By Gillian G. Gaar
Serious Beatle record collectors will undoubtedly have at least one of Bruce Spizer’s books on their shelves, which have delved into the history of The Beatles on the Vee Jay, Swan, Capitol and Apple record labels (in addition to his definitive account of The Beatles’ arrival in America, in “The Beatles Are Coming!”). Even noncollectors can enjoy his beautifully printed books, as they contain a wealth of information on how the records were packaged and marketed, along with interviews and numerous illustrations.
Spizer had thought that “The Beatles Swan Song” (released in 2007) would be his last book. Instead, he’s getting ready to publish another one, “Beatles For Sale on Parlophone,” written in collaboration with Frank Daniels (whose “Price Guide For The Beatles American Records” was published in 2007 by Spizer’s company, 498 Productions).
It marks the first time Spizer has looked at The Beatles’ U.K. recording history. “I always assumed that someone else would do a comprehensive Beatles U.K. records book,” he explains. “At least two different people at prior Beatlefests told me they were working on a U.K. book in my style, but they apparently gave up once they realized what was involved. I still had no plans to do a book until Frank Daniels sent me an e-mail to discuss doing something together. Frank had already compiled rough images and data about what records were out there, and realizing that his assistance would make the project less burdensome, I agreed to once again take up the mantle.”
“This is a massive undertaking,” Spizer adds, with no exaggeration. Covering the U.K. records pressed by EMI incorporates not just the 22 singles released in the U.K., but also those pressed for export sale; an extensive section on EPs (including two that were never issued); the 13 U.K. albums (including the two unreleased “Get Back” albums) and export albums; and the Christmas album. along with the fan club discs. No surprise then that book runs to 444 pages.
“I did not realize how many label variations there were,” Spizer says. “EMI seemed to redo the labels every time they ran out. It was not a case of using the same typesetting each time. It seems like the boys in the print shop kept tweaking the label every time new ones were needed. There were also changes in label styles and perimeter print. I also learned a lot from U.K. trade magazines and from interviewing people. I tracked down a man who worked at EMI’s Hayes factory starting in the mid-’50s until the plant was sold by EMI. He was most helpful. I also learned some fun stories about the music and how it was marketed. No matter how much someone knows about The Beatles, he or she will learn new things from the book.”
Given that the titles of Spizer’s other books have drawn on Beatles record titles, “Beatles For Sale on Parlophone” was a natural fit. Though Spizer’s own record collection had concentrated on U.S. and Canadian records, his work on this project has led to some changes. “My U.K. collection has grown from about a dozen discs to a few hundred in the time I started the book less than a year ago!” he says. “This book will give other collectors the confidence to start collecting the U.K. records.”
Spizer hopes to have books ready in August, for Chicago’s Fest For Beatle Fans and Liverpool’s International Beatles Week. Then, a much-needed break will be in order.”
“This could even be my last book,” he says. But Spizer’s fans shouldn’t despair, for he quickly goes on admit, “My last book, ‘The Beatles Swan Song,’ was supposed to be my ‘swan song’ as an author. So as in the title to that James Bond film, never say never again!”
For more information: 498 Productions, 1010 Common St., Suite 1964, New Orleans, LA 70112; www.beatle.net.
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