The Beatles/Page Two
Through the 1970s, John, Paul, George and Ringo pursued solo careers and fended off multi-million dollar offers to reunite - even for a single show. Beatles reunion rumors abounded but they were effectively ended with Lennon's murder in '80 (12/8).
The surviving Beatles did record together for "The Beatles Anthology" adding tracks to two Lennon demos. The single "Free As A Bird" was the most positive result. Some thirty years after their last recording session a collection of "The Beatles #1" singles topped the album charts and has already become one of the best selling CDs of all time.
The Beatles' magic continued unabated in '07. Their songs were the backbone of the trippy film Across The Universe and "Love," a Beatles-themed Las Vegas stage production with a soundscape/soundtrack produced by George Martin and his son Giles. "Love" even won an '08 Grammy as the best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media. Took half the night just to say what the trophy was for.
Then came the All Together Now documentary DVD about the making "Love." McCartney and Starr discussed the production on the DVD. The disc was available exclusively via Best Buy and at Vegas' Love Boutique. The DVD was also screened at select digital movie theaters in the United States.
Just when it seemed the world had run out of accolades for The Beatles, they just kept coming. A mere 38 years after the group disbanded, The Beatles topped Billboard's Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists tally, compiled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the magazine's Hot 100 chart. The Fab Four at #1? That was a huge surprise. Meanwhile, across the pond, a Hamburg square was dedicated recognizing The Beatles' pre-fame time playing clubs in the city's St. Pauli district.
There were five statues - John, Paul and George plus then-bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. "It is about time that Hamburg commemorated this great band," opinioned Mayor Ole von Beust. There was a hybrid of Ringo, a nod toward Best's eventual replacement who also performed in Hamburg but with Rory Storm & The Hurricanes.
With all this activity it was difficult to discern whether it was '68 or '08.
George passed away in '01 following extensive but eventually futile cancer treatment. One year to the day later, November 29th, '02, there was A Concert For George, a tribute at the Royal Albert Hall in London. McCartney and Starr were among those performing at the event. Oddly, it would be seven years before the two would share the stage again. This time it was at the David Lynch Foundation's Change Begins Within benefit concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall. Starr joined McCartney at the end of the latter's event-closing set for a rendition of "With a Little Help From My Friends." Paul introduced Ringo as Billy Shears, the fictional singer of the song on "Sgt. Peppers." Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, a major star in his own right, also took the stage. But all the press revolved around the Ringo-Paul pairing.
Right around the 50th anniversary of John, Paul and George playing together for the first time ('59), "She Loves You" was named the best-selling Beatles single of all-time in the U.K. Official Chart Company, which compiles a weekly list of the Top 40 songs in England, tallied a Top-10 of the best-selling Beatles' singles. "She Loves You," released in '63, was the band's second #1 hit (following "From Me To You"). Then, I Met The Walrus, an animated short film based on a '69 Toronto interview with Lennon during the infamous "bed-in for peace" won the New Approaches -- Daytime Entertainment honor during the 36th annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Due to the release of the entire re-mastered Beatles catalog which sold several hundred thousand copies ("Abbey Road" being the best selling album) McCartney was awarded the '09 Songwriter of the Year honor by ASCAP, the music rights organization. A few days later, Nowhere Boy, a biographical film about Lennon's formative years in Liverpool, had its world premiere at the British Film Institute's 53rd annual London Film Festival.
Soundscan effectively stated that Beatlemania was alive and well when they reported The Beatles were second only to Eminem in album sales between 2000-2009. The Beatles moved over 30 million units including 11.5 million copies of their '00 compilation "The Beatles #1's." That album was the decade's best seller. Meanwhile, McCartney's first European tour in five years concluded with a show at London's 02 Arena. The tour began three-weeks earlier in Hamburg to support the live "Good Evening New York City" CD/DVD.
As time passed, two curious "trends" developed. McCartney received all sorts of awards (see above), for both his work with The Beatles and his solo career. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Kennedy Center Honors and induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, were just a few.
While McCartney's mantel filled with trophies, Lennon drew dollars (literally). It seemed that just about everything Lennon touched was auctioned for very high bids. Recording equipment, clothes, hand written notes and lyrics went on the block.
Case in point, Lennon's original handwritten lyric sheet for "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," which originally appeared on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," was auctioned at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. $384,148 was paid in '11 for the lyrics which were on a single sheet of paper and included crossed-out words and phrases. There was also a doodle drawn by Lennon depicting four people standing in a room with curtains around them.
The Beatles Original U.K. Albums:
1963 Please Please Me
1963 With The Beatles
1964 A Hard Day's Night Soundtrack
1964 Beatles For Sale
1965 Help! Soundtrack
1965 Rubber Soul
1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
1968 The Beatles - aka The White Album
1969 Yellow Submarine Soundtrack
1969 Abbey Road
1970 Let It Be
The key to The Beatles popularity and staying power (even though their initial fame was all those years ago) was their talent and eclectic approach. Starting as a high energy Rock 'n' Roll band led by John Lennon, they eventually broaden their musical scope to include Blues, Country, Folk-Rock and Eastern ("thank you" George Harrison). After initially ignoring The Beatles' UK popularity Capitol Records finally relented and released "Meet The Beatles" (a nearly flawless Rock 'n' Roll album) in the U.S. "The Beatles' Second Album" was also exciting. While it contained the irrepressible "She Loves You" the bulk of the album was Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Motown covers. They're pretty good, for covers.
Initially a singles group, The Beatles made "the album" a Rock 'n' Roll medium as they moved away from their original frantic Rock 'n' Roll sound. "Revolver," their last album while still touring, is both a great record and a signpost of things to come, especially with Lennon's two contributions "She Said, She Said" and "Tomorrow Never Knows." The Beatles continue to demonstrate the eclecticism that would become a major trait in their final years. There are love songs ("Here There and Everywhere" and "For No One"), uptempo joyous Rockers ("Good Day Sunshine" and "Got To Get You Into My Life") and novelty songs ("Yellow Submarine" with Ringo on vocals and George's "Taxman"). Also, Klaus Voorman's cover art is an eye grabber.
At this point Paul McCartney was exerting more influence over the group (much to John's apparent discomfort). The "Pepper's" concept was Paul's. At the time of its release "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" was declared a high water mark. A remarkably adventurous pop record, it was very entertaining. The album's title track was linked to the album's two best songs "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "A Day In The Life." "Magical Mystery Tour" followed and while it had the brilliant Lennon songs "I Am The Walrus" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" it was definitely a lesser effort. "The White Album" was next. There are several high points, "Back In The USSR," "Helter Skelter" and George's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (with help from Eric Clapton), but The Beatles were working separately rather than together.
"Let It Be" was started then abandoned and The Beatles pushed on with "Abbey Road," a surprisingly great record given the group's trouble and turmoil. Harrison complained that he only got two songs per Beatles' album. However, his two contributions are exquisite (the ballad "Something" and the wistful "Here Comes The Sun"). Ringo, emerging as a songwriter of sorts, got one song ("Octopus's Garden") which can best be described as a little ditty for kids. John Lennon, who had already stated he wanted out, came up with two songs. Even though "Come Together" lifted a Chuck Berry riff, it's a masterpiece from the opening bass to the nonsense lyrics (a field day for everyone reading between the lines). "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is as close as The Beatles came to primal scream. The rest of the album is Paul and it's a McCartney triumph. Had this been his first solo album rather than the last Beatles' project he would have been a force to reckon with.
Commonly referred to as the B-side, Paul seamlessly linked song fragments in a stunning tour de force. The medley highlights include "Polythene Pam" (sung by John), "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" and "Carry That Weight." Absolutely brilliant in its execution. "Let It Be" was revived, thanks largely to the production efforts of Phil Spector and released with the film. "Abbey Road" would have been a much better ending.
There are compilations that do a better job than others. "The Beatles 1962-66" takes them from "Love Me Do" (their first single) through the mid-60s. "The Beatles 1967-70" is great but not quiet as magical. But who can argue with "The Beatles #1s"?
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