New Beatles books

By continuing to read and weed my entire book collection I make room for new additions. Since I do not plan on buying any new bookshelves to accommodate them, if I want to add any new books to my library, I have to get rid of some that I already have. I surprise myself in the decision to part with some books after I read them. What I wouldn’t have considered parting with at first becomes less of a treasured keepsake later. Some things therefore only appeared more interesting as long as they remained unread. And that is how I came to have gaps in my Beatles bookshelves.

Some of my most beloved Beatles books are in fact reference works, which aren’t really meant to be read cover-to-cover. To this day I enjoy picking them up and perusing within them from any page. I receive (almost) daily updates from the news website The Daily Beatle and my three most recent Beatles purchases were all featured on that site:

The Beatles on the Charts: All Group and Solo Albums and Singles Ranked by Popularity by Michael A. Ventrella is a dream for chart fiends such as myself. Ventrella used Billboard as the conclusive chart arbiter and wrote a few paragraphs about each single and album released by the Beatles as well as all of their solo material, provided it made it onto the chart. No material that “bubbled under” was included, either. Colour shots of the picture sleeves, labels and album covers would have been nice but likely too expensive to produce. I have only just gotten the book but noticed one inaccuracy on the second page of the singles section, where records are listed in reverse order of popularity: Paul McCartney’s worst Billboard appearance, “Freedom” did in fact have two weeks on the chart, where it peaked at #97. Ventrella does say so on the “Weeks on the chart” line, however says in the paragraphs below that “It appeared near the bottom of the chart for one week.”. Further inaccuracies are found about the Wedding Album (and I have only just acquired the book so these have been found just by flipping through random pages), where Ventrella said that it only had two weeks on the charts (it actually had three, going 182-180-178) and he got the release date wrong. John and Yoko were married in March 1969, so the album couldn’t have been released “in December of 1968”. A sample of the singles page is below:

Apcor Books and Records is a Dutch publisher which puts out extremely detailed works about the Beatles’ music and from their careers as solo artists. Made in the U.K.: A complete overview of The Beatles’ singles manufactured in the U.K. by Richard Noller is a weighty hardcover tome of 667 pages containing more than 2700 photos showing every label variation, picture sleeve or company sleeve, promotional discs, acetates and even included advertisements, sheet music and reviews. The author even covered flexi discs, the Christmas singles, export singles, cassette singles and CD singles. He started off with the Quarrymen single “That’ll Be the Day”/”In Spite of All the Danger”. I was glad to read he even covered the Lingasong “Twist and Shout” single and the AFE “Searchin'” single.

Vinylology: The Beatles Solo: The ultimate guide to UK LP pressings variations 1968-2000 by Denis Shabes is a similar book (yet with a horrible title) dealing only with solo Beatle long players. At 331 pages and with 1360 photos, it is indexed alphabetically by Beatle name then chronologically, so the first Harrison release is Wonderwall Music; the first Lennon is really the Lennon/Ono Unfinished Music No. 1. Two Virgins; the first McCartney is not his 1970 solo album but the soundtrack to The Family Way; and Sentimental Journey is Starr’s debut. The author looks at sleeve design, text placement, font size and all the fun stuff associated with label variations, inner sleeves, inserts and even hype stickers (which I love to clip around and save). Of course I never knew most of this stuff, such as the different spines of Wonderwall, one being “regular” and straight while another version which had the upper and lower ends “pinched”. I enjoyed reading about the super-rare Two Virgins, especially the mono version, and the boxes for the Wedding Album, some of which were imported from the US. Speaking of boxes, I will finally find out why my UK edition of All Things Must Pass comes in a much thicker box than the North American version. Shabes dealt strictly with UK albums, thus the later releases, such as George’s Live in Japan from 1992 are not covered since it was a continental LP release only.

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