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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Beatles - All These Years: Volume One: Tune In
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2013
Having read pretty much everything previously written about the Beatles I was not sure how the story of their early years could be stretched out to cover another book of more than 800 pages; how wrong I was. New information, meticulous research, excellent narrative, this book has it all. I have lost so many hours sleep through being unable to put it down! Can't wait for the next two volumes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2013
A work of true dedication by a man whose expertise could be thought of as obsessive - but what a magnificent obsession. Lewisohn gives us the very early days,weeks, months and years of the Beatles, much quite ugly, some quite touching. The more ordinary the foursome appear the greater seem their fantastic achievements. Also, whether you were born post - Beatles peak time - in which case you'll learn what it was really all about - or born fifteen or twenty years before they peaked - in which case you'll hear the sounds, remember the excitement, savour the nostalgia and have a dip in the ocean of the Sixties. Either way, this is a wonderful book. I can't wait to once again suck on the lollipop of Beatlemania, and feel sure the flavour will be there right through to the end of the promised third volume.
Read and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2014
I have just finished this 840 page book which must be the longest I have ever read. It is definitive. Don't be put off that there are more than 600 pages before Pete Best leaves. Every page has a revelation. The book is written with humour, objectivity and an amazing attention to detail, plus a really impressive historical context. I will have to checkout the extended version, but even this 'shorter' version is extensive. Don't be put off by its length. This book is miles ahead of Philip Norman, Peter Brown or even Carr and Tyler, a personal favourite. A gripping read which finishes at the end of 1962, and it leaves you gasping for the years ahead. Just a little depressing that we have to wait years for the next two volumes. If you need a reason to stay alive another 5 to 10 years,then this is it :- )
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2014
The 1 star review by "Stevo" is symptomatic of what's wrong with the world. He assesses its quality on the basis that (a) he can't manage big books and (b) he's into another genre anyway! That's not a "review", it's an insight into your self-obsession. The only thing 1 star is the standard of Stevo's critical powers
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2013
I have read most Beatles Bios. The best until this one were the ones by Hunter Davies and then Philip Norman.
All These Years vol 1 supersedes anything written before.
It's great fun to read the truth behind the myths, so probably best enjoyed if you have done a fair amount of Beatles reading already.
Although very factual and detailed (meticulously researched, and with plently of valuable historical context), it is an easy read full of symapathy and humour. So don't be put off by the length.
I love the way the Beatles seprate early lives are dealt with chronologically (as opposed to indivudual bios leading up to each members' joining the group)
Can't wait for the next one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2013
I've just finished this volume and i have to say I am so impressed with the level of detail included in this book. I'll hold my hands up straight away and admit i purchased the audiobook because I travel a lot and this is really the easiest way to pass the time in cars.
To give an example of the detail Mark goes to here, 10 hours in to the audiobook, YES 10 the band hadn't even teamed up with 'Richie'.
I live just outside Liverpool and was really keen to know as much about their childhoods and youth as possible from a local historical significance. I'm spoilt that i can jump in a car and visit Mendips or Forthlin Rd whenever i feel like it, but now having all this wealth of info to put in the picture really is something special. Thanks Mark and hurry up with Vol 2!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2013
This is clearly a major work of real scholarship. It is a compelling read as the author is skilful in imparting an unprecedented amount of information without losing his entertaining light touch. As an exercise in reconstructing the recent past it is exceptional. I quibble with only one assertion: on page 672 of the 'standard version' he states that, 'There were no groups like the Beatles. Three guitars and drums, all three front-line guitarists singing lead and harmonies, a group that wrote their own songs -it was simple, direct and not done'.While one can't argue with his description of The Shadows as a predominantly 'instrumental quartet' they had also done all of the things he attributes to the Beatles in this comment.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2013
I use to live in the area(s) in Liverpool that the first half of the book is set. Therefore I have the local knowledge and the accuracy is staggering. Roads, bus routes, venues etc., they are all spot on. It makes you trust in all the other detail. The book is written in a nice style and very easy to read.

Thoroughly recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2013
If you want to know the true history of the Beatles told in an easy to read style then buy this book. The author clearly knows his subject extremely well and truly has access to the sources that count. If you love the Beatles...you will love this!
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I have been avidly reading Beatle biographies since I was a child and am the proud owner of an extensive Beatles' library and Beatles' collection. The books I have read range from the trashy, silly little pop books such as "The Beatles' Book" which was just an extension of the inane teen 'zines that just make the Beatles sound like innocents instead of the worldly young men that they were to scholarly works such as this book. The Beatle Literati is quite impressed with this book and give it the highest of recommendations.

Mark Lewisohn is plainly a Beatles' fan and someone who appreciates their work; their history and them as people without being a sycophant. He is plainly a gifted researcher and this book contains fresh information that many other works have not included. He digs into great detail aspects of each Beatle's life as well as those closest to the Beatles, such as Klaus and Astrid; their manager Brian Epstein; Good Ol' Freda and others in the music business as well as the Beatles' close relatives. This is also one of the few books that include the details of the senior Harrisons' marriage in 1931, just 3 months before George's sister Louise was born. Only a few books expose the myth that they married a year before their only daughter's birth; Louise Harrison herself discloses this in My Kid Brother's Band... a.k.a. The Beatles and so does Kevin Roach in George Harrison That's The Way God Planned It

This well detailed tome covers the Beatles' post boyhood years starting with the banner year of 1958 and ends in 1962 when Ringo finally joins the band. 1958 is an especially crucial year for the Beatles as John's mother died in a tragic accident; Paul introduced John to George and George was accepted into the nascent band then called the Quarrymen and Louise Harrison took an angry young man named John under her wing when her son George brought him home for tea in early 1958.

Stories that have been bandied about for many years are brought to light in this work. John's Aunt Mimi, who raised him from the age of 5 did not dodge bombs and war balloons to visit her sister Julia in the hospital when Julia delivered John. From all accounts, Mimi told her nephew that Julia and John's father ("that Alf Lennon" as the Stanley Sisters called him) had fallen out of love and at one point "that Alf Lennon" was in jail.

Another myth that has been exposed to light in recent years is that of the senior Harrisons' marriage. Many books reported that they got married in 1930, a year after they met. It is Kevin Roach and daughter Louise Harrison herself who set the record straight on that count. Harold Sr. and Louise French met in 1927 when they were 18 and 16 respectively. Apparently many authors feared tarnishing the boys' image if it was publicly known that the Harrisons enjoyed each other's company which resulted in the birth of their daughter Louise prior to getting married.

Ringo, who from all accounts had the most difficult boyhood of the Beatles is given a turn at bat. In this book, details of his multiple illnesses and protracted convalescenses are provided in fuller detail as opposed to the sketchy, skeletal accounts other books have provided. Another bonus is seeing previously unpublished pictures of the Beatles such as Ringo, then 6 or 7 recovering during the first of his long illnesses and an especially nice picture of Louise and Harold posing on a couch.

Lewisohn is a truly extraordinary author. He does not whitewash anything; he is objective in his portrayal of historical accounts. He does not pretend that the Beatles or anybody else in their circle is anything other that what they are. He takes readers on a Magical Mystery Tour from the Beatles' births in wartime Liverpool to their later meeting and forming a band. The earliest incarnation of the group was known as the Quarrymen after Quarrybank High School where John and Paul were students. Readers are invited to the July 1957 church fete in Woolton where John and his then band gave a public performance. Paul McCartney, then 15 was one of the people in the crowd. Paul knew John was a musician who was going places and he wanted to join him.

The band went through several more incarnations with different members in their line up. Long story short, Ringo joined the group in 1962 after turning down another offer as the pay wasn't as good as what the Beatles were offering. The other Beatles felt that their original drummer Pete Best was not a good fit or match for them personality wise and professionally. It was reported that Pete was chosen because the band was under contract to hire a drummer and he was the only game in town. However, once the band was more or less in place, other drummers such as Johnny Hutch filled in as Pete was not always available. Pete was known for not conforming to the group's universal Beatle mop coiffure; he was consistently late and sometimes absent for rehearsals and shows and it was said that he and Paul were not friendly toward one another.

Readers also get a Ticket to Ride with Ringo during his early band years with the Hurricanes and subsequent trips to Butlin's Holiday Camp and Hamburg, the city where the early pre-Beatles cut their musical teeth. In 1960 the pre-Beatles, led by their intrepid leader John, then 20 made their first trip to Hamburg. The senior Harrisons, after much deliberation agreed to let their minor son George, then 17 join them. In today's world one might wonder about letting these young men travel to Hamburg "In Spite of All the Danger" and no doubt George was delighted that he got to travel out of the country with a group of guys, the oldest of whom was John. Sadly, George was deported as he was underage. Despite that set back, George grew up a lot in Hamburg. He also reconnected with his bandmates when they returned to England later that year and for their 1961 trip to Hamburg.

By 1962 the Beatles had arrived! Freshly coiffed with their iconic Beatle mops that so many, myself included love and dressed like gentlemen in suits and ties per their manager's directive, the boys were ready to conquer the world! Brian Epstein's astute business acumen and professional handling helped the boys prepare for the roles of their lifetimes - selling their talent and image to the world! The Beatles were the best known, best loved band in Liverpool and were regular fixtures at the famous Cavern Club. There is the trajectory or "Long & Winding Road" to recording deals and contracts and world tours.

Fans were also a constant fixture. Each Beatle's boyhood home was considered a Mecca of Music for fans to congregate and hopefully meet a Beatle. Louise Harrison actually wrote fans back, staying up late into the night to finish correspondence with help from Harold. It was not uncommon for her to invite a fan in for tea and light refreshments while chatting each other up about George. Louise always talked about George's three older siblings and even lent her voice to one of his fan club newsletters. This is chronicled in Do You Want to Know a Secret?: The Story of the Official George Harrison Fan Club.

This book ends in 1962 when the Beatles' "Love Me Do" was recorded and hit the Top Twenty. This was less than a year before George Harrison made his first trip abroad to visit his sister Louise who was then living in Benton Illinois. Louise shopped the Beatles' records around and to her credit got area radio stations to play Beatle songs. By 1962-63, music in America still had the last vestiges of the 1950s style. The Beatles brought in a fresh new look, sound and style. They were and are here to stay and they have raised the musical bar.

England has long been known for class distinctions. Voice and whether one lives in the North or South of England has long been a social class distinction. Liverpool, a northern seaport town was not held in high regard by "Southerners." (A reference to "Southerners" is made in the Beatles' 1964 movie, "A Hard Day's Night.") The Beatles changed all that. Music and art is for everybody and not just one demographic. The Beatles made no such distinctions and even as late as 1964 refused to play the Gator Bowl in Florida when they found out that minorities were being denied entry. They refused to perform before a segregated audience. The Beatles helped dismantle some of the bigotry and class dividing lines. They also sparked a world-wide interest in things English and became in effect World Ambassadors. The four young men that the world at large loved invited people from all over the world; from all different backgrounds and all different walks of life to "Come Together."

I am looking forward to the next installments of the trilogy that Lewisohn is scheduled to write. Knowing what I know of Lewisohn's writing and extraordinary flair for detail, I expect his subsequent books to be every bit as excellent and exceptional and outstanding as this one.
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