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The Beatles from A to Zed: An Alphabetical…

The Beatles from A to Zed: An Alphabetical Mystery Tour

by Peter Asher

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The Beatles from A to Zed: An Alphabetical Mystery Tour from Peter Asher is a delightful trip through all things Beatles related.

This is not a dictionary or encyclopedia that might be comprehensive but boring. This is a lot of Asher's recollections and tidbits using the alphabet as a rough structure to give it some organization. And, perhaps more important, to offer new connections between songs, people, and events. This is not about The Beatles and only about The Beatles, but rather about everything Beatles-related. Their solo careers, other versions of their songs, some tidbits from Asher's own musical history. So don't be upset if some paragraphs only mention one of them only in passing, one of the underlying themes of this book is the amazing breadth of not only what they accomplished but the influence they had directly and indirectly.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is the conversational tone. It is less like reading a book and more like sitting around with someone who knew The Beatles both collectively and individually. Just so happens that someone is also a musician, producer, and manager, so his knowledge of the industry is as important to the book as his knowledge of the group.

I like the alphabet structure because in some ways it makes it even more like a conversation with somebody. We often start talking about something then some part of what we're talking about reminds us of something else, and so on. This is like that, except a letter is the starting point and unifying element of each chapter.

While Asher does not get into the details of the songs he discusses, he quite often does get into the musical basics (chords, transitions, instruments). To illustrate the difference between this and some other books, he will mention that George played his 12 string on a certain song and it gave a specific feel to it. Some writers will mention that as well as what other guitars might have been used on overdubs and how everything was mic'ed. There are plenty of books that get into the specifics of the technology and the production, this isn't one of them. That doesn't make it better or worse, it makes it different, they have different goals.

Perhaps there is no greater tribute for a book about musical artists than to say that it made me go and listen to many of the songs again. This book did that, and it introduced me to some songs with which I was unfamiliar, maybe an obscure solo effort that is available in a video but was never released, or a cover by another artist that really strikes a chord for Asher.

I would highly recommend this to any fan as well as any reader interested in music history. While this is largely a trip down memory lane for those of us who bought all those albums when released back in the day, Asher also branches out and shows what influenced The Beatles as well as who they then influenced, so this is a major chapter in music history.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Aug 8, 2019 |
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