Tag Archives: Liverpool

Book Review: “Lennon: The New York Years” by Foenkinos/Corbeyran/Horne

Well, Amazon got me again! While browsing online at Amazon.com, this book appeared as a Recommendations….

Lennon: The New York Years was written by David Foenkinos and Eric Corbeyran, illustrated by Horne and published on May 30, 2017. According to an article on NME.com, this graphic novel is adapted from a 2010 novel “Lennon” by French author David Foenkinos. After reading this book, there is a part of me that wants to see what the original was like.

This book is touted as “true biographical fiction”, as the setting is John Lennon laying on a psychiatrist’s couch talking about the ups, downs, joys and pains of his life. There are 18 sessions (chapters) in all. Now, I get that when they termed it ‘true biographical fiction’ they were probably referring to his regularly seeing a therapist that happened to also live in the Dakota so Lennon wouldn’t have to go out in public, but unfortunately, some of the fiction seems to have leaked out into Lennon’s life. Starting off with the tall tale that seems to still keep popping up, after long having been dismissed, that John was born during an air raid in Liverpool with the whistling and boom of bombs going off all around the hospital. You be the judge…

“The night I was born it was to the deafening sound of Liverpool being bombed by the Germans. I didn’t come into a life, I came into chaos. And I spent my whole life frightened. That night everything shook. Things fell from the shelves. A building fell down near us. Things had to happen fast so my mother had a cesarean.”

Artistically speaking, this book is actually a pretty nice book. The artist’s interpretation of this story is done in black and white in a 150 page hardcover edition. Comparatively speaking, I personally like the B&W rendition in this graphic novel better than Vivek J. Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle, but I prefer the linen texture Tiwary cover over the smooth, scratch prone cover of this book. Your mileage may vary…

I leave you with the trailer to this book…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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In the news: “The Sixth Beatle” documentary

Interesting article about a new documentary about Sam Leach, a promoter in Liverpool in the early 60’s that helped the Beatles get their start. It would seem that author/historian Mark Lewisohn has taken exception to some of the content and has new been cut from the film.  Read the article here:

http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/Toronto-Doc-The-Sixth-Beatle-Tells-Fresh-9211950.php

What do you think? Is Lewisohn a hero or jerk? And will you be going to see the film?

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Book Review: “John Lennon: In My Life” by Pete Shotton

John Lennon: In My Life was written by John Lennon‘s childhood friend and original Quarrymen member Pete Shotton.  They met in 1946, when they were the tender age of 6 years old while John was living at his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George’s.  John and Pete would remain closed friends and confidants up until John’s death in 1980.  And anyone that knows anything about John Lennon, knows that long relationships of any kind were something very rare for Lennon, making this story unusual.

 

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From the get go, the team of Shotton and Lennon (or as John would call them Shennon and Lotton) spelled mayhem wherever they went.  Two young boys with very strong personalities, blood brothers, came together, both encouraging each other antics…they were to keep both their parents and teachers on their toes.  Throughout their early years in Liverpool, both would be blamed for leading the other astray, all the while, pushing the limits and laughing their way through their childhood and teenage years.

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I loved the honesty in this book.  Pete tells all the wildest and craziest stories from his and John’s days growing up in Liverpool.  Anyone that wants to know the very dirtiest of details about John, needs to own a copy.  This isn’t to say that the book is without it’s problems, especially when Pete seems to take exception to John’s dad and Cynthia’s mom both being supported by John.  I do believe this is what is widely known as the pot calling the kettle black and any good Beatles fans could tell you that the whole staff (which included Pete Shotton) at Apple Corps in 1968 were living the ‘high’ life off of John, Paul, George and Ringo!  Then again, the team of Shennon and Lotton were never known for the respect of parents or authority figures.

Kudos to Pete for telling the world when John whacked off for the first time and for telling us what John said REALLY happened in Spain with Brian!  And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beatles!

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You can purchase a used paperback copy of In My Life for under $10 on Amazon or Half.com.

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Concert Review: The Mersey Beatles w/ Julia Baird at Sellersville Theater

Mersey Beatles

How lucky are we?  An old friend of my husband’s invited us to join him and his wife to see The Mersey Beatles at the Sellersville Theater.  AND Julia Baird (John Lennon’s half sister) was there to introduce the band, sell her book “Imagine This” and do a meet & greet!  I reviewed Julia’s book last year and gave it four Beetles.  You can read that review here.  Also, I did talk with Julia about the book I’m reading for next weeks review…but you’ll have to wait until next week to find out her opinion.

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The Mersey Beatles are just another Beatles tribute band.  These guys all are childhood friend who were born in Liverpool.  Sound familiar?  After realizing that they were never going to make it big as band and that they always got a great response when they covered songs by the Fab Four, they decided to create their own tribute band in 1999.  In 2002, they became the resident Beatles Tribute band at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and remained so for 10 years!

WP_20160512_019[1]So what makes this band stand out?  They do go through 3 costume changes with the early suits, then Sgt. Pepper’s and ending with Abbey Road dress.  They bring just enough on stage banter in their natural Scouse accents without over doing it and losing the audience in some silly over rehearsed skit.  At the same time, they will talk with the audience (they thanked the people who yelled out that they were killing it!) and they take requests.  And some of their harmonies are really going to wow you!

All in all, this was a great experience.  And I’m glad I got to see this band for the debut American tour.  Though they’re are probably boarding a plane right now to return to Liverpool, they will be returning WITH JULIA to the U.S. this July for a tour of the midwest!  And for that reason…

I rate this concert, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: Do You Want to Know a Secret?: The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer

I don’t request review copies of new books too often.  I prefer to spend my own money so I don’t feel obligated to give a decent review in exchange for the freebie.  This time, it’s going to be difficult!

When I first got my copy of Do You Want to Know a Secret?: The Autobiography of Billy J. Kramer I noticed the page count was only 180 pages.  “Cool!”, I thought, “This will be a breeze of a read.”  I should have realized that the low page count would mean there wasn’t much sustenance to this autobiography.  I guess that goes along with Billy J. Kramer’s belief that after he leaves a stage, his life is his own and no one should bother him or invade his privacy in any manner whatsoever.

So, what’s in this book?  Well, Mr. Kramer marches nicely and neatly through his life explaining to us everything he hates and didn’t like about his career in the music industry.  He didn’t like Dakotas, George Martin’s production on his song, his manager Brian Epstein’s choice of songs, the screaming girls at the concert or the fans that mobbed him after the shows.  The only time I felt Billy J. was truly honest and interesting in the telling of his story was when he finally admitted to himself that he had a drug and alcohol problem.  Unfortunately, after the telling of that period of his life, he resorts back to his arrogant “I did nothing wrong…it’s everyone else’s fault” attitude.

If you’d like to know the basic story behind his Billy J. Kramer’s life and how much he worshiped the Beatles, then give this book a read.  If you’re looking to know stuff like where he fell in the chronological line with his 7 siblings, then you’re going to have to consult another source.  And for that reason…

I rate this book 2 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “From Me to You” by Kelly Marie Thompson and Garry Berman

The book that I had originally planned to review this week was late showing up in my mail.  In the meantime, I had finished reading a book that a friend of mine wrote.  I make it a point not to review friend’s works because it’s not fair to them or to my readers if I feel I can’t be honest.  So, in this case, I’m going to tell you about the story behind this book and a quick synopsis, but I’m not going to rate it.

From Me To You by Garry Berman and Kelly Marie Thompson is the second published work by these writers.  This book is listed as a coming-of-age story, but I believe it would be of more interest to the Young Adult sector.

The story is about two penpals, one in New Jersey and one in Liverpool, UK, who begin writing to each other as part of a high school project.   Maggie, living in Liverpool, introduces Ricky, in New Jersey, to the music of the Beatles by sending him 45 rpms before anyone in the U.S. has even heard of the band.  As Beatlemania grows, so does their friendship.   The book takes you through their ever growing friendship up until the day it’s announced that the Beatles are splitting up in 1970.  But will their friendship last?  That’s the big question!

What makes this story even more interesting is that the two authors, Garry Berman and Kelly Thompson, met on the internet in a writer’s group.  They both like each other’s style of writing so much that they soon started co-writing projects via email, including their original hilarious six episode sitcom Barkers Upon Tyne (currently available as an ebook).

As I said, I think this would be a great book for a young teen girl, but for adults I would recommend getting the $2.99 Kindle version.

 

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