Great book but buy from Amazon! Visited the Casbah Club in the summer, with some friends, one of whom bought the book. Admittedly, it was signed by Roag but, even so, at £60, to later discover it was SO much cheaper on Amazon, just felt like exploitation. Think my friend only paid that much because he was feeling so euphoric at the time! He was gutted to find out later that it was so over-priced.
There is no other group in rock and roll whose history has been explored (and continues to be dissected) as throughly as that of the Beatles. Niche titles continue to be published that spotlight a particular period or topic, as here, where the focus is played in equal parts on the history of the Casbah Coffee Club and on its founder, Mona Best, the mother of Pete, Rory and Roag, who, as the authors, clearly wish the reader to be left with the impression that Mona was (rightly) "the Mother of Mersey Beat." Roag's text starts out well, and the Fab scholar will glean many new insights into the early history of the Best family and of the Casbah Club's creation, for it was here that John, Paul and George reformed as the Quarry Men in August 1959 to open the venue, enjoying a seven-week Saturday night residency that was the launching pad to everything that would follow. Once the Beatles acquire Pete as their drummer and move on to Hamburg, the narrative quickly wanes into a familiar procession of facts that the studied fan knows forwards and back from other books, notably the two previously co-written by Pete. "Some of the best stories (X-rated) we couldn't put in print," notes the Best Brothers on their Acknowledgments page, "but they were still great to hear." Doubtless they were. I would've liked to have heard them - they certainly would've added much needed character and period flavour to the text. This was a missed opportunity to chronicle not just the Beatles' appearances (which amounted to just over forty), but of the other groups who played there as well. "True Beginnings" is a very slick book, the majority of its 200 pages given over to dozens of one and two-page spreads of period photographs, vintage memorabilia and club interior shots, all photographed to perfection by Sandro Sodano, whose CV includes ads for corporate clients like Calvin Klein, Diet Coke, Sony and Smirnoff. Regarding a two-page layout devoted to a Casbah microphone, one almost expects to see a caption like "Absolut Best" or "Fab Obsession." The photos do an admirable job of padding the text, but I can't help but come away viewing the end result as a very elaborate program that doubtless sells very well in the Casbah's gift shop. For those of us who can't make it to Liverpool to tour this important Beatles venue, Sodano's photos are the next best thing.
Great wonderful photos and archival material from the Casbah Club, the coffee bar & music club in Mona Best's basement in the early 1960s with a reali italian espresso machine). Pete Best's mother opened this club where the Beatles got started. Pete later joined up as their drummer and was sacked prior to recording their first album. The book was written by Roeg Best, Pete's half brother who it turns out is the son of Mona and Neil Aspinall, the longtime Beatles' roadie and wonderful manager of Apple Corps. to this day. Now that's gossip. A great book and finally something different in Beatles' publishing.