An Alphabetical Mystery Tour
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A lively firsthand recollection of the Fab Four.

British singer, musician, record producer, and host of SiriusXM’s radio program From Me to You, Asher makes his book debut with a bright, rambling memoir about his long association with the Beatles, which began in 1963 when Paul McCartney, who was dating Asher’s sister, moved into his house. At the time, Asher was half of the duo Peter & Gordon, performing in pubs, clubs, and coffeehouses, and soon under contract with the prestigious EMI Records. Asher eventually quit performing to become head of A&R for Apple Records, where he managed such artists as James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Cher, and Diana Ross. The author’s self-described “personal and at times idiosyncratic” take on Beatles music, which follows their playlist alphabetically, is bursting with anecdotes about each song’s composition and the circumstances of recording it. He opines on the songs’ structure, content, effect, and quality, and he digresses about anyone and everyone associated with the Beatles—collectively and individually—as well as performers connected to his career as a record producer. Reading this memoir is like listening to an entertaining, though nonstop, monologue from someone reprising a golden time, blithely jumping from one memory to another as new thoughts and stories pop into his mind. Halfway through his “alphabetically inspired yet meandering pace,” Asher arrives at the letter L, which gives him a chance to comment on “Love Me Do,” the Beatles’ first single, and also on Sean Lennon and Julian Lennon, whose musicianship Asher much admires. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” writes the author, was inspired by Julian’s childhood drawing of his friend Lucy, “against a sparkly sky”—and not, as some have speculated, about LSD. The letter Q gives Asher pause: He writes about “Queenie Eye,” a solo McCartney song, and expounds on the Quarrymen, string quartets, and what he deems is the quietest Beatles song (“Blackbird”).

A gift for Beatles fan.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-20959-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2019