Tag Archives: Beatles book review

Book Review: “30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story” by Paul Ferrante

30 Minutes in Memphis Paul FerranteMy followers all know how much I don’t like fan-fiction when it comes to my Beatles books, so it takes a pretty special book to safely make it to my review blog without getting ripped to shreds. Lucky for author/writer Paul Ferrante, he’s written just such a book!

I met Paul online a couple weeks ago through a Beatles book group on Facebook. I had never heard of him or his books, but he had seen one of my posts and was inquiring about my PR serves for another book he’s writing that is not Beatles related. That’s when I saw this book – 30 Minutes in Memphis: A Beatles Story listed on his page. I questioned him extensively about it, reiterating over and over again about my dislike for fan fiction and authors who claim their fan fiction is just an ‘alternative history’. HA! Paul promised that it is fiction, but…it’s not fan fiction.

30 Minutes in Memphis is the story of 15 year old Beatles fan Marnie Culpepper. Marnie finds herself in possession of a ticket to see the Beatles in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee with her best friend Myles in 1966. Unfortunately, John Lennon’s comments about being more popular than Jesus has the city in an uproar with boycotts, album burnings and protests planned for the day of concert. Not to mention, Marnie has been grounded for two weeks and prohibited to attend the concert by her former marine dad who is a sergeant with the city police force. So, what’s Marnie to do when she finds out there may be attempt to snuff out the Beatles? Read the book and find out…

Paul Ferrante did a great job in telling his fictitious story while staying true to the Beatles story. Writing most of the book with alternating chapters between his story of Marnie Culpepper and the story of the Beatles’ 1966 tour, this 257 page book is not only fun to read, but educational. And rumor has it…that John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird read it in one sitting and called the author all the way from Liverpool to tell him so! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Beatles books, Book Review

Guest Review: “A Women’s History of The Beatles” by Christine Feldman-Barrett

This is a guest review by Amy McGrath Hughes for a new Beatles book that is being released today – February 11, 2021.

A Women's History of the beatles Christine Feldman-Barrett

For all the terminology associated with being a female fan of The Beatles, I’m happy to say that “aca-fan” is one I believe needs more press. Accordingly, Dr. Christine Feldman-Barrett’s newly published ‘A Women’s History of The Beatles’ (Bloomsbury, 2021) seeks to inform a wide, multi-generational audience that may not wholly understand the role of women in ‘Beatlefandom.’

The definition of “aca-fan” or academic fan stems from Feldman-Barrett’s research into how we define the span of women (either first generation or beyond) who were deeply affected by The Beatles impact on their lives. Through countless interviews that range from women who saw the band during their brief lifespan or who discovered them through recordings and film or from family members, Feldman-Barrett brings into focus the multi-layered emotions felt by each discovery and life-changing course of action.

However, Feldman-Barrett begins by discussing The Beatles unique understanding of the female fan, especially those they befriended in Liverpool. These girls were their stalwart supporters at a time when ‘young women’ were still expected to finish school, get married and raise a family. Although many did go down that avenue, so too did many seek to break out of the norm, establish an identity and pursue a career. The Beatles in many respects, through their performances or correspondences, helped them to achieve what was considered a fairly lofty, nearly unattainable goal. In return, these working girls from Liverpool (who the group considered friends) set the pattern for years to come: whether they were fan club secretaries (like Liverpudlian Freda Kelly) or journalists (such as the Evening Standard’s Maureen Cleave), these smart women were there from the start and stayed the course helping to spread The Word.

The Beatles also broke rank with how they chose to interact with an audience and the choices of songs they played. While there is considerable knowledge about their upbringing and how their generation viewed women’s role in society (as noted above), the stage presence they achieved through showcasing ‘girl group’ songs (The Shirelles, The Cookies, The Marvelettes) gave them a devoted female following amidst the perception of the rough and tumble atmosphere of club-going, heretofore thought to be a taboo ritual. Although these perceptions proved to be barrier-breaking, Feldman-Barrett ironically notes that although The Beatles showcased these songs to a wide audience, their eventual stratospheric rise in effect caused the demise of this genre.

Another interesting angle that Feldman-Barrett explores is the internal relationships of The Beatles: most notably with Astrid Kirchherr in Hamburg and then their early pairings (Cynthia Powell, Maureen Cox, Pattie Boyd, Jane Asher) and consequently as the band starts to disintegrate, the rise of the two most prominent partners: Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman. How these two strong female personalities become inextricably tied to their spouses’ outlook on women’s role in society as the 70s begin is examined in detail. Ono in particular was and has been unfairly portrayed in the media and Feldman-Barrett seeks to rectify that trope in these pages.

The dominant narrative that permeates this history though, are the multi-generational women who Feldman-Barrett interviewed; as either a first generation fan (one who was there during The Beatles lifespan) or into later years and even past the death of John Lennon, what comes across is the same passionate involvement they all have: whether they became professional musicians during the 60s (such as the all-girl Nursery Rhymes and The Pleasure Seekers who fought against stereotypical male-dominated ‘rock bands’) or parlayed their interest in The Beatles into a professional vocation (as tour guides in Hamburg, Liverpool and New York City) or as Feldman-Barrett points out, pursued higher education in the actual study of The Beatles, via university courses devoted to their cultural impact on society, and pop culture in particular.

These women gained tremendous insight into what had been up to that time (and even into the 70s, 80s and 90s) a love of The Beatles that moved past the mislabeling of ‘hysterical screaming teenager’ or ‘obsessed fan’ and have turned it into their life’s work. ‘A Women’s History of The Beatles’ is a deep dive scholarly approach that is informative, thought-provoking and should create more open dialogue not only for academia-minded individuals, but also for those who seek unique perspectives on how The Beatles shaped their (and our) generation.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 beetles!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Beatles books, Book Review

Book Review: “The Beatles from A to ZED” by Peter Asher

I’ve been slacking…I know. Summer seemed to be going along just fine, but somehow I lost control of my time to read when fall hit! During this time, though, I’ve been reading an Advance Reader’s Edition (that I got in July) of The Beatles from A to ZED by Peter Asher. I thought I would have this review out months ago and I must apologize to not only my readers, but also the publisher – Henry Holt and Company for my tardiness. The book will be released on October 29, 2019, but you can pre-order it now through Amazon where it’s currently ranked at #8 in Beatles books!

Most of my readers are familiar with Peter Asher, either because he’s the brother of Paul’s ex-girlfriend, actress Jane Asher, or because he worked for Apple Records, or because he was a member of the famous duo Peter and Gordon. Now a days, you can find him hosting his own radio show on Sirius XM’s Beatles’ station called “Peter Asher: From Me to You“.

Peter came up with the idea of using letters from the alphabet as a fun and interesting way to organize topics for his radio show and was inspired to write the book using this same format. The book, about 250 pages long, is filled with not only Beatles’ song titles to represent each letter, but also people, places and things that start with the corresponding letters that were a part of Beatles’ history. And Peter came up with some dozy subjects to discuss in each chapter and you’ll find yourself almost playing a game in your head as you read as to which songs and subjects he’ll cover.

This book is an easy and fun read. It might take a little getting used to, though, since it’s written almost like a script to his radio show. It reads as if your listening to Peter on Sirius XM or if you’ve ever heard him speak or sing in his lovely English accent, completely freestyle! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 BEETLES!

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review

Book Review: “Tune In: The Beatles – All These Years” by Mark Lewisohn

Tune In The Beatles All These Years Mark LewisohnPublished in 2013, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years comes in at a whooping 932 pages (803 without the bibliography and index). One would think that’s a lot of pages for the first of three books that author Mark Lewisohn has planned for this series, until you realize that Tune In: The Beatles – All These Years – Unedited/Extended Special Edition has 1728 pages! So…why did I wait so long to read this book? Well, over the past 5 years I’ve probably said at least 5 times, “I will never read that book. It’s just too long!” And what changed my mind? Well, it was you, dear readers. The guilt of not posting anything of real substance over the past several months finally made me take this book down from my bookshelf.

I thought I could sit down and read the entire book in a weekend, but it proved to be just too much information coming at me all at once. And even though I’ve read dozens of books about the Fab Four, Mark Lewisohn’s in-depth research left me with so many more questions that I actually wonder if I should pick up the unedited edition some day. Eegads folks…what kind of introverted, anti-social monster has he turned me into? So many details and yet so much more to learn, Lewisohn turns his readers into Fab Four junkies before hitting the halfway mark in this book. The Beatles are my sugar of choice and Mark Lewisohn is my candy man!

One thing about the book that left me scratching my head, though, was that throughout, Lewisohn goes into great detail to describe pictures that were taken during the early stages of the Beatles career, yet these pictures are not contained within the book. Some of them are, but the majority is not. Whether or not they’re in the extended edition, I don’t know. Hopefully, one of my readers can enlighten me on that fact. Also, the author really did his homework when it comes to the women that John, Paul, George, Pete and Ringo dated in their pre-fame days, mentioning so many of them by name and even providing details and quotes from them. Yet, Cynthia Powell seems to not be as prominent even though by the end of the book she’s 4 months pregnant and living with John’s aunt Mimi. I’m not sure if Lewisohn is just downplaying her part in John’s life (since it is a book about The Beatles and not John), or maybe so much has already been written about her, or maybe no one close to Cynthia (including Cynthia) would talk to Lewisohn during his research. It’s a question I’d love to ask him.

Still, I can’t blame Mark for the faults in this book when I obviously took the easy way out and read the shorter version. Maybe all of my questions would be answered in the unedited edition. Maybe someday I’ll read it! LOL More likely, I’ll buy the audio version (if it’s ever made available). Never the less, this book is the bible for all Beatles fans and leaves me with one final question…why would anyone need to read another book about the Beatles after reading this one? And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Beatles books, Book Review