September 08, 2003 12:00 PM

By Larry Kirwan

In an alternate world it is 1987. The neo-Nazi National Front movement is roiling Queen Diana’s realm. Across the pond Spiro Agnew is President, and Las Vegas lounge singer Paul Montana, a Brit whose career has hit the skids, heads home to his native Liverpool to organize a reunion of his old mates the Beatles. The once-promising quartet split up back in 1962, when Montana—né McCartney—and his volatile partner John Lennon had a falling out. Now Lennon is on the dole, and George Harrison is a Roman Catholic priest recovering from a nervous breakdown.

Himself leader of the New York City Irish pub band Black 47, Kirwan brings a sharp ear for the Irish-Liverpud-lian patois known as scouse, as well as a musician’s view of a bar band at full crank, to fashion this clever and rousing, if dark, tale about what might have happened had the Fab Four never been. (Thunder’s Mouth, $14.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Gear read, luv

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