The Beatles – The Biography
By Bob Spitz
Aurum Press – £25.00
So what can be said about The Beatles that hasn’t already been said? Well if this veritable tomb is anything to go by (which clocks in at over 850 pages), rather a lot. This may be due to the formidable accumulation of Beatles myth’n’magic’n’micro-detail amassed over a number of years, by the New York Times writer (and author) Bob Spitz. With several books behind him – Barefoot In Babylon and Dylan among them – Spitz has clearly done his homework way and beyond the call of Beatledom duty. As Chris Bray has written in The Telegraph: ‘’Spitz’s achievement is to re-humanise those bastards and make us love them – need them, feed them – all over again.’’
And not a moment too soon I say, for amid today’s climate of sanctimonious X-Factor ubershite and treachery and safety and boy-band bollocks and a cleavage the size of Norway and am I going on [.?.], ‘tis about time we were reminded about the sheer wonderment of creativity – upon which Messrs. Lennon and McCartney not only reigned supreme, but sparkled like no other; as Spitz reminds us in relation to the ‘Beatles For Sale’ album: ‘’John and Paul continued to grapple with the prospect of evolving without alienating. Experimentation and growth had become something of a professional obsession, but it would have been counter-productive, they realised, to do a complete about-face […] They were still making a conscious effort not to deviate too much from the fold, to take creative baby steps as opposed to the proverbial flying leap.’’
With contributions from here, there and everywhere – among them, countless sexagenarian scousers, Spitz’s The Beatles: The Biography is as unputtadownable and (dare I say it) crucial, as Ian Macdonald’s Revolution In The Head, ‘the’ Beatles book by which all others are measured (and Noel Gallagher’s favourite book of all time!). Admittedly, some may find the author’s Americanisms, such as ‘’downtown Liverpool’’ (among others) lend the book a sense of otherness and detachment – which is both understandable and a tad vexing – but, because of the sheer density and love of Beatles stuff, this book is as vital now as the band were then (and still are).