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Book Review: If You Like The Beatles by Bruce Pollock

If You Like The Beatles is part of a new book series from the Hal Leonard publishing group. The If You Like… books take off from that simple phrase, and explore the influences and impacts of the subject at hand. Appropriately enough, The Beatles were chosen to inaugurate the series. The decision to use the Fab Four makes sense for a number of reasons. As the preeminent Baby Boomer band, The Beatles still exert a massive impact on the culture, over fifty years after they initially got together.

The book begins with a discussion of the many groups and singers who influenced The Beatles. These include Elvis Presly, Cliff Richard, and Screaming Lord Sutch. Rockabilly and Rhythm and Blues were also big favorites with the Liverpool lads. Perhaps their biggest early mentor would be George Martin, however. Martin was a studio pro who had worked on one of John Lennon’s favorite radio programs, The Goon Show. Throughout their career, whatever stylistic direction the band wished to explore, it was Martin they turned to make things happen.

The innovations the group came up with led to a number of musical branches, such as folk rock and acid rock. Author Bruce Pollock explores these stylistic detours in depth in seperate chapters. The saga of Apple Records is recounted as well, including the fact that James Taylor was released after recording one album for the label. His stint with Warner Bros. Records would prove to be far more successful.

“The Anti-Beatles” is an intriguing chapter, chronicling the many individuals and groups who were were less than worshipful towards The Beatles. These include Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, whose We’re Only In It For The Money was a hilarious parody of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Other “Anti-Beatles” include The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, and The Sex Pistols.

Pollock also includes some interesting lists towards the back of his book. One of the funnest of these is “100 Covers,” featuring some lesser-known cover versions of Beatles songs. These include Peter Sellers doing “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and Mae West’s version of “Day Tripper.” There are also quite of number of Lennon/McCartney compositions that were given to others that may not be familiar to the everyday Beatle fan. Anyone remember “Its Four You” by The Beatnix?

If You Like The Beatles should be a winner with Beatles fans. Bruce Pollock has collected a number of little-known tidbits into his book, which is laid out chronologically. He has not skimped on the well-known portions of the myth either and offers something for everyone.

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