From the very beginning of their career, The Beatles were a multi-media project. Sure, Elvis’s hips rattled small screen variety shows and corny matinee features and The Monkees had their own weekly series and starred in a fabulously avant garde big screen flop, but The Beatles not only appeared on TV with great regularity and variety (let’s not forget their charmingly cheesy cartoon alter-egos that mesmerized kids every Saturday morning from 1966 to 1967), but they made their own promo videos even before “The Monkees” went on the air, appeared in live action and animated feature films, often allowed cameras to capture their concert and studio work, and even recorded on live TV for an international audience. With so much material, nearly every one of the whopping 28 number one hits they scored in the UK and US has its very own visual document.
The Beatles’ latest multi-media project groups those videos—and more on a limited deluxe edition—with Giles’s Martin’s stereo remix of the 2000 compilation Beatles 1. The videos provide a nifty and swift romp through the Beatlestory, as we see them shake stages and rooftops, mime in absurd circumstances that find Ringo working an exercise bike instead of a set of Ludwigs and George pretending to sing into a punching bag, float through London on an acid cloud, transform into cartoon characters adrift on a yellow submarine, and make goo goo eyes at their wives.
Bonuses on the video discs include introductions for “Penny Lane”, “Hello, Goodbye”, “Hey Jude”, and “Get Back” (and “Strawberry Fields Forever” on the limited edition disc) from Ringo that mostly consist of laughing, goofy descriptions of what’s happening on screen, and peace-sign flashing. He provides the most detail about the rooftop concert. Paul McCartney’s commentaries over all those videos (except “Get Back”) are considerably more detailed. He doesn’t spill anything revelatory, though it’s amusing to hear him comment on the various people in the “Hey Jude” chorus. The extra disc included in the limited deluxe edition, however, is far more than a nifty bonus. With clips for such essential tracks as “Strawberry Fields Forever” (perhaps the most beautiful restoration of all), “Revolution”, “A Day in the Life”, and “Rain”, and relative oddities such as “Hey Bulldog”, this disc really rounds out the story with some of the very, very best Beatles songs. It also provides opportunities to see the band working in the studio, getting really weird, and hanging out with Mike Nesmith that the main disc does not.
Get Beatles 1+ in various formats on Amazon.com here: