When it comes to Beatles books, there’s no shortage of supply, no matter what your level of interest.
For the typical Beatles fan, there are compendiums like the Beatles Anthology. For serious Fab Four devotees, there are lovingly researched tomes like Mark Lewisohn’s Recording Sessions and Andy Babiuk’s Beatles Gear.
For the rest of us obsessives, there is Bruce Spizer and his canon of books devoted to minutiae about the group’s records. A lawyer by trade, Spizer pursues his love of all things Beatles with an exhaustive — some might say compulsive — level of research and analysis.
Beginning with The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay in 1998, Spizer has written six volumes that document the group’s group and solo releases, detailing not only the making of the songs and albums but also minor variations in sleeve and label printings from one pressing factory to another. He also tackled Beatlemania in The Beatles Are Coming, in which he documented, in typical exacting detail, the recordings, performances and behind-the-scenes deals surrounding the group’s American breakthrough.
Now comes the latest — and reportedly last — book in Spizer’s series: the 444-page Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, which covers all of the Fab Four’s singles, albums and extended-play discs issued in the U.K. from 1962 through 1970.
Spizer and co-author Frank Daniels go even further than the title states by including details about the group’s Apple albums and singles, Fan Club Christmas discs (the Beatles issued a holiday “greeting” through the club every year from 1963 through 1969) and Polydor releases of their Hamburg-era recordings.
As you might guess given Spizer’s previous books, the depth of information is satisfyingly comprehensive. In addition to telling the stories behind the songs and albums, Spizer and Daniels explain how the records are mastered and manufactured, how they were marketed and how they performed on the British radio and record charts.
But the real treat here is in the pictures. As with his other publications, Spizer has richly illustrated the new volume with hundreds of color and black-and-white photos. There are the requisite shots of album covers and sleeves of 45s and EPs. But the real eye candy here is the pictures of rare promotional materials that EMI used in its publicity efforts, reminders of the marketing machinery behind the Beatles’ pop-culture juggernaut.
The Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records will be released October 5 and is available now for preorder from Beatle.net. The book is offered in three versions: book only ($70), a signed and numbered slipcase edition ($90), and a collector’s edition ($150) with slipcase, poster, limited-edition print, a replica of a historic Beatles promotional card and a bookmark. The book itself features the cover of the group’s 1964 Beatles for Sale album, and you can choose between “stereo” and “mono” versions (the contents is the same).
Beatles fanatics, take note: the mono versions are outselling the stereo versions. Get yours while they last.
Christopher Scapelliti is the executive editor of Guitar World magazine and managing editor of Guitar Aficionado.