Book Reviews

Please click on the above image for a link to go through to the British Beatles Fan Club website, where the following review by Peter Sims first appeared.

Thursday, 13th May 2021

"With probably well over 2000 books published about The Beatles since 1962 (not even allowing for those published in other languages) do we need yet another book about them?  Maybe, maybe not.  But Rivals Of The Beatles is not the story of The Beatles as such.  It is the story of some of the other groups who were affected by them along the way.  All these acts in one way or another were influenced by, or owed a debt to, The Beatles.

Rivals Of The Beatles is an excellent piece of work, and would be a worthwhile addition to the libraries of Beatles fans.  It is interesting and well written and, although it contains a lot of information, Rivals Of The Beatles is a highly entertaining read.

Martin Orkin has always loved 1960s music and has a large record collection, accumulated since 1962 (when he was nearly a teenager!).  Following his retirement in 2010 from a small bank based in the City of London, Martin turned to his love of 1960s music.  A few years later, he came up with the idea of this book, and he has spent the last 4 years writing it.

Martin’s book (a weighty tome of 808 pages) tells the stories, one chapter each, of 20 of the groups who were around at the same time as The Beatles in the 1960s, some of them famous, some more obscure.  But additionally, and the ‘glue’ which holds the book together, is that he tries to relate each group’s story to that of The Beatles, and to show The Beatles’ big influences on others, and indeed the help they gave some of the acts.

He has attempted, through variety, to keep things interesting, so the deeply knowledgeable reader will still find something to challenge them beyond the more obvious names like The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Monkees. The Mothers Of Invention?  The Grass Roots?  He has endeavoured to make a case for each of them.  In his Preface, Martin tries to encapsulate some of the magic that the Fab Four shared with us all.

Rivals Of The Beatles was self-published on 15 April 2021, and is available initially as a hardback in a limited edition of 500 numbered and signed copies from Martin’s dedicated website www.rivalsofthebeatles.com.  This is the only place from which the book can be purchased.

There are some controversial views expressed in places in Rivals Of The Beatles, but throughout the book they are the author’s true opinions, based entirely on his love for the music and the era."

Reviewed by Peter Sims
Peter is a contributor and moderator at www.45worlds.com as JPGR&B and is currently creating an online bibliography of The Beatles.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021

"Reading Rivals Of The Beatles, I feel like I am in a time machine taking me back to a time when I was growing up and listening to all that wonderful music in a Golden Age!!! This book perfectly captures the synergistic relationship between the Beatles and many of their contemporaries/rivals! They influenced, learned, and benefited from each other's talents. The world could use that chemistry once again!

A wonderful book, Martin!!!
Congratulations!!!"

John Bezzini, USA.
Administrator of 'The Beatles In Print - Together And Solo' Facebook group."

[John Bezzini's Facebook group is US based and is comprised of Beatles and similar music-related fans. His group has 3,300 members!]

Saturday, 7th November 2020

“It’s been 50 years since The Beatles split up. One would think that everything that could be said about The Beatles, would have been said by now. But wait. Along comes a book written from a new perspective that provides fresh insight into the genius of The Beatles while confirming yet again how utterly magical and imperious they were. We can say this of course based not only on their musical output and legacy, but also from the tales of the 20 groups whose differing fates are outlined in this superb narrative.

To be successful in the pop world requires so many different elements that need to work hand in hand. Factors such as musical ability, songwriting talent, looks, charisma, supportive management, record company backing, opportunity, good luck and so on. Some groups had a majority of these advantages but failed to make an impact; some had very few and yet were very successful indeed. It’s the stories of these groups and their interplay with chance and fate that makes this book so fascinating for anyone interested in the music of The Beatles’ era.”

Pete from Indianapolis, USA. 

Tuesday, 27th April 2021

"Oh my gosh! What a book! How come you know so much detail? Amazing!

OK. I've had a chance to look at your book, Rivals Of The Beatles...

The first thing which strikes me is that although it has so much detail, you write in a folksy way. For example: "And how long would that last for? One year?" So it is easy to read. Also it is a personal story – "They were a sugar pop confection "; “A dreadful cover"; "He couldn't stand Dylan". I am sure those comments will help sell the book, as people recognise that they come from someone who is very knowledgeable, and entitled to make those judgments.

Some particular points:

1. I love the layout in separate paragraphs.
2. Star appraisal of each song is fab.
3. 20 rivals to choose from.
4. Beautiful production and pages don't flick close.
5. Font style ✅
6. Size of font ✅
7. Good price!
8. Detail is phenomenal.
9. Humour ✅
10. Reviews section... very clever, dear boy.

All in all.... ✅✅✅.

Well done! You should feel so proud you have been able to write this from scratch, and there is so much information in it. You put the whole thing together on your own, without an editor and with no errors. There is a lot there, and of course that was your intention, so that is great. A real legacy for you, your family and the whole music industry. I really do hope it is a commercial success. It deserves to be one."

David Futerman, London.

Monday, 7th June 2021

I still have a pile of LPs, which I cannot bring myself to dispose of. I recall my brother once went to a party and there, I think, is where my fabulous Beatles singles were lost to me.

Then everything became CDs. The print size was reduced, and the cover notes all seemed a bit awkward, in comparison to the handy sleeve notes which appeared on the back of many LPs. I used to read and reread these, trying to gain some insight into the lives and motivations of the people who produced the wondrous sounds on my 33 rpm 12” vinyl LPs.

Probably not everyone was as interested as me. I expect some people never bothered to read the sleeve notes. They were perfectly happy just to jig about to the music pounding from their record deck. But some were even more enthralled than me. I suspect one of them was Martin Orkin, who not only read the LP covers but went on to learn as much as he could about the great groups of the 1960s. All this in-depth knowledge had to find an audience. Martin could have chosen Mastermind, the television show, where there is little doubt he would have excelled in the specialist round. Instead he has produced an eight hundred page book: Rivals of the Beatles. Physically it is a beauteous item to hold. Clear, good size print – for we who have the most interest have progressed in years!

Rivals Of The Beatles sets out to establish what made The Beatles the world champions, and why other groups were unable to achieve the same success. It is packed with incredible details, many of which will be unknown to most people until they read this work. It is a fascinating journey of comparison and contrast which may, in years to come, form the basis of a college course on the history of popular music. Already some universities apparently offer courses on studying The Beatles, so why not their Rivals as well? In the meantime, this book provides a super journey back into the days when music really was music.

Stephen from Scotland.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021

As someone of a certain age and a passionate muso, I was very interested to hear about Martin’s book, Rivals Of The Beatles. When I say ‘Book’, I mean Magnum Opus, as anyone taking on the challenge of reading it from cover to cover (as I did) will end up with sore arms if they try to read it in the bath. At over 800 pages this could never be described as light reading!

That said, Rivals Of The Beatles is a wonderful, rich cornucopia of facts and anecdotes about those early days of rock music. I pride myself on knowing a bit about the genre, but I was constantly astonished at Martin’s depth and breadth of knowledge about a subject clearly dear to his heart.

Anyone who loves music and The Beatles should read this book – just not in the bath.

Mark Coffer, Hertfordshire.

Copyright © 2020 Martin Orkin. All rights reserved.