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This is a fascinating book - lovingly narrated by an ensemble cast - all listenable, and a couple of them exceptional. After an introduction it traverses the Beatles recording career song by song - going session by session rather than album by album, including unreleased oddities. The writer is very intelligent and almost invariably brilliant in terms of his analyses of the lyrics and the broader role of the group in the culture of the 20th Century. He's also *sometimes* brilliant in his musical analyses - often enough to warrant 5 stars across the board. That said, he's also sometimes annoyingly stupid on strictly musical elements, making some technical musical errors and overlooking critical details. A perfect example is the song Day Tripper, which he pans rather ruthlessly. Failing to grasp the importance of layered thematic riffs in popular music (and frankly, failing to grasp what a musical hook is) he thinks this is merely a 12-bar blues variant that the Beatles rushed out in an uninspired moment. I find it hard to believe that anyone interested enough in the Beatle to consider buying this book could fail to hear the virtues of this song. He's even more critical of All You Need Is Love, whose thematic 7/4 riff is stunningly brilliant to anyone with ears but he ignores this entirely and damns the song for what he considers its nonsensical lyrics ("nothing you can do that can't be done") but then a few songs later he heaps near-Shakespearean praise on the (similarly full of convoluted word-play) lyrics of I Am The Walrus and lavishes modern "concept art" superlatives on Revolution 9. My point is that Walrus and All You Need is Love - whatever you think of their lyrics - are both dumbfounding brilliant and original from a musical point of view and to say that the first is pure genius and the second is a pathetic piece of rubbish is just infuriating. That said, many of his analyses are spot on and the fact that he's so arrogantly opinionated will challenge you to think, even if you sometimes want to reach through the speaker and slap the guy. So, 5 stars, take each opinion with a pillar of salt, and don't let his sometimes inaccurate use of highbrow technical musical terminology override what your ears are telling you. If you filter out the nonsense, there's an abundance of really great insights to be had.
If you're looking for a 5 star Beatles book without the asterisk, Lewisohn's Tune In is without the slightest doubt the gold standard in terms of both content and narration. Can't Buy Me Love is also fantastic.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
An unbelievably great in-depth critique of the Beatles' entire recorded output, song by song. Indispensable for the serious Beatles fan.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about Revolution in the Head?
I knew of this famous book being the best history, but found it quite hard to read a friend’s copy I borrowed. Listening to it though made a real difference. Knowing the details of how they made the songs and what was going on in their lives has made my understanding of the Beatles music much richer. I like the variety of great voices, men and women. Superb.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Revolution in the Head to be better than the print version?
Well I managed to listen to all over it in a few days - mainly on my computer's speakers - can't imagine I would have managed that had I been reading... books sometimes take weeks to read...
What was one of the most memorable moments of Revolution in the Head?
I enjoyed the little digs taken at the hippy movement... Was also v interested to learn about the history of the How Do You Do track. Had no idea about that...
What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Getting to hear people like Danny Baker and Dave Hepworth narrating...
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Made me happy to live in a country with such a rich cultural history...
Any additional comments?
Definitely worth listening to...
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A Great collection of incisive analysis of every songs by one of the greatest bands ever. And their influences in the sixties and beyond.
Well written, although I often found myself impossible to share his views, and narrated, particularly by Robyn Hitchcock.
This audiobook is a joy to listen to.