Just in time for the holidays comes a Blu-ray release of The Beatles 1, a companion piece to the compilation album released 15 years ago.
I’m sort of a Beatles fan in reverse: I never disliked them, and they were always in the mix when I was younger. Yet I was not a huge fan; I was more likely to listen to Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace back in the day than, say, “The White Album.”
That all changed about 10 years ago, when I became somewhat obsessed with them. The Beatles Anthology TV and album series released in the 1990s took me to another level of fandom, and I went all-out nuts after the latest digital re-mastering of their catalogue. I’m convinced now: They are the greatest band that ever existed on this planet.
They were much more than musical innovators. This wonderful collection shows how the Fab Four were pioneers of music video and film. In the late 1960s, they’d had it with touring, and decided to make music videos to send to the likes of The Ed Sullivan Show in lieu of getting their clothes ripped off by frantic films. Those films are all here, along with gems such as their early black-and-white videos they did while still a touring band, their legendary “Hey Jude” performance, and some other live cuts. As I describe below, there are different versions of this release, and I recommend ponying up for the two-disc Blu-ray.
I catch something new every time I watch a Beatles video. For instance, I never really noticed that John Lennon was wearing an orange bowtie in the “Hey Jude” video. The video has been re-mastered, and what always looked like some sort of scarf to me on YouTube now reveals itself!
Watching these films also reminds me that John and Paul were the clowns of the group, at least up until “Revolution,” when John appeared to be on the road to boredom. Earlier videos show Paul and John dancing, laughing and having a great old time. Ringo would range between being a total goofball and a morose killjoy, while George always appeared to be kind of a buzz kill.
Favorites include the alternate version of “We Can Work It Out” with an obviously stoned John doing his best to crack up Paul during his lip synch. There’s also the original version of “Hello, Goodbye,” a few minutes of film that prove Paul McCartney just might have been the best-looking man to ever walk the planet.
Special Features: Some Blu-ray features include a nice booklet, and some commentaries from Paul and Ringo.
There are a couple of versions for purchase. Beatles 1 has just one disc with 25 videos. Beatles 1+ has two Blu-rays, and features another 24 videos, including the Anthology videos for “Free As a Bird” and “Real Love.”
The Blu-rays have been out for about a month, but the iTunes release (which contains all 49 videos and special features for less than $27) just became available. The Blu-Ray is digitized for those of you who just want it on your computer. So you can go old school with a physical copy or opt for the download—or you can send either one to a Beatles freak for the holidays. Believe me, the recipient will be very appreciative.