Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beatles 29: 1

Just in time for what someone termed the “Beatle-lennium”, most of the year 2000 was spent building up to the overdue release of the official Anthology book, followed by the band’s first hits collection compiled specifically for CD. Simply titled 1, it collected 27 newly remastered songs that had hit the top spot on the pop charts in either the UK or the US, from “Love Me Do” through “The Long And Winding Road”. Naturally, some favorites were left off—like “Please Please Me” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”, to name two—which annoyed some people no end. The booklet contained a testimonial from George Martin, plus depictions of various 45 sleeves from around the world and some chart info. The annotation for each track was brief, but perhaps the timely launch of the Beatles.com website was intended to hold all the extras. (It didn’t.)
As a distillation of the Red and Blue albums, the album did cover a lot of the bases, even if “Eight Days A Week” and “Yesterday” weren’t singles in the UK back then. Amazingly, considering how many times these songs had been packaged and repackaged, it was a huge seller worldwide. By this time even the children of people who weren’t alive when these songs were recorded were as entranced by the music as anyone. Given the current proliferation of boy bands and other teenybopper sensations, it provided a nice antidote for those parents. After all, the music was really, really good.
The bright red artwork reminded one of the Red album, and left our mouths watering for a blue-theme 2 follow-up—which never happened—or at least a companion DVD with all the promo videos. That only took fifteen years, when the set was repackaged with a DVD (or Blu-ray) that included videos for each of the 27 tracks. A more deluxe version, called 1+, added a second DVD (or Blu-ray) containing another 23 promo videos, some vintage and some created more recently. Some even included commentary tracks from Paul and Ringo, though not together. In all cases, the music was also freshly remixed for stereo (except for the first three songs) by Giles Martin, son of George, and someone who would loom large in future Beatle projects. (The videos for “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love” also included new remixed audio, which not only smoothed out some of the imperfections left over from John’s demos, but lessened the overall Jeff Lynne effect.) The packaging also included lots more photos, and info about the original recordings as well as the filmings.

The Beatles 1 (2000)—5

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