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by Paul Charles

Pub Date: May 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0802313560
Publisher: Dufour

A short book that adds little to the exhaustive analyses of the band, this exists for two reasons: first, to share a fan’s passion for the music; second, because publication coincides with “the 50th anniversary of the release of their first album, 'Please Please Me.' "

Charles is most prolific as a mystery writer (The Dust of Death, 2007, etc.), but he has also worked as a music promoter. He offers a third reason for the book: “to try and shed some light on the reasons for their incredible success.” And so he does: “The answer is simple. They wrote and recorded great songs." Single by single, album by album, Charles gushes: “To many people—even today—‘She Loves You’—is The Beatles at their fab mop-top best;" “ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is another excellent catchy Beatle classic"; “ 'I Should Have Known Better'...sounds as brilliant today as the day it was recorded"; “ ‘Rubber Soul’ is still, to me, a flawless gem. . .purely and simply, ‘Rubber Soul’ is a beautiful album; I still enjoy it as much today as I did the day it was released”; “listening to ‘Rubber Soul, as in fact I do while writing this, it sounds like a masterly piece of work, with all the songs working together perfectly, each one in its right place.” The interjection of first-person narrative adds nothing to the appreciation, which is further undermined by the author’s propensity for exclamation points (“The early seeds of Beatlemania were being sown!”). Inevitably, all things must pass, and the author gives two explanations for the band’s breakup: “One, [manager] Brian Epstein died and, two, John Lennon met the person, Yoko Ono, for whom opportunism was an art form....Everywhere John went, Yoko went; it was really as simple and as awkward as that.”

Really, it wasn't that simple, though the book is often that awkward.