Kit O’Toole’s Top Beatles Albums, Books, Collectibles and Movies for 2017

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A busy year for Beatles and solo-themed books, DVDs, compact discs and more, 2017 has culminated in the Christmas Records box set, a long-awaited item for Beatles fans. That special release is just one of many gifts that top numerous gift lists — and probably your own. The following guide highlights some notable items issued this year, and all should appeal to the most casual and hard-core Beatles enthusiasts …

BOOKS

These books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble unless otherwise indicated. Prices vary from store to store.

Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926-1966, by Kenneth Womack ($19.03): One of the most buzzed-about books of the year, Maximum Volume examines Martin’s early years as a rising producer and his eventual collaboration with the Beatles. A particular strength of the book involves surprising details about Martin’s personal life, providing insight into his career ambitions. The first biography of the Beatles producer is a welcome addition to the band’s scholarship.

The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Volume 1: ‘My Bonnie’ Through ‘Beatles For Sale’ (1961-1964), by Jerry Hammack, Edited by Gillian G. Gaar ($33.27): The first of a planned four-volume series, the first book details the recording of their first four albums, covering everything from the instruments to the equipment used during recording sessions. A technical but accessible read, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual will appeal to the most hard-core of fans.

A Is for Apple, Volume 2, by Axel Korinth & Ed Dieckmann (approx. $112 US): While a splurge, the second in the series continues their in-depth look at Apple Corps. Anyone wanting to know the complicated history of the company (as well as extensive analyses of Beatles and other Apple label releases) will find this volume invaluable for filling in knowledge gaps. The import can be ordered from either the Fest for Beatles Fans or the authors’ website. (Volume 1 is also still available.)

The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1—Tune In Extended Special Edition, by Mark Lewisohn ($144.84): Previously available only as an import, the extended edition of Lewisohn’s 2014 book has finally been released in the United States. The astoundingly thick volume features the unabridged version of Lewisohn’s definitive biography of the Beatles, chronicling their story from family backgrounds through 1962. Rare photographs and extra material that did not appear in the first edition make this a worthwhile addition to an enthusiast’s library.

The Beatles and ‘Sgt. Pepper’: A Fans’ Perspective, by Bruce Spizer ($21.64): Known for his thoroughly researched books, Spizer leads readers through the story of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s creation. He also includes interviews with many first and second generation fans who discuss how the album impacted their lives. The book contains essays by such experts as Piers Hemmingsen (The Beatles in Canada), Beatlefan publisher Bill King, and Beatlefan executive editor Al Sussman, as well. The book serves as a perfect companion to the Sgt. Pepper 50th anniversary deluxe box set (detailed below).

The Cutting Edge: The Story of the Beatles’ Hairdresser Who Defined an Era, by Leslie Cavendish ($21): The Beatles’ onetime stylist narrates his years working for the boys. He first cut Paul McCartney’s hair in 1966, eventually working with George Harrison and John Lennon too. (Ringo Starr’s then-wife Maureen, a hairdresser, took care of her husband’s hair.) Cavendish’s breezy book tells stories from the Magical Mystery Tour set, as well as his brief stint owning a store as part of Apple Tailoring (an offshoot of the Beatles’ company).

Tittenhurst Park, by Scott Cardinal: This three-volume set chronicles the entire history of a single but notable estate: Tittenhurst Park. John Lennon and Ringo Starr once lived there, respectively, and it was also the site of the Beatles’ last photo session. Rare photographs and stories of Lennon and Starr recording in its home studio are among the highlights. The three-volume set costs $300; each book can be purchased separately as well at the author’s website.

Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World, by Billy Bragg ($20.30): While not specifically a Beatles book, Roots, Radicals and Rockers analyzes the history and importance of skiffle. A respected musician, Bragg traces the roots of the country-folk hybrid, demonstrating how the genre influenced a generation of teenagers who would become architects of the 1960s British Invasion. Anyone wanting to further understand the origins of the Beatles’ sound must add this work to their library.

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and ‘Rolling Stone’ Magazine, by Joe Hagan ($17.51): Also not strictly about the Beatles, this authorized biography profiles the publisher of of the iconic magazine. John Lennon frequently appears, and Paul McCartney discusses how Rolling Stone covered the Beatles as a group and solo artists for 50 years.

Other notable books: Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World by Rob Sheffield ($16.99); Postcards from Liverpool by Mark Brickley ($14.93); Beatlestudy Vol. 1 ($29.99) and Vol. 2 ($39.99) by Aaron Krerowicz; and Flip Side Beatles ($29.99) also by Krerowicz (perfect gifts for the musicologists on your list). Those wanting to learn even more about Sgt. Pepper will enjoy ‘Sgt. Pepper’ at Fifty: The Mood, the Look, the Sound, the Legacy of the Beatles’ Great Masterpiece by Mike McInnerney, Bill DeMain, and Gillian G. Gaar ($16.96) and Brian Southall’s ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’: The Album, the Beatles, and the World in 1967 ($20).

BLU-RAYS, CDs

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978, Blu-ray, $18.49): The 1978 film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band may have bombed at the box office, but the soundtrack lives on. Issued on Blu-ray for the first time, the film serves as a time capsule from the late 1970s as it stars some of the biggest acts of the time: the Bee Gees; Peter Frampton; Aerosmith; Earth, Wind and Fire; and Steve Martin. Fun in a campy way, the pristinely restored film should appeal to the collection completists on your list.

Give More Love, by Ringo Starr ($11.19): The drummer’s latest album received positive reviews for songs like “We’re On the Road Again” and the title track. Featuring guest turns by frequent Starr collaborators Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, Joe Walsh, and Steve Lukather (oh, and some guy named Paul McCartney), Give More Love follows in the same optimistic spirit as previous releases like Postcards from Paradise and Ringo 2012.

BOX SETS

Christmas Records, by the Beatles ($72.98): Finally responding to many fans’ requests, Apple has reissued the Official Fan Club Christmas records. All seven discs are presented on multicolored vinyl with reproductions of the original sleeve art. A deluxe booklet details recording notes on each of the Beatles’ messages, plus reproductions of original fan club newsletters. One caveat: there is no compact disc or download included in the set, so a turntable is necessary to enjoy this special set. Hopefully, Apple will release a CD or MP3 version in the near future.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Super Deluxe Edition, by the Beatles ($97.15): The ultimate salute to the landmark album, this box set celebrates the work’s 50th anniversary. Indeed, a “deluxe” treatment, the box includes the gorgeously remastered original album, the mono version, and two discs of outtakes Also included is a 140-page hardback detailing the album’s recording and impact throughout the world, a DVD featuring the 1992 Making of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ documentary, restored promotional videos for “A Day in the Life,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” and replicas of the original album inserts.

Flowers in the Dirt: Deluxe Edition, by Paul McCartney ($114.29): The Paul McCartney Archive Collection featured an update of McCartney’s 1989 comeback album this year, and the packaging is lavish. While the set includes the remastered album, the real stars are the two discs packed with demos McCartney completed with collaborator Elvis Costello (some cuts ended up on the final version of Flowers in the Dirt; others were scattered on Costello’s Mighty Like a Rose and McCartney’s Off the Ground). A DVD contains the videos to “My Brave Face,” “This One,” “Figure of Eight,” and more. The Put It There documentary, a chronicle of the making of the album, is also included. A booklet, photobook, and more items complete the package.

VINYL

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the Beatles ($22.97): The final release to commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary, this vinyl remaster features a new stereo mix by producer Giles Martin. The mix was sourced from the original four-track session tapes and guided by the mono mix. Pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, this special edition LP will be released December 15.

Paul McCartney Archive Collection (approx. $16.99 each): The first eight archive titles have been issued on 180g colored vinyl, complete with original album artwork. Download cards are included, so turntables are not necessarily required to enjoy these remasters. Titles include McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings at the Speed of Sound, McCartney II, Tug of War, and Pipes of Peace.

EVERY LITTLE THING

A Hard Day’s Night Spa set for the Beatles Lover ($49.90): Know a Beatles fan who also loves to be pampered? This themed gift may be the perfect gift. The set includes “I Want to Hold Your Hand” cotton candy homemade soap; “Strawberry Fields Forever” strawberry bath salts; “Yellow Submarine” bath bomb; and “Hard Day’s Night” sugar scrub, all encased in a Hard Day’s Night-themed box. Check it out right here.

‘Sgt. Pepper’ jukebox ($12,995.00): For the ultimate splurge, you cannot go wrong with this Sgt. Pepper-themed jukebox. The limited edition piece holds more than 70 singles and is even Bluetooth-enabled to stream music from various devices. The jukebox features colorful effects as the music plays. To order, visit the Fest for Beatles Fans or the Soundleisure Classic Jukebox site.

Love the Beatles? Click here to check out our in-depth discography, including song-by-song examinations of some of the Beatles’ lesser-known cuts from Kit O’Toole’s Deep Beatles column, only from Something Else!


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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  • Mark Zutkoff

    I appreciate your positive comments on the SPLHCB movie Blu-Ray. What should be added is that the disc has a really enjoyable and informative commentary track that, even if you don’t like the movie, should prove entertaining.

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