Tag Archives: Ringo Starr

Book Review: “Dreaming The Beatles” by Rob Sheffield

Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World by Rob Sheffield was published on April 25, 2017.  I had seen this book mentioned in the Beatles Book Collectors group on Facebook, but really didn’t pay it any mind until I stumbled upon it in a small book store while walking around a quaint little village with friends last week.

Rob Sheffield was born in 1966. He is a columnist for Rolling Stone magazine and a former writer for Spin magazine, so he’s got the qualifications and background in music for writing a book. But even after telling friends he was going to write a book about the Beatles and them replying, “Another book about the Beatles?!”, he didn’t take the hint.

From the jacket of the book:

Sheffield focuses on the emotional connections we make to the music. Chronicling his lifelong obsession with the Beatles along with the rest of the world’s, Dreaming the Beatles is a passionate celebration of the band and their music…

To me, it seems, when he isn’t bashing Paul (He actually wrote a chapter about called “Paul is a Concept by which We Measure Our Pain”), he’s writing about things that are so incredibly repetitive to a true Beatles freak. There are chapters dedicated to songs, albums and each Beatle. There are also chapters with titles such as: Beatles or Stones; Something (1969) vs. My Love (1971; The Cover of Abbey Road; When George sang In My Life. At times, it was as if he was pulling ideas out of left field to write about or telling us his own personal stories.

Chances are you’re not going to find anything new in these pages excepts for one man’s opinion of the Beatles, along with the story of Rob Sheffield’s experimentation with drugs and the fact that The Beverly Hillbillies were the top rated show in the U.S. from January to March 1964.

I took one for the team reading this one, folks…and for that reason…

I rate this book, 1 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles: Fab Finds of the Fab Four” by Noah Fleisher

The Beatles – Fab Finds of the Fab Four by Noah Fleisher is another book recommended to me from Amazon. Author Noah Fleisher is the PR Director at Heritage Auctions (the largest collectibles auctioneer and third largest auction house in the world), providing him with a first hand knowledge of the worth of music memorabilia and collectibles.

Published in November 2016, Fab Finds of the Fab Four is a 240 page paperback filled with beautiful color images of some of the rarest Beatles memorabilia you’ll ever see, though the author does acknowledges that the book only scratches the surface of what the Beatles merchandising machine actually put out on the market. This book not only provides the value of the items as they were set at auction, Noah also tells the story of the Beatles climb to fame and how each stage of that climb produced various items of worth. This book covers items from before they were famous up to the 2015 auction of Ringo Starr’s collection. Posters, tickets, photos, instruments, jewelry, letters, gold records, etc….it’s all in here.

I loved this book. But (and there is always a but…) it’s a difficult read at times because every page includes pictures and descriptions of various items mixed in with the text of the book. When the text/sentences continue on the next page but you’re not done reading about the memorabilia, it can get a little annoying to be going back and forth between the pages. The book is also not without it’s small typos. The thing is, though, this book is still worth the purchase price whether you’re a collector or not. It’s more than just a price guide…it’s a walk through Beatle history. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 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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Book Review: “Octopus’s Garden” by Ringo Starr

From Wikipedia: “Octopus’s Garden” is a song by the Beatles written and sung by Ringo Starr (credited to his real name Richard Starkey) from the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Ringo Starr got the idea for his song Octopus’s Garden while vacationing on a yacht in the Mediterranean sea in 1968. The inspiration came when the captain of the ship told him that octopuses live in caves and that they like to collect shiny objects to decorate around the opening of the cave like a garden.

In 2014, Ringo Starr published a children’s book named after his song Octopus’s Garden. This 10″ x 11″ book is vibrantly colored and beautifully illustrated by Ben Cort. With only 24 pages, the lyrics guide the reader through an ocean adventure  with five children as they play in the fantasy garden of an octopus. The book also includes a CD with a greeting from Ringo, a new recording of the song, Ringo narrating the book (with a ‘ding’ to tell you when to turn the page) and an instrumental version of the title song.

As I said, the book is absolutely gorgeous and you’re going to wish it was longer. But it will be great for very small children and I can see where it would also be a fun book for playing “I Spy” with all the colorful objects in the octopus’s garden!  My first thought upon hearing Ringo’s greeting on the CD was “Ah! The little conductor man!” (for those that remember him in the TV show Thomas & Friends). But after that came my disappointment…Ringo had recorded a new (and not very good) version of Octopus’s Garden. When I consulted my Beatles expert friends about why he did this, they believe that even as a former Beatles the licensing cost to use the original song would have been to high to make a profit on this project. Still, I’m sure the children who hear the song won’t know the difference and will enjoy singing along like we all did at one time or another in our lives. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Love You Make” by Peter Brown

I sincerely apologize for not posting this review last week. In all my heart, I truly believed I was going to read this 437 page book in one weekend! Stupid me. Time got away from me and try as I might, I just couldn’t get it read for a review last weekend….so here it is.

The Love You Make – An Insiders Story of The Beatles by Peter Brown (and Steven Gaines) was first published in 1983. I stumbled across my copy at a book sale at a local library for just $2.50, but according to Amazon.com, they sell for over $10 each. The book was re-released and 2002 edition is available as a used book for as low as $0.01!

But enough of the crap…let’s get on with the review…

Peter Brown started out as salesman at NEMS when
Brian Epstein recruited him from another store across the street. When the Beatles came along, he took over managing NEMS in Brian’s absence, but was soon to follow Brian in working for the Fab Four. This is his story…

For all my fellow Beatles freaks, you may find a lot of the information in this book as ‘old news’ though there are quite a few instances of Peter saying, “…told for the first time here”. Obviously, after 34 years, his new stories have become common knowledge or have been debunked. There are also the usually tall tales like that of John Lennon being born during an air raid when all official government reports from Liverpool say that there was no air raid on October 9, 1940.

I was informed by a friend that Peter Brown caught a lot of flack for some of the stories he told in this book and that there was a sizable backlash. He tells the story of Brian and John’s holiday trip to Spain after the birth of John’s son Julian with details that I’ve never heard before reading this book. He talks of their sexual encounter that is different from the story told by John’s childhood friend Pete Shotton in his book. In fact, this book tells a great deal of many of the Beatles carnal activities all the way back to their pre-Hamburg days. There are also the stories of John and Yoko’s heroin addiction and the usual praising of Derek Taylor‘s drug and alcohol fueled work at Apple. Paul’s extracurricular activities while living with Jane Asher are also discussed.

The stories go on and on…I can’t even make a dent in them in this review. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “All You Need is Ears” by George Martin

There are a lot of authentic reasons why Sir George Martin is referred to as the 5th Beatle…and they’re all contained with the pages of his book, “All You Need Is Ears: The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles“. Published in 1979, this book is still a delight to read for any true fan of the Fab Four.

This isn’t a book that’s just about his time working with the Beatles and in the studio. It’s the story of George’s  life along with his thoughts on musical theory, recording and producing. He begins where we would expect George Martin to begin, with when he was born in 1926 and his early days growing up in war torn England and his time in the Fleet Air Army. He spends very little time talking about his private life except to make quick mentions of meeting and marrying his first wife Sheena, the birth of his kids Alexis and Gregory, he impending divorce, his marrying Judy and the birth of his third and fourth children – Lucy and Giles. He talks about his studio engineers more than his own family.

Where he gives an outstanding explanation of the mathematics behind chords (something I’ve heard of but never had it explained to me), at the other end of the spectrum, he gives a wordy and tedious chapter on the ins and outs of mono, stereo, four track, eight track, etc., recording. There is also a rather long and (and I think) unnecessary chapter on becoming a record producer in the 1970’s when the book was written. At times it almost felt like either he, his co-writer Jeremy Hornsby or his editor was attempting to add quantity between the cover pages only to sacrificed the quality. Though, I do know a few people who will find the technical mumbo jumbo very interesting.

For those looking for possibles hints as to why Sir George left his first two children out of his will when he passed away on March 8, 2016, you won’t find any answer in these pages. Even though the whole matter is really none of anyone’s business, the fact that it made headlines can’t help but make one wonder what went so terribly wrong that a man would exclude two of his flesh and blood from enjoying his wealth. I have personally talked with Greg Martin and he’s a lovely man. By day, he’s an actor, but in his spare time he’s a gifted astrologer. He did a live reading of my chart for me via Skype about 4 years ago and he was able to tell me things that did eventually come to be. (In fact, if anyone knows how to get a hold of him, please send him my way. I’d love to have him read for me again).

Anyway…I digress…

This book is a must read for any true Beatles fan, McCartney fan, Lennon fan, etc. He doesn’t pay a whole lot of mind to Ringo and George, but does spend a good deal of time telling of his interactions with Brian Epstein. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Beatles: Every Little Thing” by Maxwell MacKenzie

It’s pretty amazing what you can find while wandering around your local public library’s used book sale racks! I was actually dropping off Help Wanted posters for my boss at the local libraries when I noticed that one of them had a bookstore. That’s where I found a gently used copy of The Beatles – Every Little Thing by Maxwell MacKenzie for $1.50(and another book which I’ll review at a later date). This book is describes as “a compendium of witty, weird and ever-surprising facts about the Fab Four.” It was originally published in 1998.

The 209 page book is simply divided into sections with headings such as: Early Influences; Early Gigs, Clubs and Auditions; Girlfriends, Wives, and Families; Banned Beatles; Beatles on Film; etc. From there, each sections is just a list of one-two sentence facts about John, Paul, George and Ringo.

I guess the two biggest questions one might want to know before investing in this book are: Is it accurate? And will you learn anything new? I’m only 34 pages into it so far (more on that later) and so far, I’ve found a couple ‘alternative facts’, such as the fact that John was born the night of an air raid. That myth was dispelled a long time ago. And as for learning anything new, well, that would depend on your level of expertise or who you’re buying this book for. As for myself, I’m not ready to give up on it completely. I plan on leaving it laying around and pick it up now and then for some light reading. It would make a nice gift for someone who’s just discovered the Beatles or maybe for a young reader who’s writing a report for school. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

On another note, I want to bring to your attention an amazing auction that is going on right now. Heritage Auctions of Texas is currently selling seven fab paintings by artist Eric Cash. Anyone who’s attended a Beatles Fest will know his work and who Eric is. This past month, I managed to save one of his paintings from the auction block when I bought “Sea of Green”. I couldn’t be happier and I’m waiting to take it to be professionally framed! In the meantime, check out the other pieces. You won’t regret owning one of these amazing paintings. Check them out here!

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