by Steve Marinucci
Beatles Examiner (www.examiner.com)
April 2, 2011
Bruce Spizer’ encyclopedic books on the American releases by the Beatles have been outstanding sources of information for the detail-driven Beatles collector. These books have included “The Beatles Story on Capitol Records,” “Songs, Pictures and Stories of the Fabulous Beatles Records on Vee-Jay,” “The Beatles on Apple Records”, “The Beatles Solo on Apple Records” and “The Beatles’ Swan Song.”
Moving on to the British releases was the next logical step. His next book, “The Beatles For Sale on Parlophone Records,” will be published in October.
In a phone interview with Beatles Examiner, Spizer said the idea for the book came last year from Frank Daniels, co-author (with Perry Cox) of “Price Guide for the Beatles’ American Records,” for which Spizer wrote the foreward. Daniels also assisted Spizer with “The Beatles’ Swan Song,” Spizer’s sixth and final book on the Beatles’ American releases that covered records on the Swan, United Artists, MGM, Decca, Atco and Polydor labels.
“Frank Daniels had sent me an email suggesting I do such a book with him. And Frank had said for the last couple of years, he had been compiling information about all the different label variations of the Beatles’ UK recordings and felt that there should be a book on it and wanted me to do it,” Spizer said. “Frank and I have had a good working relationship before.”
He says the challenge for the Parlophone book was different than his other on the Beatles’ releases. “In this one, what made it more difficult for me was that was that when I started the book project, I did not own a lot of British Beatles records.”
Also, he said, “the British had a tendency to constantly tweak their labels. Some of that was due to the fact that in the early days, they were using film for the label copy for the film, but actually typesetting. So each time they ran out of a label and printed up more, they had to re-typeset it. So in the case of the EPs, you might have a dozen different label variations for a record.”
The worst example of this, he said, was the EP “The Beatles Hits.” “Part of the problem was that they might say, ‘Well, this EP will sell about 40,000 copies,’ and they’ll press 40,000 of them. When they realize they needed more, they’d say, ‘Let’s do another 20,000.’ Then those sold out, and they were like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ I think they never realized how many copies they could sell. So they never printed enough labels. I noticed it more with the EPs than the singles.”
“What the book does,” Spizer says, “it shows the records that came out in the ’60s, and as such, with the EPs, you’ll know what the jackets look like. You’ll also know that they were laminated. So if you have a jacket that isn’t laminated and has interior folds, then it’s a later jacket most likely from the mid to late ’70s.”
Spizer says he started thinking about the book last spring, committed to doing it last summer and completed it in about a year. “I wanted to go to England first and do some research, then decide whether or not I thought I could do a job that would live up to my prior books.
“I spent a lot of time at the British library going through music magazines and found Record Retailer very helpful,” he said.
“I really approach the project the same way I do a lawsuit,” said Spizer, who’s a lawyer when he’s not writing Beatles books, “in that I want to be very thorough, go through whatever documents I can, interview whatever people I feel will add to it. But at the end of the day, I want to put it together quickly and don’t want to ask for a continuance, as it were.”
The interviews in the book were taken from prior talks with George Martin and Beatles engineer Ken Townshend. He also credited Roy Matthews, who had worked for EMI beginning in the mid ’50s at their factory in Hayes. “Roy was very helpful, had a wonderful memory and went over all sorts of things, such as the actual process of pressing the records, how many records could be pressed in an hour and things of that nature,” he said.
The official release date for the 444-page book is Oct. 5, which is also the 49th anniversary of Parlophone 4949, the Beatles’ “Love Me Do” single. The book includes a pamphlet that has a checklist of the Beatles’ record releases in England from ’62-’70 and ads from dealers who specialize in UK records.
The book, which costs $69.98 for the book itself (with slipcase and collector’s editions also available), can be pre-ordered now through Spizer’s website, www.beatle.net. He says anyone who pre-orders the book before mid-July will receive it around August “if all goes as planned.”
He says he hopes to have the book available at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans Aug. 5-7 and the Liverpool Beatle convention during International Beatles Week Aug. 25-31.