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Book Review: “Ringo: With a Little Help” by Michael Seth Starr

The first thing Michael Seth Starr, the author of Ringo: With a Little Help, is going to tell you is that he’s no relation to Ringo Starr…so let’s get that off the table right now.

I began this book on Monday and went cross-eyed trying to get it read in time to review it by Sunday. Nothing against the book, it’s an easy read, but when I got it on Monday, I expected  a large print book with a not so detailed story of Ringo Starr’s life (in actuality, it’s over 350 pages of small print).  But how does anyone tell Ringo’s story without telling the entire Beatles story along the way?

Author Michael Starr claims in the introduction that he will not be telling the Beatles story, but I’m here to tell you that he lies. There is plenty of Fab Four details in this book and it occasionally looses it’s direction throughout it’s 350 pages. There’s not a lot of new stuff to be told about our hero Ringo that we haven’t already been told. I’d say I could count on two hands the number of details contained in this book that I was unaware of about the life of Richard Starkey. Most of the stories have been told in other biographies, such as Pattie Boyd’s story of Ringo’s wife’s affair with George (then again…who didn’t sleep with George?).

Still though, it’s nice to finally have a book about Ringo, even if Ringo took to Twitter to inform his fans that this book is an unauthorized biography that “has nothing to do with me”.

The author did seem to have a problem with keeping focused throughout the book and would digress into other stories, and then come back to his topic at hand. The chapters also seem to be a little disjointed and appear more to give the reader a break off point to eat, sleep or pee, then to finish off any particular time period.

Unless you’re an over the top Ringo fan, I would recommend borrowing this book from the library. I don’t believe it’ll ever become a collectors item (but then again, a lot of people thought the Beatles were just a fad too, so who am I to say).  I also think the publisher  may have randomly missed the editing of a few chapters, as the typos seem to come in clumps.

It don’t come easy…but this book is an easy read. And for that reason…

I rate this book: 3 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: “Wonderful Tonight” by Pattie Boyd

Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd was written in 2007.  This book should be used as a learning tool for all models and teenagers that dream of marrying a rockstar!  Her story is also proof positive that growing up in a rich family doesn’t necessarily mean you had a happy childhood.

At the tender age of 20, Pattie Boyd married George Harrison at the height of Beatlemania.  But after several years, as her marriage started to crumble, Eric Clapton took a fancy to her and from what appears to be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, Pattie left George and ended up married to Eric.

Throughout this book, Pattie questions just about every romantic decision she’s ever made…even as they were happening to her. She brings us through her two well publicized divorces; her striving to be on her own; George’s death and the tragic death of Eric’s son from an affair he had while married to her, only coming out of the haze in her early 40s realizing she doesn’t know who Pattie Boyd is aside from the ex-Mrs. Harrison and ex-Mrs. Clapton.

Pattie does a great job telling her life story and letting you in on the private lives of both her ex-husbands.  There are a few stories along the way that contradict other people’s versions of the same tales, but she tells you in the beginning of the book that this books tells the stories the way she remembers them.

Oh…and in case you’re wondering (since we are talking about George again!), there is plenty of pot smoking and acid dropping in this book too!

You can buy copies of Wonderful Tonight on Amazon or Half.com for $0.01 or more.

I rate this book: 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book Review: “I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison

Call me a glutton for punishment.  After reading Derek Taylor’s book about his non-stop LSD trips and then seeing Derek’s widow talk about their non-stop LSD trips in “Living in a Material World“, I decide to read George Harrison’s autobiography that he wrote in 1980 with the assistance of …Derek Taylor!  Oh goodie…more acid trips!

Several years ago, I asked a world renowned Beatles expert and radio show host what book he thought was the best book ever written about the Beatles.  His answer was I, Me, Mine by George Harrison, so in realty, this book has been on my list for years.

This book is three separate parts.  Part one is a conversation between Harrison and Taylor about George’s thoughts on everything and nothing at all.  For the Beatles fans that are looking for secrets into George’s past, you won’t find them here.  What you will find is his thoughts on Beatlemania and his religious beliefs.  And of course, you’re going to get the bonus of a lot of mumbo jumbo from Derek in between!

The second part of the book is page upon page of pictures of George throughout his life.  From childhood, adolescence, Beatlemania, Monty Python and beyond, including snapshots from the family album.  I can’t say there was anything that wow’d me.

Part three of the book is meant for the diehard Beatles and George Harrison fans.  Each of the songs that George wrote are presented in their raw handwritten form, typed form and another page with George’s explanation behind what inspired the song.

This book left me a little disappointed.  I guess I was looking for more about George from George instead of Derek’s edited version.  The book almost seems like it was published as a way to placate the ever hungry fans for more information.

Copies run on Amazon and Half.com from $0.75 up to $200.  I borrowed mine from the local library!

I rate this book: 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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Book Review: “Nights Inside The Vault” by Sharon Richards

Good morning, Beatles Freaks!  This morning’s review is coming to you live from hot and steamy New Orleans.  This is not the review I had intended to post, but thankfully, I had this e-book loaded into my iPad’s Kindle app before I left home.  I had intended to rent a movie from iTunes to watch on the plane ride here, but due to technical difficulties beyond my control (the movie is no longer available on iTunes!), I decided to read this book  during my down time here in the Big Easy.

Nights Inside The Vault by Sharon L. Richards is the story of her short, but important time working the Hard Rock’s Vault in Orlando, FL from 2002-2004.  Sharon worked as a tour guide for the museum that housed many important and rare pieces of music history within it’s walls, including a section dedicated to the Beatles….a band Sharon was very familiar with and has spoken about at Beatles festivals across the country.

I have to applaud Ms. Richards’ work ethic and integrity as she demonstrates throughout this book her unwavering dedication to not only the Beatles, but to all the other bands represented at The Vault.  What started out as her dream job slowly became an illusion as she and the other guides took on the task of providing provenance to the various pieces of memorabilia.  Needless to say, the reader of this book will also loose faith in the machine that is the Hard Rock after reading Sharon’s accounts that came straight from her daily journals.

Though this self-published e-book could have used a good editor for the typos and flow, I think it is a necessary read for those that dabble in collecting music memorabilia.  It was quite the eye opener for me.

You can download a copy of Nights Inside The Vault at Amazon.com.

I rate this book: 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

Bonus!  Here’s a video of Sharon’s former Beatles tribute band – Luv Me Do. I once referred to them as the only female Beatles tribute band that I could listen to.

 

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Tea for Tuesday: Review of Mrs. McCartney’s Rockstar Rescue

Mrs. Angie McCartney’s Organic Teas

Rockstar Rescue

 

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Tea(s) From: Egypt / South Africa / Bulgaria / Germany / Vietnam
Region(s): Nile River Delta / Cederberg / Ludogorie / Black Forest / Mekong Delta
Antioxidant Level: Low
Caffeine Content: None – Caffeine Free Herb

 

 

It’s been a tough week in the Beatles Freak Review office and on the home front.  I’ve been busy cleaning out my late parent’s home to get it ready for settlement next week.  It’s been emotional and tiring.  I’ve also been trying to get ready to take Beatles Freak Reviews to New Orleans this coming weekend.  Fear not, my loyal readers, I will be posting from the Big Easy!

With everything going on, today was a great time for a cuppa Rockstar Rescue from Mrs. McCartney’s Tea selection.  Here’s my review:

This having been a hard week, I truly looked forward to the decaffeinated tea for one of my afternoon breaks.  This tea is made from rooibos, chamomile, linden + passion flower petals, lemon balm + lemon verbena leaves, anise, cinnamon, orange pieces and oat.  I really thought it would be the cinnamon and anise that would stand out flavor wise, but it was the citrus-y lemon and orange that came through.  It went very well with the pear tart with almonds, but didn’t mesh well with the chocolate.  Definitely a tea to enjoy with any type of fruity tart or possibly apple pie.

This is definitely a tea that I will be enjoying in the evenings when the colder months move in here.

This week’s tea was paired with a pear tart, dark chocolate ganache and Meringue from the Strawberry Bakery in Malvern, PA.

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