Anthony Hogan – The Beat Makers: The Unsung Heroes Of The Mersey Sound
Amberley Publishing – August 15, 2017
ISBN – 978-1-4456-7208-43
Book Review By Aaron Badgley
Anthony Hogan is a very talented writer. He has written several books, ranging in subject from World War One and Two, to OCD, to sports. He has also written one of the best music biographies I have ever read on the sadly underrated (outside of Liverpool anyway) rock and roll artist Rory Storm entitled From A Storm To A Hurricane: Rory Storm & The Hurricanes (2016). Besides being remarkably interesting, neither the singer or group receive little mention in rock books, even though their drummer was Ringo Starr.
Hogan has done it again with The Beatmakers: The Unsung Heroes Of The Mersey Sound. Hogan, once again covers a subject not often discussed in rock history, yet it is an important aspect in the world of The Beatles and other Liverpool bands from the past to the present. Here, Hogan examines the black music scene in Liverpool and the influence that such bands had on the more famous groups from Liverpool. Here you get to read about Derry Wilkie who along with another band The Seniors, was the first Liverpool band to play Hamburg, Germany. This opened the floodgates for The Beatles, Rory Storm and The Hurricanes and others.
He goes into the African and Caribbean influence on the music scene as well. He writes about many bands such as The Valentinos, and The Earls who made their mark in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s. But, Hogan goes into the seventies and writes about bands that history books have missed.
Hogan does more, he looks at The Liverbirds, who were the first all-woman band in Liverpool of note. This band had a great following at The Cavern, and again, their story is not often told. I knew of this band by reading other books, especially about Cilla Black, but in this book Hogan goes deep into their personal histories and their careers. It makes for very interesting reading.
Finally Hogan looks at other ‘unsung heroes’ of the era. Geoff Nugent, Johnny Guitar Byrne, Ted ‘Kingsize’ Taylor and others. Hogan points out that a lot of bands issued singles and albums, some of which charted, but are now forgotten.
Therein lies the importance of this book. Hogan is extremely proud of his hometown Liverpool and loves writing about the city and area. He knows how to research and he knows the city and the music scene. He is like a living encyclopedia. He is also a brilliant writer. This book, as with his others, is fun to read and one that you will not want to put down. I kept going to Youtube to find any recordings by the bands of whom he writes.
The Beatmakers: The Unsung Heroes Of The Mersey Sound is essential reading for rock fans. It is a book that needs to exist and be a part of any serious music fan’s book collection. England went through its own music revolution as America was during the early days of rock and roll. This book outlines the differences and explores the roots of all future sounds to come out of the U.K. Much like Billy Bragg’s recent book, Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed The World, The Beatmakers: The Unsung Heroes Of The Mersey Sound explores areas of music history not often discussed these days.
Simply put, essential reading and one of the best rock books I have read this year. If you think you know about The Liverpool sound, think again and read this book.