Reviewed on this page:
Please Please Me - With The
Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - Beatles For Sale - Help! - Rubber Soul - Revolver -
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Magical Mystery Tour - The
Beatles - Yellow Submarine - Abbey Road - Let It Be - Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl - Past Masters Vol. I - Past Masters
Vol. II - Beatles Live At The BBC - Anthology Vol. 1 - Anthology Vol. 2 - Anthology Vol. 3
Forget it, I won't even try to make some new and profound
generalizations about the most famous, influential, talented, and
over-analyzed musical performers of the last half-century. Suffice it to say
that you won't be able to understand the first thing about 60s
rock - or Western pop music in general, really - until you sit down
and memorize the half-dozen most important Beatles records. Almost
every new LP shattered the previous boundaries of rock 'n' roll,
and Lennon and McCartney's songwriting surpassed that of almost all
There are three more points I just can't restrain myself from
making: first, avoid all greatest hits packages, such as 1, as virtually every
Beatles record is a greatest hits package unto itself. Second, the
ratings here are conservative, spread out to give some guidance to
the novice fan. If we were to rate these records relative to
everything else being done in the 60s, virtually every disc would
get four or five stars. Finally, the Beatles'
rhythm section is, if anything, under-rated - brilliant
singing, songwriting, and production weren't the only things the
Beatles had going for them.
For information on the Beatles' post-breakup records, see our solo Beatles page.
Normally we'd provide a link or two to other sites, but there are literally tens of millions of web pages mentioning the Beatles, so why bother... (JA)
We've reviewed a few books on the Beatles on our widely-admired Book Reviews Page. (DBW)
Lineup: Oh jesus, you know this already. George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals, sitar); John Lennon (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, some keyboards, bass); Paul McCartney (lead vocals, bass, some guitar, keyboards, drums, you name it); Ringo Starr (drums, vocals).
George Martin (producer, keyboards) appears on multiple early recordings.
There are plenty of imported orchestras, string quartets, horn players, Indian musicians, etc., and there are occasional guests - Eric Clapton on one great White Album track, and Billy Preston on Let It Be - but almost everything else you'll hear is the real item.
Run for your life: Cover versions of Beatles songs
Along with Bob Dylan, the Beatles are the most frequently covered 60s songwriters. Here's a list of only the cover versions that are specifically discussed on this web site:
Beatlemania: Records influenced by the Beatles
I'm often asked by Beatles fans where they should head next. Believe me, there is life after the Beatles! Here are some picks, arranged into very broad categories. (JA)
- Harmonious mid-60s pop-rock: All Summer Long, Today, and Summer Days by the Beach Boys; anything before 1967 by the the Byrds; the first few albums by the Hollies; the first record (or any compilation with "She's Not There") by the Zombies
- Epic, orchestrated, Sgt. Pepper's-style pop-rock: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys; Again by the Buffalo Springfield; Elton John; Forever Changes by Love; Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel; We're Only In It For The Money by Frank Zappa; Odessey And Oracle by the Zombies
- Loud, guitar-based, late 60s acid rock: The Man Who Sold The World by David Bowie; Disraeli Gears and Wheels Of Fire by Cream; everything by Jimi Hendrix; In The Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson; any early Led Zeppelin record, III being the most Beatlesque; anything from Beggar's Banquet through Exile On Main Street by the Rolling Stones; Sell Out and Tommy by the Who
- Not-so-loud late-60s pop-rock: Crosby, Stills, & Nash; Surrealistic Pillow by the Jefferson Airplane; The Yes Album and Fragile by Yes
- Eclectic and literate late-60s rock: the first three or four Band records; anything from the late 60s by Fairport Convention, the Kinks, or Procol Harum; Between The Buttons by the Rolling Stones; Ogden's Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces; Mr. Fantasy and Traffic by Traffic (plus Blind Faith)
- Post-60s Beatles imitators: Inner Revolution and Here by Adrian Belew; the first two Big Star records; Element Of Light by Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians; anything by the Posies; early 70s Todd Rundgren, especially A Wizard/A True Star; mid-80s XTC (especially their Beatles tribute Chips From The Chocolate Fireball)
- Flat-out geniuses - who cares about the Beatles comparisons: Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder
Not a second time: Plagiarism and the Beatles
In the interest of fairness to Led Zeppelin, I want to point out that Zep wasn't the only band to, um, borrow chords, melodies and lyrics from other artists. Here are the Beatles' brushes with suspicious similarity:
And I think there was some George Harrison solo song that was similar to an early 60s girl group hit, but I can't remember the details.
(Just kidding.) (DBW)
- "Come Together" - the first two lines are adapted from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me."
- "Fixing A Hole" - Mal Evans cowrote the song with Paul, but took a one-time payment rather than a songwriting credit. Not plagiarism, because Evans was a willing party to the arrangement, but it sure is weird.
- "Free As A Bird" - when the Threetles revived this 1977 Lennon demo in 1995, they added a middle section. Unfortunately, they added the middle section from the 1964 Shangri-Las hit "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)."
- "Golden Slumbers" - lyrics adapted from a 17th Century poem by Thomas Dekker.
- "I Feel Fine" - main guitar line borrowed from Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step."
- "Run For Your Life" - first line comes from "Baby Let's Play House" as recorded by Elvis Presley.
- "Something" - first line is the title of a song by then-Apple recording artist James Taylor
- "The Inner Light" - lyrics were lifted, uncredited, from the Tao Te Ching.
Please Please Me (1963)
- Surprisingly, about half of this is dominated by cover songs
- mostly girl group, R & B, and Broadway show tunes. It all was
recorded in one marathon session, and although the Beatles were up
to the challenge, the material seems thin so many decades later. Nonetheless,
there are some well-known rockers ("I Saw Her Standing There";
"Twist And Shout") and Lennon-McCartney pop songs (title track;
"Love Me Do"; "P.S. I Love You"), five of which hit the Top Ten
at once, but only after the follow-up LP hit like a tidal
wave in the U.S. (JA)
- Besides "I Saw Her Standing There" I don't think any of the
originals rank with Lennon-McCartney's better work, and as for the
covers, well, I agree with John's 70s comment that the originals
are better. The covers include mediocre tunes by several influential composers like Carole King & Gerry Goffin ("Chains") and Burt Bacharach & Hal David ("Baby It's You"). (DBW)
With The Beatles (1963)
- The breakthrough American version of this record was retitled
Meet The Beatles, cut down, and then beefed up by the
addition of "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The original British LP,
now tranformed into the universal CD version, is surprisingly
tepid. Despite one great Lennon-McCartney number ("All My Loving")
and a couple of high-energy 50s rock 'n' rollers ("Roll Over
Beethoven"; "Money (That's What I Want)"), it's again stuffed with
lame covers of contemporary R & B songs ("Please Mister Postman";
"You Really Got A Hold On Me"). However, the band was always
remarkably competent even when covering the most vapid material.
- I find this a big step up from the previous album: there
are still lots of covers, but the originals are well-crafted and
tuneful, with great Lennon vocals on "Not A Second Time" and "All
I've Got To Do." This is probably the best document of the Beatles
as high-energy, three-guitar rock and roll band. (DBW)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- A major improvement, thanks to more careful and
recording methods, and more thoughtful songwriting - this
was the only Beatles record that consisted entirely of Lennon-McCartney tunes. Suddenly, the pathetically syrupy pop-song covers
are gone, largely replaced by memorable, tightly crafted
masterpieces (title track; "I Should Have Known Better"; Paul's melodramatic "And I
Love Her"; the thrilling "Can't Buy Me Love"). Even the toss-off "I'm Happy Just
To Dance With You," handed over to George to provide him with a
lead vocal, is graced with brilliant backup vocals. The second
side, thrown together at the last moment to fill out the record,
does drag a bit ("When I Get Home," drab outside of its soaring
refrain) - but it includes the wonderful rocker "Any Time At All"
and two memorable ballads (Paul's "Thing We Said Today" and John's
"I'll Be Back," both with clever ascending hooks). (JA)
- Indeed. I'm not a fan of "Any Time At All" and "When I Get
Home" is possibly the worst Lennon-McCartney tune the Beatles ever
recorded, but John's "You Can't Do That" is a relentless, powerful
Beatles For Sale (1964)
- The Beatles stumbled here despite some experimentation with
recording effects and instrumentation, having failed to come up
with more than a handful of solid songs by Christmas of 1964 - a de
facto deadline imposed by commercial considerations (see title).
John did contribute one brilliant, remarkably introspective number
("I'm A Loser"), but the other solid material broke little new
ground ("Eight Days A Week"; "What You're Doing"). In desperation,
the band fell back on cover versions of 50s rock standards by
Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and Chuck Berry, the
most memorable being the latter's frantic "Rock And Roll Music."
None of this could salvage the record, however, and some of the
tracks ended up being among the most widely disliked by Beatles
fans ("Mr. Moonlight"). (JA)
- It's well-performed ("Words of Love") but the covers are
redundant and the originals are mostly lackluster ("What You're
Doing"). "I'll Follow The Sun" is a pretty ballad Paul had written
years before but revived for this project as a last resort. (DBW)
- Like almost everything that the Beatles did from this record
on, it's not merely good, but groundbreaking. The harmonies are
superb ("Tell Me What You See"), the hits are unforgettable (title
track; "Ticket To Ride"), John's lyrics are advancing rapidly
("You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"; "It's Only Love"), and Paul
contributes a frighteningly modern-sounding semi-acoustic number
("I've Just Seen A Face") and a startling, wildly successful
experiment dispensing with the normal four-piece rock band backing
track in favor of a string quartet (the widely imitated and covered
"Yesterday"). There are a few weak numbers, but they're harmless
(the superfluous country number "Act Naturally," an excuse to spotlight Ringo; the rocking cover of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"). (JA)
- "Miss Lizzy" is one of their best covers, actually. And
George is starting to contribute quality compositions ("I Need
You"). There's also a great guitar solo by Paul on "Another Girl."
Rubber Soul (1965)
- The best 60s rock album produced up to this point, which is
saying a lot - there was in fact some stiff competition (e.g.,
The Beach Boys Today).
Although the Beatles were still often sticking to their tried-and-true love song format (the cutesy "Drive My Car"; Paul's "You Won't
See Me" and "Michelle"), John is experimenting with anthems ("The
Word," which summarizes the whole flower power movement two years
before it even happened), as well as highly personal, almost diary-like sketches that rank among his most popular work ("Norwegian
Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," the first prominent rock record to
feature a sitar; the devastating "In My Life"). It's all solid;
even John's insecurely misogynistic "Run For Your Life" features a
great vocal. The simultaneously released single ("We Can Work It
Out"/"Day Tripper") was arguably their best to date. (JA)
- This record is a blast. George throws in clever lyrics of
his own on "If I Needed Someone," and rocks out on "Think For
Yourself," with Paul on fuzz bass.
I could make an argument that More Hits by the Supremes,
for example, is a stronger album,
but what the
- Another complete breakthrough by the Beatles - earlier
advances were steady and significant but predictable, paralleled by
those of other artists like Dylan and the Beach Boys. Revolver isn't as
carefully crafted and relentlessly tuneful as Pet Sounds,
but it's even more important, pushing the sonic boundaries of rock
farther than any other LP in history. The Beatles combine startling
studio wizardry ("Tomorrow Never Knows") with inventive lyrical
themes (John's "I'm Only Sleeping" and "She Said She Said") and
unusual instrumentation (George's "Love You Too" - which kicked open
rock's door to Eastern music).
Paul is in top form ("Eleanor Rigby"; the brassy "Got To Get You
Into My Life"), George contributes the fantastically funky and
ominous "Taxman," and, of course, there's everyone's all-time
favorite sing-along novelty tune - "Yellow Submarine." The single
that immediately preceded Revolver ("Paperback
Writer"/"Rain") ranks with anything the Beatles ever did. (JA)
- Sure, this is a classic, but there are plenty of weak
moments. John's drug consumption produces mixed results: "Tomorrow
Never Knows" is weird all right, but it's not exactly great
entertainment. "Love You To" is the first but not the best of
George's Indian compositions, while "Doctor Robert" and "And Your
Bird Can Sing" are unimaginative filler. Meanwhile, Paul's "For No
One" is brilliant songwriting, minimally produced. (DBW)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- The most famous rock record in history, and it deserves
most of the acclaim. What seems to have been forgotten in all the
hoopla is that the songs mostly just expand and consolidate earlier
innovations that were played out on Revolver - showcases of complex
orchestration ("A Day In The Life"), abrasive, slice-of-life
rockers ("Good Morning Good Morning"), giddy 60s anthems ("It's
Getting Better"), bizarre studio experiments ("Being For The
Benefit Of Mr. Kite"), George's Indian-influenced pearls of wisdom
("Within You Without You"), and especially the lush psychedelia
that John had mastered ("Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"). Even
"She's Leaving Home" is a bathetic rip-off of the more sincere
"Eleanor Rigby," and the title track's booming, unstoppable herd-
of-elephants sound is mirrored by "Taxman." Say what you might,
though, the record did blow open the 60s like a double-strength
hit of Purple Haze. (JA)
- There are a few significant things about this album that
Alroy hasn't mentioned. It is the first Beatles album conceived as an
album, not just a bunch of songs (their first
released identically in the US and the UK), and the first rock album where
the songs blend into each other with no breaks.
Also, while it's not true that there are no love songs here
("Lovely Rita" and "Getting Better" both have romantic aspects)
it's lyrically far removed from the boy-girl topics that dominated
the Beatles output through Revolver. And Revolver's
experimentalism produces consistently musical results here -- in my
book that's a major advance. (DBW)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
- The Beatles' relentless musical tour ran in place this
time. It took them several months more to realize that their
carefully crafted fusion of Dylanesque lyrics and Brian Wilson-esque production values was a dead end, and, instead, to move in a
million directions at once on their next album. However, they
managed to toss off a superb collection of songs while jogging on
their treadmill (title track, modelled on its Sgt. Pepper's counterpart; "I Am The Walrus," another elaborately tripped-out Lennon tune). Paul dominates a
bit too much, with some of his upbeat pop numbers wearing thin
("Your Mother Should Know"), but others being marvelous ("Hello
Goodbye"). Half the record is a newly-recorded double EP, and the other half is singles from the previous 12 months, including some truly classic hits: John's extraordinary acid-rock production "Strawberry Fields Forever," which almost topped the Beach Boys' contemporary "Good Vibrations"; Paul's marvelous, cleverly orchestrated "Penny Lane"; and irresistable, perfectly timed Summer of Love anthem "All You Need Is Love." (JA)
- Let me get this straight: Alroy's arguing that this is
more essential than the White Album? It's a collection of single
sides (two of which, "Baby You're A Rich Man" and "Hello Goodbye,"
are far from the Beatles' best work) and failed experiments
(Harrison's "Blue Jay Way," the Mellotron mess "Flying"). (DBW)
That's what I'm saying. "Flying" is far more enjoyable than White
Album experiments like "Revolution #9" - and the other three "bad" tracks
are better than the abundant second-rate material on that record ("Happiness
Is A Warm Gun"; "Goodnight"; "Wild Honey Pie"; etc., etc.) or even
on Sgt. Pepper's ("Being For The
Benefit Of Mr. Kite"; "She's Leaving Home"). (JA)
The Beatles (a.k.a. "The White Album": 1968)
- Brilliant and amazingly eclectic, but long-winded. You know
a record's good when Eric Clapton drops by
to deliver a blistering guitar solo ("While My Guitar Gently
Weeps") and it's not the only high point of the record -
there are many of them, including kick-ass rockers ("Birthday";
"Helter Skelter"), harmonic experiments that put the Byrds to shame ("Dear Prudence"), simple
but unforgettable ballads ("Blackbird"; "Julia"), pure, crafted pop
songs ("Martha My Dear"), a wild, lengthy sound collage
("Revolution #9"), and then all the clever rip-offs - blues ("Yer
Blues"), country-western ("Rocky Racoon"), 20's jazz ("Honey Pie"),
the Beach Boys ("Back In The U.S.S.R."),
MGM movie soundtracks ("Goodnight"), even the Beatles themselves
("Glass Onion"). Still, there are way too many toss-offs and misfires. (JA)
- George has four songs here, and he's rapidly nearing his
peak as a songwriter, with the horn-powered rocker "Savoy Truffle,"
a mellow number in the style that would dominate his 70s work
("Long Long Long"), and of course "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
The experimentalism gets way out of control, and the
fragmentation of the group adds to the confusion. The hilarious
"Back In The U.S.S.R." parodies not only the Beach Boys but also
Chuck Berry ("Back in the U.S.A.") and Ray Charles ("Georgia On My
Yellow Submarine (1969)
- A major ripoff. Only six Beatles tracks, two of them
are recycled from earlier records (title track; "All You Need Is
Love"), and the entire second side consists of assorted George
music instead of the pile of additional tunes that appear in the
film. And the four new songs, mostly from early 1967, are of
variable quality. The child-like, acoustic "All Together Now" and raucous early 1968 heavy rocker "Hey Bulldog" are amusing but silly knock-offs, and Harrison's two tracks are fascinating and clearly serious efforts
("Only A Northern Song," which almost made it on to Sgt. Pepper's; "It's All Too Much"), but weighed down by layers of freaked-out instrumentation. (JA)
- Bleah. (DBW)
Abbey Road (1969)
- Buy this, now. The first use of synthesizers on a rock
record that made any musical sense (in contrast, see the Notorious Byrds Brothers), but that's
hardly the reason this record burns itself into your soul. It's
simply brilliant, from start to finish. If you haven't heard gems
like "Here Comes The Sun," "Something" (both by Harrison!),
Lennon's devastating "Come Together" and dreamy, harmonious "Because," and McCartney's infamous "pop
symphony," which dominates side 2, you haven't lived. (JA)
- Not a lot of innovation from a recording standpoint
(although they do throw in a white noise generator on "I Want You
(She's So Heavy)"), but conceptually and production-wise it's their
finest work. Harrison's two finest compositions are both here, as
is Ringo's ("Octopus's Garden"), and although Lennon's compositions
are far from his best there's pretty damn good anyway ("Come
Together," "Because"). Paul doesn't contribute any of his immortal
ballads, but his impeccable musicianship is on display throughout
(soul vocals on "Oh! Darling," bass on "She Came In Through The
Bathroom Window," the multi-part "You Never Give Me Your Money"),
not to mention his sense of humor ("Maxwell's Silver Hammer," "Her
Let It Be (1970)
- Be wary.
An album to be entitled Get Back was recorded months before Abbey Road as an experiment in filming the band "live in the studio," and then allowed to languish when no one could agree on a finished product.
A year later, with the film's release date nearing and the title now changed to Let It Be, the already-disbanded Beatles talked producer Phil Spector into cobbling together a "soundtrack."
Spector, who had never worked with the band before, proceeded to butcher several songs by plastering on a full orchestra and a nauseating female chorus (Paul's formulaic ballads "The Long And Winding Road" and the title track, a rehash of "Hey Jude"; George's mournful, waltzing "I Me Mine"; John's leftover psychedelic anthem "Across The Universe").
The unmutilated selections are either trivial toss-offs (their resurrected early 60s rockabilly number "One After 909"), pleasant but unremarkable pop songs ("Two Of Us"; "Dig A Pony"; Paul's Aretha Franklin-like "I've Got A Feeling"; "For You Blue"), or slightly different versions of songs that you can get on Past Masters Vol. 2 ("Get Back" and its B-side "Don't Let Me Down," which isn't on the album; title track; "Across The Universe").
Billy Preston contributes keyboards throughout, but it hardly helps. (JA)
- No wonder they couldn't agree on a version they liked.
The only major compositions are Paul's gentle "Two Of Us" and the title track, the band sounds bored with itself,
and Spector's production redefines "heavy-handed."
Un-Spectored versions of most of the tracks surfaced on Anthology 3 in 1996, but in 2003 the two surviving
Beatles went to the well one more time, issuing the new, remixed, un-overdubbed Let It Be... Naked. There's not
much to recommend that release if you already have the other stuff; Preston is mixed louder, but his organ often doesn't
suit the mood. Naked does include a version of "Don't Let Me Down," which should have been on the album in the
first place, and gets rid of all the studio chatter meant to fool you into thinking the tunes were performed live.
Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl (recorded 1964, released 1977)
Spare yourself. George Martin does his best to repair the sound of
this early concert, but there's no use: the performances are lousy
- the band couldn't hear themselves play over their screaming
fans, and you will hardly be able to hear them either. (DBW)
I've heard this too, and although it's terribly recorded and minimally performed, it has some historical interest for those exact reasons - no other band created such fan hysteria with so little effort. (JA)
Past Masters Vol. I (recorded 1962-1965, released 1990)
- Excellent collection of all the non-LP material from the
first years - listen to their unparalleled artistic development
unfolding. Even the obscure covers are wonderfully exciting ("Slow Down").
- Development is the key word here. Sure, it's a
fascinating historical document and a must for collectors, but the
Beatles started out a long way from where they ended up, and they
hadn't quite peaked at the point where this collection stops. The
good things about it are completeness - with the following CD
it collects all the band's official non-album releases - and
presentation, with useful liner notes and a track listing that
carefully follows the historical order of release. Such remarkably
considerate treatment is a rarity in the music industry. (JA)
Past Masters Vol. II (recorded 1965-1969, released 1990)
- Also essential; collects the rest of their non-LP
material, although one wishes they'd thrown the four new tracks
from Yellow Submarine on as well. Why don't
the Stones have a collection like this?
- Because Decca/London is even more crass and clueless than
Capitol/EMI. This collection is good, but hardly essential. Sure,
much of it is unsurpassed - the psychedelic fusion of Motown and
the Yardbirds represented by "Rain" was an absolute breakthrough,
and "Hey Jude" is arguably the biggest song of the entire 60s. But
you can say similar things about a lot of stuff the Beatles did,
and the disk is weighed down by relatively poor material like
George's tuneful but lightweight "The Inner Light," with ripped-off
poetic lyrics and Indian session players handling all the
instruments; John's incoherently diary-like
"The Ballad Of John And Yoko"; and the crudely recorded Get Back-era singles, including the group's silly multi-part experiment "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)." (JA)
Beatles Live At The BBC (recorded 1962-1965, released 1994)
A few nice surprises here ("Soldier Of Love," "Some Other Guy," the
Lennon-McCartney original "I'll Be On My Way"), but it's not
exactly the kind of album you'll listen to over and over again.
I've heard many of these tracks. The "new" ones are indeed weak,
and the knockoffs of more familiar songs closely follow the
original arrangements, but I figure the collection must be harmless
good fun. My only gripe is that despite the pages of liner notes
and precise recording dates, the track listing is in a seemingly
chaotic order, making it hard to make sense of the the Beatles'
warp-speed musical progression during this early era. Presumably,
though, this is a reasonable alternative to dragging out your early
Beatles LP's for the ten millionth time. (JA)
Anthology Vol. 1 (1995)
Two discs of early recordings, outtakes and live performances.
Besides the obvious historic interest, there's not much to
recommend the collection: the unreleased songs aren't very good
(besides their rockin' cover of "Leave My Kitten Alone") and the
outtakes are without exception inferior to their released cousins.
The one "new" song (the three living Beatles completed a 1977
Lennon demo) "Free As A Bird" is fluff, and there are so many
backing vocals and guitars piled on top of Lennon's voice you can
hardly hear him. You either ran out and bought this the day it came
out, or you don't need it at all.
Anthology Vol. 2 (1996)
More of the same in the followup to the multiplatinum Vol.
I. This covers outtakes, alternate takes and live performances
from 1965 to early 1968, with one "new" song: "Real Love," like
"Free As A Bird" a Lennon demo with loads of acoustic guitars and
backing vocals piled on to cover the thinness of the original
performance. "Real Love" is a more substantial tune than "Free As,"
but it's not something Lennon was considering for release on either
Double Fantasy or
Milk and Honey...
it has a Beatles sound to it, but it's not a classic or anything.
There are a couple of fun outtakes ("That Means A Lot" is a decent
tune, although the performance is weak and buried in echo), but the
live tracks sound terrible, and many of the alternate takes are
Frankenstein's monsters, assembled from several different
uncompleted masters - the same way Alan Douglas worked on Jimi Hendrix' posthumous releases.
Personally I would've rather had more really new material, like the
entire track of "12 Bar Original" instead of a three-minute
snippet. Once again, fun for the band's millions of fans, but not
recommended unless you already have all the original albums.
Anthology Vol. 3 (1996)
Third and last in this series of collectors' albums, it's
easily the best: there are no poor-quality live tracks, almost no
redundant alternate takes, and only a few inconsequential demos
(mostly from the White Album period). There's no newly
recorded reunion track here, but there are plenty of intriguing
alternate versions (the Spector-free "Long And Winding Road," a
hilarious take of "Rocky Raccoon," a lovely acoustic version of
"While My Guitar"), and a few unreleased songs: John's "What's The
New Mary Jane" is experimental and outlandish, but far more
listenable than "Revolution #9," George's "Not Guilty" is a fine
heavy rocker, Paul's improvised toss-off "Los Paranoias." There are
also some nice surprises: Paul's demo of "Come And Get It" is
release quality, his brief take on "Step Inside Love" (which he
wrote for Cilla Black) makes you wish he'd done a proper version
himself, John makes sarcastic off-mike comments throughout, and the
band's stripped-down rehearsal of "Hey Jude" with heavy Ringo
drumming, beats the released version all to hell. If you're a fan
wondering whether these Anthology jammies are worth your
money, start with this one. (DBW)