PERFORMING ARTS

150 Glimpses of the Beatles

Farrar. Oct. 2020. 592p. ISBN 9780374109318. $30. MUSIC
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As the comprehensive bibliography to Brown’s book makes clear, the vast number of Beatles biographies has resulted in a diverse and crowded field. With excellent works from Philip Norman, Bob Spitz, Hunter Davies, and Mark Lewisohn, it’s easy to wonder if there is a place for another book about the Beatles. In this case the answer is an emphatic yeah, yeah, yeah. Mirroring his Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret, Brown offers a series of vignettes rather than straightforward biography. The variety of approaches isn’t always successful, but there is enough here—personal experience, peripheral characters, witty and often edgy writing—that even old tales feel new, and that is no easy trick. The book occasionally feels like “all of the things they didn’t tell you in the Anthology,” and Brown’s inclusion of fan writing and personal reminiscence can be a bit much, but he deftly points out the Rashomon quality of much of the history; in one noteworthy segment he provides 14 differing accounts of the fight between John Lennon and Cavern Club DJ Bob Wooler at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party.
VERDICT Brown presents a fresh take on a seemingly inexhaustible subject

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