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The Beatles Anthology Paperback – September 1, 2002
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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.