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Delving into concerts and interviews, films and music, outtakes and bootlegs, Devin McKinney brings to bear the insights of history, aesthetics, sociology, psychology, and mythology to account for the depth and resonance of the Beatles' impact. His book is also a multifaceted appreciation of the group's artistic achievement, exploring their music as both timeless expression and visceral response to their historical moment.
McKinney, born in 1966, never experienced the [Beatles] phenomenon firsthand. His perspective grants him freedom to see new combinations, to consider and even dismantle the existing critical apparatus; in doing so, he jolts his subject back to bristling life...If this is a history, it's a poetic one, driven by smart, breathless connections rather than a need to gather all the facts.
— Ed Park
Using literary techniques of montage and free association not unlike those found in the Beatles' more psychedelic songs, McKinney spins a fabulous, fabulist psychic and social history of the band...A detailed, exhaustive and creative look at the Beatles that challenges readers to hear them with new ears.
— Seth Rogovoy
[An] intelligent study of the Beatles...McKinney crunches the facts and pulps the possibilities before tossing everything into a great metaphysical soup, and his book carries sentences not unlike those Norman Mailer used to write forty years ago in the Village Voice.
— Andrew O'Hagan
[McKinney] is very good indeed on tracking the Beatles' collective footprints through the sands of the collective unconscious. He's a pleasure to read on the Marcos debacle and the 'butcher' photograph (in a chapter entitled 'Meat'): his deconstruction of Help! is little short of masterly...This is the work of a critic bold enough to cite 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' as 'the defining song of the Beatles' greatest album.'
— Charles Shaar Murray
|1||Rude Noises from the Bog: The Beatles in Liverpool and Hamburg||3|
|2||Ascension/Sacrifice: A Hard Day's Night and Help!||51|
|3||Meat: The Beatles in 1966||86|
|4||The Unintelligible Truth: The Beatles and the Counterculture||178|
|5||O.P.D./Deus est Vivus: The Beatles and the Death Cults||254|
|6||Fantasy into Flesh: A Life and an Afterlife||339|
Posted December 14, 2004
McKinney tells us he used to consider Hey Jude 'overrated' and now 'trembles' when he hears the song. I'm of McKinney's generation and I've found time and again the way a Beatles' song or album I thought I knew so well it could delight but not surprise me, will, upon a sudden hearing, bring me to my knees. McKinney writes a fine and true story about these Beatles, that does justice to the peculiar position of our generation: passionate response to art that ostensibly drew its life from the moment of its making. You must read the book to discover for yourself that only a passionate mind can articulate the difference between nostalgia and actual history. McKinney's book also demonstrates so much that is absent from nearly all contemporary nonfiction: it is passionate without being sentimental; it is personal without being confessional; its intelligence is alive and transparent and neither the fill-in-the-blanks obscurantism of fashionable cultural analysis nor middlebrow accessibility. And the photos are so well-chosen--really rich images that complement the text. I only wish McKinney had included a good annotated bibliography in addition to his discography. Really, read this book now and Revolver will never sound the same again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2003
I read an advance copy of this book and was truly amazed by the author's original look at the Beatles. There have been hundreds of books written about this greatest of music groups, but this is the first one to delve into the subconsoius relationships the Beatles had with their fans. For anyone who loves the Beatles or for that matter is fascinated by the 1960's, I urge you to purchase this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 20, 2003
The author's confident, fresh style; meticulous academic research, and obvious love for the subject matter synthesize into a brilliant must-read. In this thorough and intimate account, Devin McKinney lucidly and gracefully guides his reader through the complex and oft-dark layers of Beatles history and cultural myth. I literally could not put this book down--read it in one sitting!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.