7/25/2007

"...don't you know it's gonna be / alright..."

On September 1st, Chicago Review Press will publish the third edition of the late Ian MacDonald's Revolution In The Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. Long out of print, the book towers above the seemingly millions of tomes written about Liverpool's Fab Four by offering a chronological, song-by-song account of everything the lads recorded, complete with credits and insightful commentary.

Originally published in 1994, Revolution is widely acclaimed and respected but not without its detractors. Wikipedia's entry on the book finds that...

"MacDonald’s critique, although stunningly perceptive, lucid and passionate, can be read as troublingly conservative, even nihilistic. He implies...that any cultural artifact produced after a certain date (almost certainly at some point in the 1970s, judging by MacDonald’s work in general) must be greatly inferior to its predecessors. For a writer who is so astute at balancing and disentangling both the virtues and the vices of The Beatles’ music (as well as the music of other artists), this seems reductive and simplistic."

(Kinda like Ken Burns' Jazz, and its dismissive tone regarding that genre's electric and/or post 1960s output, huh? Anyway...)

Personally we are at odds with MacDonald's respective negative assessments of "Helter Skelter" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" but his account of the circumstances surrounding the launch of Beatlemania with the release and subsequent popularity of "She Loves You" is imbued with almost as much enthusiasm and fervor as the song itself. And the nearly chapter-length essay into the backstory leading up to "Tomorrow Never Knows" is one of the greatest instances of music journalism we've ever come across.

In addition to his many bylines and credits, MacDonald was a contributor to the respected UK mags Mojo and Uncut. Sadly, he committed suicide in 2003.

2 comments:

jimmy said...

hey i just discovered your blog via sound taste. great work. i'll be reading...

Kiko Jones said...

Thank you, kindly. And welcome aboard.