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Grading the Beatles 50th anniversary magazines from fab to flop

The 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival in the U.S. on Feb. 7, 1964, and also remembering the "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9 was an easy choice for commemorative magazines and there are several new ones now on newsstands in the U.S. that range from good buys you'll want to just OK.

Beatles magazines on the newsstands.
Beatles magazines on the newsstands. Time/Life
The cover of "The Beatles Invasion."
The cover of "The Beatles Invasion." TIME/Life

The best of the three we've found recently is TIME's “The Beatles Invasion,” written by Bob Spitz, author of the massive biography “The Beatles.” The book was controversial, but was also one of the best eloquently written Beatles bios out in the last few years. This is a great book. Spitz's text in the 114 pages sticks to the American invasion in 1964 from the arrival to the end of the tour in Miami.

The magazine ($14.99) includes a great collection of photos, too. It has a Dezo Hoffman cover and the photos inside come from a wide selection of photogs, including many known for superb work, including Mike Mitchell, who shot the group at the Washington Coliseum, Henry Grossman and many from TIME/Life's archives. Overall, a great book and an excellent purchase. A

Just out late last week is PEOPLE's “Celebrating Beatlemania,” ($11.99) that goes back to the Beatles' beginnings and includes some of their fellow British bands like the Rolling Stones. The book, heavy on graphics, has mostly familiar shots, but a few obscure ones tucked in. The narrative text is more for the general public than the diehard fan. You don't need one as much as you do the TIME book, but it's a nice effort. C-

The last recent effort is “The Beatles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Beatles In America” by I-5 Publishing. Lots of graphics here, too, with the emphasis on easy-to-scan short pull-out items with lots of Beatles trivia. The list of writers, though, include several Beatle authors – Tim Riley, Walter Everett, Gillian Gaar and Kenneth Womack. Again, more a pop history of the Beatles for the general public and it gets a thumbs up for using some writers who actually know about the Beatles. B

It's been out a couple of months, but a very worthy book is “The Beatles in America” from the Smithsonian Institute and the Grammy Museum. The list of authors here again includes several Beatles book authors – Gloria Steinem, Steve Turner, Lester Bangs, Peter Doggett and Mikal Gilmore. A very special plus in this one is an exclusive interview with Ringo Starr by the Museum's Robert Santelli. A-

One we have heard about but not seen is LIFE's “Paul: 50 Years After the British Invasion” ($13.99), which hit the newsstands in January. LIFE says it features never-before-seen photos with personal reminiscences by photographer Harry Benson. A hardcover version will be available on newsstands on March 11.

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Stick with Beatles Examiner for all the latest stories about the 50th and don't miss our special roundup: Beatles 101: Read all about it: Our fab stories on the Beatles' 50th anniversary.

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