Book Review: “How Music Works” by David Byrne

Stop what you’re doing and go get yourself a copy of  How Music Works by David Byrne of the Talking Heads. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. I usually post these reviews as a Bonus Book Review, but since this book is actually about music and the Beatles get mentioned about 5 times, I thought I should just make it my weekly review. Plus, it was just too good to limited its readership.

David Byrne gently walks readers through the hows and whys music is created. From the drums of Africa to the sound editing software on a laptop, readers can’t help but get engulfed in this book. How Music Works is an easy read, but not one that should be attempted in one sitting or two. You’ll want to read a chapter or two, digest what you’ve read, then pick it back up and learn more. There were times when I thought maybe Mr. Byrne could have backed away a little on his own personal history with creating his own albums, but there is still a lot to learn about music and sound while reading how his genius mind works and how he collaborates with other musicians. And just when you think he’s covered it all, he introduces a new topic like – why CBGB in the Bowery was such a successful music club or why it’s important to support not just large opera and musical halls, but also amateur musicians and music education in schools.

This book is truly a great read for anyone truly and deeply interested in music, including all you Beatles freaks out there. I also think it would be a very interesting book for music educators. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

P.S. – The winner of the Mea Culpa Contest is Joe Birish! Congratulations Joe…please email me your mailing address so I can get your winnings out to you ASAP!

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Mea Culpa Contest

My apologies for not having a review this week, but you’ll be happy to hear that I’m in the middle of reading a very good book. Not a lot of Beatles content, but still great.

So as my ‘mea culpa’ to my readers, I’m going to giveaway some stuff from my trip to NAMM this past January. The prize package includes: a NAMM media bag,  a Voxx Amplification Ltd sticker, a NAMM show guitar pick, a Lennon Educational Bus guitar pick and a Lennon Educational Bus passenger bag.

All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered. Only one comment per person is allowed. I will announce the winner on Sunday, July 16th. Good luck.

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Book Review: “Dreaming The Beatles” by Rob Sheffield

Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World by Rob Sheffield was published on April 25, 2017.  I had seen this book mentioned in the Beatles Book Collectors group on Facebook, but really didn’t pay it any mind until I stumbled upon it in a small book store while walking around a quaint little village with friends last week.

Rob Sheffield was born in 1966. He is a columnist for Rolling Stone magazine and a former writer for Spin magazine, so he’s got the qualifications and background in music for writing a book. But even after telling friends he was going to write a book about the Beatles and them replying, “Another book about the Beatles?!”, he didn’t take the hint.

From the jacket of the book:

Sheffield focuses on the emotional connections we make to the music. Chronicling his lifelong obsession with the Beatles along with the rest of the world’s, Dreaming the Beatles is a passionate celebration of the band and their music…

To me, it seems, when he isn’t bashing Paul (He actually wrote a chapter about called “Paul is a Concept by which We Measure Our Pain”), he’s writing about things that are so incredibly repetitive to a true Beatles freak. There are chapters dedicated to songs, albums and each Beatle. There are also chapters with titles such as: Beatles or Stones; Something (1969) vs. My Love (1971; The Cover of Abbey Road; When George sang In My Life. At times, it was as if he was pulling ideas out of left field to write about or telling us his own personal stories.

Chances are you’re not going to find anything new in these pages excepts for one man’s opinion of the Beatles, along with the story of Rob Sheffield’s experimentation with drugs and the fact that The Beverly Hillbillies were the top rated show in the U.S. from January to March 1964.

I took one for the team reading this one, folks…and for that reason…

I rate this book, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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7″ Single Review: 25th Anniversary Limited Edition – “Saltwater” by Julian Lennon

Last week, I received my 25th Anniversary Limited Edition 7″ single of Saltwater  by Julian Lennon. This song from his Help Yourself album was originally released in 1991. According to Wikipedia, the song charted at #6 in the U.K. and #1 in Australia, but failed to chart in the U.S. The song was written by Julian and Mark & Leslie Spiro. Julian had originally asked George Harrison to do a guitar solo, but George was too busy and instead sent Julian several recorded rifts that were eventually played by Steve Hunter. This beautiful song is about how we’re running out of time to deal with environmental conservation and world poverty.

So I guess the big question is: Did I play the record? No.

Next question: So how do I know it’s really a recording of Saltwater and they didn’t just repackage a bunch of Toto singles they found in a warehouse? Well, I don’t know that. But if any of you are willing to put a record needle to your copy, please let me know!

In the meantime, I can tell you that this clear vinyl edition is even more beautiful to behold in person. The pictures just don’t do it justice. The only thing that could make this any better would be to have Julian’s signature scribbled across the label, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the Limited Signed Limited Editions to be released. Hey Julian! Can you get on that ASAP?

NOTE: This 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Clear Vinyl 45 rpm is limited to just 250 copies!

You can order your own copy at Julian’s website for £25 (approx. $31.89).

Until then…enjoy the 1991 and 2016 versions of the Saltwater video.

 

 

I rate this record, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four” by Noah Fleisher

The Beatles – Fab Finds of the Fab Four by Noah Fleisher is another book recommended to me from Amazon. Author Noah Fleisher is the PR Director at Heritage Auctions (the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world), providing him with a first hand knowledge of the worth of music memorabilia and collectibles.

Published in November 2016, Fab Finds of the Fab Four is a 240 page paperback filled with beautiful color images of some of the rarest Beatles memorabilia you’ll ever see, though the author does acknowledges that the book only scratches the surface of what the Beatles merchandising machine actually put out on the market. This book not only provides the value of the items as they were set at auction, Noah also tells the story of the Beatles climb to fame and how each stage of that climb produced various items of worth. This book covers items from before they were famous up to the 2015 auction of Ringo Starr’s collection. Posters, tickets, photos, instruments, jewelry, letters, gold records, etc….it’s all in here.

I loved this book. But (and there is always a but…) it’s a difficult read at times because every page includes pictures and descriptions of various items mixed in with the text of the book. When the text/sentences continue on the next page but you’re not done reading about the memorabilia, it can get a little annoying to be going back and forth between the pages. The book is also not without it’s small typos. The thing is, though, this book is still worth the purchase price whether you’re a collector or not. It’s more than just a price guide…it’s a walk through Beatle history. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Ladies and Gentlemen…Cliff Hillis!

This isn’t the first time Cliff Hillis has made it into Beatles Freak Reviews, but truth be told, he just keeps continuing to impress me every time he comes out with new music. My husband I got to see him last week at the CD release party for his latest EP.

A Beatle fan himself, you can easily hear the influence the Fab Four has had on Cliff, especially in the title track from his new six song EP – Many Happy Returns. And for those of you that are fans of all things pop-culture, Robbie Rist, the guy who played Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch, actually co-wrote another song on this album – Never In A Million Years.

Many Happy Returns was just released last week on June 9, 2017.  You can preview and download a copy at iTunes, Amazon or Spotify…or order a copy of the CD (just $6+shipping) from TallBoy Records. If you’re still not sure if you want it, just listen to the title track on the player below…

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Book Review: “Lennon: The New York Years” by Foenkinos/Corbeyran/Horne

Well, Amazon got me again! While browsing online at Amazon.com, this book appeared as a Recommendations….

Lennon: The New York Years was written by David Foenkinos and Eric Corbeyran, illustrated by Horne and published on May 30, 2017. According to an article on NME.com, this graphic novel is adapted from a 2010 novel “Lennon” by French author David Foenkinos. After reading this book, there is a part of me that wants to see what the original was like.

This book is touted as “true biographical fiction”, as the setting is John Lennon laying on a psychiatrist’s couch talking about the ups, downs, joys and pains of his life. There are 18 sessions (chapters) in all. Now, I get that when they termed it ‘true biographical fiction’ they were probably referring to his regularly seeing a therapist that happened to also live in the Dakota so Lennon wouldn’t have to go out in public, but unfortunately, some of the fiction seems to have leaked out into Lennon’s life. Starting off with the tall tale that seems to still keep popping up, after long having been dismissed, that John was born during an air raid in Liverpool with the whistling and boom of bombs going off all around the hospital. You be the judge…

“The night I was born it was to the deafening sound of Liverpool being bombed by the Germans. I didn’t come into a life, I came into chaos. And I spent my whole life frightened. That night everything shook. Things fell from the shelves. A building fell down near us. Things had to happen fast so my mother had a cesarean.”

Artistically speaking, this book is actually a pretty nice book. The artist’s interpretation of this story is done in black and white in a 150 page hardcover edition. Comparatively speaking, I personally like the B&W rendition in this graphic novel better than Vivek J. Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle, but I prefer the linen texture Tiwary cover over the smooth, scratch prone cover of this book. Your mileage may vary…

I leave you with the trailer to this book…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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