Review Blog

May 02 2014

How the Beatles changed the world by Martin W. Sandler

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9780802735652.
(Age: all) Recommended. Beatles, Music industry, The 60's, Social history. Historian Sandler has put his considerable talent and expertise to this weighty tome about the Beatles. He has written thirteen essays to accompany some of the many photos covering the Beatles and their rise to fame and after, all of which show with certainty the impact these four young men had on the world. The first chapter deals with the night in 1964 when the Beatles, newly arrived from Liverpool, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in USA. This was an amazing thing to do, as they admitted, Cliff Richards had gone to America and failed, so for a group, unlike most other rock and rollers who were lone acts, it was a risk. But their reception at the airport set the stage. For a studio audience of seven hundred, Sullivan's office turned down fifty thousand applications, and the show that went to air remains the most watched of any TV event of all time.
The next chapter concerns itself with the Beatles' impact upon popular music, and includes things like album covers, offering hit songs on both sides of singles, producing albums with themes and writing your own words and music. It is only in the third chapter, 'How Hamburg changed the Beatles', that the reader is able to see how the Beatles evolved and began their spectacular rise to fame. The pictures in this chapter show the Beatles as they were before the mop tops and suits took hold and tells the story of their incredible round of appearances in eight hour shifts in the nightclubs of that bombed city.
Chapter four, 'Beatlemania sweeps the world', shows their rise to fame outside Britain and the USA, while the next two chapters deal with their impact upon fashion, film and religion. In between these chapters are more sobering discussions of how success imprisoned them while the second to last chapter deals with their split and what happened afterwards. The final chapter is a summary of their impact upon the world, a coming together of what has been said before.
Entertaining and always interesting, it must be hard for writers to find something new to say, but Sandler has brought together much of the material seen in other books, on websites and magazines, and has produced a book worth reading and keeping, a fascinating insight into fame and its dangers, to the way a band can have an impact on things much wider than the music they play. By starting with the Ed Sullivan Show, Sandler announces his book will rely heavily on stories and photos from the perspective of USA which sometimes rankled in what otherwise is a readable and involving book.
A discography, list of sources and detailed index round off the 176 pages of good clear text and an array of crisply reproduced photos. A wonderful addition to any library.
Fran Knight

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