THE BEATLES FEATURE
60s' hype of Britpop plc has clearly rung a few bells in marketing departments.
In tandem with the album — the first in a series of three ~ eight 75-minute videos of archive footage. interviews and home movies are to be released. while a derived six—hour documentary series. also called The Beatles Anthology. begins on l'l‘V later this month. The culmination of 25 years’ planning by Neil Aspinall. former roadie and head of the band’s business offspring Apple. it is an attempt at a personal history. in response to the countless versions imposed on them from outside. The advance publicity plays up the rafiish. waggish moptop image beloved of grannies and
The least subversive act in the world is to stand up and shout ‘subversion!’ at the top of your voice, but appearing with the Prime Minister when you’re out of your box — now that’s subversive.
politicians: ‘four young lads who shook the world‘ rather than ‘four acid-drenched dcadbeats who can barely shake their heads’. That. of course. is one of the great things about The Beatles. The least subversive act in the world is to stand up and shout ‘subversion!’ at the top of your voice. but appearing with the Prime Minister when you’re out of your box — now that's subversive. The problem is that we’re still being foisted the Pre-tab Four as the genuine article. but there’s a limit to how many versions of Love Me Do a body can listen to without coming over all Chapmanesque. While last year‘s Beatles Live At The BBC showcased the much-vaunted live brilliance of the larval Beatles. there was an overwhelming whiff of Brylcreern and treacle about most ofthe tracks. With the exception of the money-spinning ‘new‘ songs. the Anthology tracklist is chronological — Volume One is full of home demos. Hamburg side orders. TV guest slots. dialogue and early out-takes. many of which
Fab Four: George Harrison, John lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
have already turned up on bootlegs. iod help any poor ingenue who starts her Beatles collection with the Anthology: it should come with a health warning and be sold only to those who can prove ownership of all the studio albums.
Amid all the nostalgia. a Channel 4 documentary All You Need Is Cash investigates the band’s business dealings. from Brian Epstein’s shrewd captainship to the Titanic that was Apple. through the litigation of the 70s to the resurfacing of the company as a successful venture. Expected profits this year are $100 million — the men who wrote ‘you never give
me your money’ and ‘imagine no possessions’ did so from the comfort of boundless wealth.
Those who take their mania seriously would rather The Beatles remain forever consigned to yesterday; but like the Velvcts. they transcend such worldly limitations. Their ﬁrst bash after 25 years might turn out to be a tragical history tour — but tomorrow never knows.
The Beatles Anthology I is released by l’ar/o/rhone on Tuesday 2/ November; The Beatles Anthology documentary is on Thursday 26 on [TV and All You Need Is Cash is on
At the end of a long and winding road that stretches back over 25 years, The Beatles Anthology, six hours of television documentary, is heralded as a celebration of ‘the best band in the word’. Billed as the biggest media event of the decade, the reason for all the hype and speculation is simple: this is the first time George, Paul and Bingo have agreed to tell it like it was.
With 50 per cent of the footage previously unseen and home movies showing The Beatles chilling out away from the pressures of fame, the series was bound to sell worldwide. Using old taped interviews with John as the basis to form questions that were then put to Paul, George and Bingo, the producers have gone some way in creating the feeling that John is taking part. The decision not to use a narrator was also a smart one, preventing an outsider from making assumptions, giving opinions and filling in the gaps.
The bulk of the first episode is in black and white, but it’s a silckly produced, fast paced, visually tasty piece of television, and you don’t have to be a fan to get a buzz out of it. There’s old film showing kids hanging out on Liverpool’s street comers and dancing at the local hop, plus the ubiquitous family snaps, revealing the smudged features of four fresh- faced young lads, soon to adorn the bedroom walls of teenage girls around the world. The climax is some cleverly spliced footage of multiple performances of mm And Shout, sending a tingle down your spine and a gigantic wave of pure energy and excitement from the screen.
The Beatles’ memories of their early days are refreshingly innocent compared to the wised- up attitude of their modem-day equivalents. When Paul admits the trip to Hamburg was their first experience of sex, drugs and a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, he’s almost sweet. Mostly, he comes across all smiles and smooth-talking professionalism, while George seems like a nice guy and Bingo is the funny man. Interviewed separately, Paul, George and Bingo had no idea what each would say and no opportunity to change their minds. it may be telling to compare versions, but we also need to see their reactions face to face. It’s difficult not to wonder about the gap left by John, arguably the most provocative and interesting Beatle and
k the one who, if he were alive today, would probably provide the sting In the tale. (Gill Both) J
Monday 27 on Channel 4.
The List I730 Nov l99513