I have never felt that any book should cost $500. It broke my heart when Derek Taylor's autobiography, "FIFTY YEARS ADRIFT (IN AN OPEN-NECKED SHIRT)" was released by Genesis Publications with a hefty price tag. George Harrison released "I Me Mine" in an expensive format, but at least he later offered a cheap version for regular people who don't require their books to be personally signed and printed on jewelry. Genesis Publications always did a great job with their high class books, but the exclusivity always bothered me. I don't think a standard version would have had any impact on sales, but unfortunately, many Beatles-related books have only been released as toys for the rich. I would settle for a trade paperback version of the Genesis Published "Blinds and Shutters" featuring the photographs of Michael Cooper, the person who shot the front cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." I'm sure somebody will buy it with its $750 price tag, but it won't be me.
Well, Curvebender Publications has now released one of those books that I will never get my hands on called "Kaleidoscope Eyes."
The book features a collection of photographs by Henry Grossman taken during the Sgt. Pepper sessions on a day that The Beatles were recording "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." The book covers just one of the 129 days that The Beatles spent recording their most mysterious album, but I'm sure it offers rare insights. Tragically, "Kaleidoscope Eyes" is limited to 1,967 copies and sells for $495. It contains 250 black and white photographs taken that evening and most of them have never been published. Even this small glimpse dispels some of the myths we have heard about Sgt. Pepper. Although Paul suggested in the Anthology that he didn't remember George turning up for the sessions, it appears that George was actively involved on this one.
In fact, there are several shots taken of John, George, and Ringo. We have heard many times that Paul added his groundbreaking melodic bass parts later in the recording process, and the pictures of the other three seem to support that story.
In a brief YouTube movie in support of the release, Grossman recounts a story of Paul arriving to the studio excited to share a piano part that he had developed for the song. He very well could have been referring to the fabulous introduction of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" that transformed John's "one note" melody to the beautiful phrase that caused George Martin to comment that Beethoven wouldn't have minded having a melody like that to work with. So much for John's theory that Paul would subconsciously sabotage his songs...
The pictures also testify to the presence of Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans. You have to wonder how much creative input each of them contributed over the years to the music of the Beatles. Did either of them get enough credit for their contributions to Sgt. Pepper?
Beatles insiders have always maintained that both Neil and Mal were men of integrity who stayed loyal to the Beatles until the day they died. The Rotten Apple series seems to strongly suggest that someone broke ranks. The Rotten Apple Army has promised an "eye-opening 2009." We shall see...