on October 3, 2012
There are a lot of books about the Beatles, and I think I have read them all, but this one is truly something special. The late Robert Whitaker is most well known for his image that was the cover photo for the withdrawn butcher cover, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. He was the group's official photographer, and was in the inner circle during the Beatlemania years 1964-66. As such, he had access during their tours and recording sessions, and also took many promotional shots, such as those (uncredited) on the cover of Beatles '65. They're all here, including alternate photos from the sessions that produced the more well known images. The color and black and white images in the book are beautiful, obviously reproduced directly from the photographer's negatives. Life also did its homework, interviewing him extensively before his untimely passing. As a result, the commentary is smart and insightful, not the usual stock biographical stuff you see recycled over and over again in these books. He had a real friendship with all four, particularly John Lennon, and the book truly provides insight into them as people, and what it was like in those crazy days, in the eye of the storm. Finally, note that Life put out a truncated paperback version of this for newsstand sales. The hardcover, at over three hundred pages, is much, much more. Don't be put off by the low rankings by folks who had technical problems downloading this to Kindle. This is something you want to hold in your hand. Buy the hardcover book! Highly recommended.
on October 13, 2012
I love the Beatles. No..I ADORE them..particularly the "mania" years. So when I had the opportunity to get this book I eagerly took it as it's chock-full of images from my favorite Beatle period.
However..lovely as the book is, it's not (imo) without its flaws. The narrative, for one, leaves much to be desired. I often felt like it was written by some fourteen year old. It was clumsy and awkwardly written in some cases and sometimes had poor syntax. The tone also reeked too much of "gushiness" vs. professional objectivity. Granted, we are talking about the "frilly and fun" mania years, but even the Life tribute to John had a more professional tone.
Then there is the multiple references to "One Direction", a popular "boy band" from the UK. How one can even mention them in the same sentence as The Beatles, I don't know. Seems rather sacrilegious to me.
A little further on when you get to the '65 years and images of "The Music of Lennon & McCartney", it is more than insinuated that by the looks on the boys' faces, they knew the "end was near" (to paraphrase). I found that highly laughable that the narrator could surmise that based on John and Paul's looks. He/she obviously arrived at this "conclusion" based on what we already know of events to come, but at that time, I doubt the boys were even thinking such things. They've certainly never mentioned it in interviews during that period..and while they looked bored, tired and even disinterested in some of these "L&M" shots, to suggest it was because they knew the "clock was ticking" is ludicrous. Perhaps they were tired/bored, etc. because it had been a long day of rehearsal for them.
Also..within that same genius "assessment", it was suggested that their faces reflected the effects of time, pressure, drugs and home life. However, as in the above statement, it's far too easy a conclusion to draw given what we already know. Yes, some of these assessments turned out to be obviously true, however, I didn't see anything but two young men on a soundstage when I looked at these particular pictures. To suggest that every photo that displayed a frown or a distant look was indicative of dissatisfaction with the Beatle "machine" is a bit irresponsible, imo. Yes, it could be true that this was, in part, so..but there could have been other reasons, as well..and I just feel that the narrator could have exercised more objectivity than to make so many assumptions that were, no doubt, influenced by the eventual outcome of the group. I think the photos should have been discussed on their own merits, is all I'm trying to say.
..and speaking of the photos..curiously, not every photo is given an explanation, which I found disappointing..so you are pretty much left to guess at the circumstances there.
I also thought I saw John and Cyn's marriage referred to as "tumultuous" at one point in these pages, but can't now find evidence of it. If I did read what I thought, let it be noted that '65, by many accounts (and Cynthia's, herself) was a great year for the Lennon family..and in fact, there are a few very lovely photos that Robert has included in this book which showcase the love between John and Cynthia.
Lastly, I am a "John-girl", so perhaps I am biased..but, to me, The Beatles were always John's band...so referring to John and Paul as the "Beatle bosses"..and stating that the group was "obviously run" by them, is not an accurate statement, imo. To say John and Paul were the dominant songwriting team within the group is far more accurate to me..since there can only be one leader within a band...and for me, it was definitely John. As early as '63 interviews and as "late" as a '97 Paul interview, it was expressed as much who "ran the show."
Overall, though, these things aside, it was a good book and I'm glad I bought it..but I have to say, not being a casual fan, that I have seen at least half of these pictures, already..so if you are a "die-hard", like me, you will have more than likely come upon some or many of these pictures in your "photobucket" travels..but, nevertheless, this is an enjoyable "coffee table" type of book that you can enjoy opening up and looking at now and then to remind you/reflect for you what the Beatlemania era was really like.
From 1964 to 1966, Robert Whitaker was the official photographer for the Beatles. As such, he had almost unlimited access to JPG&R, taking hundreds of candids and studio shots of the Fabs in concert, greeting crowds, on movie sets, partying, shooting promo videos or just looning about. Whitaker pix were seemingly on display everywhere, being featured in LIFE and other mags, used as album covers, etc. WITH THE BEATLES is Whitaker's word-and-photograph record of those heady days when JPG&R conquered the world.
Whitaker, known chiefly as a fashion photographer, was originally hired after photographing Brian Epstein for the AUSTRALIAN JEWISH NEWS magazine. Assigned to snap all of Epstein's NEMS musical acts, Whitaker and the Beatles clicked and, in short order, he was a part of their inner circle. Along with studio sessions, cover shots, promos and what-not, Whitaker also accompanied JPG&R on their world tours, chronicling their dizzying success. Following his years with the Fabs, Whitaken continued a notable career in rock photography. He was wrapping up production of WITH THE BEATLES when cancer claimed him in 2011.
WITH THE BEATLES is a visual delight. Its 304 pages showcase hundreds of b&w and color pix of JPG&R, many reproduced as full-page or two-page spreads. Whitaker's camera loved the Beatles and his discriminating eye captured them in any number of situations and emotions. His affectionate reminiscences are just as discerning and delightful.
Beatles fans will undoubtedly savor Robert Whitaker's book. It's a magical and insightful tribute to "the music, the excitement, the images, the memories" created by those four talented, charismatic Brits all those years ago. Highly recommended.
on November 23, 2012
Robert Whitaker is my favorite Beatles photographer bar none, and he always has been. I fell in love with his pictures way before I even knew who he was. It was always his photos that most intrigued me and enthralled me. He seemed to have a talent that no other Beatles photographer possessed, and that was the ability to reach into the souls of his four subjects, through his camera lense. He seemed to capture something that not even Robert Freeman, maker of the famous half dark, half light, cover photo for With the Beatles could do. Unlike the others, he had that uncanny knack for pulling the veneer away and revealing the real guy underneath. Also his use of light was always breathtaking. He was able to capture the beauty of the four young musicians, again in a way that no one could do. Perhaps that is not only due to great lighting, but because the veneer had dropped in the first place, so they seemed even more handsome, but in a way that was more natural rather than glossy. Whatever it was, Whitaker was a genius with a camera, and this book is a gift to anyone who ever thought the Beatles were lovely to look at. And of course you know they were.
As for the commentary in this book, I disagree with one reviewer who said it wasn't just the same old, stock Beatles bio information. I found it lacking and somewhat boring. "Bob was as hip as John and as cute as Paul" (?) Seriously? Well into the 21st century and we're still doing "cute"? The least Life could have done was put the word in quotation marks to distance themselves from it. Wouldn't it have been better to use the more grown up adjective, 'handsome'? Even Whitaker's recollections were almost non existent, and when they did appear they seemed to repeat themsleves. How many different ways can he say he was "closest to John" and it was of course, John who was his "friend"? And isn't it convenient that after December 1980 so many people seem to claim they were so close to him? Honestly it has grown to gargantuan proportions at this point. I really don't care which Beatle the author of any book was "closest to", or which Beatle is his favorite. That smacks of editorializing and it really annoys me. Although the few things he did say that were interesting, really stood out. His observations about Ringo were intriguing. Also facinating, was his comment on the reason he felt a distance between himself and Paul. Hint....he thinks his "friendship" with John had something to do with it.
Needless to say however, the commentary in this book takes nothing away from the marvelous photography. That speaks for itself. Highly recommended.
For Beatles aficionados or diehard fans that come across another book filled with photos of the band, one major question will be asked, can another book of photography exhibit one of rock and roll's most photogenic and popular bands in musical history necessary that has not already been published? Most definitely, especially if it is a book of a collection of photographs specifically comprised of images taken by one of the Beatles' official tour and band photographers Robert Whitaker during the height of Beatlemania, 1964-1966 and who was a part of the inner circle that not only as a photographer but a friend and inspiration to the band and also deserving of being called the Fifth Beatle.
Out of the hundreds of books published about the Beatles, who better than LIFE and Robert Whitaker to share with fans new and old what the Beatles were about and what they defined to a generation of youths attempting to find themselves after 1963 and overall, during a pivotal decade of change from bobby socks to mop tops and later mods and pyschedelia. Within the pages of this large bound and noticeably by this reader quite heavy books of the band to include over 300 pages of over-sized photos and brief backstage stories of where and when the photos were taken during the band's three year whirlwind tour across the globe from the United States, Europe, and Far East; in the most candid and personal moments to the most public in front of thousands of screaming fans from baseball stadiums in the US to the Budokan, a martial arts hall in Tokyo, which is now ever so famous for live rock shows, but during the Beatles' visit a controversial event that prompted anti-western protest. Besides, the very interesting tour photos other busy tasks occurred in between, performances on variety shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show and promotional clips, movie set footage from Help! and most notably, photo shoots for the bands' album and single covers. Here is a bit of trivia, Whitaker was the photography responsible for the initial US Capitol records compilation album cover for "Yesterday and Today" or the infamous Butcher cover, which would be later replaced by another picture that he took that literally speaks for itself, the band looking exhausted and living in a suitcase due to tour date after tour date. And this is one of many reasons why the history of the Beatles never ceases to amaze even the oldest or youngest fan.
Every new generation of fans introduced first by the music of the Beatles will no doubt delve into the world of what was Beatlemania. And when they do, not only is the music pertinent to understanding who the Beatles really were and why they are symbolic to popular culture, after acquiring this book and others, they will find it beneficial and most importantly, a piece of documented history through photographs.
on December 3, 2013
This is a really nice book. I gave it as a gift to someone in his 20's who is a Beatles nut. He has tons of memorabilia and other books and was really impressed with the photos, many of which had never been published before.
It's a nice size too; a mid-sized "coffee table" book.
on January 2, 2013
My husband bought this for me, as I was a beatle fanatic in my teenage years & beyond. It has some great pictures & new pictures from the many I have seen over the years...but it covers a very short period of the beatles. It includes many staged photo shoots...& the rest reminded me of the same "old" that was put out during their touring days. If you love the beatles, you'll enjoy the pictures, but not what I would have hoped for or chosen on my own as a hardcore beatle fan. If you are a hardcore fan, you enjoy any beatle photos, but many who posted reviews on this book were not hardcore fans...just buying for someone who might have been fan. It was a nice walk down memory lane. Overall, I was not 'amazed' by this book.
on December 28, 2012
My husband is toying with the idea of creating a class having to do with the Beatles and I thought this might provide him with some additional information as the pictures were all taken by a photographer who has travelled extensively with the Beatles throughout their career. Some of the pictures are obviously artistic attempts. In my opinion, it is more of a coffee table book to thumb through and look at what was being worn at the time than any real information about the Beatles.
on January 7, 2013
We bought this as a gift for our Beatle-fan friends. I'm not a big fan, but even I enjoyed looking through this lovely book. It's put together very well and the pictures are beautiful. The paper seems to be high quality and able to take a lot of 'leafing'. Our friends love it!
on November 17, 2012
This is a Christmas Gift for the Ultimate Beatles Fan.
I just looked at the pictures and most I had never seen before.
I am sure this will be a treasured Christmas gift and my friend
will be thrilled.