The art of criticism has moved on a few steps from the days when Derek Johnson would analyse a record's "shuffle beat" in the NME. But as theorists debate whether postmodernism has had its day, it seems as if, for some people, it never happened. "I don't want to hear Mr Quantick's opinions," gripe the Gradgrindian punters. "I just want the facts."
Well, as Quantick suggests, MacDonald and Lewisohn will give you facts until you're blue (meanie) in the face. What he presents is a personal view, and an analysis of how the album interrelates with other contemporary cultural goings-on. This is clearly rather disturbing for people who know what they like, and whose intellectual curiosity is limited to studio dates and guitar tunings. For those of us who see The Beatles phenomenon as something rather more significant and complex, it's a good read.