A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste

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A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste

Category: Reference
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The sort of book which you always hope you'll find but somehow never do. A treasure trove of all things Beatle related.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 176 Date: November 2016
Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1781555828

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You might have thought that just about everything which could be said about the Beatles had been said and certainly there's been no shortage of books about what went wrong, what happened to the money and even what went right. But what I've never seen before is a 'miscellany' - all those little facts which are so hard to track down and this is where historian John Van der Kiste comes into his own: he's a man with an eye for detail and the ability to bring everything together into a very readable whole. It's a wonderful collection of the small facts.

I struggle to come to terms with the fact that it's now over half a century ago that we were all in the grip of Beatlemania. Listening now, some of the early numbers seem quite ordinary but perhaps that's my tastes maturing. I can understand why my father described it as 'an unholy racket'. The later music has stood the test of time to a far greater extent: I still have to stop whatever I'm doing to listen to Eleanor Rigby or Hey Jude. (I've embedded a video of Hey Jude in the information box, just for your pleasure!) John Van der Kiste opens with information on the origin of the group's name and when each member joined and left: it's a lot more complicated than you might think - but not as complicated as the final split. There are also details of what Van der Kiste calls the 'temporary' of 'nearly' Beatles, which should hopefully put an end to quite a few pub arguments.

I loved the section on what others said to, or about the Beatles, but particularly the quotes from the Beatles themselves. (Press: 'How did you find America?' Lennon: 'Turned left at Greenland.') I giggled a lot and I've been accosting a lot of people with quotes which they just had to hear. It brought back a lot of happy memories of a group which really did seem to have a sense of humour and not to take themselves too seriously.

Serious fans will appreciate information on the group's inner circle and the producers associated with them as well as their links with other groups and individual stars. Van der Kiste captures the atmospheres perfectly - the occasional feelings of awkwardness and how the relationships developed (or not, as the case might be.)

A while ago I saw a T shirt with the logo At Least I Saw The Good Bands and although I didn't see many bands I can always raise some envy when I tell people that I saw the Beatles. Van der Kiste's list of The Beatles' gigs allowed me to remember exactly where I was on the 8th of March 1963. It was part of the Beatles/Helen Shapiro tour. Those were the days when the band (even one which would become as venerated as the Beatles) was there to provide music for dancing. I have a vivid memory of being at the side of the stage, a slip of a kid, and thinking that John Lennon looked bored. Strangely enough I have no memory at all of Helen Shapiro! It was great fun though to look at the gigs and see how they radiated out from Liverpool in ever increasing circles - and then out of the country.

There's a complete discography and that brought back some memories: I found myself remembering where I was when I first heard the music played, but it was the pictures in the middle of the book which really grabbed my attention. There are thirty two of them and whilst most are in black and white they're all of good quality and give a good coverage of the eight years of The Beatles.

I've only scratched the surface of what's in this little treasure trove of a book. Van der Kiste writes with affection for his subjects but retains his objectivity and allows his dry sense of humour to surface. It's an excellent book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you do want to know more about the financial side of the Beatles we can recommend You Never Give Me Your Money: The Battle for the Soul of the Beatles by Peter Doggett. Children wanting to know about the group will enjoy The Beatles by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom. Returning to the author, we can also recommend Jeff Lynne: The Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After.

Buy A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Beatles Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Beatles but Were Afraid to Ask by John Van der Kiste at Amazon.com.


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