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3 stars The success of this "Anthology" CDs series opened the door for other bands to try to release for the first time on CD their previously auto-rejected tracks, tracks recorded in rehearsals, live tracks, unknown songs, etc. For some bands, like The Beatles, it worked very well, particularly with their fans. For other bands, it was to re-issue again old albums to add to them previously unreleased tracks to bring the attention of old fans again to sell them the same albums again. In the case of The Beatles, some of those tracks are of really historical importance, others not, but The Beatles is one of those bands who are almost loved everywhere (I think so), so there was some justification to release this "Anthology" series.

This "Anthology 1" 2 CD set is mostly of historical interest for the long time fans. It starts with the first "new song" recorded by Harrison, McCartney and Starr, who in 1994 added their parts to a incomplete Lennon`s song which was originally recorded in a cassette in the late 70s. With co-production credits to Jeff Lynne, they did a very good job with this song called "Free as a Bird".

The next songs, most of them recorded in Monophonic, are really historical pieces, like the first two songs that Harrison, Lennon and McCartney recorded with The Quarrymen in 1958 ("That`ll Be the Day" and "In Spite of All the Danger", the last song credited to McCartney and Harrison as composers). There are some songs recorded in Paul`s home in 1960, the only recordings on which their late bassist Stuart Sutcliffe appeared ("Hallelujah, I Love Her So", "You`ll Be Mine", "Cayenne"), some songs recorded with drummer Pete Best (tracks 10-12, 15-19, 21-22 on Disc 1), live tracks recorded for TV shows, an old demo of a forgotten song which wasn`t never recorded properly (Harrison`s "You Know What to Do"), studio takes of songs played with different arrangements to the finally released versions, one finished track which wasn`t released in any album or single ("Leave My Kitten Alone"), etc. There are also some commentaries to some tracks, which add interest to this historical recordings.

This "Anthology" series are very interesting for many fans. Some other people criticize these albums as nothing more than "more money for the musicians and for EMI". IMO, they are important in the history of The Beatles, one of the most important Rock bands of the world (if not the most important).

Each one of the packages of the "Anthology" CD series include very good explanation notes, track by track, written by Mark Lewisohn.

Report this review (#74351)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The first of the 3 Beatles Anthology sets, this is mainly notable for the first "new" Beatles song since Abbey Road. "Free As A Bird" was famously reconstructed from Lennon's original demo tape and, despite the poor quality of his vocal track, a very good job has been done to make this into an excellent song. Jeff Lynne couldn't resist giving Ringo his usual ELO snare drum sound, but he has to be congratulated on the overall outcome. This song is best seen in conjunction with the video, which will provide you with hours of fun playing "Spot the Beatles reference".Harrison contributes some excellent slide guitar and the banjo fade out is a spine tingling moment.

The other notable songs are from the first Quarrymen demo (including their first original "In Spite Of All The Danger"), the faintly embarrassing original Decca demos, the Morecambe and Wise special ("Hello Bongo!") and the brilliant unreleased rock'n'roll cover "Leave My Kitten Alone".There's also some early attempts at "One After 909" which eventually surfaced years later on "Let It Be".

In terms of historical significance, this could only be surpassed by the release of some undiscovered early Elvis demos, but most of it doesn't really bear up to repeated listening, hence I can only give it 2 stars.

Report this review (#82028)
Posted Monday, June 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars (2 and a half stars)

The first 2 CD volume of the "Anthology" series is the least interesting one, and in part that´s due to the sound of some early recordings. This is like a bootleg, but with a really nice booklet and some sound improvements. Prog-rock fans can avoid this one and go directly to the second "Anthology", as there are great differences between them, in sound and quality composition. This first one is pure pop-rock and The Beatles were not still the band that would improve the pop language that allowed the birth of progressive rock. But if you are open-minded and listen to different styles, The Beatles are a must in pop-rock.

"Anthology 1" includes some really early demos only for completists, as well as some live stuff and alternate studio takes. But the highlight of the two-volume is "Free as a Bird", a totally new song made from a demo by John Lennon (and which was covered by Adrian Belew, a true Beatles-lover). To start with The Beatles, is better to listen to "Revolver", "Sgt. Peppers", "The Beatles" (better known as the "White Album"), "Abbey Road", "Past Masters vol. 2" or even "Anthology 2".

Report this review (#86670)
Posted Friday, August 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars The first of a trilogy of alternative and previously unreleased Beatles material. These three duoble-CDs are a quite interesting historical document together with the accompanying booklets and just because of that worthy of the admission price.

This is as said the first one of them and thus naturally compiles their early years. As The Beatles still was a live band at this time most of it is simply live versions. Some are studio outtakes and there are many demo recordings on the first of the two CDs. The last mentioned category is perhaps the most interesting ones but for a fan of Prog Rock there's not much to get here.

Report this review (#94806)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I must admit to having a strong emotional attachment to this album. One of my earliest music memories is listening to this and "Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974-78" with my dad when my brother and we were still too young to have our own tastes in music. But even with rose coloured glasses, this albums $45 price tag was too much for me to swallow, until for a short period a few years ago, the entire anthology series was on sale for 2/$25 at my local record store. As such, it's difficult to listen to this album and judge the music objectively, but I will do my best.

A lot of the music on this album will not be familiar to the Beatles fan, with song names such as "That'll Be The Day", "In Spite of All The Danger", and "Cry For a Shadow". To me, these songs are just as eternal as the Beatles better known songs, such as "Help!", "Yesterday", and "Hey Jude", but listening to this albums years after my youth, after I had had the chance to sample more of the Beatles career, this album really sounds very different from anything else that they did.

The biggest difference is a bit more of a '50s, rock-and-roll vibe - and of course, this makes sense. The Beatles, at the point where many of this songs come from, were still doing a lot of cover songs and finding their own sound. The pop-writing sensibilities that would make them famous, and the experimental attitude that would get them on this website, are not quite as apparent in this music.

Songs like "You'll be Mine" (track 7 on disc 1) hardly even sound like a Beatles tune. Even the singing doesn't sound like it is sung by a Beatle (although it is actually sung by Paul).

Ever wondered what it would sound like if the Beatles performed with Tony Sheridan in a school? Then check out "My Bonnie". Ever wondered what an early Beatles instrumental would have sounded like? Check out "Cry For a Shadow". There is a lot of stuff in here that could be interesting to a hardcore Beatles fan. But that is the audience - the hardcore Beatles fan. It features more non- album tracks than Anthology 2 and 3 as well, including "Free As a Bird", which was finished from John Lennon's demo tape for the Anthology.

As far as it's appeal to the prog fan goes, this album doesn't have a whole lot. It is definitely aimed at the Beatles fan, and for that reason gets a 2 star rating. This is straight up rock and roll for the most part. (And on some songs, the sound quality is actually quite poor)

That being said, there are some great songs on here - Three Cool Cats, Besame Mucho, Love Me Do, How Do You Do It, This Boy, No Reply, etc. are among my favorites. The album has 60 tracks, including demo and final versions of many songs, interviews and comments by those intimate with the band, etc. If you can find it at a good price, a great purchase.

Report this review (#267346)
Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have all the Anthology albums of The Beatles and they are real curio pieces with rare insights into the making of the legendary songs and albums that sparked a generation of Beatleholics that continues to this day. I consider these albums worthwhile as they show how a song is created and how the studio can make or break a song depending on how it is mixed.

This first volume features a lot of Beatles banter, segments of interviews, speeches, and mucking about. These moments are rather fun at first but not great to return to on a regular basis. The songs themselves are the drawcard and here we can indulge in the early years of the fab four ad it is raw and dirty, and you would have to be a diehard fan to appreciate the likes of the scratchy production, such as That'll Be The Day (2:08), In Spite Of All The Danger (2:45), Hallelujah, I Love Her So (1:13), You'll Be Mine, Cayenne (1:14), My Bonnie (2:42), Ain't She Sweet (2:13), Cry For A Shadow (2:22) or Searchin' (3:00).

The highlights are the swinging blues of Three Cool Cats (2:25), that I had heard on a psychedelic compilation recently, Besame Mucho (2:37), and early versions of Love Me Do (2:32), Please Please Me (1:59), One After 909 (2:56), I'll Get You (2:08) and I Saw Her Standing There (2:49).

It is nice to hear from the soft spoken Brian Epstein and John's voice rings out strong from the grave, which at times is chilling in context. The speech of Eric Morcombe And Ernie Wise is fun, and I like hearing alt versions of All My Loving (2:19), You Can't Do That (2:42), And I Love Her (1:52), A Hard Day's Night (2:44), I'll Be Back (Take 2) (1:13), No Reply (Demo) (1:46) and Eight Days A Week (Sequence) (1:25). It is as though you had collected all these bits n pieces from rarities and put them onto one album. Great new song Free As A Bird is of course wonderful and features all members of the band despite Lennon's passing, the wonders of modern technology here. Not a bad idea and not too bad for an educational experience, but I prefer the next volumes with the superior Beatles albums to choose from.

Report this review (#791474)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are certain dates in history that mankind will never forget. December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001 come to mind. But, on a personal level, I'd add February 9, 1964 to that list for that was the day my world was shaken to its core. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 14, sitting in my den watching the Ed Sullivan Show with my mom and dad. Unless you'd been living in a cave you knew that the main attraction that night was to be the American television debut of The Beatles. Six or seven weeks earlier I'd first heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on KLIF when the "Weird Beard" introduced his loyal listeners to what he said was a band from England that were going to be big. The song was different from anything I'd ever heard and it was so irresistible I was immediately mesmerized. After that their tunes seemed to multiply on the airwaves like rabbits so I and 70 million other viewers couldn't wait to get a gander at the Fab Four. I could scarcely take it in. They were spectacular in every sense. They looked fantastic with their radical long hair, snazzy suits and cool guitars. Their confident attitude streamed right out of the screen and, to top it all off, they looked like they were enjoying the best time of their lives. When they finished playing they bowed gallantly to their audience while I tried to pick my lower jaw up off the floor. All questions about what I was going to do when I grew up had been answered. I wanted to do what John, Paul, George and Ringo were doing. I was never the same.

If you're under 40 years of age try to imagine what life was like before microwave ovens, cell phones, laptops and the internet. That's what music was like before The Beatles. Elvis had been a rebel eight years earlier but he'd long since sold out to be a movie star and his songs were crap. The Beach Boys had brought something new to the table but they were singing about a lifestyle that was foreign to most of us. To a kid in Dallas surfing was about as relatable as snow skiing. The Beatles didn't just open a door to a universe of new sounds and possibilities; they blew it off its hinges. I felt like Dorothy waking up in Oz. As I write this it's been almost 50 years since they turned my little world upside down and, whether you acknowledge it or not, there will never be another group that'll come close to having the planetary impact they had on civilization. Their music and influence will literally live on for as long as the earth orbits the sun.

The six-part television event, "The Beatles Anthology," was a superb documentary that aired in November 1995 and this double CD set, "Volume 1," came out at the same time. The clamor for anything that hadn't been previously released by The Beatles was through the roof so it went straight to #1 on the album charts and stayed there for 3 solid weeks. Beatlemania was alive and well again. The sixty tracks it contains is a comprehensive mix of primitive home recordings, short interview quips from the band members (as well as manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin), historic live performances caught on tape and in-the-studio demos and alternate takes. If you're not a Beatle fan or don't understand why they're so revered by baby boomers then this might be nothing more than a curiosity piece. But for guys like me who were changed into "altered boys" by their music and their mien it's a treasure chest full of rare gems.

It starts with the first new Beatle song we'd heard in 25 years, "Free as a Bird." All I can say is that it lived up to its hype (see my review of the single for more info) and climbed to #6 on Billboard. Then you're taken as far back as you can go with some rustic recordings of Lennon's "Quarrymen" skiffle outfit, followed by some home tapings of John and Paul with bassist Stuart Sutcliffe practicing at McCartney's house. (Their hilarious fooling around on "You'll Be Mine" is priceless.) Next comes their Hamburg studio sessions with Pete Best on drums when they made their first record, "My Bonnie/Ain't She Sweet." The audition sessions for Decca have rough edges but it's obvious that John and Paul were maturing as vocalists and that the all night gigs in Germany had made them tighter. Their energetic version of "Searchin'" is a standout. Their first EMI session includes their initial stab at "Love Me Do" but they sound timid and unsure of themselves. One can hear why Martin suggested they needed a better drummer going forward. An assortment of inferior takes on various numbers ensues, the most interesting of them being "One After 909"due to the chatter overheard while working out the arrangement. Their appearance on a British TV show in October '63 playing "I'll Get You" is included and while you can hear girls screaming in the background they don't take away from the band's bold delivery of that great song.

Five of the tunes off their debut LP were preserved from an intimate Swedish radio simulcast where they performed them live in a studio. Ringo's drums are punchy and the foursome sound crisp and self-assured. Their famous gig for the queen at the Prince of Wales Theatre is included when they charmed the pants off all in attendance with their cheeky wit and confident attitude. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from an English TV variety show is a highlight because they kill it. A Paris studio take of "Can't Buy Me Love" is remarkable because they were trying unsuccessfully to put harmony lines on the chorus. I never get tired of hearing "All My Loving" from the aforementioned Sullivan show and I'm glad it's been saved for posterity's sake. Except for a block of 4 numbers performed live at IBC studios in London for a TV broadcast (including their rendition of the R&B classic, "Shout") the rest of the album consists of demos and outtakes of some of their most memorable early material. Of note is their attempt to play "I'll Be Back" in 6/4 time, George's "You Know What To Do" that shows he still had a long way to go in fine-tuning his composing skills, and a loose "No Reply" run-through that proves they weren't all work and no play. They end with a raw but torrid performance of "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" that takes you out on a high note.

What I find most intriguing about this compilation is that it presents The Beatles as fallible but determined songwriter/musicians who toiled tirelessly to push themselves ever harder to achieve the apex of their talents. They certainly possessed loads of potential but they weren't prodigies like Mozart who wrote concertos at age 5. No, they were four normal guys in love with rock & roll who didn't want to do anything else but see how good they could be. That's why so many teens like me were drawn to them on that February night. They were just a quartet of regular fellas chasing a dream together and having a ball doing it. It made each one of us, me included, realize that if we could find other like-minded rock & roll fanatics to form a combo with and if we worked like the devil to steadily improve our instrument-playing and singing skills then the sky was the limit. The 60 tracks on this CD show how the greatest band in history started at the rock bottom and, by patient trial-and-error, worked their way up to the peak of the industry where they made an indelible mark on the world that will never fade.

Report this review (#1089478)
Posted Friday, December 13, 2013 | Review Permalink

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