10 Things I Didn’t Know About The Beatles

Of course, it’s impossible to write anything new about the Beatles. Especially on teh Intranet. Any discussion of the new remasters goes along these lines:

MrMustard: It’s amazing! You can hear George’s guitar line mirroring Paul’s vocal on ‘Lovely Rita’ for the first time!
PaperbackWriter999: That’s always been there, fool. Haven’t you ever listened to the Beatles properly before? Your stereo must suck. Amateur.
MrMustard: But…
NowhereMan23: Yeah, idiot. I’ve known about that since 1967. Get off this forum and stop wasting our time.

Anyway, here’s ten things I didn’t previously know about the Beatles:

1 ) Instead of redrawing the submarine in Yellow Submarine frame by frame, or moving around little cutouts like Terry Gilliam, the animators printed off sheets of little submarines drawn from different angles on Letraset. I imagine if any of those sheets have survived, they’d be super-valuable.

2 ) When John Lennon was in the Quarrymen, he basically knew about five chords.

3 ) Although some of the ‘Paul is Dead’ theories are amusing, there’s a much darker side to them. Perusing their websites quickly becomes a grim task. I guess some people just really hated Wings.

4 ) The frantic touring and recording pace of the Beatles’ early years was dictated by the desire to make as much money as possible before the novelty wore off. No-one expected them to last longer than a couple of years, like any other pop group. The opening of Sgt. Pepper parodies this – the band is a touring nostalgia act, churning out the old family-friendly hits, like most observers from 1963 would predict they’d be doing by 1967.

5 ) Although Beatles For Sale is famously an album of leftovers, put together hastily when the band was exhausted from touring with little new material, it’s still much better than it had to be. The only sign they were reaching the end of their tether is from the number of cover versions, and the moody cover photo. And apparently the organ solo on ‘Mr. Moonlight’ (many peoples’ least favourite Beatles number) was purposefully ghastly.

6 ) George Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles discography are equal parts brilliant and misanthropic. The White Album demonstrates this – of his four songs, two are amongst the best things he ever wrote (‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Long, Long, Long’) and the other two are nasty, throwaway rubbish (‘Piggies’ and ‘Savoy Truffle’).

7 ) Abbey Road is certainly the best sounding Beatles album, but it’s a miracle the ‘long medley’ worked out. Listening to it again, you still go “Whoo!”, but it’s only because the song fragments were so rich and the sequencing so good that it hangs together. The drum and guitar solos in ‘The End’ are extraordinary, but I only realized it was each of them taking a turn when I read about it in the Anthology 3 booklet.

8 ) Which is better, Revolver or Rubber Soul? Each of the “great” Beatles albums has a fatal flaw which prevents it from being a clear best (a subjective concept anyway). Maybe the classic mythical “single disc” White Album could’ve achieved this. Who knows?

9 ) Being asked to pay full price ($34 instead of the more usual (and realistic) $25 for a new release) for a 45-year old album in a near-obsolete format which is only 33 minutes long is a bit cheeky. What will the music industry do once the boomers and their wallets have gone?

10 ) Although the remastered albums sound great (in fact, you don’t realize how bad the originals were until you listen to them immediately afterwards) there’s still a future market for remixed albums. The remixes on Love sound impossibly lush and immersive, the remasters (which preserve the original master mixes) are still a bit distant by comparison. So, will there be a future definitive re-release? Well, dur, if there’s more money to be made, obviously.

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