Tag Archives: beatles reviews

Book Review: “Beatles vs. Stones” by John McMillian

 Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian was published in 2013, but I just saw it for the first time a couple weeks ago on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.  As I said previously, I rarely pay full price for any of the books I review, so when I went looking for a used copy online, I discovered that there had been another earlier book written on this same topic.  I reviewed that book, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, last week.  The difference between the two is amazing!

This book is actually a very enjoyable read and I learned a lot about the relationship between John & Paul and Mick & Keith.  They were all actually very good friends from the very start and John and Paul actually wrote the second song The Rolling Stones recorded!  That’s something that I didn’t read in last week’s book… a book that now appears like it was just a pissing contest between the co-authors to see who knew more about the two bands and their albums.

As for my opinion on this topic, both books start out early saying there was no rivalry between the two highly successful British invasion bands.  So why the books?  Because just like the press has always done, they created a rivalry that never really existed.

The book that I think really needs to be written (and maybe it has and I just haven’t found it yet) is The Beatles vs. The Beach Boys.  Those were two bands that used to analyze and look at the dynamics of each others songs and try to outdo each other.  It wasn’t just a pissing contest for first place on the record charts…it was who could write the better song and produce a better album!

Still this is a great book to learn about the relationship and friendship between two of the greatest bands the world has every known.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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You can get a copy of this book at Half.com for about $0.75

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Book Review: “It’s Sid Bernstein Calling” by Sid Bernstein

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but the fact that I started reading this book this week became really surreal when I realized, it’s been two years this week since Sid departed this earth.  And throughout this week, while reading It’s Sid Bernstein Calling, there have been a lot of other coincidences too.  Just as I put the book down for a moment, something will come on TV or someone will bring up a topic that I just read about in this book.  Makes me think Sid’s still with us.

What a wonderful man Sid was.  I had the pleasure of meeting him twice in my lifetime and he was a joy to be around.  And I attended the memorial tribute they had for him in NYC where I ran into the lovely May Pang while standing in line.

May and I at Sid Bernstein tribute show Feb. 2014

May and I at Sid Bernstein tribute show Feb. 2014

Once again, I digress.

This book was a real surprise to me.  I had no idea what an incredible man Sid Bernstein was beyond his dealings with bring the Beatles to America and a few other various artists.  Sid Bernstein was in WW1…in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.  He started managing musicians when he was just 14 years old and never stopped.  And this book is written, just as if Sid were sitting in front of you, modestly telling it to you himself.  Not only did he represent some of the biggest names in show business, he rejected some of the biggest names in show business (Barbra Streisand!).

Sid’s book is out of print, but you can still buy new and used copies at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Half.com.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Movie Review: “George Harrison: Living In A Material World”

This is the movie I had attempted to watch several weeks ago while I was traveling.  I ended up in a battle to watch it on my iPad mini for weeks now, before finally giving up and having to watch it on my PC.  I really dislike watching any type of movie on my computer.  I’d much rather do it from the comfort of my couch, especially a 3.5 hour documentary like this.

George Harrison: Living In The Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese, came out in 2011.  Even I had tears in my eyes when I saw the trailer for the movie before it’s release.  Was I going to be able to sit through this film about a beloved Beatle who left us way too early?

The movie actually starts out quite poorly.  Several times during a scene, the music just drops off and  the scene goes to an interview.  There’s no fade out.  I kept thinking, “Is this going to happen through the entire film?  Is this really a Martin Scorsese film?  I guess I should be happy he didn’t cast Leonardo as George!”  Then I started thinking, “Thank god it’s not a Tim Burton film with Johnny Depp as George!”  But I digress…

For some unknown reason, the music stops dropping off and begins fading out between scenes, but still the first half off this film felt more like a Beatles documentary than a movie about George.  I paused it and got up several times to get a drink, let the dog out, etc.  I almost dreaded having to sit through Part Two after the intermission, but that’s actually where the movie picks up and becomes George’s story.  (Except the part where Derek Taylor’s wife shows up and, just like Derek, only wants to talk about doing LSD with the Beatles.  Do these people talk about anything else?!)

Part Two of this movie is a delight and kept me in my chair until the end as George’s friends, colleagues, wife and son telling us about the real George.  If you can make it through the Blah-Blah of the first 1.5 hours,  you’ll love the rest.  Though I wouldn’t call this Scorsese’s best cinematic production, the scenes with George and Friar Park are beautiful.

It was not available on my Fios OnDemand, but you can rent from Amazon.com, iTunes or Netflix.

Buy at Amazon.com or any major retailer where movies are sold.

I rate this movie: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Book Review: “As Time Goes By” by Derek Taylor

By the time this review is scheduled to post,  I’ll be on a 4 day silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY.  I considered taking another Beatles book with me to review, but decided to leave work at home while I contemplate world peace.  Enjoy the review.

Derek…Derek…Derek!  Every book I’ve read about the Beatles mentions Derek Taylor.  One author even went so far as to say Derek is the real fifth Beatle!  Derek was Brian Epstein’s personal assistant before becoming the press agent for the Beatles.  Then he quit…then he came back again.  In that time, he wrote two books.  This is a review of his first book, As Time Goes By.

As Time Goes By by Derek Taylor is a 181 page memoir of Derek’s life in the music business from 1968-1971, with a lot of stories before and after those years.  This was Derek’s first memoir, his second was titled – Fifty Years Adrift and a third book, It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, about the anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s album was published in 1987.  He also helped George Harrison write his autobiography, I, Me, Mine.

I don’t know that As Time Goes By is the right title for this book.  After several chapters, I started to think it should be called ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’ or ‘I Get High With A Little Help From My Friends’ or ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’  It would seem from what I read in these pages, that Mr. Taylor spent most of his working years in an altered state of consciousness.  He even goes so far as to refer to himself on several occasions as an acid-head or pot-head.  His stories are great, but they come in no real chronological order.  The book seems to just be random memories and anecdotes of him and famous people.

Is it a good book?  Meh.  Is it a fun book?  Yes.  Is it weird as hell?  Oh, hell yeah!  Will I read his other books?  Only time will tell since I’m still trying to figure out what I just read.  What a long strange trip it’s been…

You can find a used copy of As Time Goes By on Amazon for less than $3 if you choose to go down that rabbit hole.

I rate this book: 2 out of 4 Beetles!

You can read more about Derek Taylor on Wikipedia.

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Beatles Freak Review goes to Louisville, KY in search of John, Paul, George and Ringo! | PRLog

Jennifer Vanderslice, owner and editor of Beatles Freak Review blog, will be packing her bags again this month for a weekend in Louisville, KY, to find all things Beatle-y.

Beatles Freak Review goes to Louisville, KY in search of John, Paul, George and Ringo! | PRLog.

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Book Review: “When They Were Boys” by Larry Kane

Larry Kane has been a household name for as long as my family has lived in southeastern PA (40 years!).  And though I have never read his book Ticket to Ride, I was present and accounted for at a local book signing he had for his book Lennon Revealed in 2005…a very good book.  Over the years, Larry and I would meet up once in a blue moon and, once I to him mentioned our mutual acquaintances, he would remember who I am…which was as it should be when you’re Larry Kane.

Enough of the background noise.  Just wanted to clear the air before jumping into my review of Larry Kane’s 2013 release: When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top.  Larry delves into his old interviews with John, Paul, George and Ringo from his days on tour with them in 1964, 1965 and 1966.  And don’t worry about remembering those years, because Larry is going to remind you throughout the book that he was on tour with them in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

Along with sharing with his readers from his early interviews with “the boys” (as he calls them throughout the book and even warns you in the early pages that he will be referring  to them as “the boys”), Mr. Kane interviewed many of the people that were involved in the making, and sometimes breaking, of The Beatles.  He does shed light on a lot of new background information from their humble beginnings to their early days of fame, but he doesn’t do it without consistently repeating the old info over and over again.

I really did enjoy reading the new information from the new sources he sought out, but it was a battle to finish this book because of the small issues I found irritating.  Like…when Larry quotes people it seems that Larry is mentioned in the beginning of all of the first sentences.  “You know, Larry,….”, “Well, Larry…”, “You see, Larry…”  We get it!  Where was the editor for this book?  And sorry, Larry, but I don’t consider Yoko a good source to talk about Stu Sutcliffe.

Read this book for the wonderful new information and interviews, but do it with patience…

You can get a hardcover copy for about $0.75 at Half.com.

At Amazon.com you can get a hardcover or Kindle version.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

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Movie Review: Good Ol’ Freda

I’m two years behind on watching Good Ol’ Freda, the story of Freda Kelly who was the Beatles Fan Club President from the very beginning and up until the very end.  Until the making of this film, Freda willingly remained a silent and loyal figure in the background of the mayhem that was Beatlemania.

Good Ol’ Freda was the brainchild of Kathy McCabe and Ryan White who began a Kickstarter campaign on October 11, 2011 in hopes of raising $50,000 to make a movie telling the story of a young, naive, seventeen year old girl who fell in love with a local band in Liverpool and ended up the secretary of the greatest band the world would every know.  Within one month, Kathy and Ryan were able to raise $58,000 for this project and in 2013 they release this documentary.

Maybe it was all the hype and hullabaloo that has been made about this film over the past two years, but I didn’t find it to be ‘all that’.  I felt as if I spent at least 25% of the time listening to Freda, her family, friends and colleagues tell me how loyal, devoted and honest she was/is and that she would never spill any dirt about the Beatles.  Hmm, so what was this movie about?  From the magazine clippings about Ms. Kelly that appeared in this film, it doesn’t seem as if we were learning anything about her that hadn’t already been told during her years working for them.

This film left me a little confused as to why it was made and it’s purpose.  Near the end of the movie, Freda says she finally decided to tell her story for her grand-children so they would know what she did with her life.  Uh…they probably could have learned that from the four boxes of memorabilia and scrapbooks in her attic that we get to see her rifle through throughout the film.

Now don’t get me wrong…Freda is fun to watch and listen to for the 87 minutes of this film as she giggles like a young girl as she reflects back on her years with Eppy, Richie, John, Paul and George.  And there is no doubt in my mind that she’s a lovely lady to meet and spend time with over tea or such, but I’m glad this movie wasn’t much longer than it already is.

If you’re a die-hard Beatles fan that has to know absolutely everything about the Fab Four, than this movie is for you and you should buy it and add it to your collection.  If you’re just curious about Freda Kelly and her story, you can rent Good Ol’ Freda on Amazon for $2.99 and watch it on your laptop.

You can buy Good Ol’ Freda at Amazon.com.

Or you can purchase from the Good Ol’ Freda website.

I rate this movie: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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