No Review today…but here’s what is coming up!

Good morning loyal readers and newbies to my blog,

I seem to have fallen behind on my reading this past week and I have books piled up on my end table waiting to be read! Not only that…I have a new CD to review for you too. Here’s a list of what to expect in the next four weeks (not necessarily in this order):

David Bowie A Life Dylan Jones

 

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

 

 

 

 

Riding So High The Beatles and Drugs Joe Goodden

 

 

Riding So High: The Beatles and Drugs by Joe Goodden

 

 

 

 

The Beatles Fifty Fabulous Years Robert Rodriguez

 

The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years by Robert Rodriguez

 

 

 

 

Now It’s All This! – The Red Button

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Documentary: “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records”

All Things Must Pass The Rise and Fall of Tower RecordsAll Things Must Pass has been on my wishlist to view for a couple years now. It wasn’t until a friend happened to mention it on Facebook that it I finally decided it was time to watch this documentary. The movie is directed by Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks) and was officially released on March 19, 2015.

A little background info about me to make it understood where I’m coming from when I write this review. In 1986, at the age of 21, I got a job working as the 3rd key manager of the local Sam Goody‘s store in the mall. It was at this time, I also started dating the man that would become my husband (see picture). Craig Vanderslice Record Town 1988He worked in the same mall managing a privately owned record store called Grand Records. By the time we married (actually, we found out when we returned from our honeymoon), Grand Records had been bought out by TransWorld Music. My husband worked at the same store but it’s named had been changed to Record Town. Within a year, I was working for the same company at a store called Tape World in another mall. Our dream, like so many others of our generation was to some day own our own record store.

Now back to my review of All Things Must Pass and the story of Tower Records. What started as a small record section in the back of Tower Pharmacy in Sacramento, California in the late 195o’s was soon to become an empire when the owner’s son, Russ Solomon, asked his father if he could expand the record department. Instead, his father signed over the record business to Russ and thus, Tower Records was born in 1960. After opening several more stores in California, by 1979 they opened their first international store in Japan to huge crowds standing outside to be the first to explore the extensive racks of American and international music. Eventually, Tower Records would have stores on the east and west coasts of the U.S. along with stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina.But by 2004, they were filing for bankruptcy. So what went wrong?

This documentary brings to light the real story of Tower Records from the man himself, Russ Solomon, and his early employees who grew with him and the company through the decades. From his early days working in his dad’s pharmacy, to the final days of Tower Records in New York city store as he watched it’s final minutes of liquidation before closing it’s doors forever, this movie tells of the music and madness of the record industry from the retail perspective. Along the way (in this 1 hour 36 minute film), Colin Hanks interviews Bruce Springsteen, Elton John (they opened the store early for him so he could shop), and David Grohl (he worked at Tower Records in Washington, D.C. when he was younger). You’ll also see plenty of Beatles album covers in old photos and footage from the early days and there is even a 1974 audio clip of John Lennon doing a radio ad for Tower Records and his soon to be release album Walls and Bridges. It’s an incredibly fascinating story for us baby boomers who lived and breathed for our next piece of vinyl, cassette or CD and I believe even the millennials will enjoy seeing how we saw the music industry after the juke boxes and before Napster and MP3s. And for that reason…

I rate this documentary, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

You can’t rent All Things Must Pass online at places like Amazon, NetFlix or iTunes, or you can buy a copy of the DVD/BlueRay

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Book Review: “Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926-1966” by Kenneth Womack

Maximum Volume George Martin Kenneth WomackI met Kenneth Womack, the author of Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926–1966in 2013 when he was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor at Penn State (Altoona). Ken has written three books about the Beatles: Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles; The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles; and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. In February of 2014, Ken organized and hosted “It was 50 Years Ago Today – An International Beatles Celebration” – a 4 day Beatles conference at Penn State in Altoona, PA. He also holds a PhD. in 20th-Century British Literature and has written three novels. Pretty impressive, huh?

I remember attending a lecture on the Beatles a couple years ago and sitting down next to Ken in the auditorium as he was typing away at this book, the first book in a two volume set. I was really amazed at how he was doing it with no notes, just his fingers frantically beating away at the keyboard. After chatting with him briefly about what he was creating, I began really looking forward to reading it since everything else I’ve read about George Martin just seems to skim the surface of his life beyond the Beatles.

This book isn’t a simple read as it took me two weeks to take it all in even though it’s only 314 pages. The first half of the book is really intense, but unfortunately, the second half seemed to lose its gusto. No longer is the reader reading much about George’s personal life outside the studio (all the stuff I was looking forward to hearing about). Except for a couple paragraphs thrown in here and there about his divorce from his first wife was being final, and a spattering of paragraphs about the other artists he was working with, the second half of the book reads like a combination of George’s autobiography and Geoff Emerick’s book “Here, There and Everywhere”. The book seems to become just a daily log of recording the Beatles, what tracks were used for which instruments or vocals and techniques used for each song.

And then there is page 85! Whoa! *shakes head in utter disbelief*

The day before the meeting, which had been set for 11:30 AM on May 9 at Abbey Road, Brian asked Derek Taylor, a Liverpool journalist and his close friend and confidant, “What’s the point? Should I even bother going?” He then turned to Derek’s brother Alistair, his colleague at NEMS…”

WHAT?! Derek and Alistair were brothers? Why am I just hearing this now? How could I have read Derek’s book, Alistair’s book and Brian’s book…let alone all the other books I’ve read and never have heard that they were brothers? Did Kenneth Womack uncover some deep dark Beatles secret in his research? Ten pages later, I was still wondering about it, so I text a Beatles expert and friend and asked him about it. He said he’d get back to me and sure enough a couple hours later, after he consulted with a couple other Beatles experts and confirmed….it’s an error!

OMG…it’s a glaring error by the guy who wrote The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four.

I’m still looking forward to reading the second volume in this set when it’s released, but for all the above reasons…

I regretfully rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

UPDATE (Oct 2, 2017): After reading this review, Kenneth Womack contacted me via email to say: “Thanks for the review. The error has been corrected in the eBook and new edition, which is being published next week.” Thanks for the update, Ken!

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Book Review: “Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life” by Cindy Williams

Shirley I Jest Cindy WilliamsI bought this copy of Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life from the woman herself…Cindy Williams, when I visited the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention last weekend in Maryland. I had gone to the convention to support my friend Garry Berman, the author of several pop-culture books including We’re Going to See the Beatles!but the place is jam packed with celebrities signing autographs. And while I don’t usually stand in line to meet celebrities, I happen to be walking by at a moment when there was no one at Cindy Williams table, so I bought her book, told her I wished I had brought my “Laverne and Shirley Sing” album for her to sign and then got a quick photo.

Cindy Williams Shirley Feeney Laverne & ShirleyNow…about this book. In case you think I’m daft for reviewing it on my Beatles blog, in my defense the word “Beatles” does appear once in this book. And if you remember the television series Laverne & Shirley, you may remember that they had a very large picture of the Fab Four in their apartment when they moved to California. Laverne Shirley BeatlesAt 159 pages, this book can be read in less than 24 hours, but it’s jam packed with stories that go way beyond what you believe you already know about Cindy Williams. Sure, she played Ron Howard’s girlfriend in American Graffiti…and yeah, Laverne & Shirley was a spin-off of Happy Days that stayed on TV long past the point of jumping the shark. But did you know that before she became famous Cindy Williams was a waitress at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood and the first person she waited on was Jim Morrison?! Funny, funny story that made me literally laugh out loud. And it wasn’t the only one. Cindy’s life during her Hollywood years was funny on and off screen. John Belushi, Ed Begley Jr., and Andy Kaufman are just a few of the people she called close friends. But get ready for the funny stories about Cher, Cary Grant, Harrison Ford and Susan Summers to name a few.

Though her life didn’t start out like a lot of actresses in posh Beverly Hills, she endured poverty and growing up in a less than stable household to go on to become a worldwide phenomenon. You can’t help but love her, Shirley Feeney and Boo Boo Kitty just a little more after reading this book. If you happen to stumble upon a copy in your journeys, pick it up and read it. You won’t be disappointed. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World”

New York Times FootstepsWait! Before you change screens or move on to something you think may be more interesting than another review from my BloggingForBooks collection, bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out on why I chose to read – The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World.

Let me start by asking my readers: Have you ever gone to New York City to see the Dakota building where John Lennon lived and died? Have you ever walked through Central Park to see the Imagine circle in Strawberry Fields? How many of you have gone (or hope to go) to Liverpool to see the Cavern Club or the houses that John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up in? How many of you have looked up the meaning behind a Beatles’ song and wondered what inspired John, Paul George or Ringo to write it?

I personally have gone to the house near me where Jim Croce once lived. And his grave is less than 2 miles from my house. I visit it often. People make pilgrimages to France to see Jim Morrison’s grave or to Woodstock to see where history was made with the largest most peaceful concert that world had ever seen.

Well, if you’re also a lover of interpreting words, books and songs, or just finding the meaning in the world around us, than this book will truly fascinate you.

Footsteps began in 1981 as a short-lived series of articles in the New York Times. Writers writing about writers is what this 290 page collection of 38 articles is all about. The reporters retraced the steps of famous authors such as Twain, Hemingway, Kerouac, Fitzgerald, Lovecraft, Shelley, Yeats, Byron and the Brothers Grimm. Imagine that Lake Geneva in Switzerland was the back drop to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein or that the blinking green lighthouse from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was an actual lighthouse on the French Riviera. This collection of articles lead you down the streets, alleys and waterways that were the inspiration behind so many of the great classic novels that we know today. Though I did find that a few of the reporters get a little side tracked in telling more about the city than the author that lived there, I looked forward to reading each new story. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Cutting Edge” by Leslie Cavendish

I’m not sure where I first heard or saw The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era by Leslie Cavendish, but the very thought of the Beatles hairdresser writing a book pretty much made me roll my eyes and snort. Not knowing anything about the author my first thoughts were of a tiny little Beatlemaniac who worked somewhere in Liverpool in the early sixties and managed to cut the Fab Four’s greased back locks long before they ever hit the big time. I could image this girl collecting and selling off these locks to all her screaming little friends who also spent their lunch hours at the cavern club swooning over John, Paul, George and Pete!

Well folks…I couldn’t have been more wrong in my first impression of this book.  You see, Leslie Cavendish is a man! In fact, he’s a man who loves women so much that after accompanying his mother to her hair salon as a teen, he decided that being a hairdresser would be the ultimate job for a guy who wants to be around glamorous, sexy women all the time. Conveniently, his best childhood friend Lawrence had the same idea and recommended that Leslie try to get an apprenticeship at the hottest salon in London…Vidal Sassoon! After two years as an apprentice, and as luck would have it one day, Jane Asher came into the salon to find that her regular stylist was behind schedule and being in a hurry, she remarkably ended up in the chair of junior stylist Leslie Cavendish. If he thought he was nervous working on Jane Asher’s hair, imagine his surprise when she asked if he would come over to her house later that day to cut her boyfriend’s hair. Leslie knew exactly who that was…Paul McCartney. And so the story goes…

This is actually an incredibly fascinating book with little snippets in between of other famous rock stars and artists sitting in Leslie’s chair. Yes, there is sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, but he does keep it clean, funny and oh so interesting in this very well written and quick read. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Film Review: “De-constructing The Beatles – Rubber Soul” and winners!

The husband and I took a night off to go out to dinner and movie. This time we were lucky enough to have a Beatles themed flick playing one town over from us.

Deconstructing The Beatles is the brain child of musicologist and Beatles scholar Scott Freiman. He’s made four ‘Deconstructing’ films so far that are showing around the country. You can find out if any of them are playing near you on the website. Before I give my thoughts, here’s the trailer for this film:

 

 

I’ve seen several great Beatles experts who do lectures similar to this one…Kenneth Womack and Walter Everett come to mind and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to see either of these Beatles experts’ lectures, you’re sure to love this film. Scott Freiman literally walks his audience through each day of the 30 days the Beatles had to record their Rubber Soul album. What songs they recorded on what days, what instruments where used on each song, the tracks used, etc.. An amazing process to experience that just about any Beatles fan is sure to enjoy. In fact, I’m going to need to go back and find out where I can go to see the first three Deconstructing films about the White Album, Sgt. Peppers and Revolver. And for that reason…

I rate this film, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

The winners of last week’s giveaway for a copy of John Lennon: The stories behind every song 1970-1980 are: Meredith Floate, Deborah Allen and Rob Conlin! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get your books out to you ASAP. Congrats!

 

 

 

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