Kit O’Toole’s Top Beatles Albums, Books, Collectibles and Movies for 2015

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The long-awaited release of the Beatles’ promotional films. The 50th anniversary of Help! More releases from the Paul McCartney Archive Collection.

These events inspired a slew of new Beatles and solo products, ranging from books to CDs to DVDs to calendars and more. Fans will appreciate these items under the tree, or you may want to add them to your own collection! The following list includes some of the highlights from 2015.

BOOKS

These are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble unless otherwise indicated. Prices included are list price, but costs vary from store to store.

Eight Arms to Hold You: 50 Years of Help! and the Beatles by Simon Wells and Paul Skillett ($45): A loving tribute to the making of the Beatles’ second movie, Eight Arms to Hold You features gorgeous, full-color photos from the set. The oversized book also includes images of rare memorabilia and Wells’ text exploring the filming and lasting impact of Help!

Ringo: With A Little Help by Michael Seth Starr ($32.99; Kindle edition, $18.14): Too few books have chronicled Ringo Starr’s professional and personal life, but this new tome by Michael Seth Starr (no relation) thoroughly examines the drummer’s story from his Liverpool beginnings to his current solo career.

Lennonology: Strange Days Indeed—A Scrapbook Of Madness by Chip Madinger ($150 hardcover, $100 softcover; order through the Lennology website): The author of Eight Arms To Hold You – The Solo Beatles Compendium returns with a book 15 years in the making. Madinger discusses John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s creative and personal relationship from 1968-1980, written in the form of a daily journal. Archival interviews and rare photos help tell the story of the still fascinating couple.

George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door by Graeme Thomson ($29.95):
Like Ringo Starr, Harrison has received few biographical treatments. This year Thomson released Behind the Locked Door, an in-depth look at the notoriously private singer/songwriter’s life. Drawing on research and interviews with friends and artistic peers, the author presents a well-rounded picture of Harrison’s spirituality, flaws, and strengths.

Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage Ultimate Edition by Andy Babiuk ($60, order from Babiuk’s website): Gear heads, rejoice: Beatles instrument expert Babiuk returns with an expanded edition of his acclaimed reference book. In addition to the original material, the author has added over 650 new photos and more stories behind the group’s iconic guitars, drums, pianos, amps, and more.

A, B, See…The Beatles! by Jill Davis (author) and Jeanne Conway (illustrator) ($16.95, order from Davis’ website): Children often gravitate toward the Beatles’ music, and the new book A, B, See…The Beatles! teaches them about the group and the alphabet. Adults and their tots can both enjoy this whimsical and sweet journey through the band’s history, accompanied by beautiful, vibrant illustrations.

Photograph by Ringo Starr ($50): A must own for any fan of the Beatles and/or Starr, Photograph features pictures from his archives, many previously unpublished. His reflections on various shots provide additional context, lending new insight into his life and career.

1974: The Promotion Man New York City by Dave Morrell ($12.99): Volume two in Morrell’s planned series of memoirs, 1974: The Promotion Man follows the author as he learns the ropes of being a promotions man for Warner Bros. Records. His ongoing friendship with John Lennon is a highlight of the book, as Morrell fondly recalls watching old Beatles footage with his idol and visiting him in the studio.

1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music by Andrew Grant Jackson ($27.99; Kindle, $14.99): While not strictly about the Beatles, 1965 covers significant moments such as the Help! movie and soundtrack, the Shea Stadium concert, and Rubber Soul. Jackson places these events in the context of the entire year, as he also discusses how 1965 R&B, pop, and rock impacted pop culture and world events.

Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through the Beatles’ Lesser-Known Tracks by Kit O’Toole ($19.95; Kindle, $9.99): I am proud that I finally published my first Beatles book, a collection of “Deep Beatles” columns from this site as well as other writings on the 2009 remasters and select solo works. Exclusive to the book is a chapter examining Ringo Starr’s most underrated drumming performances.

Honorable mentions:
* Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll by Fred Goodman
* The Smith Tapes: Lost Interviews with Rock Stars & Icons 1969-1972 by Ezra Bookstein
* This Bird Has Flown: Rubber Soul 50 Years On by John Kruth
* The Complete Beatles Songs: The Stories Behind Every Track Written by the Fab Four (New Edition) by Steve Turner

CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray/Vinyl

Beatles 1+ – The Beatles ($50.98 CD/Blu-ray; $48.88 CD/DVD): For years, fans have clamored for Apple to release the Beatles’ promotional films. The wait is finally over: no longer do people have to rely on blurry, grainy bootlegs. The music videos for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “Paperback Writer,” and many more have been lovingly restored, presented in vivid color and sporting crystal-clear sound. Commentary from Paul McCartney and Starr is included, as is a small book discussing the significance of the films and music. While the videos are the stars, the package also includes a completely remastered version of the enormously popular 1 CD, originally released in 2000. The DVD and Blu-ray are available for separate purchase, but the deluxe 1+ package is at the top of most Beatles enthusiasts’ lists.

Tug of War and Pipes of Peace – Paul McCartney (McCartney Archive Collection, Deluxe Editions) ($61.62 each): The latest releases in the McCartney Archive Collection focus on his back-to-back 1980s albums, and they receive a lavish makeover with remastering, extra tracks featuring demos and remixes, and DVDs including original music videos and rare home movies (for example, in Pipes of Peace the footage featuring Michael Jackson riding horses with the McCartneys is a highlight). Elaborate books with essays and rare photos complete the packages.

Postcards from Paradise – Ringo Starr ($10.41): Starr’s latest album finds the drummer in a nostalgic mood, reminiscing about his early days (“Rory and the Hurricanes”) and, as the title suggests, his current state of contentment (“Island in the Sun,” the title track). As usual, Starr calls upon friends to help him flesh out the songs: Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, and Nathan East are just a few examples.

Lennon 9 LP Box Set – John Lennon ($163.44): Vinyl addicts will appreciate these newly remastered versions of Lennon’s eight solo albums. The LPs feature 180 gram vinyl and faithful reproductions of the original album art. Imagine includes two postcards, poster and inner sleeve; Some Time in New York City includes a reproduction of its original postcard and inner sleeve; and Walls and Bridges features an eight-page booklet and inner sleeve. Each album is available separately, but Lennon fans will appreciate the slipcase box that houses the entire set.

MEMORABILIA and FUN STUFF

Something About the Beatles calendar ($20, order though the Something About the Beatles site): The podcast Something About the Beatles, hosted by authors Robert Rodriguez and Richard Buskin, provides a treat with every new episode: original artwork created by executive producer Rick Wey. These whimsical drawings proved so popular that Rodriquez, Buskin, and Wey have gathered those illustrations as well as new ones in the Something About the Beatles calendar. Not satisfied with just one image per month? Simply flip over the calendar to reveal a different picture.

Liverpudlian Recipe Cards (set of six, $18 including shipping; order from the Recipe Records store): Know someone who loves the Beatles and cooking? This fun stocking stuffer features six cards containing traditional Liverpudlian recipes, compiled by Recipe Records Cookbook author Lanea Stagg. Each card bears an illustration, the recipe, and anecdotes concerning the significance of the dishes in the Beatles’ lives (written by John Lennon Series author Jude Southerland Kessler).


Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kit O'Toole
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