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

Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles
By Tony Bramwell with Rosemary Kingsland

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS: MY LIFE WITH THE BEATLES tells the story of the Beatles from an "insiders" view with a remarkable collection of tales from someone who was there throughout the entire Beatles career. Not only did Tony Bramwell grow up with George Harrison, but became a Beatles roadie before Mal Evans and Neil Aspinal entered the Beatles saga. Working for both NEMS and Apple, Bramwell gives firsthand knowledge of many of the known Beatles stories.

But it is the lesser-known stories that I found so appealing. For instance the fact that John Lennon hooked up with Yoko much earlier than the "official" TWO VIRGINS story. While Bramwell vilifies Yoko (as well as Allen Klein), it is refreshing to see an unsanitized version of the John & Yoko story that doesn't tow the shallow hippie line that accepts anything that John did as gospel. I found it humorous to hear how engineer Norman Smith sent a copy of the Beatles first hit (before it was officially released) "Please, Please Me" to Decca under a different name - just to see if Decca would turn down The Beatles yet again! (And yes, they did!) Also told is how The Beatles had to "sneak" in to re-do the soundtrack for the Shea Stadium film because the original sound was atrocious. Humorously, Bramwell comes clean and admits he called a radio station at the height of the "Paul Is Dead" rumors and impersonated Paul McCartney. He also mentions a very rare collectible: the very first pressing of an Apple record was a one-disc only customized version of "The Lady is a Tramp" by Frank Sinatra, sung for Maureen Starr's birthday! When discussing possible songs for inclusion on ABBEY ROAD, a very early unfinished version of "Imagine" was presented. These are just a few of the Beatles-related stories I loved.

In addition to The Beatles, you get to read about a virtual who's who of not only rock 'n roll (Beatles, Stones, Who, etc), but the Hollywood elite (Burt, Liz & Jayne Mansfield) and the 'old guard' of entertainment (Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin). Tony Bramwell is a Forest Gump-like character and the sheer amount of famous people he dealt with is mind boggling, whether it is meeting Buddy Holly in person or hanging out with Keith Moon!

Some might say that this book offers nothing new - but that it simply not true. While it might not offer the scandals like the Peter Brown "insiders" book, it perfectly captures the spirit of the magical '60s (unlike the Andrew Loog Oldham book, which I found a little droll.) and what it was like to be inside the eye of the Beatles hurricane. This is the best Beatles "insider" book I have read since the Pete Shotton book.

Review by Ronnie

Lost in the Grooves
Edited by Kim Cooper and David Smay

One of the great things about collecting rock and roll music is that there is always an undiscovered gem lacking from your collection just waiting for you to discover. This year (2005) celebrates the 30th year that I have been such a music junkie. LOST IN THE GROOVES is a book that celebrates albums that fell through the cracks in the "classics" description. Included are albums that: might have sold well initially but are now pretty much ignored ("McCartney II"), works by artists that were not taken seriously at the time (Herman's Hermits, etc), obscure artists of merit, and generally lost gems that demand reevaluation.

I had quite a few of the discs mentioned such as: "Muswell Hillbillies", "No Dice", "Klaatu", "L.A. (Light Album)", "McCartney II", "Subterranean Jungle", "Face Dances", "Pacific Ocean Blue", "Hillbilly Deluxe" - just to name a few. But, I found many more that I now need to hear! I only take issue with one entry: Pink Floyds' "The Final Cut". I bought it when it first came out and 20+ years later still say its crap!

I've already given LOST IN THE GROOVES several readings and, armed with a yellow highlighter, have made note of which albums I need to add to my collection. This is the perfect book for the advanced record collector/music fan!

Review by Ronnie

Rock Prophecy- Sex & Jimi Hendrix in World Religions the Original Asteroid Prediction & Microsoft Connection.
By Michael Fairchild

ROCK PROPHECY comes as a book, a DVD (ROCKPROPHECY ROCKUMENTARY), and a CD. While the DVD gives a pretty good overview of what to expect in the book, I will concentrate entirely on the book for this review…

While ROCK PROPHECY-SEX & JIMI HENDRIX IN WORLD RELIGIONS-THE ORIGINAL ASTEROID PREDICTION & MICROSOFT CONNECTION (Whew! That's a mouthful!) does have a healthy dose of scientific and historical fact, the book ultimately suffers from trying to explore too many ideas at once, while repeating some of the information ad nauseum. Some of the topics covered are: censorship, thought control, "retarded history" (and its consequences), theft of his ideas from his writings in the Library of Congress, Fairchild's interpretation of Hendrix's "Prophecy", numerology, the science behind impending asteroid collisions with the earth, a history of religion and the 'ills' of Christianity, and the persecution of homosexuals. Oh, lets not forget a socialist dogma of "equality" thrown in for good measure.

A major portion of the book covers the demonized Paul Allen and how his evil money not only kicked Fairchild out of a job and the Hendrix organization, but also didn't pay him for consultant work for his help in acquiring portions of Allen's Hendrix collection. Fairchild downplays the fact that NO formal or legal document was ever signed or even the terms themselves agreed to (why let a little primary fact get in the way of a good 'witch hunt'?). On top of this, Fairchild asserts that Allen's "goons" scanned all of Fairchild's writings in the Library of Congress and made profit of all his good ideas. Which ideas you ask? Well for starters, Fairchild claims that ALL of the recent media fascination with asteroids colliding with earth (whether it be movies or books) is totally HIS idea! His website now even covers the Da Vinci Code for good measure.

Some topics and phrases are mentioned ad nauseum, like the reader is just too dumb to get it the first 5 times, so why not mention it again? For instance - we got the point by the 7th mention that Mr. Fairchild had written the CD booklets for Hendrix CDs that sold more than 6 million copies. That makes him an author that has sold 6 million books, right? Well…not quite. With that reasoning, I myself am also a "best selling" author since EAR CANDY gets about 1 million hits a month - which means I've actually had MORE readers in the last year! Also, there is the annoying little spelling games Fairchild plays, such as "establishMENt" and "HATErosexuals". Finally, there is another oft-repeated phrase that actually offends me. Fairchild keeps repeating "a Japanese-American woman" when describing Jane Reynolds (Al Hendrix's adopted daughter) who actually got the job of director that Fairchild himself was hoping for. What on earth does her ethnic origin have to do with anything? Hendrix himself was totally against racism and "labels". Is Fairchild hiding a subconscious prejudice (as well as latent homosexuality)?

Ultimately, the "meat and potatoes" of ROCK PROPHECY is how Jimi Hendrix was a shaman who prediction a future collision of an asteroid with earth (Asteroid collision is pretty much a given, scientifically it is only a matter of "when" not "if") and that Fairchild found Jimi's hidden message of this prophecy hidden in his lyrics. First, lets cover the error of the use "shaman" and use the correct term. Jimi might have been a "seer", but a true shaman takes years of practice, study and dedication. Lets use the correct word. Secondly, the interpretation of rock 'n roll lyrics is treading on dangerous grounds as a basis for reality, the case in point being Charles Manson and his interpretation of Beatles lyrics to commit mass murder. I'd better start studying my records by The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, etc. They might be trying to tell ME something!

It is a no-brainer and statistical fact that an asteroid will hit the earth in the future. But to try and claim credit for making everyone on earth aware of this fact is a little bit delusional. Ultimately, Fairchild wants no less than the lofty goal of starting a new religion, calling his views "the Newest Testament, the ultimate World Religion, a set of explanations that connect ancient past with distant future to make sense out of the headlines today". I'm sure that Fairchild will say that I was just paid-off by Paul Allen's Microsoft evil empire - but if that is the case, why am I still driving the same broken down vehicle and living in an old house constructed in the mid-'30s?

Sometimes a little paranoia goes a long way!

Review by Ronnie

The Passover Plot
By Hugh J. Schonfield

This is the 40th anniversary edition of THE PASSOVER PLOT - the bestseller that was probably one of the first books to truly challenge the "accepted" story of the origins of modern day Christianity. Did Jesus strategically plan all the events of his crucifixion and resurrection to coincide with the ancient scriptures? Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield methodically proves that this could have been (and in my opinion probably was) the case in the Jesus "legend".

Many people know of John Lennon's infamous "Bigger than Jesus" remark, but did you know that he was reading THE PASSOVER PLOT the same day that he was interviewed by journalist Maureen Cleave? That alone makes this book a must-read in my opinion - a chance to get into the head of John Lennon.

With the current popularity of THE DA VINCI CODE, this is the perfect book to further delve into the truth behind the myth. The cover of the book says that it "May shatter your faith - or strengthen it." But most importantly, THE PASSOVER PLOT makes you question it!

Review by Kano

Turn Me On, Dead Man
By Andru J. Reeve

This is the simple case of a single book being better than all the websites on the internet that you can find on a single subject – in this case the subject being the greatest rock ‘n roll myth of all time: the “Paul is dead” rumor of 1969. While the myth can now be found on hundreds of websites, TURN ME ON, DEAD MAN (THE BEATLES AND THE “PAUL-IS-DEAD” HOAX) gives the complete story of the hoax. The book covers everything, from its seemingly harmless beginnings to how it spread like a grass fire to become a nationwide phenomenon, complete with numerous radio shows, magazines, newspaper coverage, a TV special, and ultimately the disappearance of the rumor (but not until after the sales of Beatles’ albums saw a remarkable jump!).

There were also a few surprises for me (who thought he knew it all when it comes to the “PID” story): one of the first newspaper accounts blends the Beach Boys unreleased Smile album into the mix – and, the LIFE magazine cover which showed that Paul was alive in Scotland even had a death “clue” (when held up to the light in a certain way, you can see a car “crashing” into Paul from the car advertisement on the following page)!

The book also gives two mysteries that have yet to be solved. In 1969, infamous attorney F. Lee Bailey hosted a mock courtroom show entitled, “Paul McCartney: The Complete Story Told for the First and Last Time”. The show aired once, then disappeared – I mean virtually disappeared since nobody can find any tape of the show (all that remains is an audio of the show – making a videotape of the show a very highly sought after “holy grail” Beatles collectible). The second mystery is that of the song, “Saint Paul” by Terry Knight (which actually came out way before the “Paul is Dead” story) and is published by Maclen Music, Inc – the publishing company that was set up to exclusively handle the Lennon/McCartney songs. Just what is the Beatles connection? And, laughably, since the song is on Maclen it technically now belongs to Michael Jackson!

Speaking of songs, there was a rush of Paul “tribute” songs to cash in on the story. In fact, there were many more than I had been aware of, including one by Jose Feliciano (under a pseudonym). Andru Reeve also gives us a “where are they now” account of all the players in the saga, along with books and movies that were based or inspired by the subject. And of course there is the obligatory list of clues. Finally, there is an appendix of other Beatles-related rumors (including on of my personal faves – the “Klaatu is the Beatles” rumor).

Whether you are new to the “Paul is dead” saga or a longtime Beatles fanatic, make TURN ME ON, DEAD MAN your “one stop shopping place” for the whole story of rock ‘n roll’s finest hoax.

Review by Ronnie

"The GoldeBriars' Story-Whatever Happened to Jezebel?" (E-book)
By Dotti Holmberg

I've got to admit that I had never heard of the GoldeBriars before I got this e-book (Sure I had heard of Curt Boettcher), so I had no idea what to expect. Before I started reading I watched the film clip that is included of their 1964 performance on ABC Hootenanny Show to get an idea of their music. The first thing I thought after viewing it, "They sound just like The Mamas & The Papas! But wait - this was early 1964, before John Phillips trademark sound with The Mamas & The Papas!" So, I was intrigued and hooked. This book contains Dotti's story of the band, complete with diary entries from the time, scrapbook pictures and drawings, as well as "where are they know" info.

While the GoldeBriars only lasted between February 1963 and June 1965, they left a lasting influence on The Mamas & & The Papas, but also the "sunshine pop" bands that would follow. During their short tenure as a band, the core members included: Curt Boettcher, Ron Neilson, Dotti Holmberg & Sheri Holmberg. There would be many lineup changes as the band developed from the 'standard' folk lineup to eventually adding electric instruments and a drummer. At one time even Beatles' manager Brian Epstein expressed interest in bringing the group to play in the U.K. Not only did they come up with a unique sound, but they experimented with fashion styles - at one point all the guys were wearing earrings! This was waaaay before it was "trendy" to do so.

The GoldeBriars were the link between early '60s folk music and "Sunshine Pop", as evidenced by Cass Elliot's statement to Keith Olsen: "We (The Mamas & The Papas) stole the GoldeBriars's sound." The break-up of the band in June 1965 is a little hazy in the story - you feel that there is something that happened that isn't completely told. It must have been something big, with the impending release of their all-important 3rd album (and the one they were really trying to put some commercial hits on).

While this e-book is a very interesting read, you are left wanting more information! How did the band's sound evolve? What actually led to the breakup? It is a tantalizing tease to (hopefully) a full-blown, in depth biography of the band. If you want to reevaluate your knowledge of "Sunshine Pop" of the '60s, check out this book and stop thinking of The Mamas & The Papas as the group that kicked it off. Although the group lasted only a little more than two years and never had a major hit, The GoldeBriars influence was substantial.

Review by Ronnie

Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix
By Steven Roby

BLACK GOLD: THE LOST ARCHIVES OF JIMI HENDRIX is really two books in one, covering both recorded and filmed performances by Jimi Hendrix (in the studio and live in concert). Steven Roby painstakingly analyzes and catalogues both of these formats into a fascinating chronology format that lists the status of each located and rumored piece and tells the story behind it. Roby tells which have been released commercially and which remain on the "collector's network". While I'm not of the "advanced" caliber when it comes to Hendrix, I'm no novice either. Although I could never dream of owning half the things listed here in my personal collection, I found the book to tell a fascinating story. Fascinating in that you realize how much creativity Hendrix jammed into his few years on this earth.

Of course, being a rock 'n roll history buff - my favorite parts where the trivia. For example: Hendrix's track selection for his final album (FIRST RAY OF THE NEW RISING SUN) is given; Hendrix played on a Jayne Mansfield record; Hendrix played on a Top 40 hit record in 1964 with Don Covay and the Goodtimers (During his life, he would only have one as Jimi Hendrix with "All Along the Watchtower").

This book just whets your appetite - what I would like to see next is Roby tackling one of those "day by day" chronology books on Hendrix. BLACK GOLD: THE LOST ARCHIVES OF JIMI HENDRIX is a must for any true Hendrix collector.

Review by Ronnie