5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant, and defining take on the Beatles phenomenon!,
This review is from: Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America (Hardcover)
Way beyond being just another book about the Beatles, Gould's weighty tome is, as the sub-title (The Beatles, Britain & America) suggests, an equal-shares analysis of the revolutionary social, industrial and cultural events that occured in the two key geographical markets, that in turn generated the global Moptop phenomenon.
As much an investigation into the cementing of pop music potential, celebrity culture, and mass market appeal, as it is the tale of four lads that made some great music together, by laying open the state of mass media, art, and society in general during the 60s, into which he can then introduce the Beatles, Gould expertly recreates a controlled and well structured - and very well written - explosion of events that proves far more unintended and out of control than inherited media myth would have us believe.
In fact, by stating that the band were more of a lightening rod than freak of nature, Gould actually presents a highly compelling and well thought out formula of events - one, that as the Beatles myth ceases to rebalance itself - some uberfans or less well informed industry-fed (and lazy) journos might find painfully counter to their beliefs.
So, whilst the coming together of John, Paul, George and Ringo can truly be seen as a sparking of collective natural talent, it was in fact the pent-up powder keg of social, industrial and media developments post-WWII that actually casued the tremors. Blessed with unbelievably good fortune, the quartet's success was, as Gould repeatedly illustrates, more like a synergic Big Bang for our times, than the now self-perpetuating myth of Beatles as gods rising amongst mere mortals. And in doing so, helps refocus our attentions to the real sources of heat and light, force and effect during that time.
However, that's not to say Can't But Me Love is some kind of scientific exercise in spiritual debunking. Rather, it is a fascinating, and extremely enjoyable and revealing historical study of how our current age jolted into being during the Sixties, perpetuated by the gigantic tsumani the Beatles rode.
And in doing so, Gould also enables us to see how they might have become sick of their band, being themselves more often than not propelled by forces beyond their control. So, whilst they undoubtedly provided a soundtrack of revolutionary, and highly creative musical expression, they also endured the beginning - and to some extent proved to be the apex, to which others would merely be retreads - of the now bittersweet concentric worlds of pop music evangelism, celebrity culture, and mass produced art redundancy, as we have come to know them.
A brilliant book, and one that should be read by anyone with more than a passing interest in the state of the world in which we life today: one that is equal parts joyous in the fruits of youth, great tunes and acts of fabulous imagination, but also polluted with hype and narcissism.
My only criticism is that Gould can get bogged down in musical terms at times, with too many references to triads and time signatures that left me excluded. But, for the sake of writing a truly brilliant record of the Beatles event, I think this is but a quibble - and one that shouldn't rob him of a five-star rating for 20 years of work very, very well done!