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12Apr

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown – review

Craig Brown’s portrait of the band recaptures their heyday in a series of shimmering vignettes

Fifty years since their dissolution in April 1970 the Beatles live on. The band’s music, their significance and their individual personalities exert a hold on the cultural consciousness that seems to tighten as their heyday recedes. But is there anything new to say? Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four, the latest to enter the crowded library of Beatles books, is not a biography so much as a group portrait in vignettes, a rearrangement of stories and legends whose trick is to make them gleam anew.

The subtitle, The Beatles in Time, marks out the book’s difference from the rest. Brown goes on Beatles jaunts around Liverpool and Hamburg, visits fan festivals, tests the strength of the industry that has agglomerated around them. So many of the clubs where they played are now lost or changed beyond recognition – “a memory of a memory” – and the fans who do the pilgrimages are simply chasing shadows.

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