Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: “Octopus’s Garden” by Ringo Starr

From Wikipedia: “Octopus’s Garden” is a song by the Beatles written and sung by Ringo Starr (credited to his real name Richard Starkey) from the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Ringo Starr got the idea for his song Octopus’s Garden while vacationing on a yacht in the Mediterranean sea in 1968. The inspiration came when the captain of the ship told him that octopuses live in caves and that they like to collect shiny objects to decorate around the opening of the cave like a garden.

In 2014, Ringo Starr published a children’s book named after his song Octopus’s Garden. This 10″ x 11″ book is vibrantly colored and beautifully illustrated by Ben Cort. With only 24 pages, the lyrics guide the reader through an ocean adventure  with five children as they play in the fantasy garden of an octopus. The book also includes a CD with a greeting from Ringo, a new recording of the song, Ringo narrating the book (with a ‘ding’ to tell you when to turn the page) and an instrumental version of the title song.

As I said, the book is absolutely gorgeous and you’re going to wish it was longer. But it will be great for very small children and I can see where it would also be a fun book for playing “I Spy” with all the colorful objects in the octopus’s garden!  My first thought upon hearing Ringo’s greeting on the CD was “Ah! The little conductor man!” (for those that remember him in the TV show Thomas & Friends). But after that came my disappointment…Ringo had recorded a new (and not very good) version of Octopus’s Garden. When I consulted my Beatles expert friends about why he did this, they believe that even as a former Beatles the licensing cost to use the original song would have been to high to make a profit on this project. Still, I’m sure the children who hear the song won’t know the difference and will enjoy singing along like we all did at one time or another in our lives. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, children's book

Book Review: “The Love You Make” by Peter Brown

I sincerely apologize for not posting this review last week. In all my heart, I truly believed I was going to read this 437 page book in one weekend! Stupid me. Time got away from me and try as I might, I just couldn’t get it read for a review last weekend….so here it is.

The Love You Make – An Insiders Story of The Beatles by Peter Brown (and Steven Gaines) was first published in 1983. I stumbled across my copy at a book sale at a local library for just $2.50, but according to Amazon.com, they sell for over $10 each. The book was re-released and 2002 edition is available as a used book for as low as $0.01!

But enough of the crap…let’s get on with the review…

Peter Brown started out as salesman at NEMS when
Brian Epstein recruited him from another store across the street. When the Beatles came along, he took over managing NEMS in Brian’s absence, but was soon to follow Brian in working for the Fab Four. This is his story…

For all my fellow Beatles freaks, you may find a lot of the information in this book as ‘old news’ though there are quite a few instances of Peter saying, “…told for the first time here”. Obviously, after 34 years, his new stories have become common knowledge or have been debunked. There are also the usually tall tales like that of John Lennon being born during an air raid when all official government reports from Liverpool say that there was no air raid on October 9, 1940.

I was informed by a friend that Peter Brown caught a lot of flack for some of the stories he told in this book and that there was a sizable backlash. He tells the story of Brian and John’s holiday trip to Spain after the birth of John’s son Julian with details that I’ve never heard before reading this book. He talks of their sexual encounter that is different from the story told by John’s childhood friend Pete Shotton in his book. In fact, this book tells a great deal of many of the Beatles carnal activities all the way back to their pre-Hamburg days. There are also the stories of John and Yoko’s heroin addiction and the usual praising of Derek Taylor‘s drug and alcohol fueled work at Apple. Paul’s extracurricular activities while living with Jane Asher are also discussed.

The stories go on and on…I can’t even make a dent in them in this review. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “All You Need is Ears” by George Martin

There are a lot of authentic reasons why Sir George Martin is referred to as the 5th Beatle…and they’re all contained with the pages of his book, “All You Need Is Ears: The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles“. Published in 1979, this book is still a delight to read for any true fan of the Fab Four.

This isn’t a book that’s just about his time working with the Beatles and in the studio. It’s the story of George’s  life along with his thoughts on musical theory, recording and producing. He begins where we would expect George Martin to begin, with when he was born in 1926 and his early days growing up in war torn England and his time in the Fleet Air Army. He spends very little time talking about his private life except to make quick mentions of meeting and marrying his first wife Sheena, the birth of his kids Alexis and Gregory, he impending divorce, his marrying Judy and the birth of his third and fourth children – Lucy and Giles. He talks about his studio engineers more than his own family.

Where he gives an outstanding explanation of the mathematics behind chords (something I’ve heard of but never had it explained to me), at the other end of the spectrum, he gives a wordy and tedious chapter on the ins and outs of mono, stereo, four track, eight track, etc., recording. There is also a rather long and (and I think) unnecessary chapter on becoming a record producer in the 1970’s when the book was written. At times it almost felt like either he, his co-writer Jeremy Hornsby or his editor was attempting to add quantity between the cover pages only to sacrificed the quality. Though, I do know a few people who will find the technical mumbo jumbo very interesting.

For those looking for possibles hints as to why Sir George left his first two children out of his will when he passed away on March 8, 2016, you won’t find any answer in these pages. Even though the whole matter is really none of anyone’s business, the fact that it made headlines can’t help but make one wonder what went so terribly wrong that a man would exclude two of his flesh and blood from enjoying his wealth. I have personally talked with Greg Martin and he’s a lovely man. By day, he’s an actor, but in his spare time he’s a gifted astrologer. He did a live reading of my chart for me via Skype about 4 years ago and he was able to tell me things that did eventually come to be. (In fact, if anyone knows how to get a hold of him, please send him my way. I’d love to have him read for me again).

Anyway…I digress…

This book is a must read for any true Beatles fan, McCartney fan, Lennon fan, etc. He doesn’t pay a whole lot of mind to Ringo and George, but does spend a good deal of time telling of his interactions with Brian Epstein. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review, George Martin

Book Review: “The Beatles: Every Little Thing” by Maxwell MacKenzie

It’s pretty amazing what you can find while wandering around your local public library’s used book sale racks! I was actually dropping off Help Wanted posters for my boss at the local libraries when I noticed that one of them had a bookstore. That’s where I found a gently used copy of The Beatles – Every Little Thing by Maxwell MacKenzie for $1.50(and another book which I’ll review at a later date). This book is describes as “a compendium of witty, weird and ever-surprising facts about the Fab Four.” It was originally published in 1998.

The 209 page book is simply divided into sections with headings such as: Early Influences; Early Gigs, Clubs and Auditions; Girlfriends, Wives, and Families; Banned Beatles; Beatles on Film; etc. From there, each sections is just a list of one-two sentence facts about John, Paul, George and Ringo.

I guess the two biggest questions one might want to know before investing in this book are: Is it accurate? And will you learn anything new? I’m only 34 pages into it so far (more on that later) and so far, I’ve found a couple ‘alternative facts’, such as the fact that John was born the night of an air raid. That myth was dispelled a long time ago. And as for learning anything new, well, that would depend on your level of expertise or who you’re buying this book for. As for myself, I’m not ready to give up on it completely. I plan on leaving it laying around and pick it up now and then for some light reading. It would make a nice gift for someone who’s just discovered the Beatles or maybe for a young reader who’s writing a report for school. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

On another note, I want to bring to your attention an amazing auction that is going on right now. Heritage Auctions of Texas is currently selling seven fab paintings by artist Eric Cash. Anyone who’s attended a Beatles Fest will know his work and who Eric is. This past month, I managed to save one of his paintings from the auction block when I bought “Sea of Green”. I couldn’t be happier and I’m waiting to take it to be professionally framed! In the meantime, check out the other pieces. You won’t regret owning one of these amazing paintings. Check them out here!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “At John Lennon’s house” by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo

At John Lennon’s house by Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo was recommended to me by a friend and fellow Beatle Freak, Thom Donovan. The book was originally written in Spanish (En casa de John Lennon) in 2005. Rosaura died several months after it’s publication, but it was translated to English and released as an e-book in 2013.

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

Rosaura in front of the Dakota in New York, NY

From 1976 until 1980, Rosaura Lopez Lorenzo worked for John Lennon and Yoko Ono as their housekeeper. According to the book, in June 2001, two reporters from TVG (Galician Television in Spain) were covering the annual Galician celebration in Newark, NJ when they stumbled upon a tambourine player. While interviewing her about when she came to America and her life here, she admitted to having previously been the housekeeper to John Lennon at one time. It was then that these two crafty reporters decided that Rosaura needed to write a book about her time with the Ono-Lennons!

The first thing to catch my eye in the book was Rosaura’s admission that this book in Yoko Ono approved. That immediately sets off bells and whistles in my skeptical head. It tells me that every word was scrutinized by Yoko and her lawyers. And in fact, both Yoko and her lawyer are mentioned in the dedication for “their exquisite attention”.

Rosaura says early on that this book was written to right all the wrongs that have been written about John and Yoko. She glosses over her daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. chores around the house while talking extensively about how apartment 72 is laid out, what color the rooms are painted and the contents of Sean’s bedroom and playroom.

In her story, John is a happy go lucky doting father who spends much of his time in his room playing guitar when he’s not sitting around smiling at his son, baking bread with Rosaura or asking her about her life in Spain. Sean is a happy child who loves her more than his own nanny and professes that she is his favorite. All the while, Yoko is happily conducting the family business during her days. But there are evil people working for them, including John Green, Fred Seaman and a nanny she called Lupa who would eventually get Rosaura fired.

Besides being hard to swallow, this book is poorly translated and edited. The typos and grammatical errors abound, which let me know that this was hastily edited for e-book format to squeeze out as many doubloons as possible from Rosaura’s rosy stories of the swell world inside the Dakota with the Ono-Lennon. There are many pages of photos included at the end of the book which some may find a bonus, but all in all, I found them just another way to capitalize on this tale. And for that reason…

I rate this boo, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “The Fall Guy: I was the double for Michael Caine & John Lennon” by Johnny Morris

I was contacted last month by a publishing rep from Gleneagle Books about reviewing The Fall Guy: I Was the Double for Michael Caine and John Lennon by Johnny Morris. I jumped at the chance and a copy arrived from London a week later. This book is not only a stunt man’s autobiography, but a look into the making of some of the greatest films of the 1960’s and 70’s.

John Morris‘ early childhood stories are very similar to that of Tommy Steele’s (Bermondsey Boy), both having grown up in the lower class London area and getting into scraps with other boys before ending up in the military and eventually achieving fame in show business in the late 50’s and 60’s. And both having ties to the Beatles.

The Fall Guy isn’t a very long book, taking only about 87 pages to tell his story, but it does include extensive pictures of his time as actor Sir Michael Caine’s stunt man, stand-in, sidekick and friend. There are also eight beautiful photos from John’s person collection of his time on the set of both Beatles film’s Help and A Hard Day’s Night where Mr. Morris worked as John Lennon’s double.

My greatest wish for this book is that there had been more time spent talking about his time as Lennon’s stand-in. The stories from his time on the Beatles films are short, while his decades long work as Michael Caine’s right hand man is understandably extensive. Mr. Morris gives a great behind the scenes look at the making of a film from another perspective besides the side of the glamorous stars.

If you’re a Beatles or John Lennon fan that has to know ‘everything’ about John and the Fab Four, you’re going to want to get a copy of The Fall Guy for your collection, even if just for the unique photos. In the meantime, I’d love to see one of my friends who are Beatles reporters (Hey…Steve Marinucci!) take some time to interview Johnny Morris and get a more in-depth story about his time on the set of Help! and A Hard Day’s Night. Or maybe he’ll turn up on stage being interviewed at a Fest for Beatles Fans in the near future (Hey…Mark Lapidos!). And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle3beetle2beetle

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “Not Dead Yet: The Memoir” by Phil Collins

As soon as I read online about the release of Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil CollinsI knew I had to read it. It wasn’t long after the announcement of this book that rumors started flying about Phil Collins long standing grudge with Paul McCartney. And though the story of the feud doesn’t appear in this book, many other Beatles stories that appear in it’s pages.

Phil opens the book by saying that it contains his memories of the events in his life and they may not match other memories of the same events, but they are as honest as he remembers them. Apparently, his first wife has very different recollections of their time together because she’s currently suing him because his wholly false statements “not only seriously damaged my reputation, but have also caused me considerable distress,” she said. I thought he was very kind to all three of his ex-wives and his ex-girlfriend throughout the book and took on great responsibility for the demise of all his relationships…we he details greatly.

But his marriages aren’t why we’re interested in Phil Collins, is it? No, it’s the music. So much music! In fact, there are times when even he and his fellow Genesis members admit there was too much Phil Collins! But for Collins, it was built into his personality to never say no to a idea. That included working with such greats as George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Sting, Robert Plant, etc. And though the battle with McCartney isn’t contained in the book, you do get the sense that Phil doesn’t think to highly of him without coming right out and saying it.

Then there’s his acting career and all that wasted film laying on the cutting room floors. Read the book if you want to know more about all his almost great movies roles, including his appearance in “A Hard Day’s Night”. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

4beetle 3beetle 2beetle 1beetle

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Book Review