only when you delve into the various song titles that you start to appreciate the sheer quality of The Beatles. There have been innumerable, many respectful, cover versions of Beatles’ songs and, while the portfolio in reality is a concise one, it can be stated with clarity that nobody performed them better than The Beatles. It is the tiny nuances…the early skiffle influences…the exploratory influences…the sometimes dark and hard to attribute influences. Above all, it is the sheer genius of both Lennon and McCartney. Of course, Starr and Harrison played their parts, their essential support roles, to perfection…their time would come. No single track is anything less than a winner. As a compilation, this book is incomparable and an essential to all Beatles’ fans.
Gered Mankowitz – Rock and Roll Photography
By Gered Mankowitz
ISBN: 978 1 84796 092 4
Goodman – a Carlton Books imprint
One of the world’s leading photographers in the Rock ‘n’ Roll arena is London-born Gered Mankowitz and, while the Beatles’ images are non-existent, at least this excellent 328pp paperback does carry a handful of lovely photographic studies of both George Harrison and Paul McCartney. In fact, what is abundantly clear from what is predominantly a photographic book, is the defining imagery that Mr Mankowitz has managed to capture across almost six decades of immensely impressive artwork that makes this book as vital as any specialist title. In a more recent world of photoshopping and technological titivation, there is no evidence of ‘impurity’ being conveyed from one photograph to the next. The man’s style is self-evident. Good, clean lenses. Judicious framing. Careful lighting. However, his uncanny ability to create character-affirming photographs of each of his subjects is what makes this book such compelling ‘reading’. There is text. Relevant to each set of images. Yet, it is the ‘Who’s Who’ quality of the book’s contents that is the gift to the recipient. From ABC to 10CC, Bing Crosby to Buddy Guy, Duran Duran to Phil Collins, a beautiful Kate Bush set, Sad Café, Traffic and The Yardbirds, there is something for almost everyone and it is clear that Mr Mankowitz is the most in-demand of snappers.