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The Beatles Anthology Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
"Who knows why the Beatles happened?" John Lennon asked in 1980: if anyone did, it would be the Fab Four themselves, who tell their own storyDwith plenty of visual aidsDin this giant compendium. Festooned with more than 1,300 photographs, posters and documents (many in color), the weighty (6.6 lbs.) volume offers the Beatles' "own permanent written record of events up to 1970," some of it previously published, but much of it transcribed from new or unpublished interviews. Paul, George, Ringo and Beatles-related folks (Brian Epstein, George Martin, Derek Taylor) contribute text from interviews conducted for the book and for an accompanying TV program. Words from the late John Lennon have been gathered from print, broadcast and manuscripts (each with an indicated date), then spliced together to create coherent pages and paragraphs. The book opens with the band members' separate accounts of their childhoods, then moves into a year-by-year organization that allows for great detail and many digressions. Here are what the Beatles have said, or say now, about particular sessions and gigs. Here, too, are comments and reminiscences on every topic in their careerD from marijuana to Manila to Murray the K, from Hamburg to "A Hard Day's Night" to "Hey, Jude." Most of the text appears oral-history style, in short paragraphs with rapid switches between one Beatle and another: the format makes it sound as if all the Beatles (including John) were being interviewed simultaneously. The visuals bring in cartoons, signed letters, scrawled drawings and photos. As a whole the volume is beautiful, big and a bit intimidating, somewhere between the Yellow Submarine and the Death Star. (One-day laydown, Oct. 5) Forecast: Do people still care? You bet they do. With massive publicity, innumerable tie-ins and enduring, worldwide passion for the music, this is poised to be one of the biggest nonfiction books of the year. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
What should be the final word on the Beatles has arrived. It takes the form of a massive oral-history tome, its contents derived mostly from recorded conversations with Paul, George, and Ringo for the recent TV documentary The Beatles Anthology. Those are augmented by excerpts from interviews with John that are integrated effectively and almost seamlessly with the new material, and by occasional comments from the group's closest associates, such as recording producer George Martin. Big as it is, the volume virtually overflows with fascinating tidbits about growing up in Liverpool, early gigs, the rise to unprecedented fame and acclaim, and the Beatles' pervasive social influence. It seems crammed much in the way that the Beatles crammed several lifetimes' worth of music and living into the decade of the group's existence. Although the contents are somewhat sanitized--this is, after all, essentially a group autobiography--the four address less-pleasant incidents, such as the sacking of original Beatles drummer Pete Best and the petty squabbles that led to the group's 1970 breakup. The text is accompanied by more than 1,300 photos, many letters, and other memorabilia. There isn't much news, though. After 30 years and hundreds of books, few secrets remain to be revealed. But even familiar bits of Beatle lore seem fresh when told in the band's own words. Expect heavy demand for this monumental release, especially after the holidays, from frustrated Beatlemaniacs who failed to find the pricey item under the tree. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The book is a large coffee style book, so it will be impossible for this to become bed-time reading, but this book is generously illustrated with many pictures never published before - apparently - as all three remaining Beatles at the time plus Yoko Ono agreed to give access to many matierials in their possession.
This project was clearly a product of pride and love and the results show. YOu gain an understanding of the backgrounds of the group, their struggles and then the 'sudden' fame in England and the explosion a the epicenter of the world of music and culture in the 1960's.
Of course, what is most interesting to me is the creation of the music, and there is lots here. From the start, the Beatles produced some singular sounds from their first albums (if you don't understand, go and listen to the top hits of 1963 for a comparison of before and after the British Invasion) to the brilliance of the Sgt. Peppers period.
The book really brings home that this group increasingly had to deal with unreal pressure and schedules to remain at the top, and like anything, this pressure would become overwhelming. As I once read in the Rolling Stone record guide years ago, to paraphrase, The Beatles tried every genre and had nothing left to say so the decision to breakup was actually the right decision in retrospect. I believe that is correct.
This book is really well-done and well worth a purchase. Highly recommended.
Going chronologically from their beginnings, the book is structured year by year, intercalating comments by each of them (George Martin, the fifth Beatle included, as well as several other people involved with them), flowing in a way that feels as if you were sitting with them in your living room, sipping a cup of tea (or coffee, if you prefer) while listening to the fab four talk about their lives while they were together. This effect is so impeccable that it's what I love most about the book.
Now, that's obviously not all. The 368 pages of the book (yes, it has 368, and the last one is a very Lennon-like "handwritten" statement saying "By hook or by crook I'll be last in this book -John Lennon") are beautifully packaged along with tons of pictures, copies of letters, posters, etc. that complement magnificently the already outstanding document that the "chat" between them represents.
Three years after its release it remains an awesome gift and an endless source of information. I am sure it will remain that way for a very long time.