This week, I buried my head in The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years by Robert Rodriguez. Though I’ve known Robert for several years and I own a couple of his books, this is the first of them that I’ve actually sat down and read. Truth be told, I tend to shy away from my friends books when it comes to reviews. It’s really not fair to either of us.
As I’ve already alluded to, Robert is the author of several books about the Beatles. He is also the host of the very popular Something About The Beatles podcast. To call him a Beatles expert, historian, enthusiast, etc. is being simplistic at best! He is additionally a well known figure around the Fest for Beatles Fans in Chicago and New York.
The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years was published in 2010. I admit that when I bought it, I assumed it was from 2014 and celebrated the Beatles fifty years in America, but it’s actually starts their story in 1960 when they first acquired the name…The Beatles! It’s filled with beautiful pictures of the Fab Four, including pictures with Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best and Jimmy Nicol. There are also colorful pictures of posters, albums, fans, and other trending bands of the day, along with quotes and ‘Fab Facts’ in the margins on almost every page.
This is a really fun book to own. It’s larger than most books (9″x 9.5″) but not quite as a large as most coffee table books. Robert Rodriguez did a great job making this a smooth an easy read as he tells the complete story of the Beatles without getting hung up on the controversies or filling up the pages with a lot of jibber-jabber to increase his page count.
The only problem I can say I have with this book is…the DVD that’s included with it. The DVD – “Beatles – Their Golden Age” a documentary by Les Krantz was produced especially for this book. It reminded me of a lot of the free movies about the Beatles that are available on Amazon Prime. Though it does provide some never before seen footage, it’s most repetitive scenes of screaming fans and news reel footage set to somewhat annoying music that is actually recycled Beatles tunes that have been altered just enough to not get sued by Apple (My husband actually commented on the poor choice of music).
Yeah, the DVD is a bonus with the book and if you buy a used copy of the book, I would recommend you get a copy with the DVD if you’re a collector. The book, on the other hand, I would highly recommend for collectors or adults/children/teens who are new to the Beatles. As I said, it’s beautifully written without all the hype or controversy that any amateur Beatles fan can dive into later when they want to learn more about the Fab Four.
The book on it’s own, easily rates as a 4 Beetle book, but because of the amateurish work on the DVD, I’m going to have to take it down a notch. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!
3 responses to “Book Review: “The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years” by Robert Rodriguez”
3 out of four… well well well well you’re feeling fine… I still wonder who wqnts to buy these books. When you are a fan there is really nothing worth a minute of attention. IT is like a little hagiography of a sports team, which makes sense because the book concept was developed by ‘Facts That Matter Inc.’. I hope Robert had a good paycheck. It remains a problem that American publisher and authors really believe the Beatle are still big. Robert writes:
“Certainly, no other rock act or cultural entity has
shown the staying power or capacity for cutting across every
demographic in appeal. … Ensuing generations, rather than eschewing what their parents (or grandparents) loved, have instead embraced the Beatles.”
Really? A bit more modesty would be fitting. It is like after having been the President of the United States – the people will call you Mr. President for the rest of your life. It’s all a bit too much, as George would say/sing.
The reason why the Beatles are still generating news and output is probably because there is still an audience of old folks and some new. I could be convinced though, for that I would need to see the sales-figures of things like this book. e.g. The 50th. Anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper being #1 in the UK album charts is a meaningless achievement, nowadays you don’t need to sell very much to get there.
Well anyway… It is lovely to go through the book, but I still wonder who is that guy that plays the guitar standing besides Paul singing to Cynthia in the Rainbow Room of the Casbah Club on August 29, 1959. He has the face of Julian/John… but who is it?
You’re the second person to say I was generous with my rating, but you have to look at this from my perspective as a reviewer. I need to rate this book as it’s own entity. I can’t use the author’s experience as a factor in my review. This book is an excellent book for a new Beatles fan and that’s what the 3 Beetles are for. Yes, Robert has written a lot of more in depth and great books about the Beatles, but this book is not in that category. There are a lot of coffee table and picture books that are written about the Beatles that are just really bad attempts at getting a piece of the Beatles pie. I felt this one stepped above that and didn’t contain all the nonsense, and usually gossip and rumors, that they other ones do. If someone wants to buy a nice book for a newbie fan…I would highly recommend this book. 🙂
I agree with your recommendation “If someone wants to buy a nice book for a newbie fan”. Oh and by the way, my criticism wasn’t based on the fact that these kind of hagiographies and fan books exist, and indeed it is pretty good produced. BUT… I found the text in many places screaming too loud, the nonsense about the Beatles changed the world, etc. The group deserves more attention for the music and of course the fan’s responses, the latter however is not something they made it happen.