Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties

( 2 )


Based on the hard facts of composition and recording, Ian MacDonald here offers a fresh assessment of all 241 Beatles tracks chronologically. This fully updated edition incorporates new information from the Anthology series and recent interviews with Paul McCartney.
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Based on the hard facts of composition and recording, Ian MacDonald here offers a fresh assessment of all 241 Beatles tracks chronologically. This fully updated edition incorporates new information from the Anthology series and recent interviews with Paul McCartney.
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Editorial Reviews
A valuable resource.
I have worn out three-yes three-copies.
MacDonald, popular and classical music critic, chronicles the influences that bound the Beatles to the '60s, placing them in the context of the cultural meltdown that took place. An extensive introduction is followed by a history and analysis of their 186 recorded songs organized chronologically by album. A 62-page chronology follows, listing Beatles history alongside UK pop music history, current affairs, and cultural history. Includes a glossary but no subject index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Anthony DeCurtis
...revel in Mac Donald's wry humor, cutural range, and unsentimental fondness for the lads.

Rolling Stone

From the Publisher
“MacDonald’s inspired critique has become the work against which all other Beatles books are measured.”

“Arguably the most indispensable Beatles book ever published has just become more indispensable.”

“A triumph — compelling, seductive, delightful.”
—Nick Hornby

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556527333
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: Third edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 134,965
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian MacDonald was born in 1948. He was Assistant Editor of the New Musical Express from 1972-75. He also worked as a songwriter and record producer, and is the author of The New Shostakovich, The People’s Music and The Beatles at No. 1. He died in 2003.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Revised Edition     ix
Preface to the First Revised Edition     xv
Acknowledgements     xxiv
Introduction: Fabled Foursome, Disappearing Decade     1
The Beatles' Records
Note on the cataloguing system     41
Going Up     43
The Top     183
Coming Down     251
Looking Back     369
Note to Chronology     385
Chronology: The Sixties     393
Recommended Further Reading     473
Select Bibliography     474
Glossary     478
Compact Discography     487
Index of Songs and Keys     493
Index to Main Text     499
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2008

    A reviewer

    Ian MacDonald was a classically trained musician who was also an author and music critic. His book 'Revolution in the Head' analizes every Beatles recording and furnishes details about each songs origin as well as it's impact on music and culture. According to the author 'I want to hold your hand' was writted by Paul and John 'eye ball to eyeball' sitting at a piano in the basement of Jane Asher's house. Of this song he writes, it 'electrified American pop' adding 'American players and writers listened to the Beatles free-spirited unorthodoxies in excited disbelief'. 'That the Beatles represented something transmitting at a higher creative frequency was clear'...He asserts that Bob Dylan was able to see past the songs naivety to the epoch-making spirit animating it. Fascinated by the Beatles harmonies, he decided they must have been chemically assisted, mishearing the line 'I can't hide' as 'I get high'. He points out that Lennon and McCartney's song writing styles perfectly complimented one another musically just as each spurred one another on the new achievement. For example, MacDonald offers 'Martha my Dear' was recorded ten days after intense rehearsal work on Lennon's 'Happiness is a warm gun'. About the McCartney song MacDonald writes that 'as brilliantly fluent as Lennon's song is dark and crabbed, Martha my dear is the most exuberant expression of it's authors jaunty personality since Penny Lane. The song is indeed Paul's answer to John's song as it follows up Happiness is a warm gun on the Beatles White Album. MacDonald, an unabashed fan of The Beatles, offers some less favorable reviews of some songs usually pointing out where the Beatles were influenced by other artists of the day. Of course he also documents the groups seminal achievements.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2015

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