Tag Archives: Songs

Book Review: “The Beatles 101: A Pocket Guide in 101 Moments, Songs, People and Places” by Vikki Reilly

Beatles 101 Vikki Reilly

This review is by Amy Hughes

What a primer book on The Beatles should be is a concise, informative chronicle (with natural branching off) that gives a reader the very essence of its subject. Author Vikki Reilly has stumbled upon that magic formula in her book The Beatles 101: A Pocket Guide in 101 Moments, Songs, People and Places (Polaris Publishing, 2020)

Reilly has delved into what is considered a complex web of music history that requires extricating the wheat from the chaff: to that end, the best thing about her tome are the examples put forth of the band in chronological sequence: from origins and upbringing, the band’s embryonic beginnings onto Hamburg and Beatlemania and into the studio years, their companions and cohorts, tons of well-placed facts and beautifully sprinkled with a dose of rarely-seen photos (one showing Ringo, George and John in Wales upon hearing of Brian Epstein’s death was especially stunning) which gives the book a higher edge than most of the paint-by-numbers (read: inaccurate) quickies that attempt this same style.

By all means, this is not a dry reference manual or a zippy thumb-thru that skips the details. In fact, Reilly has portioned out the writing in a factual, easy-to-understand language that by turns has much humor (her enthusiasm and infectious laugh poured forth in a recent podcast with presenter Chris Shaw that only heightens her presence in this book) and a deep understanding of The Beatles that will have ‘serious’ fans appreciative of her studious research. I also took note of her witticisms and use of vernacular that may not be familiar to US readers (the word ‘quicksmart’ for example) and having interspersed the chapter entitled ‘The Fifth Beatle’ throughout, assigning it to inner-circle people from Neil Aspinall to Yoko Ono to Phil Spector.

There are plenty of well-known stories here for readers to digest and a good number of pages are dedicated to ‘Fab Facts’ in regards to their singles and albums (which are handy to have if you’re caught blank in a trivia quiz!). And as a pleasant diversion, Reilly presents a chapter on the always-debatable ‘Beatles vs. Stones’ in a Friends-Rivals breakdown.

The conclusion takes on several chapters of post-Beatles history, the deaths of Lennon & Harrison, ‘Anthology,’ and the digital/streaming era of their music. While there is nothing earth-shattering in these passages, I was happy to see the inclusion of relevant material that completes the story and frames the narrative more wholly.

With the title that pretty much lives up to its’ subject matter and presented in down-to-earth dialogue…

I give this book 4 out of 4 beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Lennon vs. McCartney: The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics” by Adam Thomas

Lennon vs McCartney The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics Adam ThomasI guess I was browsing around Facebook (or maybe it was on Twitter) a couple weeks ago when I saw the author, Adam Thomas, of Lennon vs. McCartney: The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics post about his book being half price on the publishers website, so I thought I’d give it a go since it seemed like a topic that I hadn’t fully delved into where the Fab Four are concerned.

This book was self-published in November 2014 but is able to withstand the test of time since it starts back at the very beginning of the Beatles career and because there are now only two original Beatles who are still with us here on earth. Paul and Ringo still may write songs about their heydays as Beatles, but most of it is reflective and nostalgic with very little, if any, controversy.

This book is only about 200 pages, but does a great job of pointing out the songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote about each other (both good and bad), both during their time as a writing team and after the split up of the band. The one problem that I found with Adam Thomas’ presentation of this material was that he very rarely quoted the lyrics of the songs and instead would just give his interpretation of what was contained in it. I can only guess that he did to avoid dealing with any copyright issues, but unless you know the words to every Lennon and McCartney song ever written, it can be a little trying. Still, he does do a great job explaining the meaning behind the songs. And…not only does he analyze John and Paul’s hidden messages, he also takes on Ringo and George’s work as well.

The first hundred pages of this book are about the songs in question and the second half of this book is a charted “Relationship Timeline”. I’ll admit that I haven’t read through the time-line yet, but I’ll get to it in the very near future. After reading the first half, I think it’s obvious that Adam Thomas did his homework for this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

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Book Review & Giveaway: “John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970-1980” by Paul Du Noyer

John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970-1980 is written by Paul Du Noyer – a rock journalist from Liverpool. I picked up this book off the 75% off rack at Barnes & Noble. When I realized it was only going to cost me $1.98, I went back and bought the other three copies to give away to my readers. (But then again, maybe after reading my review you might not want a copy!)

The Stories Behind Every Song 1970-1980 is now in it’s 4th edition. I’m not sure why it takes four tries and 20 years to get a book about John Lennon’s songs right, but obviously it wasn’t to fix the few minor typos throughout. Yet, despite my head scratching moment of confusion over the reprinting, I did find this book really well written and informative.

Du Noyer tells John’s life story while telling what motivated John to write each of his solo albums and songs. Like many other Beatles experts, he believes that when it came to John’s music, he wore his heart on his sleeve. John only knew how to write about his own life experiences…no made up story lines. So I’m happy to report that Du Noyer does include John’s lost weekend years in this book along with his time with May Pang. But I’m also sad to report that the author believes that the lost weekend was also a very dark, drunken time in John’s life where he pined endlessly for 18 months for Yoko to take him back.

Still a great book for those who want to delve deeper into Lennon’s music and the meaning and story behind the albums and songs. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: I have three copies of this book to give to three of my readers. Just leave a comment below and you’re entered. It’s that simple. Rules: Only one entry per person. I will pick the winners next Sunday morning (September 3, 2017) and announce them in my blog.

 

 

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