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Book Review: “The Beatles Era – A Quest For The Secret of The Beatles” by Peter Eijgenhuijsen

This review is written by Amy McGrath Hughes

TheBeatlesEra_Peter Eijgenhuijsen

Dutch author Peter Eijgenhuijsen has independently published an intriguingly titled book on The Beatles. As he states, “This book is not about what happened, but about why it happened.”

In that context, I was introduced to The Beatles Era – A Quest For The Secret of The Beatles (2021). Coming from a historical standpoint, much of this book draws on familiar anecdotes and facts that Eijgenhuijsen cites thoroughly. His reasoning for this publication was a conversation with a friend who made a point of dissecting the band’s career into several distinct sections, which is analyzed in detail in these pages.

Most of the publication is taken with the discussion of how the band revolved around these sections/eras. There are several chronological off-shoots that Eijgenhuijsen heads down and that makes for a somewhat disjointed rendering. The tone is skewed with personal recollections that have a more European slant (and granted, it is coming from his upbringing in the Netherlands), which doesn’t get a lot of attention in say, a global Beatles biography.

While I found this aspect interesting, what I have come away with would be more suited as a ‘primer’ in Beatles lore. While he is very thorough in speaking to his personal likes of particular songs or periods in any given point in their history (which does include the solo years), I would have expected more factual passages instead of a re-tread of well-known stories.

Two entries that felt off-kilter were the introduction of a fictional interview (where The Beatles had not made the impact they did) and another conversational story spinning in an alternate universe Beatles. While well-written, I honestly felt it didn’t have a place within the context of this book.

One standout chapter however holds some weight: The Reduced Solo Years. Here Eijgenhuijsen takes on each Beatle in more recent times (with Lennon referenced since 1980 by the other three). Being able to ascertain each of the three’s ‘later’ musical contributions is always a tricky outing in any Beatles landscape: comparisons are inevitable. But I appreciated Eijgenhuijsen’s dive into Harrison/McCartney/Starr releases/collaborations that critique releases right up the present day. I admit: it’s tough in an epilogue to sum up ‘McCartney III’ so that a reader understands it’s place in history. But he gives it the best summations for a generation that may not be familiar with say, ‘Chaos and Creation In The Backyard.’

‘The Beatles Era’ is certainly not a hefty tome and I would likely recommend this to someone who would want a brief read-through with a sprinkling of symbolistic fandom. I definitely think that Eijgenhuijsen could have a second career in the fictionalized world of The Beatles… perhaps that will be a second book! In the meantime…

I will give this book 3 out of 4 beetles.

 

 

 

 

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Book review: “Get Back: Imagine…saving John Lennon” by Donovan Day

Guest reviewer David Thomas takes on the new novel Get Back: Imagine…Saving John Lennon by Donovan Day.

This is the author’s first novel, and it shows in many ways. For starters, consider the title. This is a time-travel fantasy about the possibility of “saving John Lennon”, so the 2nd half of the title is clear and purposeful. I could understand “Get Back: Saving John Lennon” or “Imagine: Saving John Lennon”. Juxtaposing 2 song titles as an opening seems like he’s trying too hard or just couldn’t make up his mind. Not an auspicious start.

The author also says that he “wrote it for young adults”, but thinks “everyone — baby boomers, their kids and grandkids — will enjoy this trip back in time.” That’s true to a point.

It is certainly written on a level for young adults, but playing fast and loose with facts does not make for a good introduction to history. One of the main characters is a girl named Yoko (no, not that one) who is the granddaughter of someone named Lily Chang who supposedly was a close friend of The Beatles and even sang back-up on some of their records. The problem is, Lily Chang never existed, nor was she apparently modeled after any actual historical person. Furthermore, the main character time travels several times over the course of the story, with no more than a passing nod toward the consequences that his trips have on other events. It would not give too much away to tell you that for instance, Jim Morrison (The Doors) is now still alive and is living as a Shaman in the desert of Arizona.

The actual portion of the book that deals with what happens if John had lived, (which, given the title, one would think is the focus of the book) is not only quite short, but quite ludicrous. That was a major disappointment. The rest of the story was mainly about the main character, Lenny Funk, and his relationship with the aforementioned Yoko. All of that is pleasant enough, and somewhat entertaining, even for the adult reader.

My main problem with the book is this: If you’re going to write a time-travel fantasy about John Lennon, and would like to speculate on what happens to him beyond December 8, 1980, let your imagination run wild; this author failed pretty miserably at that, in my opinion. However, if you are trying to write a book as an introduction to The Beatles for a new generation, or to educate younger Beatles fans, I think it’s important to stick to the facts regarding events prior to that date, unless you explain (via time travel interference) how they were changed.

I rate it 2 out of 4 Beetles.

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Book review: “Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll”, by Fred Goodman

(This is a Guest Review by David Thomas.  He’s a retired music teacher and huge Beatles fan that I met a year ago at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York.  If you love his review, leave a note for him in the comment section and maybe we can make him a regular guest. Enjoy!)


And now for something completely (well, partially) different; a guest review!  I was so pleased to be asked to fill in for Jennifer on her review this week as she tends to very pressing writing matters of a different kind. 
 
Yes – Allan Klein, the man we Beatles fans love to hate!  For a very long time, I’ve had an idea in my mind of what Klein was like.  Unfortunately, it was based solely upon not very flattering anecdotes, and the knowledge that he had caused trouble between the Beatles.  Besides, Paul McCartney, didn’t like him, so that was good enough for me!  But deep down, I knew there had to be more to this man than the stereotypical caricature I had in my mind, so I sought out this book.
 
The book itself is well written, albeit a bit tough to follow in spots where they are discussing the details of Klein’s financial and legal deals.  These spots are numerous but short, and they are really quite integral to the story, because Klein was extremely creative for his time in the way he structured deals for his artists (and himself).  Many of the things he did are commonplace (or in some cases, illegal) today, but back then, they were considered revolutionary and brilliant. 
 
Klein, as you may suspect, was far from a one-dimensional stereotype; in fact, he was a man of many contradictions.  One minute he seems to be the most despicable figure EVER in the entertainment business, and the next there is something about him that evokes your sympathy. He was greedy with some, yet generous with others; he was a fierce negotiator, yet full of insecurities about himself and his abilities.  He worked tirelessly to get a better deal for his clients, while simultaneously almost always getting an even better deal for himself.
 
The book gives an excellent history of Klein the man, and gives the insight I was looking for into what made the man “tick”.  We find out why he spent a good deal of his childhood in an orphanage, and over the course of time, how he transformed an early talent for numbers into a remarkable career….through a combination of hard work, perseverance, luck, and a little (okay, maybe more than a little) deceit thrown in along the way.  

As the title suggests, his dealings with the Beatles are only a part of what is discussed in the book, although from long before his first meeting with John Lennon, Klein made it his ultimate goal to work with them; an achievement which would say to the world, and more importantly to himself, that he had finally succeeded.
Guest Reviewer
 
A great read about a key figure in Beatle history.  I give this book 4 Beetles!
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