Sunday, August 8, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to really meet the Beatles. This is a delightfully gory retelling of the Beatles' U.S. tour that reimagines the Liverpool foursome as bloodthirsty zombies who take over the world. . . literally!
For John Lennon, a young, idealistic zombie guitarist with dreams of global domination, Liverpool seems the ideal place to form a band that could take over the world. In an inspired act, Lennon kills and reanimates local rocker Paul McCartney, kicking off an unstoppable partnership. With the addition of newly zombified guitarist George Harrison and drummer/Seventh Level Ninja Lord Ringo Starr, the Beatles soon cut a swath of bloody good music and bloody violent mayhem across Europe, America, and the entire planet.
In this searing oral history, discover how the Fab Four climbed to the Toppermost of the Poppermost while stealing the hearts, ears, and brains of smitten teenage girls. Learn the tale behind a spiritual journey that resulted in the dismemberment of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Marvel at the seemingly indestructible quartet's survival of a fierce attack by Eighth Level Ninja Lord Yoko Ono. And find out how the boys escaped eternal death at the hands of England's greatest zombie hunter, Mick Jagger.
Through all this, one mystery remains: Can the Beatles sublimate their hunger for gray matter, remain on top of the charts, and stay together for all eternity? After all, three of the Fab Four are zombies, and zombies live forever.
Up until now, I have resisted the current zombie craze that has been hitting the literary world. I've refused to give in - no Seth Graham-Smith and his ilk for me. I've abhorred the cashing in on the greatness of Jane Austen and Abraham Lincoln. But when I saw this book - on audio no less - narrated by my idol and favorite male audio narrator, Simon Vance - I had to give in. I'm somewhat of a Beatle afficianado, having two older sisters that were bona fide Beatlemaniacs in the '60's and then becoming a die hard Beatles fan myself at the age of six, this was irresistible. I had to have it.
I loved it. I laughed, I giggled, I couldn't get enough of it. It made me giddy, the voices, the accents, the total irreverence and sheer audacity of it - a tour de force! Simon Vance outdid himself on this audiobook. He became John, Paul, George and Ringo. Not to say that he did perfect imitations of the Fab Four ... but close. Not only the Beatles themselves, but all the voices and accents of a myriad of interviewees that make up this mock biography of the making of the Beatles - as zombies. We meet George Martin, Mick Jagger, Rod Argent (of The Zombies the rock 'n roll group) and many, many more characters - it's a who's who of the rock scene and history of the Beatles from their beginnings in Liverpool to present day. I can't even begin to extol the cleverness and sheer madness of this book - anyone who knows anything about the real story of the Beatles will appreciate this satiric look at the four Liverpudlians that took over the world - or tried to at least as zombies. Their goal to reach the toppermost of the poppermost, John's magic litany that transfixes audiences and turns the Shea Stadium Concert into a riot - the ultimate be all end all.
We follow the journey of the Beatles through the eyes of a Chicago writer who has taken it upon himself to thoroughly research the Beatles and he's the one conducting all the interviews. It begins with John's childhood and how he is turned into a zombie as a baby. The charisma and sheer magnetism of John is the dominant force in the book, he is the leader of the band. He makes the major decisions that will affect the Beatles forever. Ruthless, honest, full of bravado, he kills, he dismembers, reanimates and kills again. Never one for regrets, when asked why he created riots and killed so many fans and innocents, the most you'll get out of him that's even close to an apology is "It's my zombie nature."
As soon as John meets Paul, he recognizes talent and it's a done deal. He must kill him, reanimate him as a zombie and together - forever - they will be a band and write songs together and take over the world - the toppermost of the poppermost (whatever that means.) Paul is not a happy zombie at first, but he gets used to it soon enough. Fingers fall off haphazardly (not easy if you're a guitarist) as well as other body parts that are easily sewn back on. Soon George joins the band. Paul turns George into a zombie (John wouldn't do it since he felt George was too young) and the band gels. Now to find that elusive drummer... Before then, we follow the lads in their early days to Hamburg and onto the Cavern Club in London. Finally Ringo joins the group and we have - the zombie Beatles! We follow them through the making of A Hard Days Night and Help! John's weight gain, their introduction to Bob Dylan and marijuana, the London scene, their intro to the psychedelic drugs like the dreaded lycergic (Brian Epstein's own LSD concoction) and it's many side effects. We get the inside scoop and inspiration of some of their song writing - the macabre background on "Dear Prudence" in particular.
I'm leaving a ton out - mainly what being a zombie Beatle is all about - the stench, the gray color of their skin, the postules and open sores, the fact their semen is in powder form - yet they can create sex slaves all they want. Did they? Who knows, no one is admitting to anything. The entire book is built on a series of interviews: the Beatles themselves, Beatles experts, fans, colleagues, rival bands - you name it. Anyone that came into contact with them - and it was all so hilarious! My hats off to Goldsher for pulling this off. The crazy plotlines, Mick Jagger as a zombie killer, Ringo as a seventh ninja lord, Rod Argent, founder of the Zombies who resents the fact that the Beatles came along as a zombie band stealing his band's thunder - there are so many ridiculous and funny sequences in this book, I can't even begin to itemize them. We follow the Beatles origins all the way up to their break up - Yoko's role in it is priceless. No other mentions of wives or girlfriends, natch. I marveled at how clever this all was, only a real Beatles lover will get into this, for the more you know about their true lives, the more you'll nod and laugh and laugh again.
If you happen to be into the Beatles and know their history - or even care about their history - check this audio book out. I stress, listen to it rather than read it for the voice and accent of Simon Vance is superb. He must have had a ball recording it! The only thing missing is the actual music, but since I know all their songs by heart anyway, it wasn't too much of a stretch to imagine the music. Throughout the book there is plenty of gore and killing, yet I took it all in with the spirit of a parody. After the first couple of battles and reanimations you get over the fact these Beatles are killers, thus taking it all in stride - they're zombies afterall. The language is often crude and full of swear words galore, but the Beatles were no saints, so to me it sounds authentic.
Do yourself a favor and get this, listen to it and enjoy - it was brilliant and a real scream - no pun intended!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!