Friday, September 30, 2011

Charming but thin

You're probly sick of Beatles-era memoirs by now. But Derek Taylor's AS TIME GOES BY (1973) is worth tracking down 4 a slightly diffrent take on what it was like 2 work at the Beatles' late-'60s Apple Records. Taylor's Apple memories take up almost 1/2 of the 175-pg book.
Taylor was the Beatles' press officer during their early days, left after "a huge row" with Beatles mgr. Brian Epstein (after Taylor ghost-wrote Epstein's bio A CELLAR FULL OF NOISE), spent 3 years in the States doing PR 4 a number of famous acts & helping organize the Monterey Pop Festival, then returned 2 England in '68 2 B Press Officer 4 the then-new Apple.
The picture of Taylor painted in Richard DiLello's classic Apple memoir THE LONGEST COCKTAIL PARTY (1972) shows Derek as witty & sophisticated, worldly-wise & always ABSOLUTELY ON TOP OF whatever problem came up, never 2 busy 2 offer a drink or a joke or an encouraging word despite whatever crisis was unfolding. & he was always glib. Great 4 a fast punchy quote.
Some of that comes across in AS TIME GOES BY. You might not learn much new about the Fab 4, but you'll learn something of what it was like 2 work 4 them, & how a person "on the inside" saw things a little diffrently from the rest of the world.
Taylor sez Apple never went broke, even with all the stealing that went on, that it was never even CLOSE -- but every day was a crisis, there was never any time 2 plan ahead, & the staffers panicked from early on. Taylor describes longtime Beatle assistant Neil Aspinall coming in2 Taylor's office, collapsing on2 a sofa, & just staring in2 space 4 hours ... from fear & Xhaustion.
Taylor's also 1 of the few people at Apple who didn't end up hating Allen Klein -- Taylor calls him a friend, even tho Taylor & Klein ended up GOING TO LUNCH while Klein's house-cleaning firings were carried-out by others back at the Apple office....
Taylor recaps sevral of Apple's worst days in the course of the book. & he captures the general atmosphere of the place, especially when it was headed downhill. 4 Taylor it ended when George Harrison "fired" him & told him 2 go home & write this book -- which Taylor's original publisher sez in the intro "reads like a book written by a man who doesn't want to write a book."
What you get is whatever popped in2 Taylor's head 2 write on a given day. & when he got enuf pgs piled-up 4 a book-length manuscript, he stopped. Along the way you get a little about Monterey, & little bits & pieces about what it was like 2 handle press-relations 4 The Beach Boys ("Christ, they were a lot of work...."), The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas, Paul Revere & The Raiders, & briefly The Doors, Captain Beefheart -- & Mae West. She gets a chapter all 2 herself, & she's just as odd as any of these other personalities....
It's vivid & funny & charming, but there's not enuf of it. 1 of Taylor's tangents asks how people become critics -- Taylor was 1 4 awhile during his newspaper career in northern England -- & how he wishes people could B warned up-front about lazy, uninformed, bitter critics. He found-out 1st-hand as a PR guy that there R a lot of them out there....
Worth a look -- you'll get sucked-in fast. But at the end you'll wish there was 2wice as much....

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