What were Paul McCartney's most underrated songs? Which George Harrison tunes failed to reach the top ten? How many times did John Lennon appear on The Beatles' solo albums? Which songs include Ringo Starr's best drumming?
Fans who enjoy pondering and debating these questions will find a kindred spirit in Robert Rodriguez, who discusses these topics and more in Fab Four 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970-1980. A companion to his previous book, Fab Four FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Beatles…and More! (co-authored with Stuart Shea), Fab Four FAQ 2.0 focuses on the Beatles' solo years, jam-packed with history, little-known facts, and controversial topics. In his introduction, Rodriguez states that his goal is to create a "quadruple biography" that would be told in stand-alone chapters. Readers can select chapters addressing themes of interest rather than reading the entire book in one sitting. Like its predecessor, Fab Four FAQ 2.0 is best enjoyed in this manner; reading such massive information at one time could prove daunting.
Hard core fans will appreciate Rodriguez's attention to detail, providing background stories on well-known and more obscure tracks. As a fan, I find it fascinating that I learn new facts about the group every day, and this book offers such new information. For example I had no idea that Harrison once played on a Cheech and Chong single, or that he first offered "It Don't Come Easy" to Badfinger rather than Starr. A chapter detailing the worst-performing solo singles reveals some surprises; today, it's difficult to believe that the 1970 Lennon classic "Mother" peaked at only 43 on the charts, or that Harrison's pop-friendly "Love Comes to Everyone," released in 1979, failed to chart at all. These revelations make Fab Four FAQ 2.0 an interesting read for any Beatles enthusiast.
One element missing from the book is an extensive bibliography. Rodriguez obviously underwent a massive research process to uncover obscure information, but he provides only a brief, selected list of sources at the end. Although the complete list would probably comprise man more pages, it would have been helpful for researchers to locate Rodriguez's sources. In additions, footnotes would have better distinguished facts versus opinion — at times I found it difficult to discern the author's thoughts from material culled from other sources. Again, detailed notes would enable Beatles fanciers to find certain books or articles Rodriguez cited.
Despite these issues, Fab Four 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970-1980 serves as a welcome addition to any Beatles library. It functions as a companion to other reference books in that it fills in some information gaps. On a lighter note, it should also spark spirited discussions among fans. Although the fact bookstore shelves are already packed with Beatles-themed books, Rodriguez demonstrates that people still have much to learn about the legendary band and the members' solo careers.Powered by Sidelines