Well-worn information and questionable musical analysis add up to a very disposable take on the Fab Four.




Another year, another Beatles biography.

Anyone tackling the oft-told tale of John, Paul, George and Ringo had better come up with a new angle, or new facts, or new interviews, or new something—or risk suffering the wrath of zillions of Beatles nuts. This long-winded debut will certainly put Gould in the crosshairs. The book rehashes biographical information that even casual Beatlemaniacs are quite familiar with. Bob Spitz’s monolith The Beatles: The Biography (2005) is the ultimate Fab Four bio, and it would take an experienced, well-connected investigative journalist to unearth any fresh information beyond that. A former professional musician, Gould chooses to explicate virtually every song in the Beatles canon, but his approach isn’t as much analytical as it is explanatory and interpretive. He spends a goodly number of pages describing the musical theory behind the band’s compositions. Of “A Day in the Life,” for example, he writes: “John’s voice ends the verse on high falsetto G. He clings to that note at the start of the refrain…before descending a fifth to warble the second half of the line…between a pair of adjoining notes.” Musicians are likely the only readers interested in this kind of academic nuts and bolts, and musicians buying a nearly-600-page Beatles tome are likely to already be familiar with Lennon and McCartney’s chord changes and time-signature shifts. Laypeople, on the other hand, will be bored by these incongruous theoretical breakdowns. It’s been well documented that many of Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics are nonsensical, so Gould’s attempts to get into the composers’ heads could be construed as pretentious and superfluous—adjectives that, regrettably, describe this book as a whole.

Well-worn information and questionable musical analysis add up to a very disposable take on the Fab Four.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-307-35337-5

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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