Saturday, November 29, 2008

With the Beatles: The Historic Photographs of Dezo Hoffmann

Edited and designed by Pearce Marchbank

"...we thought Dezo was the greatest photographer in the world."
Paul McCartney

Dezo Hoffmann took more pictures of The Beatles than any other photographer. He was the first professional to photograph them. He alone documented the major events of their career ... their audition at Abbey Road with George Martin, the recording of their first album, their first radio and TV shows. He became their friend and advisor, producing photographs that have become modern-day icons. This book shows for the first time the cream of the most unique photo archive of pop music history. Many of these photographs have never been printed from their negatives, let alone published. They show The Beatles from before their first record right through all the years of Beatlemania from a viewpoint far closer to the group than any other's.

Dezo Hoffmann is one of the greatest photographers of the world of entertainment. Here we see his intimate pictorial biography of one of that world's greatest acts.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Don't We Do It In The Road?: The Beatles Phenomenon

by John Astley

Resurrection, it is said, makes for strange bedfellows. The text of this monograph, rediscovered after 25 years in the author's displaced archives, seems likely to put that bizarre epigram to the test. The script, when found, was yellow and embrittled with age (the author has fared somewhat better). That archival fact need not deter the reader for two reasons, which may, admittedly, appear contrived, but here they are anyway.

In 1979, when the essay was originated, the author was much closer to his subject. In Britain, this was the same year Mrs Thatcher was elected prime minister. In New York, John Lennon had but a year to live. There is an eerie passage in this narrative, where the author muses on Lennon's survival of the 1960s alongside the fallen heroes of the rock pantheon: Jim, Janice, Jimi, et al. - and that a 'John' on that same list might not have looked so out of place. So it with unclever hindsight that we all now know of Lennon's dramatic exit from this world: at the hands of the deranged Mark Chapman, who drew a kind of motive for murder with a lethal cocktail of The Beatles and Catcher in the Rye. The assailant had decided that Lennon was 'a phoney'. At an even earlier date, the case of Charles Manson presents another example of a response to cultural transmission in the extreme. As an interpreter of what The Beatles were really saying in the songs of the White Album, and notably 'Helter Skelter', Manson left his own grizzly mark on that decade still known as the Swinging Sixties. Society, Manson said, was to blame for the way he had turned out.

The Beatles, then, had critics and fans - or fanatics - at both extremes of the emotional spectrum that at times seemed to become detached from the mere making of popular music.

All of this is, essentially, beside the point, but it leads conveniently on to the second reason why this generation-old text remains worthy of the reader's belated attention.

This book is not really about The Beatles as people or musicians - or indeed as songwriters (at a time when it was unusual for performers to write their own material). In this regard, the author is well aware that the Lennon-McCartney partnership, with George Martin as producer, was innovative in so many ways - but that this is nowhere near enough to explain the nature of the phenomenon. The author was and remains a sociologist of culture, and this is the approach of this narrative. This will not please everyone, but then the aim is not to please but to investigate a social phenomenon that emerged from an existing culture. This "essay", as the author insists on calling his extended offering, is about The Beatles as a cultural phenomenon - not as a biographical dissemination of its subject, but as an account of why the phenomenon occurred (at all) and which societal mechanisms permitted this to happen. Why them? Why there? Why then?

The surviving Beatles are unlikely to complain of a lack of biographical exposure.

A certain amount of background knowledge is required of the reader, who may or may not have been present in the post-War years leading up to the 1950s and 1960s. The 1950s, often portrayed in sophisticated grey tones as a dull decade, was the cradle for that demographic explosion which resulted in a complex outpouring of youth cultures. By 1963, there were an unprecedented number of 16-year-olds around. The demographic shift was a trans-Atlantic phenomenon in its own terms and scale, which represented a ready-made audience for those entrepreneurs, like Brian Epstein, who cared to notice. In this respect, the author focuses his attention on the post-War years in Liverpool - as a backdrop to the emergence of The Mersey Sound, and the laboratory that hatched The Beatles phenomenon. Why, though, does the author insist on referring to this text as an essay? This alludes strongly to the semi-formal approach, for certain. Since a biographical approach would miss the point, then so too might a formal academic study. A semi-formal essay, then, is placed (strategically) somewhere between these poles. The term is from essai, which - as Montaigne explained long ago - is a trial (by words) where the author examines his or her own thoughts on a specific subject. What will this trial uncover? The reader is now invited to explore the findings. The compass is set, and the message, whatever it might be, is about to unfold.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

July 2, 1965 - Hotel Phoenix and Plaza de Toros de la Ventas, Madrid

Taped: Friday 2 July 1965

Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, Madrid. The Beatles were growing increasingly worried by the level of violence shown to the fans by the police and security in Italy and particularly in Spain.

The Rolling Stones: Off the Record

by Mark Paytress

Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews

A collection of original, off-the-cuff remarks by and about the Rolling Stones, unearthed and reassembled into a vivid verbal documentary shot through with the authentic flavour of the group in their heyday and the cultural landscape they helped define.

In the Sixties, before the self-styled 'greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world' became an institution and Mick Jagger became a knight, the Stones outraged the British establishment with their behaviour and public comments. Always more dangerous than The Beatles, the young Rolling Stones actively courted public disapproval and set out to be controversial. To behave badly and never say sorry was their creed.

Stones authority MARK PAYTRESS sets it all out as never before in this candid potrayal of their 40 year career.


The poll provokes an even bigger outbreak of Beatles versus Stones rivalry. Time for John Lennon to wade in . . .

John Lennon: "There comes a point where the only thing left to do to a group like us is to knock it. I get on all right with Jagger, but ask him where the hell's their new record? They need one out now!"

But wasn't this clear evidence that the Beatles were indeed slipping?

John: "I think there probably was a moment a few weeks ago when the Stones had it over us just a bit. Jagger's the one, of course. He is the Stones, isn't he? Well, about the time everyone went potty for Jagger, that's when it could have meant something about them 'taking over'. But I don't know about now. I just don't know."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zappa: A Biography

by Barry Miles

The definitive biography of religion-baiting, Republican-hating, chain-smoking, coffee-addicted, self-taught guitar virtuoso Frank Zappa

"I really, really admire [Zappa]. He's at least trying to do something different with the form. It's incredible how he has his band as tight as a real orchestra. I'm very impressed by the kind of discipline he can bring to rock that nobody else can seem to bring to it."
--John Lennon

"Probably one of the straightest men I've ever met." --Ringo Starr

"Zappa was my Elvis."
--Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons

"Frank Zappa was high up there in rock heaven. . . . Whenever I think I want to escape I think of him."
--Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic


John Lennon had just moved to New York and was being shown the sights by Village Voice columnist and broadcaster Howard Smith. When Smith said he was going to interview Zappa, Lennon said: 'Wow, I always wanted to meet him. I really, really admire him.' Smith was puzzled and asked why. 'He's at least trying to do something different with the form,' said Lennon. 'It's incredible how he has his band as tight as a real orchestra. I'm very impressed by the kind of discipline he can bring to rock that nobody else can seem to bring to it.' Smith invited John to come along. 'I'd love to meet him,' said the ex-Beatle. They took John's silver Lincoln Continental to 1 Fifth, the hotel-apartment block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 8th Street where rock bands often stayed.

Frank opened the door.

'I brought somebody along,' said Howard Smith.

'Oh hi, glad to meet you,' said Frank, absolutely deadpan.

The other Mothers, however, leapt up off their seats and rushed forwards to be introduced. Later that day, on Howard Smith's talk-show on WPLJ, John said: 'I don't know why I should have believed it, because I should know better, having had all that guff written about me, but I expected a sort of grubby maniac with naked women all over the place, you know -- sitting on the toilet. The first thing I said was, "Wow, you look so different. You look great!" And he said, "You look clean too" - he was expecting a couple of nude freaks.'

Howard told Albert Goldman that Lennon was very deferential to Frank: 'John acted like "I may be popular, but this is the real thing." Yoko acted like Frank Zappa had stolen everything he had ever done or even thought from her. Frank completely ignored her. When Howard suggested that John and Yoko might like to join Frank on stage that evening, it took Frank a moment or two realize this was a good idea.

The second show ran until the early hours. It was 2 a.m. on Sunday. Zappa had just completed a third encore and people were starting to leave their seats, when the stage lights went on again and an astonished audience realized who was on-stage. They stood on their seats and screamed while Frank scowled at them. John and Yoko were nervous wrecks and it took about a gram of cocaine to get them on stage. At first all went well as they ran through the Olympics' 1958 song 'Well (Baby Please Don't Go)' (the B-side of 'Western Movies'), which Lennon used to sing at the Cavern Club, though it was marred by Yoko's unrelated yowls. Her wailing also messed up 'King Kong', which Zappa quickly terminated. They fell into a simple blues jam over which Lennon, followed by Flo and Eddie, chanted the word 'Scumbag', while Yoko did her thing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: The Beginning in Hamburg - A Documentary

Label: Polydor

The Beatles' legend began in 1962 in Hamburg. Here contemporaries from those early days have their say. Among them Tony Sheridan and many friends and fellow musicians who have become part of the legend, including friend of The Beatles Klaus Voormann, photographer Astrid Kirchherr, Tony Sheridan's Manager Horst Fascher and last but not least Allan Williams - The Man who gave The Beatles away . . .

01. From Liverpool To Hamburg
02. Can You Lend Us Some Money?
03. Kaiserkeller
04. No Work Permits
05. Back In Hamburg
06. Long Nights On The Reeperbahn
07. On Stage
08. We're Gonna Make A Record!
09. In The Studio
10. Bert Kaempfert
11. I Hated The Cover
12. The Photosession
13. Paul, George & John
14. Stuart & Pete
15. Tony Sheridan
16. Star Club

Song List
01. Ain't She Sweet
02. When The Saints Go Marching In
03. Why
04. If You Love Me, Baby
05. Sweet Georgia Brown
06. Nobody's Child
07. My Bonnie (English Intro)
08. Ruby Baby
09. Let's Dance
10. What'd I Say
11. Ready Teddy
12. Ya Ya (Part 1&2)
13. Kansas City
14. Skinnie Minny
15. Swanee River
16. My Bonnie (German Intro)

All songs feature an exclusive introduction by Tony Sheridan

Approx. run time: 2 hrs 17 mins
Approx music time: 48 mins

Rent or purchase this DVD from BLOCKBUSTER Total Access

The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock

by Charles White

"It popped the curlers right off my head. One of the most exciting books I've ever read. So hot I had to read it with gloves on." --Bette Midler

"One of the most spectacular tomes in rock and roll history." --Liz Smith

"The most brutally frank portrait of rock stardom ever written . . . a vivid, exciting picture of what life as a first-generation rock star was all about."
--Philadelphia Inquirer

James Brown called him his idol. Mick Jagger called him the king. Elvis Presley called him the greatest. Otis Redding called him his inspiration. Muhammad Ali called him his favorite singer. Jimi Hendrix said he wanted to do with his guitar what Little Richard did with his voice.

And they all agreed on one thing: Little Richard, more than anyone else, personified the energy of rock'n'roll. Decked out in a mirrored suit, his hair in a high pompadour, his face covered in pancake makeup, and his ferocious eyes mesmerizing the crowd, he stomped, jumped, and screamed his way to the top of the charts with songs like "Rip It Up," "Long Tall Sally," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Tutti Frutti," and "Slippin' and Slidin'."

Here is the authorized biography of this legendary king of rock'n'roll, now fully updated to include his recent comeback, and including a complete discography and sessionography. Written largely in Richard's own words, but also including testimony from a star-studded cast of family, friends, and fellow musicians, this classic of rock literature tells all--his flamboyant stage antics; his blatant flaunting of racial taboos; his sexual experiences; his bewildering career that careened between show business and the church; and exactly how he created the music that would become a symbol of rebellion for kids all over the world.

Charles White is the author of Killer!, the authorized biography of Jerry Lee Lewis. Dubbed "Dr. Rock" by the British press, he teaches a course on rock history at Scarborough College, and broadcasts regularly on BBC-Radio and BBC-TV. He lives in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England.


At last! A book on Little Richard.

I have these fantastic memories from a very early age, singing "Tutti Frutti" at school--it was a big rave at the time. The first song I ever sang in public was "Long Tall Sally," in a Butlins holiday camp talent competition!

When the Beatles were first starting we performed with Richard in Liverpool and Hamburg, and we became close friends. Richard is one of the greatest kings of Rock 'n' Roll. He's a great guy and he's my friend today.
--Paul McCartney

Monday, November 24, 2008

Phil Spector: Out of His Head

by Richard Williams

"One of the best books to come out of the rock scene"
Publishers' Weekly's assessment of Richard Williams' brilliant portrait of Phil Spector, originally published in 1972.

This classic biography and critical study of Spector's music has now been updated to include the producer's work over the following three decades up to the shooting in bizarre circumstances of actress Lana Clarkson at Spector's Los Angeles mansion on February 3, 2003.

John Lennon: "After reading this book I was amazed at the amount of great records [Spector] had been involved with that had influenced me back in Liverpool. It seems that talented people must always be in a great pain -- their sensitivity is what makes them great artists -- but what a price to pay. He is and always will be one of the great originals of rock music -- and it's true: to know him is to love him."

Richard Williams is among the world's most acclaimed music writers. A former editor of Melody Maker and Time Out, his work has appeared in almost every major English language music magazine in the UK and US as well as The Guardian, The Independent and The Times. He has written well received books on Dylan and Miles Davis, and is at present on the staff of The Guardian.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

August 24, 1968 - Frost on Saturday

Taped: Saturday 24 August 1968
Aired: Saturday 24 August 1968

John and Yoko appeared live, talking about art, happenings and peace, on David Frost's London Weekend Television programme Frost On Saturday, broadcast from Wembley.