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How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin [Kindle Edition]

Leslie Woodhead
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Imagine a world where Beatlemania was against the law-recordings scratched onto medical X-rays, merchant sailors bringing home contraband LPs, spotty broadcasts taped from western AM radio late in the night. This was no fantasy world populated by Blue Meanies but the USSR, where a vast nation of music fans risked repression to hear the defining band of the British Invasion. The music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo played a part in waking up an entire generation of Soviet youth, opening their eyes to seventy years of bland official culture and rigid authoritarianism. Soviet leaders had suppressed most Western popular music since the days of jazz, but the Beatles and the bands they inspired-both in the West and in Russia-battered down the walls of state culture. Leslie Woodhead's How The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin tells the unforgettable-and endearingly odd-story of Russians who discovered that all you need is Beatles. By stealth, by way of whispers, through the illicit late night broadcasts on Radio Luxembourg, the Soviet Beatles kids tuned in. "Bitles," they whispered, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."


Product Description

Review

How the Beatles really did come and keep their comrades warm . a fascinating lost chapter in their history (Philip Norman)

Forget the triumph of market capitalism. According to Woodhead, it was the subversive power of art and cultural connection that stoked the fires of freedom and popular revolution, which ultimately brought down the Iron Curtain. A deliciously appealing premise! (Helena Kennedy QC)

An amazing account of how the Beatles lit the red touch paper of change in Russia: an intriguing and previously unexplored perspective from the man who filmed it all happening back in the USSR (Jon Snow)

Leslie Woodhead has given us a priceless addition to Beatle literature - and a beautifully observed and witty insight into the cultural underbelly of the Soviet Union (Paul Greengrass)

Could a few three minute songs really threaten a superpower? Suddenly the claims of Woodhead's Beatlemaniacs - the Russians for whom Lennon trumped Lenin - don't seem quite so absurd after all. **** (Mail on Sunday)

Effervescent . This tells the remarkable story of precisely how and why Woodhead explains, "the Beatles came to mean more, and were more important, to that generation of Soviet youth that they were here, or in America - for several reasons" (Observer)

Fab Four zealotry doesn't get much more inspiring than this account of what various Soviet citizens would risk to listen to their favorite band ... Gob-smacking (Rolling Stone)

Did the Fab Four bring down the Soviet Empire single-handed? It's a wonderful thought . You'll read the book with a smile on your face, and a song - possibly written by Lennon and McCartney - in your heart (Daily Mail)

Hurrah for Leslie Woodhead for confirming that the Beatles won the Cold War, well, sort of... (Hunter Davies)

Offers a fascinating confirmation that it was pop culture, rather than political culture, that really brought down communism (Music Books of the Year, Independent)

Book Description

A fascinating examination of the enduring popularity of the Beatles in the former Soviet Union by a writer who was there from the beginning, including never-seen-before photographs

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2278 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (25 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009IRLAJQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #596,451 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin 26 April 2013
By S Riaz HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Subtitled, "The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution", this is the remarkable story of a youth revolution centred around a seemingly unquenchable passion for the Beatles. In 1962, the author was working as a young researcher for Granada television. A jazz fan, he was nevertheless looking for a local rock and roll band for a progamme, and a friend directed him to a cellar in Mathew Street, where he filmed the famous clip of the Beatles playing at the Cavern ('Some Other Guy', "We want Pete!" - yes, that one). Without having any real fondness for rock and roll before, he was, like countless others before and since, interested enough in the band to see other concerts and helped arrange their first live spot on Granada television. By the end of that year they had their first single out, by the end of the following year Beatlemania had begun and by the year after that, they had more or less conquered the whole world. Except in the Soviet Union, where they were considered a bad influence and banned by the powers in charge. Years later, Leslie Woodhead found himself filming documentaries in Russia and he was fascinated by the loyal legion of underground fans of those four boys from Liverpool. This then, is the story of the Soviet Union's love affair with the Beatles.

"They changed everything," asserts Stas Namin, a Russian musician. "They were very dangerous for the regime, because (the leaders) knew the Beatles gave Beatles kids some kind of freedom inside." As well as discussing the fans and the obsessive lengths they went to in order to hear the Beatles music (flexi discs produced on x-rays for example and sold on street corners, with the risk of arrest if caught) this is also a history of the cultural musical assault from the West.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read 23 May 2013
By J.S.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very interesting book...historically, but also the past social aspects of Russia. We took it for granted when the Beatles played their music and we were able to listen to it wherever...whenever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well written 9 Jun. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is rare to find a book about The Beatles that tells an 'untold story'. That the story is so fascinating, and is told with such poise, make this book a very enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetative 19 Oct. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As The Beatles fun grown up in the USSR, I was really looking forward to read this. Somewhat disappointed though, the book effectively repeats the same tune throughout: the Beatles were a breath of fresh air, people loved freedom and it helped to bring own the Communist Party rule. There about 10-15 accounts of very similar demographics- children of Soviet apparatchiks, perhaps easier to get in touch for the author. Hihgly ly repetative- a bit like the finale of Hey Jude (but not quite as much fun !) . Speaking of apparatchiks, turns out many in Putin's administration love the Beatles (unfortunately that didn't seem to bring any more freedom to Russia).

Love the Beatles, didn't like the book !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin 26 April 2013
By S Riaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Subtitled, "The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution", this is the remarkable story of a youth revolution centred around a seemingly unquenchable passion for the Beatles. In 1962, the author was working as a young researcher for Granada television. A jazz fan, he was nevertheless looking for a local rock and roll band for a progamme, and a friend directed him to a cellar in Mathew Street, where he filmed the famous clip of the Beatles playing at the Cavern ('Some Other Guy', "We want Pete!" - yes, that one). Without having any real fondness for rock and roll before, he was, like countless others before and since, interested enough in the band to see other concerts and helped arrange their first live spot on Granada television. By the end of that year they had their first single out, by the end of the following year Beatlemania had begun and by the year after that, they had more or less conquered the whole world. Except in the Soviet Union, where they were considered a bad influence and banned by the powers in charge. Years later, Leslie Woodhead found himself filming documentaries in Russia and he was fascinated by the loyal legion of underground fans of those four boys from Liverpool. This then, is the story of the Soviet Union's love affair with the Beatles.

"They changed everything," asserts Stas Namin, a Russian musician. "They were very dangerous for the regime, because (the leaders) knew the Beatles gave Beatles kids some kind of freedom inside." As well as discussing the fans and the obsessive lengths they went to in order to hear the Beatles music (flexi discs produced on x-rays for example and sold on street corners, with the risk of arrest if caught) this is also a history of the cultural musical assault from the West. The author studies the effect of jazz, dance music and rock and roll within the context of Stalin's Great Terror, the second world war and the years of the Cold War. The Beatles were seen as so dangerous that young people could be arrested for playing in a rock and roll band, have their head shaved if their hair was considered too long; and there were even propaganda films and show trials in schools, with the Beatles held up as a bad influence on youth.

However, there is no doubt that things that are banned become ultimately even more attractive and Beatles fans became more and more adept at getting round the restrictions. Despite the difficulty of hearing the music, with only grainy black and white pictures of the band and no hope of seeing them live, Russian fans are some of the most obsessive in the world. The author introduces super fan Koly Vasia, who has a temple to all things Beatle and was arrested many times for his love of the band. There is a great scene at a birthday party held for John Lennon, there are Beatles competitions and an outpouring of love when Paul McCartney finally arrives for a concert (the author discusses the Red Square concert and Kiev). It is also the story of how fans, such as Andrei Makarevich, made their own music. A pioneer of Soviet Rock, Makarevich began with secret gigs, keeping one step ahead of the police, before finally becoming a star in his own right. Ironically, when he finally made the pilgrimage to Liverpool, he was shocked by how poor the city was. For indeed, to many of these fans, the Beatles became something quite 'other worldly', almost mystical in their eyes. What is clear though, is that the band somehow did become a symbol for disatisfied youth, filling a gap that Soviet society failed to and helping to push through change. This is a fascinating read and if you manage to see the documentary of the same name then please do so, as it is well worth a watch. Fans owe Leslie Woodhead two debts now - one for capturing the only footage of the band at the Cavern and this book, which shows their influence did create change and how important they were, and still are, in popular culture.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beatles rocking the Kremlin... 15 Jun. 2013
By L Shannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
well written, entertaining. a great gift for anyone interested in the great music of the sixties!!! I totally recommend this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatles 15 July 2013
By Betty H. Sheehan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What can I say? My husband loves anything about the Beatles. Most of the books share the same stories but my husband was very impressed with the history that was attached with this one.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT a book about the Beatles specifically.... 31 July 2013
By D. P. Jestic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
...so much as a book about the Russians who loved the Beatles, the various Russian rock & roll artists they spawned, and the culture that was often driven underground or persecuted, finally splitting open the Iron Curtain. Personally, I loved the insight into life in Russia...the culture...the history lesson. The author's writing style is casual, conversational, non-obtrusive. That said, the first 60 pages or so involves a lengthy history of the jazz influence in Russia prior to 1960, making me wonder if I'd been mislead. Sixty pages is quite a sidetrack. The book itself is more of a sociological study of (Western) music's influence on a closed/repressive society than a revealing of inside Beatle information. Around pg 164 (60% through the book), I quit on it; didn't seem to be covering any new ground and was getting repetitious.
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