Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, thorough and insightful, but maybe not for the general reader, 15 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul (Paperback)
The first time I read (or tried to read) Walter Everett's two-volume study of the Beatles' musical development, I thought it was niggling, pedestrian and not a patch on Ian Macdonald's justly celebrated book "Revolution in the Head". That was a few years ago. In the meantime, my knowledge of music theory has advanced a good deal and I can now see that, far from being overly detailed supplements to Macdonald, Everett's books are in some ways much better.

What we have here is an Associate Professor of Music analysing the Beatles' music and providing a detailed commentary on how the Beatles' music does what it does. This is therefore a tricky read if you don't know the meaning of terms such as "voice leading", "Dorian mode" and "parallel fifths", and it also helps considerably if you can read music because there are a lot of (well-chosen) examples. If, however, your knowledge of theory is up to snuff, it's possible to appreciate something like Prof. Everett's seven-page analysis of "She Loves You" as truly enlightening.

His research is exceptionally wide-ranging. He seems to have listened to nearly every bootleg ever released, and although there are many transcriptions of the Beatles' music he has a properly sceptical attitude to the value of transcribing rock. He quotes a Paul story about George Martin having to write down "A Hard Day's Night", and asking Lennon what exactly was the note for "-innnng" as in "working like a dog" - was it a flat VII? A VI? Lennon thought about but didn't think that it was either, and Harrison suggested that it was "something in between". "Yeah," decided Lennon, "write *that* down."

He is an acute analyst of the Beatles as players, too, and offers one of the best arguments as to why Ringo was a better drummer than Pete Best (basically, Ringo was more imaginative). These books are far better than I thought they were on first reading, and must count as some of the best writing about the Beatles, but it has to be said that his caveat in the introduction is well taken: anyone without a reasonably advanced knowledge of music theory will not be able to see why the books are so good.

Although this book covers the earlier part of the Beatles' career, it was actually written after the volume that covers their later stuff (from "Revolver" to the later "Anthology" stuff), which I am now looking forward with intense excitement to re-reading.

Ian Macdonald's book cited above is a better book for the general reader, but as time goes by I get increasingly tired of Macdonald's apocalyptic and downbeat tone. His long and fascinating introduction climaxes in a despairing outburst about the total collapse of meaning and truth in contemporary Western society, which reads to me more like a symptom of the depression that would eventually cause Macdonald to take his own life. Everett, by comparison, is less pretentious and more convincing. Books like his are examples of the kind of fidelity to truth and scholarship which Macdonald seemed to fear had passed from the world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

5.0 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
26.00 24.51
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,486