zaterdag 28 november 2015

1+. The Beatles

Come Christmas, come The Beatles. Each year the former band knows to add another little something from their past to their catalog. This year a re-issue of '1', the 27 number one hits the band scored in the U.K. and the U.S. The + are two dvds full of promotional videos the band recorded accompanying the hits from 1965 onwards, as it simply couldn't be all around the world at the same time. Somehow I couldn't resist and bought the three discs in an attractive package containing a nice booklet explaining it all, including all the facts and figures of the songs on the discs.

To my surprise 'Love Me Do' had been a number one for one week right after the explosion of hits in the U.S., just like 'The Long And Winding Road' was number one in the U.S. All the other songs are to be expected, although there are some b-sides recorded as a number one hit. Just think of it; 27 number one hits excluding all that great hits that did not rise to that position. In comparison, The Beatles scored 16 number one hits in the Netherlands from 2-1-1965 until the winter/spring of 1970. This band was a hitmachine without comparison.

Listening to the 27 songs, I'm baffled about how great the songs still are. The legacy of this band is simply huge. The quality is so extremely high. A quality I take for granted, simply because I have listened to these songs for as long I can remember. During the intro of 'Ticket To Ride', which is the leader music of each dvd's menu, I saw myself sitting in my aunt's bedroom, with her small gramophone playing this song and in my mind 'Yes It Is' followed directly. I was probably half listening, half doing something else. It was a near physical experience, sent through place and time to my first exposure to this music. In other words these songs are with me my whole life. Getting to know more through the 'Red' and the 'Blue' albums as a teenager, was another life-expanding experience. The music of The Beatles is so normal to me that I forget to play it. The songs are so a part of me, there's no need. And still I bought the large cd box several years ago. And now 1+.

Watching the first dvd two things stand out immediately. The first is that the sound is stunning. 'Ticket To Ride' just sort of explodes from the speakers. That's when I knew something special was going on here. I'm not sure whether I ever heard The Beatles so clear before and in what is a perfect studio mix. The ridiculously left and right panning of the sounds is gone and that makes the songs so much better. The second thing is confrontational: They are so young! When I first heard them they were adults, so much older than I was and now I'm 30 years older than they were then. Caught forever in their prime.

Moving further on into the disc a third thing presents itself and that is what made up this band and made it so big in the end, beyond the screaming girls and into the consciousness of everyone since the sixties: the variety of their music. The Beatles took on so many different styles, songs, rhythms and above all sounds. They opened up a box of tools in the studio and in their songwriting that still astounds. Even in a very early song like 'Please, Please Me', on disc 2, you can hear how good they are. Extra chords all over the place and fantastic harmonies. The joy of singing is everywhere and the interest in combination with creativity to go beyond the musically obvious, just jump out at you. Imagine that this was only The Beatles'  second single.

How many bands nowadays go through a rollercoaster like The Beatles have and come up with what these four lads came up with in a span of seven years? Some are lucky enough to produce two albums in the same period. From that horrible (and yet beautiful) song 'Yesterday' all the way to the invention of riff driven rock songs like 'Day Tripper' and 'Paperback Writer' all within under 12 months, All in between relentless touring and recording, these great songs were written. That ridiculous song 'Yellow Submarine' that also sounds so well here. The enigmatic 'Lady Madonna'. The absolutely fabulous 'Hey Jude'. My first own bought single, the first song I knew about that was a number one hit, the song that still sends chills along my spine, the song I'll love forever, the song that brought tears to my eyes when I saw Paul play live for the first time three years back, one of the best songs ever. The surprise is how good I thought 'Day Tripper' was, which I never truly liked, but above all how good 'Hey Buldog' is, a song I hadn't heard for years. It truly kicked me about.

The fun thing is that I had not seen most of these clips before. The tv footage, yes, not the videos The Beatles experimented with from the mid 60s onwards. I'm not the You Tube watcher. I rather listen to music than watch it. With these exceptions like this evening. having fun with the music of my early youth. The music that still sounds so relevant in combination with the clips.

If these clips show anything it is the interaction between the four, the imminent humor that always seems to surround The Beatles and how they were able to make something from hardly anything. On top of that it holds this fantastic music which is right up there with the greatest music ever.

Finally, the two last singles from the 'Anthology' box are also here. 'Free As a Bird' and 'Real Love'. Although I still think the songs are more ELO, The Travelling Willburys or even Tom Petty then The Beatles in sound and production, for the first time I enjoyed them for what they are. Decent songs that John Lennon would have recorded some time on, had he lived.

And finally, finally. Seeing the band perform 'Revolution', in that great biting rock version and on the roof in London, I again wonder what would have happened if they had decided to take a year long holiday from each other, come back to the studio and just like The Rolling Stones had gone back to touring. We would have had another decade with stunning music. I am just so sure that. On the other hand, we see a band in its prime here. They've obtained what Bob Dylan imagined just a few years after The Beatles called it a day: they are forever young.

This DVD box is worth every cent and the cd with the 27 hits, which I did not buy in the 00s, is contained here also. The Beatles may not be a band for 45+ years as we speak, the releases since the mid 90s starting with the 'Anthology' have all added to the experience in one way or another. Some I watched, listened to, others not, 1+ is one of those releases that is a must have for every The Beatles fan.


You can watch the trailer here:

or buy the box at

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