All Together Now – The abc of the Beatles’ songs and albums

All-together-now-Cover[1]

All Together Now
The abc of the Beatles’ songs and albums
By David Rowley
Matador – £9.99

Having been a lifelong fan of The Beatles, I have to confess there aren’t many books I haven’t read on the band, because whenever a new publication comes on the market, I’ll always endeavour to investigate. Hence, this new Matador release All Together Now – the ABC of the Beatles’ songs and albums by David Rowley.

A book, like that of most other Beatles books, I admittedly ploughed through in next to no time.

The initial aspect of the book that is most apparent, is the songs are considered alphabetically rather than chronologically. Thus making for an altogether different approach, simply due to the mindset having to very quickly adjust from one Beatles era to another – without warning, or any other reason than the first letter of the song dictating as such. So while ‘Please Please Me’ was one of the band’s earliest recordings, it doesn’t appear until page 147 (of a total of 216).

The other thing that leaps out of the pages to the extent of being a little jarring, is, that while the author is clearly a huge Beatles fan, he has a tendency to shy away from some of the band’s veiled use of sexual imagery throughout their career. This in itself is okay if not a little prudish – especially in this day and glaringly blatant age of full-on sexuality being the norm amid such bikini-clad, ghastly singers as Cheryl Cole, Rihanna et al – but it’s Rowley’s relentless use of the word ‘smut’ throughout, that, for want of a finer word or description (literally), becomes horribly irksome after a while. With regards ‘Penny Lane,’ he writes: ‘’The verses contain several pieces of smut – a finger pie and the rhyming of ‘Queen’ with an analogy for a penis (’clean machine’),’’ while, returning to ‘Please Please Me,’ he begins with: ‘’The presence of this piece of smut so early in the Beatles’ career is so shocking to most it has been largely ignored […]. Such smut survived owing to the lack of open discussion of sex in this era and the low likelihood of anyone drawing attention to it’’ (my italics).

I cannot help but wonder if the author is American?

Other than the repetition of the above word, All Together Now makes for an enjoyable and pleasurable read.

As with most books on The Lads, there’s always something new to learn, and I have to say, the same applies herein – although nowhere near to the same extent as Ian Macdonald’s unsurpassable Revolution In The Head.

David Marx

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2 responses to “All Together Now – The abc of the Beatles’ songs and albums

  1. David Rowley

    Hi David

    It was an amazing act of subterferge to get a record about oral sex to the top of the charts in 1963 and it is probably the first thing you need to mention when discussing Please Please Me – and yet it is usually the last thing writers on the Beatles want to discuss, including MacDonald who just mentions it as an aside. So while I am certainly no paragon of hipness, I would say it is the other writers who have the problem with sex!

    Best wishes

    DR

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment.
      To my mind, the whole issue regarding ‘Please Please Me’ is conjecture. Always has been and probably always will be (but it if was defintely as you suggest – and none of us will ever really know for sure – then yes, ”an amazing act of subterfuge” indeed).
      At the end of the day, it’s just a terrific song.
      I just wished you’d have occasionally used a different word other than ‘smut’ to substantiate your distaste!
      All Best,
      David

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