thu 14/11/2019

Beatles For (Multiplatform) Sale | reviews, news & interviews

Beatles For (Multiplatform) Sale

Beatles For (Multiplatform) Sale

Complete remastered albums reissued in the same week as the computer game

Oasis have split up, but The Beatles keep getting bigger. This week, in a synchronised splurge of Beatle product of almost D-Day like proportions, their complete remastered albums are being reissued, the group appear in virtual form in the computer game The Beatles: Rock Band, and the BBC continues the Beatles Week which kicked off in a blaze of Kleenex-moistening nostalgia on Saturday. The Sunday Times even managed to exhume an unpublished interview with John Lennon, in which he sabotaged the myth of the great Lennon-McCartney feud by confessing that he thought Paul McCartney was jolly good really.

It’s difficult to add much to what’s already known about the endlessly profiled and dissected Beatles, though the BBC’s Beatles Week material introduces some new interviews and previously unseen footage. The documentary, The Beatles On Record, is a slickly-edited jog through some of their best-known songs via re-edited film clips and Beatle voice-overs, enjoyable but light on revelations. But the restless black and white footage of the Maysles brothers’ primordial rock-doc, The Beatles: The First US Visit, has now assumed the same kind of epochal status as film of VE Day or the Coronation, with the Moptops radiating a cartwheeling lust for life that burns away all the other grim early-Sixties stuff (Cuba, the Profumo affair, the Berlin Wall, that sort of thing). The comic spontaneity with which The Beatles greeted any new situation, from press conference to radio interview to Ringo Starr dancing manically with a group of girls at New York’s Peppermint Lounge, seems inconceivable compared to today’s self-important, mob-handed celebs with their retinue of minders.

In the Timewatch: Beatlemania film, journalists remembered how they’d enjoyed unfettered all-areas access to the group as they criss-crossed America, with American journo Larry Kane being particularly struck by the group’s insouciance when an engine on their aircraft caught fire while the pilot was in the rear cabin swigging brandy. And we may also find ourselves marvelling at how Beatlemania was delivered to the Americans by TV host Ed Sullivan, a man resembling a macabre hybrid of Richard Nixon and Richard III.

Everything changed as the foursome were worn down by death threats, fan pandemonium and interminable gigging with terrible sound systems. They grew into four individuals as baffled by Beatlemania as everybody else. The new mono collection of Beatles albums (11 discs for a paltry £200) has been provoking notable quantities of media-buzz, perhaps because it seems to represent a return to first principles. Mono was the way the group preferred their own music, despite the mind-bending aural ingenuity of Sgt Pepper, and many argue it sounds crisper, tougher and sharper. Forget the sonic cathedrals of Pink Floyd or Radiohead. Sometimes it feels as if The Beatles did it first and did it best, and all pop music since has been a series of diminishing echoes.

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