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A Life in Pictures - All I've got is a Photograph!
on 7 October 2011
I have many Beatles books. It's hard to say what my favourites have been as they all serve different purposes really. Some focus on the songs (Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald), some on the insider's perspectives (Magical Mystery Tours, Tony Bramwell), some are intelligent accounts of the complex business wranglings and the fraught relationships between the band (The Love You Make, Pete Doggett). And then some are more personal, shedding light on the Fab's own perspectives of life inside the Beatle bubble. The gorgeous Anthology Hardback set a high standard, with it's beautiful photos, transcripts of interviews and recollections by the Beatles themselves, and mixture of personal handwritten notes and letters, and photos taken by the Beatles themselves.
I was hoping this hardback would be of the same standard. I have yet to see the accompanying DVD, but having now had a good weekend to look through this book, I feel it to be a bit unsubstantial and lightweight. It certainly doesn't deserve to be called a biography, because there is very little text in there. It's more of a beautifully produced picture book. Yes, there are quite a few pictures I have never seen before, and yes, the reproduction and quality is beyond reproach, especially for the price it's selling at on Amazon.
Olivia Harrison is without doubt a woman of integrity and dignity. She is the editor of sorts I presume of this book, and decided the shape and contents. However, I'm not convinced that the perspective she has gone for is all that balanced of the real man. It's hard to convey the contradictions and complexities in pictures. It seems that the DVD will better do this.
Certain periods of his life in this book are very lightly sketched. There is hardly any mention of Pattie Harrison, who was significant in that she was George's girlfriend and then wife through most of the sixties, and as I understand, was actually the bridge that led George and the rest of the Beatles towards Eastern religion in 1967, by encouraging George to attend the Maharishi talk in London. In fact the Beatles era is quite lightly skipped through. Would George have done this himself?! Quite possibly.
There are some intersting notes about Friar Park and some rare shots of George in the overgrown gardens. There are interesting personal photos of George hanging out with Dylan, the Formula One crowd and the Pythons...and quite a few serene shots of George in India, in the mid seventies and beyond.
I'd have liked to have seen more photos of George and Olivia together too, particularly a few of their courtship days. She is the quiet one's quiet wife here - I'd have liked her to have said more about her time with George here really, but she says in just a few paragraphs at the end of the book that 'Knowing how reluctant (George) was to talk about himself led me to illustrate his years mostly in pictures'. So in some ways the lack of an ego, the absence of a personal narrator, is quite appropriate I guess.
Four stars for a well produced pictorial biography. Go elsewhere for the finer detail!