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Solzhi (Scotland)

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The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies
The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies
by John Lennon
Edition: Hardcover

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Footnote-worthy., 11 Oct. 2012
This book has been harshly reviewed elsewhere, largely because, so they say, it is a tissue of trivialities, and publication of such flotsam and jetsam from John's decades' old correspondence proves that anyone who reads it with approval (much less publishes it) has given up on the present/future potential of art in the popular culture to innovate, transcend its influences etc. etc. ad nauseam.

Absolute rubbish, of course. For those who might be interested in this type of thing, this will be the type of thing they are interested in, and nothing more, nor less, than that.

To take it on its own terms, though - do not even pick up this book unless you have a deep interest in the biographical details of Lennon's life: it is possible to have such an interest, and still have some sort of a grip on the present, not to mention the future. But assuming you do have this interest, you are in for a treat. John never intended for any of this to be published, of course, but as a series of footnotes to a detailed reading of John's life, Lennon Letters is absolutely fascinating, and a good idea, well executed (in the main, and notwithstanding the odd blooper).

Most of the missives are reproduced in-situ, much care has been taken in the production (depite the odd lapse), and this is well worth yer attention, given etc. etc. ad nauseam.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2014 3:28 PM GMT

Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life
Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life
by Tim Riley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless., 3 Oct. 2011
By their photos ye shall know them. Just as Bob Spitz's Beatles biography featured photo captions riddled with the kind of howlers all too evident elsewhere in that book, so the pictures in Lennon: The Man... reflect the content elsewhere here - in a word: dull.
What exactly is the point of this book? Again, just as the photos have all been seen a million times before (inexcusable given the vast quantity of illuminating and relatively obscure imagery available in the archives of the big photo agencies), all the text reveals is a re-hash of every other book you've ever read about Lennon, which are all taken at face value by the author. At least Spitz's book, for all its flaws, had a huge stock of original research to draw upon (namely the many interviews conducted on behalf of, but not used by, Albert Goldman). Original research here is almost non-existant, and major events, such as the Bed-Ins, are treated in such a cursory fashion as to make the book's title ridiculous: it is definitive only in that this is a textbook example of how not to do it. Save your money for the forthcoming Lewisohn volumes.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2012 6:05 PM BST

Battlestar Galactica - The Final Season (Season 4, Part Two) [DVD] [2009]
Battlestar Galactica - The Final Season (Season 4, Part Two) [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Edward James Olmos
Price: £7.79

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ye Gods!, 18 May 2010
Having just seen the grand finale, after spending a couple of weeks watching the complete BSG from the start, a few thoughts.
I realised pretty early on that if you begin pulling at the threads of this series, the whole thing will quickly come apart. (I mean there are plot holes...and there are plot holes...but you could get a Pegasus sized Battlestar through most of these.) I also avoided trawling the web looking for "explication" whilst watching the series; but I was amused this morning to see the level of online anger that the final episode provoked - and this anger is instructive: For all its shortcomings, Battlestar Galactica is/was a series that people actually care about.
It's not hard to see why; the acting is uniformly great - with Iain Duncan Smith's eyebrow raising portrayal of Tigh particularly memorable. The production values are high, and CGI is used effectively and intelligently. Finally, if you can just suspend disbelief, ignore the multitudinous loose ends and inexplicables, and go along with it, BSG is as gripping and even moving a piece of television as you are ever likely to find.
I'm not a big fan of sci-fi generally...but I frakkin' loved it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2010 10:48 PM BST

The Beatles: The White Album
The Beatles: The White Album
Price: £15.95

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best place to start?, 9 Sept. 2009
The general consensus amongst reviewers is that if you are without either the money or motivation to shell out for the remastered box set(s), then this is the place to go...and my initial reaction is that, for once, they are right on the beam. I have spent a, frankly, grotesque amount of time listening to this record over the years, and I felt sure I knew all its secrets - but I was wrong. The sheer amount of new detail that the remaster uncovers is astonishing; long dormant harmonies, lost instrumentation and buried percussion, odd off-mic asides - all these and more are now present, correct and clear as crystal. No band has gone further out (Revolution 9) or further in (Julia), whilst at the same time providing a guide to all points inbetween (everything else). Thanks to the remaster, there is now a lot more to listen to: PLAY LOUD.

Yes, Yoko Ono
Yes, Yoko Ono
by Alexandra Munroe
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O Yes, 20 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Yes, Yoko Ono (Hardcover)
Yoko usually gets a bum rap (to use the parlance), generally from idiots who have no idea of how respected she was in, for want of a better expression, avantee-guardee circles before she met Mr Lennon.

This is a great book, and it shows, above all else, that Yoko has BALLS. And a sense of humour to boot. The stuff she got up to pre-John is certainly whimsical, but none the worse for that. And it IS,on another level, serious art too.

It goes into a fair amount of detail about her exhibitions, writings, music and film. My only complaint is - what about the film of John's penis?! That doesn't get a mention, but I reckon it is the sine qua non of blah blah blah.Gerrit out on DVD for next Chrimbo.

Anyway, this fine book makes a grand case for Yoko the artist, as she was before she had even heard of John Lennon.

No More Sad Refrains: The Life and Times of Sandy Denny
No More Sad Refrains: The Life and Times of Sandy Denny
by Clinton Heylin
Edition: Paperback

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Tragic Book., 31 Aug. 2006
Heylin took the writing of this book on after the publisher rejected the manuscript of the original author, and I can't help but feel that his reasons for so doing were as much about his ego as anything else. The book is a depressing read, by and large, and not just for the relentless details of the Denny's self destruction. Heylin misses no opportunity to give us the benefit of his negativity regarding the recorded work. One really gets the impression that he doesn't much like most of the things she did - some great songs, yes, and the voice of course, but there's almost always something wrong as far as our Clinton is concerned, from production, through song selection, to Sandy's "shot" voice latterly (according to Clint). The writing also sometimes canters towards the cliche ridden from time to time, almost as if Heylin coudn't really be bothered. I hope someone else has another go whilst most of the main players are still alive. There is a great biography waiting for someone with the ability (and feeling) to write it.

The Beatles: The Biography
The Beatles: The Biography
by Bob Spitz
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but not definitive, 6 May 2006
To start with the positive - the first third of this book provides the best account of the Beatles' formative years thus far, and is everything that good biography should be - well researched, thorough, objective yet affecting. However, virtually all of these virtues are turned on their heads by the end. The latter part in particular,covering the years 1968-1970, is riddled with errors and inconsistencies, and there is a real feeling that the author (or possibly the editor) just couldn't be bothered. Added to this is the irritating moralising that increasingly creeps in. No opportunity to pour vitriol, of a kind not seen in this country since the late 1960's, on the head of Yoko is missed. The author clearly feels that the Beatles were silly, immature young men. Whilst this may or may not have been the case, he clearly also feels that being in a pop group (albeit the Beatles) is far more important than being in a marriage (John and Yoko), and if THAT isn't a silly and immature attitude then I'm not sure what is. It is also something, of course, that John spent much of the 1970's attempting to argue down.
To sum up, whilst there is a lot of interesting stuff here (particularly the darker version of the tales of Pete Shotton), there are also a lot of mistakes and too much intrusion of the author's old maid-ish attitudes. We still don't have a truly definitive biography of the Beatles that accurately presents ALL the facts as they happened, and furthermore trusts the reader to make up his or her own mind. Perhaps the 3 volume Lewisohn which is in the offing will be the one? Sadly, despite a strong start, this isn't.

John Lennon: In My Life (Coronet Books)
John Lennon: In My Life (Coronet Books)
by Pete Shotton
Edition: Paperback

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shennon and Lotton, 20 April 2006
Pete Shotton was John Lennon's best friend outside the Beatles, up to the point he met Yoko Ono. This book is the story of their friendship, and very funny it is too. Not really for the faint of heart, brimming over as it is with tales of masturbation, sex, drugs and foul language (all told, however, with a great deal of affection), "In My Life" provides a vivid insight into the non-public aspects of Lennon's life throughout the 1960's. For my money, the most purely entertaining book about the man yet written.

The Beatles: An Illustrated Record
The Beatles: An Illustrated Record
by Roy Carr
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh but fair, 20 April 2006
This book was originally published in the 1970's,and then updated just after Lennon's death. Written by two NME hacks, it takes every Beatles release (single, e.p and album) and reviews them chronologically. The same approach is taken to the solo output from the '70's. The writing is excellent throughout - funny, astute and with a keen eye both for what made the Beatles great, and for the tailing off of quality as the solo years progressed. Of course, it is highly subjective and you won't agree with everything the two have to say (they are particularly hard on George Harrison), but you will laugh a great deal at how they say it. To my mind this book represents a high-water mark of Beatles, and indeed, music related journalism generally. Add the fact that it is beautifully illustrated throughout,and this is something that all Beatle nuts should have on their bookshelves.

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