There's at least one in every family — a big-time Beatles fan who can't get enough of the Fab Five, even all these years later.
Fortunately, those relatives are easy to buy for. Each year brings a new crop of books about the boys who put Liverpool on the map.
“Beatles vs. Stones” by John McMillian (Simon & Schuster, 320 pages, in stores)
During the 1960s, there were no other bands as popular as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The former had a squeaky-clean image; the latter were all about rock 'n' roll excess.
Tom Wolfe, quoted in the introduction to McMillian's book, put it best: “The Beatles want to hold your hand, but the Stones want to burn down your town.”
A natural rivalry, denied by both camps, developed between the bands as they competed for commercial dollars and artistic appreciation.
McMillian examines both bands within the context of their time and beyond, measuring their staying power and influence. Readers who go into it favoring one group over the other probably won't change their opinions, but the book adds another dimension to the Beatles/Stones canons.
“When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles' Rise to the Top” by Larry Kane (Running Press, 416 pages, in stores)
Kane is the only American reporter to have traveled with the Beatles on every stop of their 1964 and 1965 tours. More than two decades later, he sat down with Ringo Starr to reminisce. “Remember, Larry,” Starr said, “we were just boys then, just boys.”
Kane's book dials in on those early years, from the moment the band members met in the 1950s to their exuberant appearance on the “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964, according to a news release.
These are the years that transformed them into one of the greatest bands ever.
The book is the third written by Kane about the Beatles, who will mark their 50th anniversary in 2014. His other books are “Lennon Revealed” and “Ticket to Ride.”
“The Beatles in 100 Objects: The Story of the World's Greatest Rock-and-Roll Band Through the Items They Used, Created, and Inspired” by Brian Southall (Sterling, 256 pages, in stores)
Southall takes an interesting approach in his book, which relies more on photographs than text. He reproduces images of Beatles memorabilia, including ephemera such as used airline tickets issued to the band, Beatles fan club cards, diaries and more.
He also places those objects and others, including the Beatles clothing, musical instruments and posters, into context. The book doesn't focus exclusively on objects, though; it is flush with black-and-white photos of the band. It'll be a pretty, hefty addition to any fan's collection.
“The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970” by Mark Lewisohn with an introduction by Paul McCartney (Sterling, 204 pages, in stores)
This isn't a new book, per se; it's classic book, out of print for years, that was rereleased in October in hardback and paperback.
As its title suggests, the book — which is about the height and width of a vinyl LP slipcase — is something of a diary, documenting each day spent recording and producing the Beatles albums and singles.
While the text may be a bit technical for many people, the inclusion of numerous photographs and an introductory interview with McCartney make it more inviting. It's interesting to see the bandmates young and at the height of their creative powers.
The paperback version makes for easy browsing without damage to the book's spine. It'd look right at home next to a first pressing of The White Album.