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The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics Hardcover – May 1, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First published in 1969, this reissued collection of illustrated lyrics for 200 Beatles songs will be a treasure for any fan of the Fab Four. Editor and Beatle-buddy Alan Aldridge states in his introduction to the original edition: "What I have tried to do is present a book [that] is as entertaining to the eye and the imagination as a Beatles album is to the ear." Indeed, he more than succeeds, creating a lavish pageant of art and music that embraces not only the Beatles but also the psychedelic spirit of the entire era.

In 320 photos and illustrations, renowned artists offer their interpretations of various songs. "Help" is visualized by Ronald Searle; "Fixing a Hole," by Tomi Ungerer; "Glass Onion," by Peter Max; "I'm So Tired," by David Hockney; and "Oh, Darling," by Ralph Steadman. Aldridge also contributes his own trippy illustrations, which reflect the bold, bulbous, cartoons-on-acid style of 1960s poster art. This rich compilation also has brief quotes from the Beatles explaining the origins of the themes and lyrics of certain songs. For example, despite the buzz that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is about LSD, according to Paul, "What happened was that John's son Julian did a drawing at school and brought it home, and he has a schoolmate named Lucy, and John said, 'What's that?' and he said 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds.'" Band members also share their thoughts on superstardom, including this now weighty comment from John: "I don't intend to be a performing flea anymore. I was the dreamweaver, but although I'll be around I don't intend to be running at 20,000 miles an hour trying to prove myself. I don't want to die at 40." It can't bring them back, but The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics can take you on a long and winding road of nostalgia. --Brangien Davis

About the Author

Alan Aldridge is an award-winning graphic designer and artist based in London. He was also a colleague and friend of the Beatles. This extraordinary collection is the result of his idea to have artists illustrate their songs in any and every way possible for print.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; 4th edition (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157912058X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579120580
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Todd M. Pence on February 15, 2003
Overall, this is a nice volume which augments the lyrics of the Beatles with striking and memorable illustrations, particularly from editor Aldridge, which very well capture the spirit of the Beatles' music. However, the book contains one serious shortcoming: its inexplicable (and unexplained) leaving out of almost all of the Beatle numbers not written by Lennon/McCartney. This means that such indispensible songs such as "Here Comes The Sun", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Something", "Old Brown Shoe", and "Octopus's Garden" (among others) are conspicously absent from this collection. Why? Instead, we get at least a dozen Lennon/McCartney compositions that were never actually recorded by the Fab Four, as well as Lennon's three most famous songs from his early solo career.
Another drawback is that the lyrics are presented in a seemingly random, haphazard order as opposed to any kind of a chronological or even thematic one.
A wonderful concept well-executed, but must be docked points for incompleteness because of the missing Harrison and Starr songs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "raedrenn" on November 5, 2001
I love this book - I don't have the original copy but I'm not such a purist that it really matters.
The art is fantastic and it is great to flick through or read at length. Full of ideas for any budding artists it has also made me well into Alan Aldridge whose designs are mind-boggling.
Suggest also checking out Phantasia by Alan Aldridge - it is out of print but can be found in the usual places...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on May 16, 2005
I was delighted to see this book is still in print. The illustrations, ranging from line drawings to wonderfully Psychedelic Sixties from artists such as Beatle John Lennon to Peter Max add a touch of whimsical charm to the written lyrics. The songs are not arranged in alphabetical order or chronological order, which gives the entire book a free-formless and free-flowing feel.

I was highly displeased that Harrison and Starkey tunes were not included; rather, this book should have been more aptly titled "Illustrated Lyrics of Lennon & McCartney." There is just no excuse for omitting masterpieces such as "I Want to Tell You," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Here Comes the Sun," to name three.

As much as I enjoyed the book, the omission of Harrison and Starkey and the seemingly random placement of song lyrics has cost this otherwise excellent book one star.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Billie Jo Gray on February 9, 2002
I've actually owned this book for years and was suprised to see it is still available. This is one of my favorites in my entire Beatles collection. It is filled with psychadelic paintings and artwork from well known artists such as Peter Max as well as quick Lennon sketches. It displays some nudity and is not for every Beatles fan, but captures the spirit of the era beautifully. It's colorful, fun, and filled with page after page of Beatles lyrics. How can you go wrong???
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike T on November 5, 2009
Verified Purchase
I ordered the book for my teen aged son who has been a Beatles fan for years (I got him hooked!) I received the book today and I wanted to check it out bvefore giving it to him and never seeing it again and as I was flipping thru the pages I was surprised by the nudity in the book. There is both animated nudity and nude photos as well as a nude photo of a young boy and girl standing side by side which in some states people have been locked up for child pornography over similar "art" photos.

I guess I will wait a few years until I let him see it if at all. Otherwise the book is a good source of song lyrics and does have alot of nice Beatles related images. definitely a book that a adult Beatles fan will like.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 2002
Illistrated lyrics my a$*....Personally, I was a bit dissapointed with this book. Let me get one thing straight, I do love art, paintings, drawings etc, but this book is full of the most obscure pictures of random things that are totally irrelevent to the song, let alone depicting the lyrics.
Don't get me wrong, I am absolutly mad about the Beatles and there music, the lyrics and songs, and of course their handsomely good looks (hehe) , but this book just made it seem like someone took a whole bunch of meaningless doodles by un-notorious 'artists'and stuck them beside imagary, story telling lyrics. If you want to learn background about the beatles' songs, this book will take you nowhere . However, if you ARE looking for some unattractive illistrations and incorrect lyrics to beatles songs, you've found your match. So before you buy, think about it....LET IT BE for your own sake, and your wallet's
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ben Klinger on December 3, 1999
It's wonderful that book like this exists. Sometimes, on the older Beatles records, it's hard to know what their saying. This book rocks!
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Verified Purchase
The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics and the second volume follow-up were an inspiration to me while I was in school majoring in Fine Art. This is the better of the two however. I love The Beatles and the imagery their music inspired. The interpretive artwork in this book is exceptional and I consider it a necessary volume for my home library now that I was able to track down a copy. It is fun to just peruse at your leisure, or use as inspiration for your own creativity and art as I did. Keep in mind there is some nudity in this 300 page art book.

~ Kort
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