A spirited jump down the rabbit hole to the early years of what would become the Beatles, from TV news anchor and Beatles chronicler Kane (Lennon Revealed, 2005, etc.).
The author details the many characters and moments in time that shaped the Beatles into the band that rocketed onto American shores in 1964. Despite being occasionally starry-eyed and corny, Kane writes with an evocative clarity, attention to detail and familiarity. He transports readers back to 1950s Liverpool and turn-of-the-decade Hamburg, to the childhood homes of the Fab Four as well as original drummer Pete Best and original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. Kane reminds us that the Quarrymen, the Silver Beetles, the Silver Beatles and the early Beatles were a dance band: Fans went to a concert to move, to dance, and at that, the Beatles excelled long before all the screaming. But it was a serious grind to get to the point where they were finally filling clubs, and their first visit to Hamburg in 1960 was one of those near-turning points, when the grind had ground them down, the living conditions vile—they slept for months next to the toilet (John, after popping one speed pill over the line: “I would be wide awake staring around, wondering if the dirt would cake up inside me”)—the payback not worth the effort. The Beatles almost dissolved before they had a chance to change the course of popular music. Kane takes special care to get the characters right, whether they are remembered or forgotten, fleshing them out without bogging down the story. Indeed, one of the pleasures of this book is its brightness, written not just for the converted, but for anyone who has even a vague interest in this slice of history.
A shimmering, occasionally breathless report that should fill in many of the cracks in readers’ knowledge of pop-music history.