Category Archives: reviews

Johnny come lately, the new kid in town…

PSU Beatles

“Everybody’s talking
There’s a new kid in town
People started walking
There’s a new kid in town” – Eagles

With the approach of the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to the United States, it seems that new events, festivals and conferences are popping up everywhere to celebrate the occasion.  And though the Fest for Beatles Fans is the biggest fest around, some of the others aren’t to shabby!

One of the biggest events will be at Penn State University in Altoona, PA on the weekend of February 7-9, 2014 and is called ‘It was 50 Years Ago Today: An International Beatles Celebration.’  This three day event isn’t a festival.  It’s a conference.  According to their website, “In addition to panels and presentations, the conference will include film screenings, musical performances, art and photography exhibits, and keynote addresses by leading Beatles critics and musicologists.”

The director of this event is Dr. Kenneth Womack, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at PSU Altoona, and the author of: Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles, The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles, Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, And the Fab Four and the soon to be released The Beatles Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: Everything Fab Four.

A few of the respected 50+ experts set to appear at this conference are:

Mark Lewisohn – regarded as  one of the world’s leading Beatles authorities, Mark is the author of the NY Times bestseller Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1.

Andy Babiuk – the foremost authority on the equipment used to create the Beatles’ music and the author of Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio.  Andy is also a staff consultant to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.

Walter Everett – the author of the Beatles As Musicians book series, Mr. Everett is also a member of the School of Music faculty at the University of Michigan and the author of The Foundations of Rock.

Jude Southerland Kessler – a Beatles expert, author and host of her own radio show, Ms. Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series.  She has spent nearly 30 years researching John Lennon and the Beatles for her 9 book series., making her a leading expert on the topic of the Fab Four.

Dr. Kit O’Toole – For over 19 years, Dr. O’Toole has written music, concert, and book reviews, interviews, popular culture essays, and technology “how to” articles.  Her work has appeared at: Blogcritics.org, Something Else Reviews, Blinded by Sound, Cinema Sentries, Seattle PI and Beatlefan magazine.

This is definitely set to be one of the most intellectual of all the Beatles events to be held in 2014!  And what’s cool about their registration is that you not only can you sign up for which days you would like to attend, you can add your meals and accommodations to your package as you like!

For more information on this conference, along with a schedule of events & presenters, and registration, check out their website: http://www.altoona.psu.edu/beatles.

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Filed under 50th Anniversary of the Beatles, Beatles-freak, festival, George Harrison, John Lennon, music, Paul McCartney, reviews, Ringo Starr, Show

CD Review: Beatlesque Four by Alan Bernhoft

Looks like Alan Bernhoft has done it again with his latest release, Beatlesque Four!

My last review of Beatleseque Three, Alan had begun to recover from a what I thought was a very dissappointing Beatlesque Too album.  I think I can safely say, this album is the best of the bunch.

The CD starts out with a catchy, little head-bobbing, Lennon-esque title track, Love Everyone.  This is one of those songs you can imagine every mom wanting to play for their young children.

Another memorable tune is track 9 – My Rolls Royce…a song you can imagine Ringo singing.  Everything from the limited vocal range to the silly lyrics just screams Ringo!

Track 11, I Fly is an amazing tune that really and truly highlights the talents of Alan Bernhoft.  It’s just beautiful with it’s whisp of Beatles influence but not overdone.

Included in this album are three spoken word tracks from the writings of T.S. Dorglesnout.  They’re amusing little ditties fit perfectly in amongst the songs.  Who’s T.S. Dorglesnout?  When you find out, please let me know too!  🙂

This album ends with the song, Captain Anaujiram.  Though me and the good Captain would never share company, they song is amusing!

I don’t want to leave out that Mr. Bernhoft has included a holiday tune on this album called Imagine Christmas.  I must say I’m a fan of it already since I’ve personally had enough of the same-old, same-old holiday tunes every year.  I’d love to see the song distributed to radio stations across the country and be the next big holiday song!

I’m very impressed with this album and enjoyed getting an early copy of it.  The official release date is Saturday, June 23, 2012.  You can sample and buy a digital copy on Amazon.

I rate this CD: 4 out of 4 Beetles

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Song Review: “No. 6” by The Quarrymen

I just found this new song by The Quarrymen (thank you Beatles Examiner) called No. 6.  It’s the first song off their new album and features none other than May Pang!

For 99 cents, I figured it was worth it to download it from Amazon and give it a listen and all I can say is….WOW!

This song is a whole lot more than I ever expected.  Just when I thought that this was a band that was still trying to ride the tails of their predecessors, I’ve been proven wrong.  This song, though still with its nostalgic samples, is easily just as hip, chic, awesome, groovy, swag, word or whatever the kids are saying these days.

I’m anxiously awaiting the album!

Absolutely, don’t miss the opportunity to listen and own this new song.  You can download it on Amazon.com. (Don’t let the preview on Amazon fool you…it doesn’t do the song justice!)

I rate this song: 4 out of 4 Beetles

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Short Story (ebook) Review: ‘Paul McCartney’s Coat and Other Stories’ by Michael White

Paul McCartney's CoatThis holiday, I got myself a Kindle Touch…thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave me an Amazon gift card.  Wanting to put this new device to use immediately, I did a search for ‘Free books beatles’ under Kindle books.  The ebook, ‘Paul McCartney’s Coat and Other Stories’ came up first on a very short list of only 3 books.

Let me first inform my readers that only the Forward is free.  You can get a Sampler for 99 cents, but the entire book is $4.50.  So…I ended up spending $5.49, but I have now learned a valuable lesson on what not to download to my Kindle.

Now for my review of just the first short story in this ebook:

If you’re a fan of short stories and/or fan fiction, you’ll enjoy reading this tall tale about a Beatles fan having a close encounter with the Fab Four at a pub in 1967 and his short ownership of Paul McCartney’s coat that was left behind in the pub and the discovery of Julian Lennon’s drawing  of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds!

The author, Michael White, gives a footnote at the end of the his story saying that on the original drawing by Julian, the words “Lucy with diamond eyes” were crossed out and the words, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” were written underneath.  After doing a search on the interent, I couldn’t come up with any confirmation of this…even though it plays a huge part in telling of this story and I found it quite amusing how the author may have taken this fact and turned it into his own story!  (Note: I’d appreciate it if anyone can confirm the story about the original picture.)

The story does contain quite a lot of typos, but I’ve been told this can happen when books are converted to Kindle editions.  The reader may become impatient with several missing quote marks, run-on sentences and other small publishing errors.

Also, I guess one way to get attention for your new book is to put one of the Beatles names in the title or ‘Beatles’ itself.  It got my attention and no, I didn’t read any of the other Mr. White’s other short stories, but I now have them handy in case I find myself waiting at a dentist office or such.

This book is available in it’s full Kindle editon at Amazon.com, but is only available in it’s free edition of the Forward from Barnes and Noble.

Because this story is fan fiction (and I’m not a fan of that genre) and because I felt that the author gets sidetracked on other topics to the point of feeling like he was just adding ‘filler’ to his story:

I rate this story in this book: 2 out of 4 Beetles

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Book Review: ‘John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth’ by Elizabeth Partridge

Here’s another late review since this book was published in 2005, but I just heard about  ‘John Lennon: All I want is the Truth’ from a new friend who is friends with the author…so I bought a copy to check it out!  This book was described to me as ‘a book about John Lennon for teenagers’.

The first thing that will surprise you about ‘John Lennon: All I want is the Truth’ is it’s large size: 10.5′ x 10″.  This book looks more like a coffee table book than a book for children.  Also the reader will be suprised at the wonderful photographs throughout the book…adding to it’s ‘not so much for children’ style.  Don’t get me wrong…this book is absolutely beautiful to look at and page through and would be a standout book for anyone’s Beatles book collection.  But (and you knew it was coming)…most Beatles Freaks don’t buy books for their looks.  Beatles Freaks want facts…real facts and they want the truth.

The author does a pretty good job of telling John’s story.  Some of the facts that seem to be wrong are the usual ones, such as Aunt Mimi ducking and hiding from an air raid while on her way to see John in the hospital on the day he was born.  Other than those, which are few and far between, the book is a very easy read with great detail mixed with the gorgeous pictures on every page.

Now, herein lies the problem…sometimes the details are a little much for the younger generation that this book is aimed at.  Ms. Partridge brings up such topics as Paul losing his virginity, ‘knee tremblers’, prellies, etc.  I don’t know that I would have wanted my tweener or young teenager reading these details even if it is about the Fab Four.  My opinion (and it is just that…mine) is that this book would be great for anyone over the age of 15.

This book is available on Amazon and there are some great deals for it on Half.com.

So there you have it…big, beautiful, well-written, though sometimes erroneously, book about the life of John Lennon that would look great in your collection and everyone will enjoy the great pictures!

This brings me to a very difficult decision on what to rate this book, but since this book did win a BCCB BLUE RIBBON NONFICTION BOOK AWARD and a  2006 Michael L. Printz Award, I’m going to bump my rating up to:

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles

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DVD Review: Composing Outside The Beatles (Lennon & McCartney 1973-1980)

The third installment in a series of on the collaboration of Lennon and McCartney, ‘Composing Outside the Beatles: Lennon and McCartney 1973-1980’ brings a lot to the table…if you can bear to sit through it!

I had mentioned to another Beatles freak that I had been sent a copy of this video to review and since I had never seen the first two installments, they informed me that they felt the first two were ‘dry’.  I don’t know that I’d use that same term, but instead I felt this documentary, about the separate careers of Lennon and McCartney after the split of the Beatles, drawled on…and on.  Even my son, who was sitting within ear shot while I watched, commented, “Everyone just went on and on and never seemed to shut up.”

But as I said, this movie is not without it’s good points.  I think it does do a fine job of covering all of Lennon’s and McCartney’s albums in great detail with commentary by such well respected people as: Denny Laine, Klaus Voorman, Denny Seiwell and Anythony DeCurtis, to name a few.  The problem seems to arise when the producers decided to let everyone have their say about the albums, making the whole thing a bit lengthy and boring.  I also think this isn’t necessarily a DVD for the hardcore Beatles freaks, since I don’t know that it gave much information that hasn’t already been published elsewhere.

All-in-all, a well made documentary, but be prepared to pause your player to enjoy life!

This DVD will be released on October 25, 2011 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com.

**Note: I just looked at the Amazon page for this DVD.  It says the run time for this movie is 60 minutes.  Not true…it’s 139 minutes!

I rate this movie: 2 out of 4 Beetles

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Book Review: Paul is Undead by Alan Goldsher

Paul is UndeadA couple of weeks ago, my husband I happened to be in the mall on the last day that our local Borders book store was in business.  All books were 90% off that day and my husband happened to stumble upon this one.  So, I coughed up $1.50 to have something a little off the wall, yet completely on topic to review for my readers.

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of either fan fiction or zombie genre books or movies.  But the back cover of Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion made me laugh:

Learn the tale behind a spiritual journey that resulted in the dismemberment of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  Marvel at the seemingly indestructible quartet’s survival of a fierce attach by Eighth Level Ninja Lord Yoko Ono.  And find out how the boys escaped eternal death at the hands of England’s greatest zombie hunter, Mick Jagger.

I was pleasantly surprised at how often I laughed out loud while reading this book.  The writer seemed to have a real knack at making the boys come to life (or undead) as zombies (though, only 3 of the 4 Beatles are zombies…the 4th is a Ninja).  AND, it would seem that Mr. Goldsher is as big a Beatles freak as the rest of us upon discovery that his story includes all the Quarrymen, Allan Williams, George Martin, Elvis, Geoff Emerick and many other well-known people in the Beatles entourage.  But one can’t help but notice several important people missing, such as Sid Bernstein and Linda McCartney.

Also lacking in this book, written in the style of interviews, is the dynamic of a true Liverpudlian accent.  In fact, the author seems to start out pretty well in the beginning of the book, but the accents seem to go by the wayside at the halfway point.  (Note to Mr. Goldsher – please check out the writings of Jude Southerland Kessler on how to write Beatles dialogue) Not only does the dialogue take a downward spiral…but the entire story begins to spiral out of control as each chapter (written in years) seems to get shorter and shorter as the stories get more bizarre, off topic and filled with more profanity.  I got the impression about midway through the book that Mr. Goldsher got desperate to increase his page count and just added senseless, humorless filler.

As I said, this book started out great and almost changed my mind about fan fiction…but alas, it ended up putting me to sleep on many occasions.  I’m not sure what type of audience the author was hoping to attract or this book would appeal to since some of the details and profanity are too much for the teens that really dig the Eclipse series…and I think true Beatles freaks and baby boomers will find it an insult to their intelligence.

And in the end…you just can’t wait for this book to be done!

I rate this book: 1 out of 4 Beetles

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Movie Review: Paul McCartney Really Is Dead

Paul McCartney Really Is DeadMy neighbor knows what a huge Beatles fan I am, so he asked me a couple weeks ago if I had seen this movie.  I told him I had heard about it but hadn’t had a chance to watch it.  He said, “It’s not bad…”  Well, I’ll be the judge of that!

Paul McCartney Really Is Dead is listed on the IMDb (International Movie Database) as Documentary/Fantasy/Music.  This should be the first clue that something just isn’t right about this film.  A documentary and fantasy?  I believe we call that a ‘Mockumentary’…which brings to mind images of Spinal Tap or Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney.

The story line of the film is that in 2005, a package from London containing two mini cassettes and recorder showed up at Highway 61 Entertainment’s office.  The package had no return address.   The voice on the tape claims to be none other than George Harrsion, making a confession that Paul McCartney really did die in a car accident in 1966.  (Note: the subtitle of this film is ‘The Last Testament of George Harrison(yes, with a question mark!))  The voice on the tape then narrates the rest of the film as he explains the circumstances around Paul’s death and the ensuing cover-up.

Believable?  Maybe to the young and the gullible who, unlike us Beatles freaks, haven’t grown up hearing the tall tales of ‘Paul is Dead’.  The movie actually does a pretty good job of putting together all the clues about Paul’s untimely demise that could supposedly be found in the Beatles album covers and lyrics.  And I actually found that part of the movie informative since I had never heard ‘all’ the clues.  But the ability to find this movie entertaining came crashing down when the stories of how ‘Faux Paul’ ended up married to Linda Eastman and Heather Mills were discussed.  At this point, I let out an audible laugh and felt the film became a comedy.

Because of this films ability to show new Beatles fans all the album and lyric ‘clues’ that obsessed fans found to support the tall tale of Paul’s supposed death, I gave this movie a bit of a higher rating.

I rate this movie: 2 out of 4 Beetles

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Song Review: “Look to the One” by The Vals

Look to the One - The Vals

I love this band.

Wait…that wasn’t strong enough…

I LOVE THE VALS!

Okay…that was much better.

Phew…now on with the review.

The Vals are from Belfast, Ireland and appeared in my inbox about 2 years ago when they told me what huge Beatles fans they were and how influenced their music has been by the Fab Four.  At first, I thought they were just another band looking for attention, but I went to their site and gave their single “Yesterday Today” a listen.  The song will give you chills!   They soon released their first album “Sticks and Stones” in October 2009 which I had fully intended on reviewing but for some reason, I never found the time.  The album is amazing for a debut album…there is no doubt it is on my list of favorite albums along with my Beatles collection.  There is no mistaking that these guys too are Beatles freaks!

Now this band has released a new single, “Look to the One” and I’m not going to miss this opportunity to let the world know exactly how talented this group of musicians is.  An upbeat song, with a sound reminiscent of John Lennon.  I’ve embedded the video to this new song into this review, but I highly recommend taking a listen without the visual imagery if you want to truly get into this song.  These are the types of songs you pop into your car stereo and all your friends ask, “Who’s this?!”

Did I say I love this band?  I LOVE THE VALS!  I just wish I could give them more support and bring them to the U.S..  The people at SXSW Festival in Austin, TX, actually turned The Vals down last year to appear at the festival.  I think this was a huge mistake on their part and a big loss for the fans that attend the festival.  Hey…SXSW!  Get on the ball and bring The Vals to the U.S.A.!

You can become a fan of The Vals on Facebook.

I rate this song, this band and all their music: 4 out of 4 Beetles

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Movie Review: The Love We Make (Documentary)

I have the honor of getting an advance copy of Paul McCartney’s 9/11 documentary’The Love We Make’.  This movie will debut on Showtime on September 10th.

This film isn’t what I thought it was going to be.  Done in black & white, the camera follows Paul in New York City in his travels from October 11, 2001 to October 23, 2001 and his day-to-day dealings to organize and prepare for The Concert for New York, a benefit concert that was held on October 20, 2001.  If you were expecting a 90 minute film on Paul’s reaction to 9/11, then you will be truly disappointed.  If you’re a McCartney fan that wants to see what it’s like to be Sir Paul, then this film is for you.

During TV and radio interviews leading up to the concert, Paul touches on issues dealing with how he’s dealt with grief in his life, how he deals with the conflict of being a pacifist after the devastation of 9/11 and how he came to the realization that he needed to do something while sitting in a plane on the tarmac watching the twin towers burn.

Mixed in with the interviews are Paul and his band rehearsing for The Concert for New York with many guest cameos as Paul discusses debuting his new song, “Freedom” for the first time at the show.  Celebrities to watch for in this documentary: Ozzy Osbourne, Howard Stern, Barbara Walters, Pete Townsend, Bill Clinton, Harrison Ford, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jim Carey…along with many more.

There are moments when Paul reminisces about the days with the Beatles and is even asked at one point, “Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity for the remaining Beatles to get back together”.  (Watch the movie for the answer!)   And it was interesting to see Paul once again trying to outrun his fans in NYC.

Though not a true post 9/11 documentary, I believe this is a must see for more than just McCartney fans.  There are moments that will just give you goosebumps.

Check the Showtime website for their multiple scheduled airtimes over the next week…you won’t want to miss this!  This movie will also be available On-Demand starting September 11th.

On December 6, 2011, this documentary became available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

So how would I rate a documentary by an actual Beatle?  You’d be crazy if you think I’d give it anything less than…

I rate this movie: 4 out of 4 Beetles

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