Tune In: The Beatles- All These Years, Volume 1
I was impressed by Mark Lewisohn’s “The Beatles: Recording Sessions” so I couldn’t wait to read his longer history on arguably the most important band of the 20th century. Lewisohn’s strong suit is detail and research, but the book is also very readable, with a warm tone and lots of humor.
I was well versed in the history of the Beatles but this book fleshes out the stories and put them into context. Yet, there are still revelations. I didn’t know George Martin was forced to sign The Beatles to EMI as a punishment. His boss caught George having an affair with his secretary and punished him by making him sign this ‘beat band‘ from the north.
The band was certainly talented, especially Paul McCartney, but they were also lucky, and blessed with good management especially Brian Epstein, George Martin, and Dick James. They were rarely taken advantage of even when it would have easy to do so. The Beatles also benefited from limited opportunities in Liverpool and over 1000-hours on stage in Hamburg.
The book is long and is only the first of three books, but I wished it were longer. It could have used more photos and been clearer on some of the British slang terms. These are minor nits in a fantastic history of an exciting period of pop culture.
Excerpts From My Kindle
“Me, Please Me,” or with Beattie’s two final Parlophone releases up to 1960. – location 5969-70
Their set rarely changed. The opening number was Vince Taylor’s “Brand New Cadillac,” after which they played a whole lotta Jerry Lee, Elvis, Johnny Otis, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Conway Twitty and the Everly Brothers. – location 6281-82
unlistenable kind. Stu is audibly a bass beginner, and there is scant connection between the players and a painfully high number of bum notes. Though they’d just completed a four-month club residency at the Casbah–from which it’s clear they could play and sing and were especially good at harmonies–this is, inexplicably, a horror of a tape, suggesting they were chronically bad when testimony has them better than proficient. The recording has only two barely redeeming features: one is a tune that might be called “Well Darling” and could be a Lennon-McCartney Original; the harmonies are decent and it’s just about listenable. The second is “Cayenne,” a twangy guitar instrumental composition by Paul.32 – location 6457-63
Though John and George took turns behind the kit, enabling Paul to venture forward occasionally, drums was his main position for maybe three weeks, and it was one at which he was certainly accomplished. “He was quite good at it,” George said. “At least, he seemed OK. Probably we were all pretty crap at that point.” – location 7558-60
In seven extraordinary mach Schauing weeks at the Kaiserkeller the Beatles had doubled the vast amount of stage time already accrued at the Indra. In total, inside just fourteen weeks, they’d rocked Hamburg for about 415 hours–like 276 ninety-minute shows or 830 half-hours–and every night tried not to repeat themselves. No one stopped to realize it, and there was no way of knowing anyway, but the Beatles had to be the most experienced rock group in the world, not just Liverpool. – location 8968-71
Suggestions that it was only homoerotic fantasy that drew Brian Epstein to the Beatles are distortion, however, and perform a malign disservice to both him and them. It may have been part of the mix, but he was, above all else, simply the latest in an ever-lengthening line of people seduced by the Beatles’ singular mix of talents: their sound, look, charm, charisma, honesty and humor. They were the complete and original package, and watching them made Brian feel–as it did so many others–elated, enthralled, mesmerized. – location 11323-27
Leach presented five and a half hours of high-volume high-octane rock here, licked by (in order of billing) the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, the Remo Four and King-Size Taylor and the Dominoes. – location 11352-53
It’s fortunate Brian was a gambler, because the risks were his alone to shoulder. He was the only one who felt sure of a return on his time and investment. The Beatles were damaged goods: they had that reputation for being unreliable, unpunctual, arrogant and bolshie. Their perfunctory, take-it-or-leave-it attitude was so disliked by promoters that two had left it, and several others steered clear altogether. – location 11480-83
Logic also cannot explain why Decca rejected a group who’d won a newspaper popularity poll, had a fan club and were the biggest band in Liverpool and Hamburg, playing 350 bookings a year, sometimes to as many as three thousand people a night, but then signed and issued records by several semi-professional, non-performing nonentities during 1962, one of whom they promoted as a singing decorator. And … Decca spent more money treating Brian Epstein to lunch to tell him they weren’t signing the Beatles than it would have cost to sign them. As Tony Meehan summed up, speaking from long experience in the business, “It was just a complete mess, as things generally are–a dreadful corporate blunder.”11 – location 12690-95