Lennon and McCartney by Malcolm Doney was originally published in 1981. I bought the Omnibus Press edition from 1982 when it came out. It has sat on my Beatles bookshelves for 38 years unread, until now. Though only 120 pages, it lived up to the blurb on the back cover which stated that the book was “a serious attempt to see its subjects as people of their time”. Doney wrote an original text that did not seem as if it was lifted from other biographies. Factually, he got it right. It was an academic book which analyzed the Lennon and McCartney partnership but without ludicrous references to Aeolian cadences. I had that line all prepared for my review then Doney cited it when writing about others’ failed attempts to analyze their music:
“William Mann’s fawning tribute in The Times managed completely to miss the essential quality of the music. He referred, in lofty tones, to ‘pandiatonic clusters’ and ‘Aeolian cadences’ in a vain attempt to bring The Beatles music into line with some established pattern of recognised musical values. It still looks wrong.”
I would have made Beatles possessive in the above citation. Doney also got several names wrong, viz. Denny Lane, Dannie Seiwell, Bert Kampfaert and perennial misspell Klaus Voorman, although the latter occurred only once. Every other reference was correct as Voormann.
Doney supplied a black-and-white photo insert yet the pictures were displayed in a random order, with John and Yoko bed-in photos and Lennon assassination aftermath photos appearing before pictures of the early Beatles in Hamburg and at the Cavern. Incidentally, the Hamburg caption was wrong: “The Beatles on their first visit to Hamburg.” showed Ringo Starr in the photo. He was not yet part of the Beatles at the time of their first visit to Hamburg in August 1960. Such a brief book could have been edited of its repeated passages; déjà vu lingered overhead as I paused and asked myself where I had just encountered that paragraph. Overall though Doney didn’t disappoint this well-read Beatles fan.