Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Psychobabble recommends 'Beatles for Sale: How Everything They TouchedTurned to Gold'

I approached John Blaney’s Beatles for Sale: How Everything They Touched Turned to Gold with a degree of reluctance. Having read more books about The Beatles than I care to admit, I couldn’t imagine Blaney’s effort would have anything fresh to say about the Fabs, no matter how much I enjoyed his Lennon & McCartney: Together Alone. That the book’s angle is a focus on The Beatles’ financial dealings and disasters didn’t particularly excite me either.

The first chapter of Beatles for Sale seemed to confirm my first apprehension. It reads like a straight biographical narrative of The Beatles’ early days leading up to their breaking in America peppered with awkward asides about how much they got paid to play this gig or how they signed that misguided contract. Then the second chapter sprints through the remainder of their career to settle on the formation of Apple Corps and the emergence of Allen Klein in the late ‘60s and the aftermath of these events. This leads us through the next four decades. Chapter three whips us back to ’62 for a look at Lennon and McCartney’s sad publishing deals.



Beatles for Sale continues in this manner with each chapter reading like a stand alone essay on the various aspects of The Beatles’ business career assembled in jumbled chronology. The results of this structure could have been a mess, and it did, indeed, take a while for me to acclimate to it. But halfway through Beatles for Sale I started to really dig Blaney’s approach. The book kind of reads like a mix tape: a lot of the information is familiar, but assembled out of order it offers a fresh perspective on an old tale. And the business angle gives Blaney the opportunity to scrutinize certain aspects of Beatlemania closer than even an exhaustive biography like Bob Spitz’s The Beatles did. And I’m not just talking about those chapters focusing on the multitudinous post-‘60s lawsuits (the most fascinating of which is a lengthy dispute between Apple Corps and Apple Computers). Beatles for Sale offers new details and insights on such sundry oddities as Al Brodax’s Beatles cartoon, the Beatles’ official fan club (a real financial black hole), Apple films, the Apple boutique, and goofy Beatles merchandise like those awful mop top wigs. Beatle dabblers won’t find this book essential, but more devoted fans might find Beatles for Sale to be an original, enlightening look at Beatlemania and all it wrought.

Get Beatles for Sale: How Everything They Touched Turned to Gold at Amazon.com here.
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