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Revolution: making of the Beatles' White Album (The Vinyl Frontier) Hardcover – 26 Sep 2002
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"A fascinating expose . . . will amaze Fab Four devotees" -- MWE3
"Conveys the true genius and magic behind the Beatles . . . Will encourage readers to listen . . . with new, apprecitive ears." -- Daytrippin' magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most books about the Beatles reveal the big picture first and ask questions afterward. This book reverses that approach. It takes a fresh and often funny look at the magnificent and sometimes idiotic career path of the Beatles through the prism of one vital album -- a record considered by many (including John Lennon) to be the one on which they reached their peak as songwriters. It focuses not just on the intimate recording details and creative process, but on the politics, music, and culture of the era, as well as the band's individual development amid increasing dissolution. In crisp and witty prose, the inside stories behind the making and release of the album are revealed: how the White Album got its look and name; why it included the most experimental track the Beatles ever recorded; how it inspired the bloody massacres of Charles Manson and his 'family'; why Ringo Starr walked out on the sessions and who replaced him; the actual identities of 'Dear Prudence', 'Sexy Sadie', 'Martha My Dear', 'Julia' and 'Bungalow Bill'; on which song Yoko sang lead; which song is about Eric Clapton's teeth; what songs were left off the album; and much more.< --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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DAVID QUANTICK has analysed the people, the times and, specifically, the songs from an album whose appeal has spanned generations, showcasing the straightforward and eclectic genius of four unique musicians - two of whom will never be equalled in any shape or form again. Dark clouds may have been gathering and paths diverging by 1968, but that didn't stop The Beatles working at the height of their creative powers.
There's a lot of information and insight to digest here and Quantick wastes nothing. A confident understanding of the historical narrative and references to key figures and events (the Maharishi Yogi, Brian Epstein's sudden death, Yoko Ono, the ruinous Apple Corps ventures, etc) plus a nice line in dry humour (essential, if one is to appreciate the 'merits' of McCartney's woeful WILD HONEY PIE), ensures that all the important and relevant details are included. But this is neither blanket acclaimation nor blind worship; the underlying story of REVOLUTION... is about growing up, about JOHN LENNON, PAUL McCARTNEY, GEORGE HARRISON and RINGO STARR coming to terms with themselves and the end of a decade in which they pretty much had it all.
The songs they wrote in that period reflected those attitudes and experiences and covered many bases, including heavy rock (HELTER SKELTER), satire (PIGGIES), pastiche (HONEY PIE) and avant-garde (REVOLUTION 9) and, taken as a whole, The White Album provided the listener with an astonishingly wide array of musical invention. Then, as now, and probably for ever more. That's not just the legacy, but the essence of how good The Beatles truly were.
This is an excellent work in its own right but also a very useful companion to the actual CD or - if you're lucky enough to have one in a cardboard box somewhere - the original 12" gatefold double-album.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Needless to say I did not feel this book merited a place alongside my other music books and left it on the shelf. I was particularly disappointed with his choice of contemporary music of 1968. Whilst obviously filler in the first place, it showed just how out of touch his music tastes remain. The one benefit of this book is the future suspicion of this genre it instils in the reader and how some talentless hacks are able to inflict their limited shortcoming above those of real artists. The positive reviews seem to be talking about the music not this book.
thank god we are able to warn potential buyers to stay clear or read others pointing out the shortcomings the hype often hides
It is a rich and interesting album, to say the least, and so whoever had the job of writing a book solely devoted to such an album should, in theory, be able to write a rich and interesting one.
If only that were the case with David Quantick's book, "Revolution".
"Revolution" starts quite promising and genuinely hooked me in. I'm a massive Beatles fan myself and any new fact or titbit of information only serves to fuel my passion. So, when I read a few new (or forgotten) facts in this book, I became genuinely excited for what was to come.
Instead, to my horror, it didn't continue in that way for the rest of the book... or at least it DID continue in that way. Again, and again, and again.
An interesting fact I learnt from this book was that Yoko Ono's backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" are the first female vocals to appear on a Beatles record. Interesting, no? Well, it seems Quantick found it quite interesting... as he can't stop telling you about it several times throughout the book.
This process happens with most of the interesting facts... and it isn't a long book to begin with. In fact, it isn't a book at all. It reads more like a school project. It can't make up its mind whether to be a fact-based book or a book full of the writers' personal opinions on the music, the people and life in general.
David Quantick is obviously a fan of the Beatles, but from reading this book you get the impression that his sole aim is to protect them (especially Lennon) in the best way possible... by simply castrating anyone who ISN'T the Beatles.
For example, Eric Clapton plays guitar on the track "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Later, George went on to marry George Harrison’s wife (who was married to Harrison at the time of the White Album). The author of this book therefore seeks some kind of vengeance for George's "wrongdoings" (even though Harrison remained strong friends with Clapton).
So, throughout, whenever Clapton is mentioned... there is a snide remark to go along with the mention. It goes so far as to include a picture of him in the centre pages of the book, and the caption reads "Eric Clapton, about to play on Why My Guitar Gently Weeps, have an affair with George's wife, become a junkie, etc."
This kind of personal bashing continues beyond Clapton. The song "Back in the USSR" is, understandably, compared to the work of the Beach Boys. The song is an obvious pastiche and tribute to their work, but the writer simply casts all the Beach Boys work aside with the claim that the Beatles' song "rocks substantially more than the Beach Boys ever did".
I didn't read the book to get David Quantick's views, I read it to try and get some information on the Beatles. Some facts. Not a few repeated facts, interspersed liberally with snide comments, personal views and a batch of opinions.
It spreads above and beyond the people though. You get Quantick's opinion on the music. It's like reading a badly written review from the pages of N.M.E. I honestly couldn't give a rats-ass if David thought that "Wild Honey Pie" was a torturous song, I own the album; I can make my own mind up about the songs.
He tries to gloss it up with statistics though, saying that "Wild Honey Pie" was voted the second worst piece on the album, with first place going to "Revolution #9". Obviously, this gives his personal opinion more weight, right?
Wrong, when it gets around to talking about "Revolution #9" he can't give it enough praise. Again, mostly born from personal opinions.
"Revolution #9" was a John Lennon song, "Wild Honey Pie" by Paul McCartney. That surely couldn't be a factor as to why Quantick heaped praise on one but gave the other a hefty write-off, could it?
Well yes, it could be. I would be hard pressed to find ANY derogatory remark about Lennon in the pages of this book and anyone who has even scratched the surface of the Beatles' career can tell you that he was certainly no angel. On the other hand, you can find a swipe at McCartney at almost every turn.
Yoko Ono even comes out looking better than Paul from this book.
I wouldn't recommend the book to even the completist Beatles fan. It’s the equivalent of going to a Beatles convention and standing beside the guy who has an opinion on everything and just can't be bothered to listen to yours. Or the facts.
Save your money and buy yourself another copy of "The Beatles" (That's the real title of the "White Album"... another fact everyone knows but wants to read another half-a-dozen times in this book). Give the album to someone, ANYONE, and then ask them hat they thought of it a week later.
I promise you, listening to their opinions will be a damn sight more interesting than reading this diatribe.
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