Another Beatles book, you're surely asking yourself? How many books about that band can possibly be written? The career of the greatest rock band of all time has been looked at from every angle, from the scholarly to the frivolous and everything in between, so when I was sent another Beatles book to review I was a little skeptical as to what it was all about. That is, until I saw who the author was. For those who don't know, Peter Asher is uniquely suited to write a book about the Beatles on a few fronts. First, he was the brother of actress Jane Asher, whom Paul McCartney dated in the 1960s; furthermore, McCartney lived in their family home and had a bedroom next to Peter's. Second, Asher was part of the duo Peter & Gordon who had hit records in the 1960s, many of them written by Lennon & McCartney. Third, he was the original head of A&R at the Beatles' record label, Apple Records, where he started off his second career as a manager (most notably of James Taylor) and record producer. Over the last several years, Asher has also been hosting a Beatles-related radio show on Sirius XM called "From Me to You," so he's well positioned to write a book on the Beatles. And what does that just-released book entail? It's subtitled "An Alphabetical Mystery Tour" and Asher does just that, taking us through his Beatles memories and opinions in alphabetical order.
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The first thing to keep in mind with this book, and which Asher mentions right off the bat, is that it's purely subjective. The songs he mentions in this book are his personal favorites and may not line up with everyone else's. He's also very good about pointing out that he's no expert on the minutiae of Beatles history and trivia and that he very well may be getting some things wrong or not quite right (if that makes sense), but that he's also doing the best he can based on his memories of the 1960s. For the most part he does a good job and while I did notice several instances where his facts weren't quite right, there was nothing outright incorrect that I found in the book. Like Peter's radio show (which I've listened to several times), From A to Zed was a nice, pleasant, and fun read and while I didn't learn anything new, that's not to say most readers won't since most readers aren't as obsessive about every facet of Beatles history as I am. As I read the book, I couldn't help but hear Peter's voice narrating it which actually made it even more enjoyable. The best parts were when he shared stories of actually being present at some of the songwriting sessions between John and Paul when they wrote so many classic songs, as well as his various times in the studio or socializing with the Beatles. Those firsthand accounts, as well as his other numerous stories of working with other high profile musicians, elevated the book from a mere collection of "best of" lists to something more fun.
The Beatles From A to Zed is by no means an essential book for anyone interested in a deep dive into the Beatles and their history and if you're looking for in-depth discussions on how they wrote, recorded, and produced their music and films, there are other books that do that (many of which I've reviewed on this site...if you'd like some suggestions, let me know in the comments below and I can offer some). However, regardless of which type of Beatles fan you are, if you're up for a fun and nostalgic look at the Beatles through the alphabet the way Peter Asher laid out this book, you'll enjoy having him as your guide on the trip from A to Zed.
MY RATING: 7/10