Book Review: The Beatles Anthology

By The Beatles

Surely no musical act in history has had so much written about them as The Beatles. There must be thousands of books out there. The Beatles Anthology, however, tells the familiar tale of The Beatles straight from the ‘horses’’ mouths.

Anthology is different to the ‘gazillion’ other Beatles books because, with the help of a team of editors, The Beatles wrote it themselves—even John helps out thanks to some deft editing of interviews he gave when he was alive.

Published in 2000, Anthology is a hard-cover tome of more than 360 pages — each crammed with pictures, trivia and first-hand accounts of famous events.  If you just happen to be visiting from a distant planet, and you think a Beatle is a rock-dwelling invertebrate, you will get a pretty complete picture of The Beatles’ saga.

For a die-hard fan, like myself, learning something new about my favourite band almost never happens—I’ve read everything. And, Anthology doesn’t uncover any shocking new details. What it does do, though, like the colouring of a black and white photograph, is add more realism and humanity to The Beatles’ story.

Here’s a quote from Ringo about the sacking of Pete Best:

Neil Aspinall (road manager) was really friendly with Pete Best and his family, and so for a while, he wouldn’t set up my kit.”

And, here’s a poignant quote from the late Stuart Sutcliff:

Just recently I have found the most wonderful friends, the most beautiful-looking trio I have ever seen. I was completely captivated by their charm. The girl thought I was the most handsome of the lot. Here was I, feeling the most insipid working member of the group, being told how much superior I looked—this alongside the great Romeo John Lennon and his two stalwarts Paul and George: the Casanovas of Hamburg!”

Sure, The Beatles Anthology didn’t add much to my already vast knowledge of The Beatles. I’m glad that I have it, though, and no self-respecting Beatle fan’s coffee table should be without it. If you’re like me, you won’t read it from start to finish. Instead, you’ll pick a page at random, relax, and travel back to the ‘60s for a while.

Andrew Healey


Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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