Sunday, December 14, 2008

Notes and Comment on 'The Beatles Anthology'

It's all Beatles, all the time here at OPC these days, since I've been watching the massive eight-hour Beatles Anthology on DVD. Even when I try to write about something else, like the epochal summit meeting between Steve Martin and Keith Moon, it eventually returns to the Beatles.

I'm just going to throw out some observations I've gleaned from the DVD:

* You read about how no one could hear anything over the screaming at Beatle concerts, but there are extant films from the Shea Stadium show in 1965 that are quite good. The look of the film is sharp, the shots well-chosen, and the sound is clean and exciting. They were a great live band. Even Shea Stadium, which was just over a year old, still looks good, for probably the last time in its history.

* Neil Aspinall claims that the Beatles invented MTV, when they responded to an overwhelming number of requests for TV appearances by making short films for "Paperback Writer" and "Rain." They actually made a lot of videos that have had limited exposure, including for "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "Hello Goodbye," and "Hey Jude." There's a great clip of them doing "Revolution," apparently live, since it doesn't sound like either officially released version.

* Seeing everything unfold chronologically, you see how awful the summer of '66 was for the boys. The miserable trip to the Philippines - where the Beatles turned down Imelda Marcos' invitation to dinner, then were left on their own, without police protection, to leave the country two steps ahead of the offended populace - happened the first week of July, then the "bigger than Jesus" interview came out on July 29th, triggering a wave of record-burning throughout the South. It's no wonder they decided to make the Candlestick Park show three weeks later their last concert ever.

* When they do the live performance of "All You Need Is Love" for that first-ever worldwide satellite television show, John Lennon is clearly chewing gum. What's that all about? How can you sing with gum in your mouth? Also, the version on the DVD starts in black and white and fades into color; was that the way it was telecast?

* Starting with Sgt. Pepper's, Lennon is pretty much never without his glasses - except during Magical Mystery Tour, when he doesn't wear them at all. Apparently, he didn't want to see it either.

* At one point Ringo wears an Oakland Raiders cap. It's a good look for him.


Gavin said...

How can you sing with gum in your mouth?

Dave Grohl does it all the time.

T. Nawrocki said...

I've seen MCA from the Beastie Boys rap with gum in his mouth too. What are they thinking?

Gavin said...

In re color/B&W on "All You Need Is Love," Neil Aspinall as quoted in the companion Anthology coffee-table book:

"It was psychedelic and all the rest of it, but the BBC filmed it in black and white! If we'd have known that, we'd have filmed it ourselves."

Which is a bit ambiguous, but to me suggests that the broadcast was in color but the Beeb's archival version was B&W, so maybe the color version you saw was from some other country's archive, or possibly a colorized thing?

Kinky Paprika said...

Maybe it keeps their mouths moist or something.

Wikipedia, citing no authority but its own, says of the 1967 "Our World" special:
"Although the entire program was originally transmitted in black and white (and thus the videotape recording was also in black and white), for its usage in the 1995 TV special The Beatles Anthology, the majority of the Beatles' performance on the 1967 program was colourised - using colour photographs taken at the event as a reference. "

Gavin said...

That makes sense to me.