Tag Archives: beatles

Book Review: “Riding So High: The Beatles and Drugs” by Joe Goodden

Riding so High the beatles and drugs Joe GooddenRiding So High: The Beatles and Drugs by Joe Goodden is another book I came across on the Facebook group ‘Beatles Book Collectors’. This time the author himself posted about it, so there was no expectations on my part from a glowing reader’s review.

As most of you regular readers may know by now, I’m not a fan of the Beatles’ drug use. I know it happened because between their interviews, busts and lyrics, there really is no way to not know. Despite all this, I tried to go into this book with an open mind and will try to write the fairest review I can.

From Amazon:

Joe Goodden is a journalist, blogger and paperback writer living in south Wales. Formerly a senior online producer at the BBC, he is a music lover and founder of the Beatles Bible website (www.beatlesbible.com – “Not quite as popular as Jesus…”). Riding So High – The Beatles and Drugs is his first book.

Mr. Goodden did his homework for this book. His bibliography and footnotes are extensive and impressive, making the reader aware that this is not just another book to get his share of the Beatles’ pie! The author starts with the story that I had never heard of in all my reading, that occurred at the early days of the Fab Fours history when they were introduced to ingesting the Benzedrine strip inside a nasal inhaler in June 1960 by Royston Ellis. Goodden continues throughout this 3 part, 351 page book, hashes out the sometimes familiar and sometimes unknown stories of the Beatles (and their wives) ups and downs with various drugs throughout their early days, Beatles years, and solo careers. Also included is the story of Brian Epstein’s substance abuse battle and death from an overdose.

This book is very, very well written with few (if any) typos and an easy reading experience, but at first, I was easily bored and was having a hard time sticking with it. I felt like I was just reading a lot of the already over told drug stories (prezzies, Dylan introducing them to pot, etc.) and having to just force myself to continue. But like so many books before it, by the second half, the story and words seems to become their own telling and I felt like I was finally reading a new story…not just the same old, same old. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Documentary: “All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records”

All Things Must Pass The Rise and Fall of Tower RecordsAll Things Must Pass has been on my wishlist to view for a couple years now. It wasn’t until a friend happened to mention it on Facebook that it I finally decided it was time to watch this documentary. The movie is directed by Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks) and was officially released on March 19, 2015.

A little background info about me to make it understood where I’m coming from when I write this review. In 1986, at the age of 21, I got a job working as the 3rd key manager of the local Sam Goody‘s store in the mall. It was at this time, I also started dating the man that would become my husband (see picture). Craig Vanderslice Record Town 1988He worked in the same mall managing a privately owned record store called Grand Records. By the time we married (actually, we found out when we returned from our honeymoon), Grand Records had been bought out by TransWorld Music. My husband worked at the same store but it’s named had been changed to Record Town. Within a year, I was working for the same company at a store called Tape World in another mall. Our dream, like so many others of our generation was to some day own our own record store.

Now back to my review of All Things Must Pass and the story of Tower Records. What started as a small record section in the back of Tower Pharmacy in Sacramento, California in the late 195o’s was soon to become an empire when the owner’s son, Russ Solomon, asked his father if he could expand the record department. Instead, his father signed over the record business to Russ and thus, Tower Records was born in 1960. After opening several more stores in California, by 1979 they opened their first international store in Japan to huge crowds standing outside to be the first to explore the extensive racks of American and international music. Eventually, Tower Records would have stores on the east and west coasts of the U.S. along with stores in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ireland, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Argentina.But by 2004, they were filing for bankruptcy. So what went wrong?

This documentary brings to light the real story of Tower Records from the man himself, Russ Solomon, and his early employees who grew with him and the company through the decades. From his early days working in his dad’s pharmacy, to the final days of Tower Records in New York city store as he watched it’s final minutes of liquidation before closing it’s doors forever, this movie tells of the music and madness of the record industry from the retail perspective. Along the way (in this 1 hour 36 minute film), Colin Hanks interviews Bruce Springsteen, Elton John (they opened the store early for him so he could shop), and David Grohl (he worked at Tower Records in Washington, D.C. when he was younger). You’ll also see plenty of Beatles album covers in old photos and footage from the early days and there is even a 1974 audio clip of John Lennon doing a radio ad for Tower Records and his soon to be release album Walls and Bridges. It’s an incredibly fascinating story for us baby boomers who lived and breathed for our next piece of vinyl, cassette or CD and I believe even the millennials will enjoy seeing how we saw the music industry after the juke boxes and before Napster and MP3s. And for that reason…

I rate this documentary, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

You can’t rent All Things Must Pass online at places like Amazon, NetFlix or iTunes, or you can buy a copy of the DVD/BlueRay

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Book Review: “Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926-1966” by Kenneth Womack

Maximum Volume George Martin Kenneth WomackI met Kenneth Womack, the author of Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926–1966in 2013 when he was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor at Penn State (Altoona). Ken has written three books about the Beatles: Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles; The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles; and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. In February of 2014, Ken organized and hosted “It was 50 Years Ago Today – An International Beatles Celebration” – a 4 day Beatles conference at Penn State in Altoona, PA. He also holds a PhD. in 20th-Century British Literature and has written three novels. Pretty impressive, huh?

I remember attending a lecture on the Beatles a couple years ago and sitting down next to Ken in the auditorium as he was typing away at this book, the first book in a two volume set. I was really amazed at how he was doing it with no notes, just his fingers frantically beating away at the keyboard. After chatting with him briefly about what he was creating, I began really looking forward to reading it since everything else I’ve read about George Martin just seems to skim the surface of his life beyond the Beatles.

This book isn’t a simple read as it took me two weeks to take it all in even though it’s only 314 pages. The first half of the book is really intense, but unfortunately, the second half seemed to lose its gusto. No longer is the reader reading much about George’s personal life outside the studio (all the stuff I was looking forward to hearing about). Except for a couple paragraphs thrown in here and there about his divorce from his first wife was being final, and a spattering of paragraphs about the other artists he was working with, the second half of the book reads like a combination of George’s autobiography and Geoff Emerick’s book “Here, There and Everywhere”. The book seems to become just a daily log of recording the Beatles, what tracks were used for which instruments or vocals and techniques used for each song.

And then there is page 85! Whoa! *shakes head in utter disbelief*

The day before the meeting, which had been set for 11:30 AM on May 9 at Abbey Road, Brian asked Derek Taylor, a Liverpool journalist and his close friend and confidant, “What’s the point? Should I even bother going?” He then turned to Derek’s brother Alistair, his colleague at NEMS…”

WHAT?! Derek and Alistair were brothers? Why am I just hearing this now? How could I have read Derek’s book, Alistair’s book and Brian’s book…let alone all the other books I’ve read and never have heard that they were brothers? Did Kenneth Womack uncover some deep dark Beatles secret in his research? Ten pages later, I was still wondering about it, so I text a Beatles expert and friend and asked him about it. He said he’d get back to me and sure enough a couple hours later, after he consulted with a couple other Beatles experts and confirmed….it’s an error!

OMG…it’s a glaring error by the guy who wrote The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four.

I’m still looking forward to reading the second volume in this set when it’s released, but for all the above reasons…

I regretfully rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

UPDATE (Oct 2, 2017): After reading this review, Kenneth Womack contacted me via email to say: “Thanks for the review. The error has been corrected in the eBook and new edition, which is being published next week.” Thanks for the update, Ken!

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Book Review: “Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life” by Cindy Williams

Shirley I Jest Cindy WilliamsI bought this copy of Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life from the woman herself…Cindy Williams, when I visited the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention last weekend in Maryland. I had gone to the convention to support my friend Garry Berman, the author of several pop-culture books including We’re Going to See the Beatles!but the place is jam packed with celebrities signing autographs. And while I don’t usually stand in line to meet celebrities, I happen to be walking by at a moment when there was no one at Cindy Williams table, so I bought her book, told her I wished I had brought my “Laverne and Shirley Sing” album for her to sign and then got a quick photo.

Cindy Williams Shirley Feeney Laverne & ShirleyNow…about this book. In case you think I’m daft for reviewing it on my Beatles blog, in my defense the word “Beatles” does appear once in this book. And if you remember the television series Laverne & Shirley, you may remember that they had a very large picture of the Fab Four in their apartment when they moved to California. Laverne Shirley BeatlesAt 159 pages, this book can be read in less than 24 hours, but it’s jam packed with stories that go way beyond what you believe you already know about Cindy Williams. Sure, she played Ron Howard’s girlfriend in American Graffiti…and yeah, Laverne & Shirley was a spin-off of Happy Days that stayed on TV long past the point of jumping the shark. But did you know that before she became famous Cindy Williams was a waitress at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood and the first person she waited on was Jim Morrison?! Funny, funny story that made me literally laugh out loud. And it wasn’t the only one. Cindy’s life during her Hollywood years was funny on and off screen. John Belushi, Ed Begley Jr., and Andy Kaufman are just a few of the people she called close friends. But get ready for the funny stories about Cher, Cary Grant, Harrison Ford and Susan Summers to name a few.

Though her life didn’t start out like a lot of actresses in posh Beverly Hills, she endured poverty and growing up in a less than stable household to go on to become a worldwide phenomenon. You can’t help but love her, Shirley Feeney and Boo Boo Kitty just a little more after reading this book. If you happen to stumble upon a copy in your journeys, pick it up and read it. You won’t be disappointed. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Book Review: “New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World”

New York Times FootstepsWait! Before you change screens or move on to something you think may be more interesting than another review from my BloggingForBooks collection, bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out on why I chose to read – The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World.

Let me start by asking my readers: Have you ever gone to New York City to see the Dakota building where John Lennon lived and died? Have you ever walked through Central Park to see the Imagine circle in Strawberry Fields? How many of you have gone (or hope to go) to Liverpool to see the Cavern Club or the houses that John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up in? How many of you have looked up the meaning behind a Beatles’ song and wondered what inspired John, Paul George or Ringo to write it?

I personally have gone to the house near me where Jim Croce once lived. And his grave is less than 2 miles from my house. I visit it often. People make pilgrimages to France to see Jim Morrison’s grave or to Woodstock to see where history was made with the largest most peaceful concert that world had ever seen.

Well, if you’re also a lover of interpreting words, books and songs, or just finding the meaning in the world around us, than this book will truly fascinate you.

Footsteps began in 1981 as a short-lived series of articles in the New York Times. Writers writing about writers is what this 290 page collection of 38 articles is all about. The reporters retraced the steps of famous authors such as Twain, Hemingway, Kerouac, Fitzgerald, Lovecraft, Shelley, Yeats, Byron and the Brothers Grimm. Imagine that Lake Geneva in Switzerland was the back drop to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein or that the blinking green lighthouse from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was an actual lighthouse on the French Riviera. This collection of articles lead you down the streets, alleys and waterways that were the inspiration behind so many of the great classic novels that we know today. Though I did find that a few of the reporters get a little side tracked in telling more about the city than the author that lived there, I looked forward to reading each new story. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Review of 3 Different Beatles Quiz Books

My husband had a function to attend in Connecticut this past weekend that he wanted to write about in his Cigar Blog. I decided that the five hour road trip there and back would be an excellent time to test our knowledge of the Beatles by asking each other questions from three different used Beatles quiz books that I picked up cheap at AbeBooks online. Here are my thoughts for each one.

 

The Beatles Quiz Book by Eric Saunders

A hardcover spiral bound book with a book marker, this is the prettiest of the three books. But don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? This book contains 100 separate 10 question multiple choice quizzes with the answers provided at the end of each quiz. The first question: What was the name of the very first band (actually a skiffle group) formed by John Lennon and his friend from childhood, Peter Shotton? A. The Jets B. The Black Jacks C. The Wanderers D. The Dockers. Second question: Born on the 7th July 1940, who was the oldest member of the final Beatles Line-up? A. George Harrison B. Ringo Starr C. Paul McCartney D. John Lennon. These particular questions make the book seem like an easy read, but there are some toughies mixed in for us mere mortals! Still, a fun book just to test you and your friends knowledge of the best band the world has ever known.

 

Complete Beatles Quiz Book by Edwin Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky

A nice book with questions for all levels of expertise and non-experts. I read several pages of this to my husband while driving. After all I’ve read, I still think I did slightly better than 50% on the quiz questions. The first question: What’s Maxwell’s last name and what was he majoring in? Second question: Would the Beatles believe in love at first sight? The book also contains picture puzzles like guess which eyes or nose belong to which Beatle. There are word searches, crosswords and other type of puzzles including put events, albums or songs in their chronological order. All the answers are provided in the back of the book. A lot of fun built into this little book (91 pages of questions and puzzles).

 

The Ultimate Beatles Quiz Book by Michael J. Hockinson

Wow! This book gave me a run for my money. Definitely a book for ‘the ultimate Beatles freak’. The first question in the book is: List the titles on the Beatles’ Decca audition tape penned by Lennon and McCartney. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read about the Fab Four’s Decca audition, but never did it occur to me that someday, someone would ask me what songs were on the tape! The second question: Issued nearly twenty years apart, which U.S. Beatles singles feature “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” as their B-side?. Uh….(insert cricket noises here). If you know the answers to these questions, I never want to want to play Trivial Pursuit Beatles Edition with you! 🙂 All the answers are at the end of each of the 50 chapters.

 

Any of these books would be fun to pick up cheaply online or at a used book sale just to have around to either test your own knowledge or to pass around and play with friends. It’s like playing Beatles’ Trivial Pursuit without having to collect little pie pieces or throw dice.

 

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Book Review: “The Longest Cocktail Party” by Richard DiLello

Oh dear sweet lord, where has this book been all my life?…

The Longest Cocktail Partywritten by the Apple Corps ‘House Hippie’ Richard DiLello and published in 1973, is just the book I needed after reading both Peter Brown‘s book and Alistair Taylor‘s book.

This book as quite the refreshing look inside the workings of the Fab Four’s company Apple Corps. Richard DiLello was a New York born hippie who was traveling around the world trying to find himself, when he picked up a newspaper in London and saw a picture of Beatles PR man Derek Taylor whom he had known from when he spent some time in Hollywood. After giving Derek a call, Richard was offered a job working under Derek as a Client Liaison Officer, (but he was given the unofficial title of House Hippie). Technically, he was a gofer who spent from 1968 to 1970 working at his dream job.

This book is absolute for all Beatles freaks. I’m just sorry I took so long to get a copy after hearing about it for several years. It offers a humorous and very real look inside the going ons and ultimate demise of what was to be the Beatles dream production company that was going to turn away no one with talent. At the start of the company, the Fab Four had put out ads telling any and all talented people to send in their tapes, poems, scripts and artwork for consideration for financial backing by the Beatles new no nonsense company. This book gives us all a glimpse of the diverse characters that walked through the doors, call on the phones and even took up residency within the walls of 3 Savile Road, London. Richard also let’s us in on the early management of Apple’s most successful talent: Mary Hopkins, James Taylor, The Iveys (Badfinger), White Trash, Jackie Lomax and others.

There were a couple points of interest for me in this 286 page memoir that left me scratching my head. The first was the mention of the car accident John had in Scotland. Richard’s book only mentions John, Yoko and Kyoko in the car, but fails to mention that Julian was with them. Odd that he would be left out. Second after reading the book Miss O’Dell in which Chris O’Dell mentions Richard over 30 times (according to the index), Richard only very briefly mentions Chris maybe six times (“Chris O’Dell stuck her head in the door and asked…”). I expected to read more about her having a bigger part in this ‘party’.

Note: In 2010, Liam Gallagher of the band Oasis took on the project of making this book into a movie. In 2014, Liam was picking actors for the film, but by 2016 he was unable to get financing and the production company Revolution Productions pulled out of the project. Boy, would I have loved to see that movie!

I know this review is choppy, but there is just so much information in these pages it’s hard to organize my thoughts onto a page. It’s definitely a book that I would love to sit down and discuss with friends and freaks alike! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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