Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beatles 4: The Beatles’ Story and Beatles ‘65

A variety of fly-by-night companies had been putting out so-called interview records since February 7th, so Capitol decided to jump in with their own “definitive documentary”. Narrated by three soundalike LA DJs, The Beatles’ Story throws us right into the eye of Beatlemania’s storm, with the occasional respite in soundbites from the boys and snippets of songs. A live performance of “Twist And Shout” from the Hollywood Bowl can be heard briefly, but most of the incidental music is courtesy of the Hollyridge Strings, Capitol’s house Muzak orchestra, who often had their albums spotlit as “more great Beatles albums for your collection” on contemporary back covers. The track titles are fairly negligible except when dealing with each member, while the gatefold cover features black-and-white photos from the Washington Coliseum concert and the JFK press conference. This two-record set totals roughly 50 minutes and has endured as a collectors-only piece, and never appeared on CD until its inclusion as part of the U.S. Albums box set (and not available separately, unlike the rest of that box).

Two weeks later, the first American Beatle Xmas season arrived with a brand new worldwide hit single: “I Feel Fine” and “She’s A Woman”. Both were featured on Beatles ‘65 with gobs of reverb under the supervision of Dave Dexter, Jr. Most of the other tracks come from the Beatles For Sale LP, which was waiting under most of the Christmas trees in the UK. Even after all these years, many longtime fans continue to equate the holidays with the Beatles.
Such nostalgia and the similarity to Beatles For Sale make ‘65 a collection that has aged well. The country sensibilities and world-weary tone in such songs as “No Reply”, “I’m A Loser”, “Baby’s In Black” and “I’ll Follow The Sun” are intact. Ringo and George get the spotlight on a pair of Carl Perkins tunes. The hit singles and even “I’ll Be Back”, left over from A Hard Day’s Night, fit neatly with the other tunes. And your dedicated correspondent may be the only person on the planet who likes “Mr. Moonlight”.
It’s a solid if short set; none of the Capitol LPs released before 1967 broke the 30-minute barrier save The Beatles’ Story. The liner notes didn’t improve at all, yet somehow they balance the photos of the boys holding umbrellas, rakes and large metal springs. (It’s supposed to illustrate the four seasons. Get it?) The reverb-heavy mix made its official digital-era debut in a limited box set in 2004, before the 11-track sequence was again part of the “U.S. Albums” releases ten years later.

The Beatles The Beatles’ Story (1964)—
UK CD equivalent: none
The Beatles Beatles ‘65 (1964)—5
UK CD equivalent: A Hard Day’s Night/Beatles For Sale/Past Masters


  1. i'm reading.
    so keep 'em coming.


  2. Your blog has caused me to go back and attempt to listen to a lot of Beatles music with a fresh ear. I've also been inspired to read a little bit about the history of the band, especially the details of their breakup. (I never knew much about the latter other than the conventional wisdom that it was all Yoko's fault.) Very interesting stuff. Perhaps you were planning to post about this in the future, but I was wondering what books - if any - you might recommend for someone who wanted a comprehensive history of the band...but was going into it without a lot of background knowledge.


  3. Your question only feeds my desire to write the book which you describe. There are a lot out there, and I've read a lot over the past 30 years.

    Two of the best Beatle books that fit your needs unfortunately haven't been updated in decades, but would still do the trick: The Beatles Forever by Nicholas Schaffner and The Beatles: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler. Either can still be found in libraries; the former sometimes shows up on the bargain rack at the chain bookstores.

    My local library has 10 Years That Shook The World, compiled by the obsessives at MOJO magazine; your library might have it too. It does a good job of covering the music as well as the social impact.

    And that's the thing -- most of the books out now focus on the minutae, like recording dates and details, all of which I eat up. The Beatles by Bob Spitz might be a little too comprehensive, with plenty about their personal lives and only so much about the music. Still one of the better ones.

    Beyond that, there's always The Beatles Anthology, which your local library should have in book form as well as VHS/DVD.

  4. You know you could write that book. What about putting out feelers to see who might want to publish something for a 50th anniversary in 2013, 2014, 2015 or whatever? I'd think there'd be a market for that.