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04.12.2017

TONY BARRELL

The Beatles on the Roof

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Omnibus Press, 2017)

Karakter: 4.5/6

The Beatles cover.jpgIn late January 1969, the legendary Beatles took to the roof of their Mayfair headquarters in Savile Row, London, and performed a number of new songs to the public, or rather, to those who were fortunate enough to pass by the building on that cold and windy day. The whole event has turned into something rather mythic in that it proved to be the last time the four Beatles ever performed together in public. To most, it looked like an intuitive and spontaneous thing, almost as if the band just woke up one day and decided to air a few new tracks on the roof of the offices they were occupying, but in truth the affair had been months in the planning with various ideas and discussions taking place within the Beatles organization. The rooftop gig was filmed and originally intended to be used for a climactic finale in a celebratory TV special, but that idea was scrapped and eventually the footage found its way into the somewhat depressing "Let It Be" documentary feature.

The brilliant thing about this well-written and thoroughly researched book by author Tony Barrell is that it examines and explores the rooftop performance in relation to the interpersonal relationships between the different members of the band as well as the staff and managers and so on. In that sense, Barrell's piece focuses on so much more than just the actual performance and those who were there to witness it. It tells you a lot about the Beatles themselves, what was going on in their lives at the time, their creative differences and disputes, the launch of their Apple enterprise, the Ono-Lennon relationship, and so on and so forth. There are countless interesting and fascinating facts, details, and stories associated with the rooftop performance and that is exactly what this book sheds a light on. Barrell's book is nuanced and he has done a tremendous job at tracking down people who worked at Apple back in the day (be they secretaries, technicians, or administrative staff), the policemen who patrolled Savile Row on the day of the gig, the fans that happened to pass by in the street as the Beatles were playing, and so on. They offer many interesting perspectives on the affair and add substance and depth to Barrell's account of what went down on January 30, 1969.

"The Beatles on the Roof" is a charming piece of literature with a lot of warmth and soul to it. There is a sense of longing to Barrell's narrative in that he tells of magical and enchanting things from a bygone era that the rest of us can only dream about. Certain passages were really touching and his enthusiasm for the subject matter is inspiring. The way in which he evokes a sense of 60s London and touches on The Beatles' relation to the great city is brilliant. A great book for all of those who are interested in The Beatles and the cultural impact of the rooftop concert. When Norwegian black metallers Satyricon announced that they would perform the entire "Deep Calleth Upon Deep" album on the rooftop of the KLP building in Oslo, vocalist Satyr Wongraven said the following: "I always thought The Beatles gig on top of the Apple building in London, 1969 was such an intriguing thing and it really feels like a privilege to be able to do something like this ourselves." That just goes to show how monumental the event turned out to be and how much it has impacted other bands and artists even up until today.
 


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