Book Reviews: February 2005
Note: Reviews are in no particular order

Beatles Worldwide: An Anthology of Original LP-Releases
By Christoph Maus

Thanks to books like Nicholas Schaffner's BEATLES FOREVER, I had long known that there were many different versions of Beatles albums printed in other countries. However, until reading Christoph Maus' BEATLES WORLDWIDE (An Anthology of Original LP-Releases) I had no idea that there was this many! BEATLES WORLDWIDE is an exhaustive study of the many, many Beatles album releases around the world. It covers albums released 1962-1972, with the sole exception being Russia - where Beatles albums weren't allowed until 1986! There is an introduction chapter for each country represented, which gives an explanation of that countries marketing plan regarding the release of Beatles albums. Each country also has an illustrated discography chapter, which displays the album covers in glorious colour! Sure, I had seen some of these titles in black and white before, but it is great to finally seeing them in color! The book also gives the value of each release (In Euros) for serious collectors. BEATLES WORLDWIDE is a unique time capsule of a period in rock 'n roll where the profit of marketing was more important than artistic integrity. Marketing (not only of song selection, but the cover artwork) was left up to the discretion of the local record companies of each country.

And of course there were fascinating tidbits of trivia that I found:

  • Chile was the only country that released the White Album as two single LPs.
  • Argentina promoted the band by translating their name to Los Grillos on their album cover. ("The Crickets"?)
  • In Latin American countries, the master for an LP was usually made not from a copy of the original master tape, but usually from a copy of an English or American LP. Also in these countries, the mono versions were 'created' from the actual stereo copies from these countries.
  • Some of the U.S. compilations, such as SOMETHING NEW, THE BEATLES SECOND ALBUM and BEATLES VI were pressing in the U.K. for export only.
  • Venezuela even marketed the Beatles as a SURFIN' band, calling their album SUFIN' CON LOS BEATLES EN ACCION!
Ultimately, the BEATLES WORLDWIDE is an indispensable resource not only for Beatles fans, but also for collectors who don't want to be limited by only U.S. or U.K. releases.

Review by Ronnie

Spinal Tap A to Zed (E-book)
By Chip Rowe

Attention all Tapheads: you can now get the ultimate trivia book about England's loudest band for FREE! Originally appearing as a printed edition, SPINAL TAP A TO Z-ED is now available as an E-book for all true rock 'n roll fans to enjoy. The book lists all that you ever wanted to know (and perhaps didn't) about Spinal Tap in an easy to find (and easier to read) A to Z format. For instance, I betcha didn't know that Spinal Tap was originally slated to appear at the ill fated Rolling Stones Altamont show in 1969? And you've heard of the infamous "plaster casters"? This book tells about the "bum-casters" and their connection with Spinal Tap!

In addition to the guide, the book also contains: a Tap discography, list of rocumentaries and music videos, books and other memorabilia associated with the band, a list of band members, a timeline, a trivia test and a great list of sources for the book.

SPINAL TAP A TO Z-ED is the ultimate resource on the band and no true Taphead should be without it!

Review by Ronnie

Bobby Darin-A Life
By Michael Seth Starr

Bobby darin's life is a perfect tragic tale. If Bobby Darin seemed full-throttle in his career, it is because he was aware that his time on earth was limited, with his heart problems. He knew he could go at any time and this fact seemed to motivate him further. Plus you have his dark family secret (his "sister" was actually his mother) and his association with Bobby Kennedy. Michael Seth Starr covers all the relevant facts in BOBBY DARIN-A LIFE. However, after having read Dodd Darin's book DREAM LOVERS (now out of print), Starr's book seems to cover much of the same ground, albeit in a condensed form (220 pages) - and that is my only complaint about this book, it is a bit too short. Only 220 pages seems especially short, when you think of all the things that Darin accomplished in both music and film. But, I did find a few tidbits that weren't covered in Dodd's book, such as reminisces from Tony Orlando and Roger McGuinn - that made the book enjoyable.

Bobby Darin seemed to pack many lifetimes into his 37 years on this planet and Michael Seth Starr's BOBBY DARIN-A LIFE is a great overview of Darin's life and it is a great intro for those curious about the new Darin film bio BEYOND THE SEA.

Review by Ronnie

Here There & Everywhere: The 100 Best Beatles Songs
By Stephen J. Spignesi & Michael Lewis

Over the years, it seems that books have been written on every subject imaginable about the Beatles. You've had studio logs, trivia books and books that tell the story behind each song. HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE (THE 100 BEST BEATLES SONGS) by Stephen J. Spignesi and Michael Lewis takes these concepts one step further by listing their top 100 Beatles songs out of the 206 songs that the Fabs recorded (not counting covers) based on songwriting, musicianship, production and lyrics. Each song is divided up with sections covering: "why it made the list", "what the song is about", "did you know?" (trivia about each song), "the recording" (studio facts about the recording of the song) and "what we really like about this song" (where each author gets a say in why the particular song appealed to him). Plus there are listings of what artists have covered the songs - which leads me to the ONLY error I found in this book: it lists Badfinger doing a "cover" version of "Love Me Do". Badfinger's "Love Me Do" only shares the same title with the Beatles song - it is actually a Joey Molland original (found on their NO DICE album).

While all "top songs" lists are objective, I found myself agreeing with at least 75% of their findings! But, that's what makes being a Beatles fan so fun - you will NEVER find two fans that agree on a same "top songs" list. There are only three entries that I totally disagree with (Ha ha, and being a Beatles fanatic, I will gladly tell you them now!). "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (#10) is George Harrison's first appearance on this list, ahead of "Something" (#28). I disagree because "Something" is the pinnacle of Harrison's songwriting with the Beatles - the track where he finally matched the songwriting gravitas of Lennon/McCartney. THIS song is simply Harrison's best Beatles track. Secondly (and thirdly), I don't think the Threetles 1995 reunion tracks, "Free As a Bird" (#25) and "Real Love" (#74) should have even made the list. Sure, they ARE Beatles tracks (by default), but think about it - if John would have thought they were great songs, wouldn't HE have recorded them on his last two albums (DOUBLE FANTASY & MILK AND HONEY)? To me it is just a little bit of a travesty that they rate higher than some of their other vastly superior work. That's just my opinion - but that's what makes this book so fun, it makes you re-evaluate your own opinions of the Beatles songs.

All in all HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE is an entertaining and provocative read, with just the right amount of trivia for Beatles nuts like myself.

Review by Ronnie