Bruce Spizer has now put together five books in this series of looks at the Beatles (and with this latest volume, the solo years on Apple in the early-mid 70's) and their relationships with record labels Vee-Jay, Capitol, and Apple.
As fans of these books know, much of each book covers very detailed, minute bits of information about the release of each LP, Single, EP, etc. The cost of the books is probably due in large part to each book being printed in complete full color on every page. A large percentage of the pages are covered with every label variation of every release. If you're not a hardcore collector intensely interested in what are usually very, very minute label differences (mostly different fonts, different perimenter print on the labels), then I have to say that some of the wow factor is missing.
What has made the other entries in this series must-have books for any Beatles scholar, even if they are not interested in label variations, is the detailed history Spizer uncovers behind the Beatles' relationship with their labels. Spizer uncovers long-forgotten or never-known stories behind how the labels devised albums or singles, and many other interesting details. His book on the Vee-Jay label's relationship with the Beatles was a complete revelation that completely changed scholars' perception of the relationship between the group and Vee-Jay, and would have been a must-have for Beatles scholars even without any pictures or illustrations of any kind.
There are interesting pictures in all of the volumes, including the "Solo Beatles on Apple" other than label variations. Pictures of alternate album covers and other artwork, as well as promotional items all adorn the pages.
"The Solo Beatles on Apple..." is perhaps a tiny bit less indispensable as compared to Spizer's other books only because it doesn't have as much revelatory information as the previous entries (particularly the Vee-Jay book and the Capitol books). All of the books contain Spizer's own reviews of the music itself, as well as basic information on the background of the songs and albums. This is the only information in Spizer's books which isn't indispensible. It's all well-written, it just doesn't offer any new information. Because the "Solo Beatles" book has a bit less of the new, wow-factor type of facts that made the Vee-Jay and Capitol books so interesting, the "Solo Beatles" book doesn't have quite as much to offer in terms of the text. Spizer admits that he came into writing the book with the opinion that the Beatles' solo work doesn't hold up well to the group's output. Listening to the albums apparently did change is mind to some degree, but I do see just a bit less enthusiasm behind the writing of this book as compared to the other group entries.
Still, between the ample color artwork and still plenty of interesting details uncovered by Spizer, this book is still a must-own for Beatles scholars and record collectors. I would give it 4 1/2 stars if I could.