Book review: Visualising The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas

Visualising The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas

Visualising The Beatles by John Pring and Rob Thomas

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Now what was it that John Lennon asked us all to picture back in 1967? Yourself? In a boat? On a river?

You’ll still have to train your mind’s eye to see those unlikely-sounding ‘tangerine trees and marmalade skies’ but thanks to Visualising The Beatles, the groundbreaking song from which those lyrics came is brought to life in the most stunning way.

Eye-catching infographics and data visualisations tell you – without the need for a traditional page packed full of prose – that Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is in the key of A Minor, lasts three minutes and 28 seconds, and was never released as a single.

In just over six months’ time, it will be half a century since The Beatles’ eighth LP first hit the turntable and Lucy remains one of the most recognisable songs on that album. The book tells you in Lennon’s own words that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ‘is one of the most important steps of our career – it just had to be right.’

True to the nature of the graphics, the insightful quote sits proudly alongside a snappy drawing of – what else – three steps!

By day John Pring and Rob Thomas are graphic designers working for clients ranging from Google to The Hard Rock Cafe, but these self-confessed Beatles geeks burned the midnight oil on a personal mission to discover what the Fab Four’s music would look like if you visualised it.

Packed with graphics for every album The Beatles made, from Please Please Me to Let It Be, the book also highlights things you might not know, such as the instruments you can hear… whether that is bongos, cowbells or sitar alongside the more traditional guitars and drums.

As well as all that music, there is a timeline of memorable world events for each year and the book, which starts with illustrations of how the four musicians met, ends with a double page spread on the solo album releases by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr after the split.

This colourful project adds a new voice to The Beatles’ song canon although Pring and Thomas stress the book has not been endorsed by any members of the band, their friends, families or estates.

Doubtless they would be as fascinated by its content as the most avid fan is going to be!

(Orphans Publishing, paperback, £25)