Monday, November 29, 2010

Exfanding Review: The Beatles On Record

With all the news last week about The Beatles finally being worn down by Apple to be included on iTunes, the band that changed everything is back on the front pages.

And, despite my feelings on the Greatest Band in History being just like everyone else in the world and succumbing to Steve Jobs' wooing, I will (as Paul would say years after they broke up) live and let live and accept the fact that The Beatles are on iTunes.

But all that has very little to do with what I want to talk about today, other than the fact that it served as a nice little intro as well as a way for me to vent on a (busy) Monday morning.

What I really want to talk about today is a documentary about The Beatles that re-aired over the weekend on The History Channel. The Beatles on Record is a 60-minute doc featuring rarely seen footage of the band over which music and audio clips from John, Paul, George, Ringo, and legendary producer Sir George Martin play.

The clips serve as the sole narration of the film, so as we progress from album to album, we get to hear about the creation of the music straight from the boys.

Of course, clips of songs are played with the introduction of each album, and we get insight into the making of the song, and the molding of each record. What's more, though, is that, with each new record, we get to take the temperature of the band.

From their younger, wilder days to their U.S. tour, from the height of their drug years to the bitter final days of the band, this documentary covers every studio album and manages to stand out in my mind.

Simply because it focuses on the music.

Sure, there have been hundreds of docs on The Beatles produced over the years. And sure, there are more insightful and more in depth films out there. But On Record shows the band at its best--relaxed, in the studio, and having fun making music.

And that's the message of this film--the music. Not the drama and controversy that followed the Fab Four around or the drug use or the infighting. It's about the songs and the creative genius that created the songs.

Personally, the most fascinating part of the doc came in the Sgt. Pepper's segment. In the voice over, Paul notes that, by then, the band had tired of performing live. He adds something to the effect of, "Not enough people could 'hear' us live."

Ringo follows this up with a bit of clarification (funny how he was, more often than not, the one who made the most sense), stating that the band's music had become so orchestral at the time Pepper was released that they simply were unable to reproduce the sound from their studio albums on the live stage.

And if you've ever seen/heard bands try to reproduce The Beatles's studio sound, you know that it takes a small army of people running around to all different instruments to get it right.

The Beatles On Record works as a documentary, or as just a way to listen to a great sampling of Beatles songs. Either way, you can't go wrong. Check it out.

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