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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beatles in Hamburg, 18 April 2012
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This is not the usual sensationalist book about the bands time in Hamburg, but a more serious, scholarly approach about what the city meant to them and how it influenced them musically and as performers. It is part of the Reverb series, looking at the connections between music, artists and performers, musical cultures and places. Another book in the series is Van Halen: Exuberant California, Zen Rock'n'roll (Reverb). Although the Beatles time in Hamburg has been represented often, especially in film (Backbeat, Birth of the Beatles) most are less concerned with music than myth. Yet, in Hamburg, the band spent an estimated 800 hours on stage over 273 nights - playing at the Indra, the Kaiserkeller, the Top Ten and the Star Club, with their first trip in 1960.

This book examines both Hamburg and the band at the times they visited, including their first visit in which they started as a band that had played infrequently around Liverpool to audiences of teenagers and friends, to a band exhorted to "Mach Shau!" to an audience consisting of gangsters, prostitutes, pimps and off shore sailors. It was on stage here that they learnt stagecraft, where they first properly met Ringo Starr (although they had come across each other, they first shared a stage in Hamburg when Rory Storm and the Hurricanes played with them at the Kaiserkeller) and where they spent a lot of time simply getting to know each other away from home. Although the first trip ended in deportation for McCartney, Harrison and Best, it was when they played again in Liverpool that the difference was plain to see. Most fans will know of the famous concert at Litherland Town Hall in December 1960 where fans first began to react to the band in a way which would soon become all too familiar and their popularity in Liverpool spread on their return.

Overall, this is a very interesting read - discussing reasons why Pete Best was eventually ousted from the group, the influence of Astrid, Klaus and Jurgen, friendship and influence of Tony Sheridan and later visits by the group after they became famous and as solo performers. It also looks at the beginning of John and Paul's songwriting career and the edge that performing their own songs gave them over other groups, as well as looking at numbers the band covered. This book cuts out all the sensationalist stories and concentrates on the importance of Hamburg as a place where the Beatles truly became a world class band.
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