Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles Anthology is a documentary series on the career of The Beatles. It was broadcast on television in six abridged parts between November and December 1995. An eight volume VHS set and an 8 disc Laserdisc set were released on 5 September 1996. The series was re-released on DVD in 2003, with an 81-minute special-features disc.

The Long and Winding Road

An official documentary on The Beatles career had been in the pipeline as far back as 1970. Long time friend and Apple Corps manager Neil Aspinall had compiled footage from various sources around the world of concert, interview and television appearances. From this archival footage, Aspinall assembled a 90 minute feature film which was tentatively titled The Long and Winding Road and was completed in 1971. At this point, none of the former members had any involvement with the project and plans for its release lay dormant until 1980, when John Lennon stated as part of a legal deposition against the producers of the musical 'Beatlemania' that: "I and the other three former Beatles have plans to stage a reunion concert," an event to be filmed as a finale of The Long and Winding Road (which was now to be a television special). According to Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, the concert would have been held in England: "Just days before his brutal death, John was making plans to go to England for a triumphant Beatles reunion. His greatest dream was to recreate the musical magic of the early years with Paul, George and Ringo...(he) felt that they had travelled different paths for long enough. He felt they had grown up and were mature enough to try writing and recording new songs." The plans for a reunion were abandoned after Lennon was murdered on 8 December.

Project Resurrected

In 1992 the project was once again resurrected, as a six part documentary series. This time, the surviving members (later to be dubbed in the press as 'The Threetles'), were directly involved, giving interviews on film with Jools Holland. Also interviewed were insiders Neil Aspinall, the band's press agent Derek Taylor and their long time producer George Martin. The title of the documentary was now changed to The Beatles Anthology as George Harrison was against naming the entire Beatles career after a Paul McCartney song. This new title was to be a working one but it eventually stayed as it suited the parties concerned.

A rough cut was completed in 1993, which was much more interview based and focused on the events as opposed to the final cut, which included more concert and television performances. This early version of the series has since leaked and been released via bootleg.

The documentary was broadcast on television in six abridged parts between November and December 1995, and released on VHS and Laserdisc the following year.

When the Anthology was first shown on American television, on ABC, the tag line for the network during the time was "A Beatle C."

New Music

The plans for a concert were abandoned and replaced with the intention that the surviving three members would play some more "incidental" music in between segments and interviews. It was then put forward that some "new" songs should be written for the project by the Beatles. Both McCartney and Harrison wrote some material, which became the song "All For Love", but it was then suggested to ask Yoko Ono if Lennon had any material he had left unfinished that they could work with. In 1994, after appearing on stage with McCartney at Lennon's posthumous induction to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Yoko gave Paul three cassette tapes containing four song demos that Lennon had been working on: "Free as a Bird", "Real Love", "Now and Then" and "Grow Old With Me". The latter two were left unfinished by the group, but "Real Love" and "Free as a Bird" were completed with producer Jeff Lynne in 1994/95, and premiered during the Anthology's initial broadcast.

Production credits

* Editor: Andy Matthews
* Production Manager: Bryony Cranstoun
* Archive Consultants: Julian Adamoli/Geraldine Royds
* Design/Art Direction: Richard Ward /The Team
* Cover Concept: Klaus Voormann
* Cover Painting: Klaus Voormann /Alfons Kiefer
* Picture Grading & Image Restoration: Ascent Media, London
* Picture Aspect: 4:3
* Sound: LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, DTS 5.1 surround sound


Friday, October 29, 2010

New Beatle Disc Has Paul In Nude

November 15, 1968

Nudity--the pop world's latest fashion--has spread to Beatle Paul McCartney.

Paul appears in the all-together in a special montage included with the Beatles' new long-playing record to be released next week. A small snapshot shows him in his bathroom, standing behind a narrow pillar.

"You can't really see anything," Paul said Wednesday. "I don't really think the picture is offensive."

Also in the montage is a picture of John Lennon, shown sitting in the nude answering the telephone while his girl friend, Japanese actress Yoko Ono, is seen in bed alongside him.

The photograph is considerably less revealing than the one Lennon and Miss Ono chose for the cover of their experimental "Two Virgins" album.

Record companies refused to distribute the record. Now a small company, Tetragrammaton Records, has agreed to issue the disc in America providing it is sold inside a brown paper bag.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Beatles Book' Describes Madness of Mid-Sixties

October 17, 1968

"The Beatles Book," edited by Edward E. Davis, 205 pages, Cowles Education Corp., New York, N.Y.


The Beatlemania of the mid-sixties has somehow survived or been revived by the recent spate of books concerning the mop-topped foursome.

Whatever their inspiration, nostalgic or commercial, the three latest books by Hunter Davies, Julius Fast and Edward E. Davis contain a wealth of information on John, Paul, Ringo and George.

Unlike the Davies and Fast books, however, the Davis book is not a biography of the Liverpudlian lads. Instead it is a critical evaluation of the Beatles as musicians, folk poets, social documentarians and innovators of cinematic techniques.

"The Beatles Book," edited by Davis, is a collection of controversial articles by 15 of the country's foremost musicians, artists, writers, psychoanalysts and yes . . . even political scientists.

Contrived Criticism

Much of the book consists of praise and even the criticism seems somewhat hollow and contrived.

Author Nat Hentoff criticizes the Beatles for not appealing to ghetto blacks, but still considers them liberators for "turning millions of American adolescents onto what had been here hurting all the time."

Composer Ned Rorem claims that he and his colleagues have been happily torn from a long nap by the energy of rock, principally as embodied in the Beatles.

At the same time, high priest of LSD Timothy Leary calls them "the four evangelists in the psychedelic movement."

Free-lance writer and photographer Edward Davis, who compiled the articles, considers the Beatles' widely acclaimed album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" a new art form and the group's most stunningly original album.

Technical Excellence

Poet Al Lee said that "when their technical excellence serves a serious theme, the Beatles merit the pinnacle of the sixties they have seized, regardless of merit, by stunning the popular sensibility with new forms."

Some criticism, of course, is naturally forthcoming.

According to reviewer Richard Goldstein, "the Beatles jester approach to serious music and deep thought clamors for interpretation and their intentional embrace of ambiguity sets a tempting critical trap, hard to resist when ideas are the bait."

The only real blast, however, is leveled by William F. Buckley Jr., whose remarks will seem no less than sacrilegious to Beatle fans.

Buckley, editor of National Review, gives the conservative viewpoint when he describes the group as "not merely awful but godawful.

Crowned Heads

"They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art," said Buckley, "that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as anti-popes."

Other contributors include Allen Keesee, who examines the influences of Indian philosophy and music on the Beatles, Herbert Freudenberger, who tells how the quartet mirrors the loneliness of contemporary youth and Ralph J. Gleason, who looks at the current pop scene.

Joshua Rifkin criticizes the musical structure of the Beatles and Leonore Fleisher discusses their movies, "Help!" and "A Hard Day's Night."

"The Beatles Book" is packed with facts brilliantly borne out in some passages and totally bogged down in others.

Hopefully the reader can stumble through these wordy and woefully long essays, for much insight on the Beatles can be obtained from experts who dare to discuss something besides grass and gurus.

At any rate it's nice to know the Beatles are alive and well and living in Liverpool, or is it London now that they are successful businessmen?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paul McCartney on "Get Back"

"We were sitting in the studio and we made it up out of thin air . . . we started to write words there and then . . . when we finished it, we recorded it at Apple Studios and made it into a song to roller-coast by."

Monday, October 25, 2010

George Martin on the Revolver Album

"I'm not sure they ever stopped being a good rock-and-roll band. I think once they'd got their first success under their belts that seemed to spur them on to greater songwriting efforts. John and Paul, having found out that it was comparatively easy to make a hit with 'Please Please Me' and then 'From Me to You,' said, 'Great, we know how to do it.' It then became a production line, and their ingenuity was actually spurred on by their success at that stage. They were always thinking of fresh ideas and new things, and each song that came out seemed to be a good one. I don't think they really started developing their best songwriting skills, in a really strange way, until Revolver. I think that was the beginning of the breakthrough, and certainly 'Tomorrow Never Knows,' on the end of Revolver, was the beginning of the so-called psychedelic bit, which was the forerunner of Sgt. Pepper."

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Ohio State Lantern - August 20, 1964

Back in the old days when Elvis Presley was king of the swinging hips, teenagers became uncontrollable at the sight of their idols.

But Presley in the mid-50s was only following the example set by the singing heart-throb Frank Sinatra in the 30s. It has been the tradition of American teenagers, or bobby-soxers as they were called in Sinatra's day, to attach themselves to a recording artist.

We are sure the singers don't mind, since the teenage devotion puts them in the six-figure income bracket.

Today's heart-throbbing, guitar-strumming, crazy-lyric-singing rock and roll idol is not one, but four: The Beatles.

The long lines in front of University-area theaters reflect their attraction for college students as well as the teenager.

There is little doubt that these four boys, badly in need of haircuts, are Britain's revenge for the 1776 revolution. There are some who say, "Better we shouldn't have revolted."

When Hannibal crossed the Alps to invade Italy during the Second Punic War, he took with him a small force of select troops, elephants and a full baggage train.

Britain is using only a four-man force, armed with guitars and drums--and it looks as if they may reconquer the colonies.

Anyone for "I Want to Hold Your Hand" as a national anthem?

Sandor M. Polster

Pamela J. Hollister
City Editor