This is a thin book but no page is wasted.
Jürgen Vollmer, perhaps the least visible of the three Hamburg Exis, compacts his contribution to Beatles history between these covers. His photos (1961, second Hamburg visit) are more journalistic in style than those by Astrid Kirchherr. This was a direction he consciously aimed for. Interestingly, despite the "live" feel, they were nevertheless posed!
The oh so brief text starts in 1960 and tells of how he and his Exi friends risked scorn and drubbing to enter a Rocker's dive called the Kaiserkeller to listen to sounds fresh to their middle-class German ears. He recalls one uncomfortable tussle he had with Rockers who had no time for the British musicians on stage nor this small group of fans at the front table.
As they get to know the boys, the character of the Beatles, evident even then (1960), is wonderfully illustrated with the "Flea" incident!
We learn that George was aware that under German law he was not allowed to be in the club after 10pm and that he would leave and the others would meet up with him later. This is news to me, as I always understood he was deported precisely because he was underage...
He continues the story with the holiday in Paris where Paul and John met up with him. They soon realized their Elvis quiffs and leathers were not working on the Parisian ladies, so exchanged their clothes for arty ones and asked Jürgen to give them his hairstyle. The sole motivation for the Moptop was to pull the Parisian bohemian girls!
And that is where his story ends. Far too soon!
The text is German and Engish in parallel. Being fluent in both languages, I found the translation to be excellent (very rare!) but the German is stylistically tighter and may have been the original; although the conversations with the Beatles obviously were in English: when John wants to know why Jürgen wants to photograph the Beatles, Jürgen says "for art". John then sneers, "Who's Art?!" - the pun is lost in the German text!
The photos can be divided into four categories: Firstly, of young Hamburg people (good photos, but they convey little of the Hamburg of the time), and what seems to be three separate photo sessions with the Beatles. One was in the Top Ten club, one (2 photos from a reel of 12) of John in a doorway and a blurred George, Paul and Stuart walking past him (this became the famous Rock and Roll album cover photo) and one session with a very young George around the Hamburg harbour.
This book has a place on every Beatles fan bookshelf as the definitive Jürgen Vollmer collection of early Beatles photos. The only distraction is the insecure scattering of large print Beatles quotes to add weight to these photos. No need. Those beginnings in Hamburg, as told by an Exi with his camera and in his mother tongue make this volume eminently desirable.