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The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature Complied by Dr. Mike Brocken and Melissa Davis.

by Philip Coppell. Published Sun 02 Dec 2012 18:26, last updated: 05/12/12
Dr. Mike Brocken, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music Studies Liverpool Hope University.
Dr. Mike Brocken, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music Studies Liverpool Hope University.

In this the 50th Anniversary year of the formation of The Beatles as we know them and there has been a glut of books published to add to the already huge library of Beatles books.

Hunter Davis has edited “The John Lennon Letters” a book that includes everything, from his shopping lists to his rantings, in order to pad out 392 pages.

But is it worth the money, or worth reading, even if you are an ardent fan?

This has always been the problem when there are so many Beatles books. Which Beatles book to read?

No-one really knows how many have been published over the years. A conservative guess would be six thousand, but it is probably well over ten thousand and could be considerably higher.

So, if you are a Beatles fan, or with Christmas coming-up, which book do you get for the Beatles fan in the family?

And if you are studying The Beatles, where do you start, with so many volumes available?

I am a Beatles fan, whose wife thinks my book collection has got out of hand, since I have several hundreds gathering dust. Can I need more? Yes, of course!

But now, at least, I have a chance of picking the right books to add to my collection with the publication of "The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature".

Compiled by Liverpool-born, Dr Mike Brocken and American Academic Melissa Davis, a graduate of the inaugural "Beatles MA" in 2011.

A bibliography is an organised listing of books and an annotated bibliography provides the reader with a summary and an evaluation of each book listed. Surprisingly, this is the world's first annotated Beatles bibliography to be published.

Basically it gives you enough information to decide whether or not it is worth your time and money to read a particular book.

This means someone else has done all the hard work and you can cherry-pick the books you want to read avoiding the dross - and there is plenty of dross written about The Beatles out there.

Dr Brocken is the Senior Lecturer in Popular Music at Liverpool Hope University and a man with an already impressive lists of books to his credit, as diverse as "The British Folk Revival" and a biography of Burt Bacharach "Maestro! The Life of a Pop Genius".

He also found time to write a history of Liverpool City Rugby League Club "Rugby League in a Football City" which helps explain why Rugby League never achieved popularity in Liverpool.

All these books are available from Amazon. Dr Brocken is also the Director of the first-ever, Masters Degree course related to Fab Four: The Beatles, Popular Music and Society, is a course that attracts popular music researchers from all over the world to study at Liverpool Hope University.

As an insatiable Beatles reader Mike has spent years compiling his Beatles Bibliography.

It was in 1994 that he first began to convert all his, previously hand written notes, to a computer file. Over the years he had built up an extensive collection of notes.

He realised that this would be very useful to his students on the Beatles MA course, but his notes would need to be annotated.

In short Mike realised he would have to create an annotated bibliography giving a short summary of all the Beatles books to be included.

He was joined in this project by two post-graduates, Melissa Davis and Beatles-loving librarian Angela Ballard, who lives in Wixford, near Stratford-Upon-Avon.

This has been a massive undertaking with nearly three thousand books listed. Considerations of space and cost dictating how many books could reasonably be included.

The main bulk is listed by author, but this list can be cross-referenced by title. All the major Beatle writers are included here, from Hunter Davis, Spencer Leigh and Mark Lewisohn to the early works of Bill Harry, who started it all off writing about The Beatles in the newspaper "Mersey Beat".

You may not always agree with the content but it will make you think. If you are a serious fan or a student of The Beatles this is now your first stop to help you select from the vast array of Beatles books available.

"The Beatles Bibliography" also includes a very useful Webography that lists everything from fan sites to The Beatles' wives, girlfriends and children.

In the interests of balance even an anti-Beatles site is listed, proclaiming to be the longest-running anti-Beatles site in the world. Are there still people who want to “stamp out The Beatles” as the 60s T-Shirt proclaimed?

For the serious musician there is a list of The Beatles songbooks, the vast majority of these are for guitar, which is understandable, closely followed by piano but, try as I may, I could not find a songbook for the ukelele, an instrument made popular by George Harrison and now replacing the recorder as the instrument of choice in schools. Someone is missing a trick here!

Why? I can hear you ask, would anyone spend good money, and this heavyweight tome does not come cheap at £40.00, on this book, when you can refer to the web and look-up what you want.

As I observed at the beginning of this article the question is "Where do you start?"

The answer is that you start with "The Beatles Bibliography: A New Guide to the Literature" Complied by Dr. Mike Brocken and Melissa Davis.

For Beatles scholars and fans who want to decide which Beatles books to read, and which to avoid, it is an investment that will pay for itself.

Brocken and Davis have done the tough research work, so that you don't have to waste valuable time and money on books you do not want.

It is an informative and interesting addition to the ever-expanding Beatles book industry, and one that will be appreciated by anyone with more than a passing interest in The Beatles.

Available from Amazon, eBay and http://www.thebeatleworksltd.com/#!landscape/cyuu
Highly Recommended.


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"I got 250 Beatlres books, and now another great one! I saw the Beatles here in Italy, on hune 1965. Great band, graet Historical event!" ALEX SCHIAVI, Italy around 2 years, 2 months ago

"I have been advised that "Beatles Hits Arranged For Ukulele" features on p565. Apologies for this oversight." Philip, Coppell around 2 years, 7 months ago

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