Tag Archives: books

Book Review: “A Cellarful of Noise” by Brian Epstein

My reading and review of A Cellarful of Noise by Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein has been too long in coming. This book was published in August 1964 and since I was born in July 1964 and was unable to read at the time, I think I have a firm excuse for being tardy.

I’ve known about this book for a very long time, but it was during the reading and review of Peter Brown’s book, The Love You Make, that I finally decided to invest in my own copy. These books don’t come cheaply. My first edition hardcover copy cost me $25 + shipping. If you’re not inclined to spend that much on a book, you can get a copy of A Cellarful of Noise on Kindle for $7.99. But I digress…

I had one trepidation about reading this book and that’s because it was ghost written by my arch-nemesis Derek Taylor. Anyone who has read along with my blog for any substantial amount of time will know that Mr. Taylor just gets under my skin despite the fact that everyone associated with him always writes very highly of him and his place in the Beatles organization. Still, I wasn’t going to let this stop me from reading what I consider to be an absolute must read experience for any Beatles freak!

To give you some background on the writing of this book, let me quote a paragraph from Peter Brown’s book:

The book’s entire interview and research period took place over a long weekend at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay in the south of England. On the first day Brian got through his childhood period without much trouble, but on the second day he started having difficulty telling Derek the story of his teens and early twenties.

At only 120 pages, this book is a short and abbreviated story of Brian Epstein, his life, career (with and without the Beatles) and his hopes and thoughts about his future, the future of the Beatles and his other artists. At some points, it seems to almost become a sales pitch for Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black and Gerry Marsden since it was written so early on in Brian’s career as a manager, but still it is a very enjoyable read with a lot of stories I had already heard and some stories that were new and revealing to me (remember, I don’t consider myself a Beatles trivia expert, so a lot of tales are still very new to me). Brian, always being the consummate professional and purveyor of good manners, is kind throughout the pages and if he does tell any tales of arguments or disagreements, he’s sure to clear up any harsh exchanges with words of peace and harmony in the end. And even though I had my doubts about this book because of Derek’s influence in it’s pages, I’m led to believe that because of Brian’s inscrutable honesty in all manners, that he would have never allowed the release of any book that wasn’t a true story and depiction of himself or those around him. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!







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Article in People Magazine – July 4, 1983

people_070483I just recently stumbled upon this article that was in People magazine in July 1983. It’s about all the books that were coming out about John Lennon after his tragic death. Some of you may find it completely irrelevant, but I found the author’s opinion of the books and their authors very interesting…





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Book review: “The Fab One Hundred and Four (The Evolution of The Beatles from The Quarrymen to The Fab Four, 1956-1962)” by David Bedford.

This week’s blog comes from: David Thomas – Guest Reviewer Extraordinare!

Jennifer has a lot of plates spinning at the moment, so she asked me to fill in on her review blog this week – I am happy to do so, since I always seem to be reading at least one book on The Beatles at any given time.

Question:  Who played drums with The Beatles before Ringo Starr?  a) Mike (McCartney) McGear, b) Pete Best, c) Norman Chapman, or d) all of the above?  If you answered anything other than “d”, your Beatles education is incomplete.  Not only is the answer “d”, but there are quite a few other names on that list as well!
I had the pleasure of meeting David Bedford last March at The Fest for Beatles Fans.  His first entry into the field of writing was Liddypool, Birthplace of the Beatles (To Understand the Beatles, You Have to Understand Liverpool).  Mr. Bedford appears to be a fan of lengthy subtitles, but those subtitles really explain what the book is about, as well as his motivation for writing it.  One might think there is little that has not already been written about The Beatles, but “Liddypool” gives the reader many valuable insights into the city that made John, Paul, George and Ringo the people they were and are. Having grown up in The Dingle, Mr. Bedford knows of what he speaks…and whether or not you know what The Dingle is, you really should grab a copy of “Liddypool” before it becomes impossible to find – it is now officially out of print, and according to a recent interview, there are no plans to reprint it at this time.
The Fab One Hundred and Four is David’s 2nd book.  It is an outgrowth of “Liddypool”, which contains a chapter entitled “The Fab 27”, where he charts every band member, name-change and lineup, from The Quarrymen to The Beatles.  He said that writing that chapter “brought home the realization that, at the heart of The Beatles’ story is the tale of a long line of musicians who came and went through the band until it became The Fab Four we all know and love by the end of 1962.”  He also “became fascinated with the story of how The Beatles were inspired and encouraged to begin their musical journey”, and “decided to find every musician who had played with The Beatles in their formative years, plus those who influenced them.”  Thus was the genesis of “The Fab One Hundred and Four”.
The book begins with a 2-page time line overview, followed by a list of the “104”, each entry being followed by a brief summary.  The book then devotes a chapter to each individual or group in the outline.  David’s research is thorough and meticulous, and he provides ample documentation for why each of the “104” should be included.  He also says that “along the way there may have been extra musicians not recorded here…but without further corroborative evidence they cannot be included.”
I am certain that even the most devout Beatle fan will learn something from this book.  Some of the more interesting chapters for me include those regarding John Duff Lowe (keyboards), Tommy Moore (drums), and Royston Ellis (beat poet).  The chapter on Norman Chapman (drums) was especially interesting to me, and few people know how close he came to being a full-fledged member of the group at one point.  There is even a chapter on Janice the Stripper, for whom The Beatles provided backing music at “Cabaret Artists’ Social Club”, owned by Allan Williams.
Although there is a tremendous amount of information to absorb here, the way the book is structured makes for very easy and enjoyable reading.  This book is a must have for any serious student of The Beatles music.

I rate it 4 Beetles

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Book Review: “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story” by Vivek J. Tiwary

The Fifth BeatleContinuing on my theme – The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, this week I decided to actually get around to reading the book!  Written by Vivek J. Tiwary with artwork by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker, The Fifth Beatle is a graphic novel about the rise and fall of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

For those that haven’t read this book yet, here is the book’s trailer so you can get an idea of what this “adult comic book” looks like on the inside:


I purchased my copy at Vivek’s lecture last week at Monmouth University.  He only had collector’s editions (which includes “a unique, textured cover and a section of bonus materials including unique Beatles and Brian Epstein memorabilia, artist sketches, and alternate covers”), so this review is based on this edition.

This book is beautiful.  From the cover to the artwork, it’s a wonderful addition to my collection…even though I’m not a Beatles collector.  But, putting appearances aside…the writing seems to be lacking.  The dialog and story seem to be very. halting. and. static.  It lacks a certain flow.  I want to say it would have been better written with more detail and spread out as a series of books then to cram the entire story into one 139 page book, making it all a bit confusing to those that really don’t know Brian Epstein’s tragic story.

Still, it is a stunning book that I think any true Beatles collector would be proud to add to their collection and display on their shelf.  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’d like to meet Vivek and get a signed copy of his book, he will be at the Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, NY in April 2016.




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Book Review: “The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones” by Jim DeRogatis & Greg Kot

I found The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Rivalry  while looking online for another book I had seen in a bookstore about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I rarely will pay retail for any book I read for Beatles Freak Reviews since this site makes no money (it’s just a hobby), so I was slumming the virtual used book sites. When I saw this book, I guess I wondered why the world needed two books on such a non-topic and decided to pick up at $2 used copy.

This book is filled with some great pictures.  And if you were to purchase it for no other reason than to use it as a coffee table book, it would serve its purpose well. But as for content, it’s pretty much just two guys comparing their own personal opinions on which band, and their guitarists, bassists, drummers, drug usage and double albums are better. The authors even take on the topic of which band had the most publicized drug bust! I really don’t think either band was trying to top each other in that instance (but I’ve been wrong about these things before).

Personally, I don’t think there ever was a rivalry between these two bands, but that’s a topic I’ll hit on next week when I review the other Beatles vs. Stones book I bought with this one. And to leave room for next week’s book to suck even more than this one…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

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If you’re interested in adding this book to your collection,used copies can be had for less than $2 on Half.com.

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Book Review: “Beatlebone” by Kevin Barry

I started seeing mentions of Beatlebone by Kevin Barry on social media about 2 weeks ago. Couldn’t help but notice that major newspapers such at the New York Times were reviewing this book, so I decided to take a quick look see to find out what it was about. I don’t read other reviews of books before I review them…I don’t want to go into it tainted. But once I found out that it was a novel with John Lennon as it’s central character, I decided I needed to read it.

Within three days I was ranting to my husband about how wonderful this book is. The writing is in a style that I’ve never read before now. Conversations are without quotation marks, yet you feel as if you’re there with John and Cornelius as they try to get John to his island in Ireland. There’s darkness, then light. Darkness, then light.

Then…Part Six happens! What the f*ck, Kevin Barry and Doubleday?! Just when I was loving the story, Barry’s writing style, the cave, the hotel, the birds, the rabbits, the elf and the wolf…they dump Part Six in there. Seriously, folks? Why? I wanted so bad to give this book my best rating.

Go out and get this book, but when you get to Part Six, skip over it and then go back and read it at the end. Either that, or read it before you start the book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “Miss O’Dell” by Chris O’Dell w/ Katherine Ketcham

Chris O-Dell - Miss O'Dell jacket art

Ever since I finished Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton two days ago, I’ve been arguing with myself about how to write this review. I know several people who are still very close to Chris O’Dell and they’re really not going to like what I’m about to say.  But hey, it’s my website…

This book is very well written, though it became quite obvious where the co-author decided to add filler…or as I like to put it “too many words”.  That’s the good news about this book.

The only real word I can use to describe this book is ‘pathetic.’ This women is the most self-absorbed person I’ve ever read about! She not only spends most of her life as the houseguest that overstays her welcome (Ringo, George and Eric Clapton all wanted her out!), she then refers to their wanting her to leave as them rejecting her. Really?! She justifies sleeping with married men by saying she didn’t expect it to last anyway. And then, BOOHOO, she decides that when Maureen Cox tells her to keep an eye on Ringo in L.A., that’s her invitation to sleep with him.  OH NO…she’s lost her friend Maureen!  Whatever will she do? Wah wah…

When she finally nabs an aristocrat with a British title, she decides her knight in shining armor has finally arrived after all she’s been through. Needless to say, that marriage only lasted long enough to produce a child to inherit his father’s title.

This is woman who, when she realized Pattie and George & Maureen and Ringo where splitting up, rambles on about not knowing where she’ll stay when she’s in London if their marriages collapse. Nothing like being there for your friends, Miss O’Dell!

Now maybe this Miss O’Dell is a nice lady and I have her all wrong.  Then again, maybe she should read the book she wrote and the way she portrayed her narcissistic life.  And for that reason…

I rate this book: 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “Son of a Beach Boy” by Scott Wilson

Me and Scott Wilson at MANCIt’s really a shame that Son of a Beach Boy is so poorly written, because the stories within are just amazing.  This is Scott Wilson‘s story of growing up as the son of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson.  It’s his story that was adapted into this book by an acquaintance of his.  Despite it’s less than stellar writing, it’s well worth picking up to read.

I had the pleasure of meeting Scott Wilson this past weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention where he was appearing and signing his book.  His friend Mitch was standing in front of my table where I was selling Beatles books.  Mitch and I started talking and next thing I know, he says, I’m here with the son of a Beach Boy.  He called Scott over, told me about his book, so I made a point to get a copy (and a picture with him…he’s really good looking!).

Scott pours his heart out in this book and at one point brought tears to my eyes when he tells of being sent away to a school in Guatemala.  I actually had to put the book down and go distract myself for a while before going to bed.  The stories are so engaging, and the book is not very long, that I was able to finish it the next morning.

Once you get past the fact that this is written on the level of a high school report, you won’t be able to put it down.  And if you ever get the chance to meet Scott, you’ll be as enamored with him as I was and still am.  And though he doesn’t mention them in this book, he does have stories of his dad hanging out with Paul McCartney.

Scott’s led a roller coaster ride of a life as the son of one of the greatest American bands that ever graced this earth and his story deserves to be heard.  I can only hope that this book falls into the right hands and a publisher take him under his wings and turns this book into the book that is deserving of such a great story.

Unfortunately, due to the writing….

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!


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Book Review: “Ramones: An American Band” by Jim Bessman

I picked this book up several years ago at an online clearance sale.  My intent was for my husband to read it, since I really never dug The Ramones.  Then I found out that they were heavily influenced by the Beatles. And, there is no lack of Beatles references in this book! Even the story of them rewriting the lyrics to a John Lennon song and getting Yoko’s permission to record it.

Ramones: An American Band was published in 1993, long before Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Marky, or any other Ramone wrote their autobiography. In fact, it was written prior to the band breaking up in 1996, so it’ll bring you right up to what was the present moment of the band at that time.

The Ramones are credited with creating Punk music. What a lot of people thought was just a joke band that would never last went on to become one of the greatest bands of all time. This is a band who was the influence behind the Sex Pistols, Debbie Harry and so many Punk bands of the 70’s and 80’s. And though they never enjoyed huge commercial success or even a #1 hit, Spin magazine ranked them the second-greatest band of all time trailing only the Beatles.

I’m glad I took the time to read this book and to get to know the Ramones. This book has made me want to pick up each of the band members autobiographies and get their individual views of how the Punk scene looked from the inside.

You can still buy this book online at all the major retailers, with used copies starting at $0.01.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “Clapton: The Autobiography” by Eric Clapton

One thing leads to another… and after reading George Harrison’s “I, Me, Mine” and Pattie Boyd’s “Wonderful Tonight,” the next obvious choice seemed to be to read, Clapton: The Autobiography.  (For those not in the know, Eric stole George’s wife Pattie).  The odd thing is…I’m not a Eric Clapton fan.  Oh sure, I like Layla and Tears in Heaven, but those songs were #1 songs, but I always found Wonderful Tonight to be so overplayed and too sappy!  Yet…

I couldn’t put this book down!

Eric Clapton started out his young life a lot like John Lennon did…with an absentee father and being raised by someone other than his mother.  But his story had an odd twist in that he was led to believe his grandparents were his real parents and his uncle was his brother.  This bizarre family situation played out in so many ways throughout his life and career as he spent half a decade looking for the acceptance he never got from his mother.  Sound familiar?

Somewhere along the way, through all the obsessions and addictions with women, alcohol and drugs, Clapton managed to have several short lived, yet very successful bands.  His guitar playing reached a God-like status early and carried him on to become one of the most respected guitar players of today, despite the turmoil going on in the background.

Eventually, Eric cleaned himself up and is now a family man who tires easily on the road when touring.  He even mentions his recommendation for the best parenting book and speaks openly about his need to help others achieve their own sobriety.

You can buy a copy of Eric Clapton’s autobiography for $0.01 at Amazon, or for $0.75 at Half.com.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!


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