Revolution in the Head: "Beatles" Records and the Sixties

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9780712662086: Revolution in the Head:
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Tracing the development of the Beatles song-by-song, this book places the group in the wider cultural context of the '60s. It considers all the elements which combined to create each song as it was captured on vinyl - the songwriting process, the stimuli of contemporary pop hits and events, the evolving input from the bandmembers, the innovations pulled off in the studio and the influence of psychedelic drugs - all set against the backdrop of the era.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An ideal pathfinder on the Beatles' long and winding road from moptops to magi--insightful, informative, contentious, and as ambitious and surprising as its heroes. Popular music criticism is often a thankless task, falling uneasily between mindless hype and lugubrious academicism. MacDonald, former deputy editor of New Musical Express, adroitly bridges that gap, taking the factual chassis--recording session data, itineraries, etc.--laboriously assembled by Beatlemaniacs like Mark Lewisohn and bringing to bear a fan's enthusiasm, a musicologist's trained ear, and a critic's discernment to produce the most rigorous and reliable assessment of the Beatles' artistic achievement to date. Advancing chronologically through the songs, MacDonald provides an encyclopedic wealth of biographical, musical, and historical detail, yet always keeps his eyes on the prize--the uniquely rich elixir the group distilled from these disparate elements. He considers the Beatles on their own musical and cultural terms, taking his cue from contemporary influences (rhythm-and-blues, soul, and the supercharged social crucible of the '60s), rather than straining for highbrow parallels in Schoenberg or Schubert--you'll find no reference to the infamous ``Aeolian cadences'' of ``This Boy'' here. MacDonald makes no bones about his own critical convictions: He prefers the artful structures of pop, its ``energetic topicality'' that ``captures a mood or style in a condensed instant,'' to rock's ``dull grandiosity,'' a shift he attributes to a general retreat since the '60s away from depth and craftsmanship into spectacle and sensation. Accordingly, he champions the pop classicism of the Beatles' early-middle period, culminating in Revolver and Sgt. Pepper, and in his most memorably acerbic passages deplores the rockist leanings of their later work: ``Helter Skelter,'' for instance, is dismissed as ``ridiculous, McCartney shrieking weedily against a backdrop of out-of-tune thrashing.'' The ultimate Beatles Bible? Certainly a labor of love, and all the more valuable for holding the Fabs to the highest critical standards. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

There's certainly no shortage of books on the Beatles. In this latest one, MacDonald--musician, composer, and former New Musical Express editor--purports to do something different by putting the group in the cultural context of its decade. His observations on the 1960s, fortunately confined largely to an introductory section, are, however, too often distressingly obvious. He's far more successful when he focuses on the music with a song-by-song chronicle of the group's career. Other Beatles books have taken the same approach, but MacDonald's incorporates session information from Mark Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Recording Sessions (1988), and it details the group's musical development and growing reliance on the recording studio and then makes some cogent observations on both the culture and the music. He makes the tie-in to 1960s culture most effectively through a month-by-month time line that follows the song-by-song main text and places the Beatles' history next to developments in world affairs and pop culture. Even if your Beatles shelf is groaning, MacDonald's work will be a useful addition. Gordon Flagg

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780805027808: Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0805027807 ISBN 13:  9780805027808
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co, 1994
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9780805042450: Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties

Holt P..., 1995
Softcover

9781857020991: Revolution in the Head:

Fourth..., 1994
Hardcover

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