From memoirs and biographies to photographic archives and academic critiques of the music, the range of material available on The Beatles can at times seem bewildering. And while there will never be a definitive last word on the group, it inevitably becomes more challenging each year for authors to find new angles to explore.
Treasures Of The Beatles by Terry Burrows stands out from the crowd by bringing together a selection of photographs and reproduction items of memorabilia in a hardback slip case, making a sumptuous collection for fans of the Fab Four.
There’s a great deal packed into these 64 pages. Potted histories, backgrounds to the songs and photographs – some familiar, others rarely seen before – provide a guide to The Beatles, the songs they produced and the people that worked alongside them.
But the true selling point of Treasures Of The Beatles comes in the pull-out facsimile reproductions of posters, ticket stubs, autographed postcards, party invitations, concert flyers and other goodies which, in their original form, would amount to possibly the greatest collection of Beatles memorabilia in the world.
The idea has been done before, notably by James Henke in his more extensive Lennon Legend. Here, the treasures include a facsimile of Brian Epstein’s itinerary for the 1964 US tour scrawled on the back of an envelope, and a business card for Neil Aspinall listing the eight songs performed on their Swedish tour of 1963.
A promotional Parlophone postcard from the same year features another handwritten setlist for a live appearance, possibly a radio or television special, in which the group performed original songs such as I Saw Her Standing There and From Me To You as well as covers of Beautiful Dreamer, A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues and Sweet Little Sixteen.
The collection isn’t perfect – a reproduced contract between The Beatles and Bruno Koschmider is incorrectly described as being for live shows in Berlin rather than Hamburg, for example, and George Martin played piano, not guitar, on Money (That’s What I Want) – but the variety of mementoes more than makes up for minor errors.
The Beatles’ retreat into the studio after their final tour in 1966 inevitably meant fewer documents from the end of their career were available to reproduce, although an invitation to the Magical Mystery Tour party from December 1967 is included. Several of the book’s later photographs, however, have rarely – if ever – been widely seen before, including a 1969 shot of Paul McCartney playing drums in the studio and his draft lyrics for Sgt Pepper.
As such, there’s enough here to make Treasures Of The Beatles a must-have for any Beatles fan, whether they were there at the time or can only dream of those heady days in the Sixties.