In which I listen to Revolver Super Deluxe in a controlled environment

I’m the opposite of an audiophile. My favorite ways to listen to music are in Alex’s 2004 Honda CR-V via cassette deck or CD while driving up/down the I-5, or walking around the city with my crappy old wired earbuds that came with some long-retired iPhone. (It’s less about the medium, I suppose, and more about the setting; I just like listening to music on the move.)

A demonstration of this: the first time I listened to Volume 2 of the new Revolver Super Deluxe reissue—5 days ago—was on BART to Oakland International Airport before catching a $32 flight to Santa Ana for a quick family Disneyland trip. It is not the type of setting most people would consider optimal listening conditions for a highly-anticipated reissue. But! Now whenever I hear “Doctor Robert (Take 7)” I’ll think of riding the BART to OAK connector on a beautiful Halloween afternoon, and that is a very nice memory.

Bar none, my favorite Beatles album cover.

Beatlefans and audiophiles have been eagerly awaiting the new Revolver reissue, for many good reasons. The original stereo mixes and 2009 remasters are generally regarded as subpar, and this is the first Beatles reissue to use Peter Jackson’s AI technology to isolate and remix the instruments that were previously all recorded on one track (alchemy!!). And of course, Giles Martin is at the helm, which is the closest thing to having Big George Martin here to supervise this new era of the Beatles’ catalog.

Even though the subtleties of remixes like this are usually lost on me, this time I did want to sit down and re-listen to the stereo version of the album in a more controlled setting so I could try to appreciate what Giles and this crazy AI technology can do (and also so I could blog about it). Our home system is nothing fancy, but now we have a nice Onkyo receiver—with Bluetooth!—and two vintage Bose tall boi speakers, a good setup that is much appreciated after years of our dying Sony receiver. So after listening to Revolver Super Deluxe through both the speakers and then again with Alex’s fancy (read: non-earbud) headphones, I’ll pretend for a few minutes to know what I’m talking about.


Listening to both the mono and stereo versions of the album, the difference in the new stereo mixes is most noticeable on “Tomorrow Never Knows” (good!) and “She Said She Said” (bad). TNK is outta this world. All that sound and color swirling around, it’s such a wild ride. I can’t imagine not listening to it in stereo. With “She Said She Said”, the guitars are split left and right, which sounds cool at first, but then there’s a jarring drop in the left guitar at 0:11 which makes everything sound strange and unbalanced for the rest of the song. Redditors are tearing this one apart (my favorite comment: “Giles Martin is making me feel like I’ve never been born”) but it’s not actually that bad on speakers, just weird with headphones.

Moving on…OH HI, PAUL. Each Giles reissue makes me realize how many tasty bass licks I’d missed in the lesser versions of these songs. These mixes really bring them forward! There’s some great fills in “I’m Only Sleeping” and “Got To Get You Into My Life”, and I’m really glad the Super Deluxe version also includes new mixes of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”, which weren’t on the album but recorded at the same time and feature some of Paul’s best bass playing. Something about his tone and articulation is just so clean…it’s truly a pleasure to listen to.

More breathing room in stereo mixes = more fun easter eggs, like the yawn in “I’m Only Sleeping” and John’s response to “she feels good” in “Good Day Sunshine”. My only (petty) complaint is that I wish the snaps at the end of “Here, There, and Everywhere” were more prominent! When I first heard those in the 2009 remaster, my world changed. TURN UP THE SNAPS, GILES.

But enough of the original album, let’s talk about the EXTRAS!!!

  • Got To Get You Into My Life (Second Version) is a revelation! I love this version more than the actual track, I think. Why use horns when you have fantastic droning guitar and those punchy chords?? I love Paul’s exposed bass fills and the little vocal interlude (“Get you in, into my life”) too!
  • Love You To (Unnumbered Rehearsal) – It’s very cool to hear George practicing sitar in this one – a little glimpse into his work ethic. And his “oww!”s at the end from undoubtedly shredded fingers. There was a time in my life when I could relate.
  • Rain (Take 5/Actual Speed)EXCUSE ME?! This has been sitting in the archives all these years?! I hardly ever think of Beatles songs in terms of individual parts (one of their greatest qualities is how effortlessly the four of them meld together into one), but holy buckets, Paul and Ringo—absolute mad lads—just dominate this take. This feels like the pop rock gods dropped into EMI Studios in 1966 and inhabited the Fabs’ bodies for just long enough to create this transcendental two and a half minutes of music.
  • Doctor Robert (Take 7) – Oohhhh OKAY, I hear you, double time bass in the second bridge. How does this not appear in the final cut (which used Take 7)? I don’t know how mixing works.
  • And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version/Take 2/Giggling) – Now we can hear John and Paul cracking up in extra hi def! Seriously though, I can hear their silent laughing in this version, and it’s so joyous. A true gift for all Beatlefans.
  • I’m Only Sleeping – The rehearsal bits with vibes sound straight out of a SMiLE session. Takes 2 and 5 make me appreciate the finished version of the song even more. The slower speed, backing vocals, and backwards guitar transform it from a somewhat straightforward rock song into a real trip.
  • Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tapes 1 & 2) – Yellow Submarine is the skip track of Revolver, but the Yellow Submarine Work Tapes are the HIGHLIGHT of Revolver Super Deluxe. Gosh, no disrespect to Ringo, but I really wish they’d kept the original folksy vibe of this song. John on vocals stretching out “ma-a-an” and “la-a-and” and “ye-e-ellow” give it a nice push-and-pull, and the “look out/get down!” bits in the chorus are lovely, too. What a treat!
  • She Said She Said (Take 15/Backing Track) – Groovy guitar. I could listen to an 18-minute version of this.

Final thoughts: Will I buy the Special Edition 5 disc version complete with stereo+mono mixes, demos, 100-page book, and Klaus Voormann art? …strong maybe. But for now, I can highly recommend enjoying the new reissue on your streaming platform of choice, listening to this interview with Giles Martin, and discovering all the versions that might’ve been:

Get Back Part 3

Mannnn, I don’t know where to start. We watched Part 3 last night but I was so overwhelmed by the end that I couldn’t sit down and knock out a post like a did with the other two parts. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this way: giddy at the thought of Brand New Beatles Content and literally unable to think about anything else. I’m sad that it’s already over, but really hope that Peter Jackson eventually ends up releasing an even longer version, which sounds very possible.

Part 3 thoughts:

  • The first 10 minutes are so joyous it’s almost unreal. George helping Ringo with “Octopus’s Garden” and everyone else gathering around and joining in is just SO WHOLESOME. And then Heather (Linda’s daughter) shows up and they just start jamming and letting her play along and it’s wonderful.
  • Also, Heather observing Yoko’s *ahem* vocal stylings and then doing a spot-on impression while the Beatles jammed was a real kick. I loved John’s incredulous “Yoko!”
  • George coming in with “Old Brown Shoe” and Ringo, Paul, and Billy proceeding to rock out with it was great. The look on George’s face when he realizes his mates are enjoying playing his song…made me so happy.
  • Wow, I wish November 27 me could go back and tell November 26 me how much more George Martin content was yet to come!! GM playing the shaker on “Dig It”…GM troubleshooting the PA setup (“I’ll fix ya lads, I’ll fix ya” 🥰 )…GM helping them come up with the track list for the album. What a treat.

Sidebar: I know this is super uninteresting to most people, but I have a theory on George Martin’s presence in these sessions. When I hear demos and outtakes from the other albums, I always think of him as the man in the box—I know he would come down and work with the band, and play piano and other bits on their songs, but he always seemed like more of a schoolteacher presence, keeping the Beatles in line and calmly directing their chaos into focused recordings. That’s why it’s super cool to see him just chilling with the Beatles in the studio while Glyn Johns focuses on recording and mixing. Without his name attached to the album, it seems like he’s able to let loose a little and just hang out (obviously while still helping a lot with the equipment and production). I just think it’s neat to see him spending so much time with them and, having had so much history with them already, knowing best how to help when they need it.

The king has spoken.
  • I’m not gonna talk about Allen Klein. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Allen Klein at all.
A Rocky appearance!
  • There’s a part where Paul leaves for an appointment and John runs rehearsal, and it’s really cool to see him saddle up and get serious about practicing, where in the first two parts he was much more passive/disinterested. I liked hearing him sing Paul’s parts for “I’ve Got A Feeling” and giving more time to George’s song. You get a glimpse of what it was probably like in early days when John was the undisputed leader of the band.
  • I would pay to listen to 8 hours of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” jams, holy buckets.
  • I can’t lie, even though George will always be my fave and I think a lot of his pissy attitude was justified, it must be said that he was a big buzzkill during most of the Let It Be sessions. There were several parts where the band was close to agreeing on a show venue or some other decision only for George to shut it down or make some passive aggressive comment about it being a dumb idea. :(
  • But, George seems very self-aware and generally in better spirits in Part 3. It was cool to hear him talking to John about wanting to make his own album. John and Yoko were so supportive!
  • When Ringo spoke up that he wanted to play on the roof, they should’ve just called it then and there. Ringo has an opinion on it?? DO IT, BOYS!

Rooftop concert day:

  • I didn’t know there were so many cameras! I also lol’ed at George Martin immediately spotting the “hidden” camera in the reception area.
  • The way Peter Jackson used the multiple camera angles was really neat. I feel like that’s the best thing he could’ve done, knowing that each camera had something worth seeing. Rather than cut back and forth between them all, why not just show three at once? (I think the Woodstock documentary did this too, maybe he was influenced by that.)
  • Shout-out to everyone in the Beatles’ extended circle who tried to distract and/or delay the cops when they showed up. Debbie at the front desk pretending like she didn’t know what was going on, and Mal buying time by saying he’d go up and cut the PA (but not doing it?)—both were clutch. Unsung heroes.
  • When film crew on the street started doing impromptu interviews with the people who had gathered around, they were asking the same questions reporters would ask in 1964 (“Who’s your favorite Beatle?” “Do you buy their records?”), but obviously the fans had grown up just like the Beatles. They weren’t screaming and ogling, they were just like “Yeah, I think what they’re doing is pretty cool.” I also really liked this gentleman’s comments.
  • Poor Paul wanted to get arrested so bad. He kept talking about it in the earlier parts, and then when he sees the cops show up on the roof he’s positively giddy. Too bad the cops just stood in the back looking grumpy instead of doing anything.
  • And POOR MAL was put in an impossible situation; you could tell he was trying everything in his power to stall before being forced to unplug George and John’s amps.
  • I couldn’t suss out whether George was annoyed or actually enjoyed playing on the roof. But I enjoyed the Defiant Teenager Energy from him when he flipped his amp back on to keep playing. He knew the cops weren’t actually going to do anything, lol.
When the annoying cops tell you to turn down your guitar on the rooftop
  • I LOVED the footage of the band and crew and wives listening to the live recordings in the control room afterward. Mo’s energy is infectious!
  • I felt a bit like Peter Jackson rushed the ending by not giving us full takes of the slow jams (“Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Two of Us”) on Day 22, but I guess that’s because those already exist on the original film? It certainly wasn’t because he was worried about the dang thing being too long. Maybe they’ll make it into the extended Director’s Cut, who knows.
  • I did really love the “Let It Be” outtakes at the very end, and the little banter before “Two of Us” that melts my heart every time.

Would I recommend Get Back to non-Beatles fans? Part of me is convinced that Part 3 could be an accessible way to get to know them, and if you like that, then bring out the additional hours of footage. But I also know it’s not for everyone. Peter Jackson made this film for the fans, obviously. Sometimes even I got tired of hearing them start yet another take of “Get Back.” But seeing everything come together and all the happy joyous bits in between was more than I ever could have asked for. I still can’t quite believe we have this much footage of the Beatles working together in the studio, and in such incredible quality (sorry for not mentioning it until just now, but one million kudos to Peter Jackson and his team for restoring the film and audio!!!). It truly is a gift.


The Complete Get Back Drinking Game (revisions probable)

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned
  • The anvil makes an appearance
  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • A Beatle drinks tea or eats toast
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”
  • George Martin fixes a problem
  • Glyn Johns looks like a fashionista
  • The Beatles play a version of a song that ends up on the final Let It Be album
  • Someone on the street thinks the rooftop concert is annoying

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • George and Paul have a row
  • Paul does parkour
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • Yoko sings

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band
  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface
  • “Thanks, Mo.”

Get Back Part Deux

Whoof! Lots to unpack here.

  • Not gonna lie, the first 45 minutes of this part was hard to watch. Not just for the lack of George, but because it managed to be both tedious and stressful at the same time (we know George will come back, but WHEN?!).
  • The long shot of Paul after he says “and then there were two” looking like he’s about to cry was a bit too on the nose. 😭 At least we got some nice Paul and Ringo moments out of that day.
  • John really comes in strong with the droll Lennon humor on Day 9. It even makes Peter Sellers (who, by the way, just shows up) seem uncomfortable!
  • The so-called “flowerpot conversation” was super enlightening. First off, it’s pretty sketchy that the film crew secretly recorded John and Paul’s convo in the cafeteria. But I’m conflicted, because now we have this amazing insight into one of the most fraught moments of the band’s career. I didn’t realize real humans were capable of having a difficult, honest conversation like this while not blowing up at each other. Apparently this was cut down from like 30 minutes and had to be heavily edited to fix the background noise, but man, the whole thing would be amazing to hear.
  • The first day they moved to Apple Studios (the day they didn’t let the film crew record them) must’ve been crazy productive. Starting the next day, “Get Back” and “Two of Us” were so much more fully formed. And George seems so much happier. 😌
  • BILLY HAS ARRIVED. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that he saved the day/album. His presence immediately pulls the group together and gives the songs so much LIIIIFE.
  • The “by John Lennon” credits on the India footage gives me It’s Alive vibes.
  • The India footage is really cool! But you can tell Paul and John joking about some of their experiences was rubbing George the wrong way. Treading on thin ice, boys!
  • John is such a spazz.
  • The second half of Part 2 in general is just so happy and silly. I could watch the Beatles goof off in the studio in HD all day.
  • I am so pleasantly surprised by how much George Martin footage there is, considering he wasn’t actually producing this album. HE IS A LOVELY MAN and you can’t convince me otherwise. Like, what would they have done with their unusable studio if he hadn’t been there to pull in all the recording equipment from EMI?
  • The short convo between the two Georges at the end of Day 15 is so heartwarming. I love how GM makes a point to tell GH how well they’ve all been working together. “You’re looking at each other, you’re seeing each other.” Extremely wholesome Beatles content.
A screenshot of GM being lovely, with an unfortunate caption to accompany it
Here he is on the floor reading the paper while a millionth take of “Let It Be” dissolves into chaos.

Ok I need to stop before this becomes a George Martin fangirl post.

Additions to the drinking game:

  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • Paul does parkour
  • The appearance of tea
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”

Chug:

  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface

Get Back Part I

This day…….

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

I half-jokingly told some people that I would live tweet my Get Back-watching experience, but of course I’m too chicken to broadcast all my rambling Beatlethoughts to Twitter. So here in the safety of my own echo chamber, I’ll throw all the tweet-sized thoughts that ran through my head (and occasionally out of my mouth) while watching the first part of the series with my husband, cat, and a bottle of wine.

  • I wasn’t expecting the rapid-fire history at the very beginning, but it was pretty nicely done. (And I’ll never complain about seeing Beatles footage in high quality.) Also, it conveniently provided context for quips later on: “Who’s that little old man?” “You could go back to Manila,” etc. etc.
  • Framing this as a literal day-by-day documentary worked better than I thought it would. In the Anthology book—which I definitely pulled out to cross-reference—John talks about the band being like a 9 to 5 job at that point, and it does kind of seem like that. But it’s cool to see how much the new songs progress day by day.
  • Watching the Beatles rehearsing “All Things Must Pass” was magical. And John misreading “wind” as “mind” and then George keeping it for when he eventually recorded the song…I was just a PUDDLE of feels.
  • “We’ve been grumpy for the past 18 months” – Ringo, 1969 (also: all of us, 2021)
  • MLH trying so hard to get the Beatles to do a show in Libya was a bit painful. I can’t imagine them doing that at all…but it would’ve been pretty wild if they’d pulled it off.
heavy Live at Pompeii vibes
  • It was hilarious how adamantly George didn’t want to travel by boat to a venue (“expensive and insane,” in his words).
  • Watching “Get Back” materialize out of nothing really was something to behold. So was Ringo and George’s reaction.
  • The sheer AMOUNT of music these guys blasted through in the first week of filming alone…is that normal? Like, there’s just an endless well of Lennon/McCartney songs to pull from, not to mention all the covers they run through, plus stuff that would end up on future albums…and then George and Ringo occasionally just walk in like, “Here’s a song I wrote last night”…it’s all very impressive to me, as a person who used to spend 6+ months learning 3 pieces of pre-arranged music.
  • Also, I know this is probably just normal band stuff, and of course the Beatles would refer back to their own catalog, but I still found it fascinating which songs they’d pull out of past albums and just start playing. “Every Little Thing”? I’m SO pleased George thought that was a nice song!!
  • LOL at Dick James trying to talk music biz with the guys and their extreme disinterest every time.
  • What do we think Yoko and Linda were talking about??
  • This version of “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” is hott.
  • The “No Pakistanis” version of “Get Back”, even though it’s satire could easily get the Beatles cancelled in modern times. For that reason, I’m pretty glad they went a different direction with it.
  • Honestly, I can relate to Paul’s work ethic. I get that everyone felt he was being bossy, but at the same time, if Paul wasn’t there to steer them in some direction, I’m pretty sure the album (and film) would’ve just dissolved into nothing. And I’m so glad it became something.
  • It’s easy to see John’s antics as comedic relief, but I guess what it really was was a general sense of apathy…and heroin abuse. He didn’t really want to be there but his go-to way of handling it was just being a goof. They showed a lot less of the antics in the original Let It Be film, which always led me to believe he was just completely over the Beatles at this point in their career. It’s nice to see it wasn’t always like that, though.
  • Watching George trying to speak up while Paul and John just keep talking to each other about how a song should go…that sucks. Plus, George came in with some straight up bangers and I feel like he got a lukewarm reception to all of them.
  • Also George prefacing all of his songs with “It’s really short/easy,” “It’s ok if you don’t want it” – TAKE MORE CREDIT JOJ YOU DESERVE IT!!
  • That ^ Twitter account btw is VERY VERY GOOD.
  • Ringo just really stays out of the drama, good for him.
  • The violent jamming to Yoko’s screaming (and Paul swinging from the scaffolding) after George leaves was…unexpected.
  • How exciting to have a reason for a new drinking game! I’ll be adding to this as the next 2 parts get released…

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • George and Paul have a row

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band

#Thankful for the long weekend / giddy for part 2,

n.

In which I aggressively screencap another Beatles video

Oh, hi. Nothing like new Beatles footage to bring me scrambling back to the blog. LOOK:

I’ve been waiting impatiently for any news of this documentary since its premiere was delayed earlier this year, so I nearly burst with excitement when I saw this update tweeted out this morning (it was literally the reason for getting out of bed: I had to go into another room to watch it without waking Alex up). August 2021 is so far away, but these few minutes of footage reassure me that it’s going to be 1000% worth. Thank heavens New Zealand has its act together and the crew can resume editing work.

If this indeed is an accurate picture of the film, then I am giddily looking forward to…

Coming up with a new drinking game, this time with tea.

More of George and Ringo’s frilly shirts.

Billy Preston! George Martin! Mal Evans!

Yoko and Linda just hanging out??

John antics (honestly, these two seconds are very relatable).

PAULBEARD.

All the vintage recording equipment (and the boys dunking on Glyn Johns).

And just generally seeing a happier side of this chapter. <3


So stoked to see the Beatles get the Peter Jackson treatment.

Important Beatle People: Astrid Kirchherr

Astrid!

Photographer and lifelong friend to my favorite boys from Liverpool. I was so sad to hear of her passing yesterday, but grateful to see such an outpouring of love for her work. I’ve wanted to do a tribute to Astrid for a while now. Along with Klaus Voormann, she played such a huge role in shaping the Beatles’ image, and captured them beautifully in pictures.


Astrid was introduced to the Beatles by Klaus when they were playing their residency at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg. She asked if they wouldn’t mind her taking some photos of them, to which they agreed. The result was their very first photoshoot, which is, to say the least, ICONIC:

She fell in love with Stuart Sutcliffe (John’s BFF from art school and then-bassist in the band) and Stuart eventually left the band to live with her. They got engaged, but he tragically died of a brain hemorrhage at age 21. Astrid captured some beautiful photos of Stuart, and also of John and George in his studio after his death:

After Ringo joined the band and the Beatles became worldwide pop stars, they all remained close and Astrid took some wonderful portraits of them, when most others were either overly posed or just plain awkward. I also love the candids she shot. I’m sure they were more at ease with her than any other photographers, and it shows.

She hung out with them during their newfound fame, took behind the scenes photos during the filming of A Hard Day’s Night, and stayed friends with them long after the band broke up. (I love the photos of George and Paul on holiday with Astrid – and Paul’s derpy face, haha. She was so pretty!)

Astrid eventually traded photography for interior design and lived a relatively quiet life in Hamburg, although she did a few photography retrospectives in recent years, I think. She passed away yesterday, aged 81. If you want to read more about her, this is a nice article.

Danke schön, Astrid. JPGR were so lucky to have met you.

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl

So, I’ve been really into The Crown lately…probably because it’s a welcome distraction from the hot mess that is the United States right now. Also I like looking at fancy interiors and rooms with impossibly high ceilings.

14-the-crown-buckingham-palace-1.w710.h473.2x

Previously, the only knowledge I had about the royal family was from many years of watching Beatles footage (there’s quite a bit of relevant material!). First there was the Royal Variety show in 1963, where the Beatles played for the Queen Mother and John got cheeky:

Then there were multiple instances of the Beatles meeting Princess Margaret (“Priceless Margarine” per John). Fun fact: she and Lord Snowdon both attended the premieres for A Hard Day’s Night and Help! (spoiler alert: the Princess doesn’t marry Peter Townsend).

Beatles-Princess-Margaret

And of course the MBE debacle, in which the Queen made the boys members of the British Empire, fans stormed Buckingham Palace, a bunch of people got mad, and the Beatles just got super high and gave an incomprehensible interview about it:

Fast forward to the 90s and you have Paul and George Martin being knighted by the Queen herself. And, a gazillion years later, Ringo’s finally a knight too!

Anyway, it’s been fun learning more about the monarchy and all its drama by way of a Netflix original series. Compared to American scandal, it’s all very dignified drama. Also, I’ve learned that I kind of have a crush on King George VI and I’m cool with that.

To end, here’s an adorable picture of Paul and the Queen:

120617021412-paul-mccartney-birthday-gallery-11-horizontal-large-gallery

(Bonus picture – I find this one even more adorbs.)

Those good good Beatles harmonies

Last week, after a particularly long bus ride in which I listened to “Yes It Is” (a severely underrated song, IMO) no less than five times in a row, I was inspired to compile the perfect playlist of Beatles harmonies. Or at least, perfect to me.

This is by no means comprehensive…just a few of my favorites, arranged (mostly) chronologically because I always think it’s so interesting to hear how the Beatles’ songwriting/recording techniques evolved over time. You can hear them getting more comfortable singing together with each song, until finally you get to “Because” which 10 times out of 10 blows me away with those otherworldly vocals.

(If you don’t have Spotify, I’m sorry. It’s impossible to make a Beatles playlist on YouTube.)

I had to include “The End,” because 1) the other Abbey Road songs kinda leave you hanging, and 2) they do sneak some great harmonies in there.

Also, yesterday was George’s birthday! Happy birthday, dear George.

geo-garden

friarpark1

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Eight Days A Week: The Real Post

Ok, now for some real thoughts on Eight Days A Week.

When I first heard about this documentary, I was a little disappointed that there wouldn’t be a “studio years” installment, which in my mind would’ve been much more interesting. But after watching the film, I appreciate the focus on the touring years, because: 1) It reminds us just how nuts Beatlemania was, and 2) It’s super interesting to see how the Beatles affected everything that was going on culturally and socially in the mid-60s (their refusal to play segregated venues, the Jesus quote debacle, etc.). I mean, that continued into the late 60s too, but when they were touring, they were much more in the spotlight. Oh, and 3) The press conferences. So many zingers.

Here’s a rundown:

The good:

  • New stuff for die-hards. Although I’d seen most of the concert and interview footage over the years, it was nice to see some new material. Like interviews with fans (“George has sexy eyelashes!”), the German press conference where a reporter asked the Beatles why they’re so snobby (good job deflecting that one, Paul), and a fan’s home video of the ’66 Candlestick show.
  • Restored audio. I never really liked watching Beatles concert footage because the sound was so atrocious (it’s just…all teenage screaming). But Giles Martin a.k.a. Son of God worked his magic on the recordings and they actually sound pretty amazing.
  • The #dreamteam. I’m glad that appropriate tribute was paid to Brian Epstein and George Martin, and that Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, and Derek Taylor didn’t go unnoticed either. The Beatles had a surprisingly small entourage when touring the world from 1964-1966, and I’ve always admired how close they all were with these guys.
  • Shea Stadium. (You only got to see the whole concert if you watched the movie in theaters.) The shots of the fans are priceless and the Lennon antics are at an all time high.
  • George comparing the Beatles to rhubarb. He would.

The meh:

  • Questionable Lennon censorship. I thought it was kinda weird they corrected John’s lyric flubs for some of the live performances (personally, I think they’re endearing). Although it’s probably for the best that they edited out his clap hands/stomp feet routine…
  • Random interviews e.g. “we’re gonna bring in Eddie Izzard to talk about how the Beatles responded to media hecklers, and we’re gonna show him juuust long enough to make you think, wait, what’s Eddie Izzard doing here?”
  • Colorized film. Unnecessary. It makes everything look so fake and bad.

color
whyyyyyyy

The film is available on Hulu, but seeing it in a theater of fellow Beatlefans was pretty entertaining, if you get a chance to do so. Like the audible horror at the colorized footage, everyone clapping along to “Eight Days A Week,” and the guy in the front yelling along with “GOOD OL’ FREDA!”

I think Ron Howard did an excellent job bringing Beatlemania back to life, while also capturing what made people like me fall in love with the Beatles in the first place: their wit, charm, and boundary-pushing music. Ending the film with the rooftop concert was expected, but it still made me tear up. The Beatles and their music came such a long way in such a short amount of time, it’s insane. Their fans grew up, too: from screaming, crying teenagers to young men and women quietly watching from rooftops across the street. Whenever I start thinking about the arc of the 60s and how the Beatles influenced it, I get all emotional, so I’m just going to stop right here.

TL;DR: Eight Days a Week is definitely worth a watch. There are some weird bits, but the great restored footage and cheeky interviews more than make up for it.

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Thanks guys, you’re the best.

Eight Days A Week: A Drinking Game

Sooooo, I’ve watched Eight Days A Week twice in the past 24 hours and have a lot to say about the film itself, but while I put that together, here’s a drinking game.

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One drink whenever:

  • A photo is subtly “enhanced” with moving cigarette smoke
  • Modern-day Ringo is seen wearing a peace sign
  • George waves awkwardly
  • The Beatles perform in a different country
  • Brian Epstein looks fabulous
  • Someone describes something as “mahhvelous,” “fab,” or “a laff”
  • There’s a cheesy reference to the Beatles’ haircuts
  • Georgestache
  • Paulbeard
  • A girl faints (it was going to be whenever a girl screams, or cries, but that is literally the entire film)

Two drinks:

  • For any B&W footage that is obviously/painfully colorized
  • Jimmie Nicol appears
  • Paul admits to being high during the filming of Help!

Chug:

  • George Martin is directly referred to as a god
  • John apologizes
  • “GOOD OL FREDA!”

Disclaimer: It’s possibly more fun to come up with these than to actually play them (see also: TOS 1TOS 2, and Pete Townshend’s autobiography). Really, all I’m trying to get you to do is watch the film.