Musician W. Fraser Sandercombe, like many in the arts, wears a variety of hats. The Burlington, Ontario resident owns a rare book dealership with a bevy of delicious titles and has essays published in Macabre, Weirdbook, Moonbroth, Haunts and other magazines/media. The author of Nothing Gold Can Stay – The Wildlife of Upper Canada (Boston Mills Pr, 1985) as well as the upcoming (July 2010) Masters of Sf: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, however, may be remembered most for his attention to detail in three collections on the works of The Beatles.
The newest, Beatles Books: From Genesis to Revolution, is a jaw-dropping bibliography on 1400 of the published titles…fourteenhundred! Ask a Beatles fan the question “How many books do you think are currently in-print on the Beatles” and you’ll get varying responses…hundreds …700…900…but this number is mind-boggling, and will continue to go up just as movie fans will continue to purchase tickets to Avatar in 2010.
As a long-time book critic I tend to put Beatles books in three categories, GREAT as in Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey’s superb “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording The Music of The Beatles”, The Beatles own biography on Chronicle Books or any of George Martin’s titles, especially “All You Need Is Ears” and his discussion of Sgt. Pepper. Then there’s the books that are good, and then there are the dreadful tomes that miss the mark.
Yes, it would be nice to someday have a directory with notations on which books are essential and which should collect dust on the shelf, but let’s look at the importance and the scope of this work. Collecting so many titles in alphabetical order is a dream come true for serious disc jockeys, music fans, television hosts, writers and those who appreciate the work of the Fab 4. Some of the reviewers have not been kind to this Beatles Books: From Genesis to Revolution, but they are judgmental, if not crazy. To this fan, it’s one of the most important and needs to be in the top 10, a huge reference guide that I am most thankful for.
Sandercombe has previously issued June 2007’s The Beatles: The Press Reports 1960 – 1970 ($19.95) and August 2008’s Beatlemania Forever: The Beatles Encyclopedia ($27.95) The Press Reports is another stunning collection of articles – 1957-1970 articles from the news media put back into print in book form here along with material published after the Beatles disbanded. The Collectors Guide publisher’s page states: “The Beatles received more media attention than any other rock band in history. This book explores their year-by-year exploits as they grew from a local phenomenon to international superstars” and that the three books make up an important trilogy goes without saying.
Beatlemania Forever is the frosting on the cake, an encyclopedia that notes such obscurities as Ringo Starr appearing in Donn Alan “D. A.” Pennebaker’s 1973 film of David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars – a film that is said to have had a few brief airings in public until re-released ten years later in 1983 on video.
I put all three of these books on my A List for Beatles collectors, and will be discussing more Beatles titles on TMRZoo.com in the near future.