Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Beatles - Anthology 1 (1995)

With this release, EMI begins empting the contents from The Beatles' vaults. In retrospect, the timing was brilliant as, this way, the band and label could make some money from these rarities before they would inevitably be distributed as bootlegs all over the Internet. This two disc set was released by Apple Records in November 1995. It was released as the first part of the Anthology trilogy of compilations which tied-in with the televised special The Beatles Anthology (a coffee table book was also published). It leads off with the single Free as a Bird, billed as the first new Beatles song in 25 years. Anthology 1 features rarities, outtakes and live performances from 1958–1964. It contains the only official release of performances with Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best during the time they were in the band. The liner notes are exceptional, breaking down the album song-by-song. This set doesn't get much playing time around here, but it's nice to have around when I'm reading a book about The Beatles - when the author refers to a specific recording session, I can give it a listen. I guess the last Beatles biography I read was 2005's The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #1 (3 weeks, Dec 9 - 23, 1995)

Tracks: Free As A Bird turns out to be a really good song (even though there's something about Jeff Lynne's production that just isn't quite right); I put value any song by these guys, no matter how it is pieced together. Other highlights include 1958's In Spite Of All The Danger, 1961's Cry For A Shadow, 1962's Like Dreamers Do, and 1964's cover of Shout. I also like the band's takes on all the Leiber/Stoller music, like Searchin', Three Cool Cats, and Kansas City. The 1963 live version of I Saw Her Standing There on disc 1 is even more high energy than the studio version. That Paul could play that incredible bass line while singing amazes me. The thousands of hours spent playing in the clubs of Hamburg greatly improved the band's technical skills (see Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 book, Outliers). The remainder of the tracks here are only of historical interest to me. The alternate takes here just prove that the band and George Martin knew which takes were the best and ready for release. Even so, a table scrap from The Beatles is better than most other music.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: ABC televised The Beatles Anthology specials here in the US in six parts between November and December 1995. I watched all of it, of course, being most excited about the premiere of the song and video for Free As A Bird. The video cleverly depicts, from the point of view of a bird in flight, many references to The Beatles songs.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Love (2006)
1967-1970 (1973)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Help! (1965)

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