Live-blogging ‘Beatles 1/+,’ disc one

I decided to liveblog my thoughts as I watched the first BluRay disc of the song videos featured on the new “Beatles 1/+” release. I thought I’d do both discs, but I’ll do disc 2 later. I’m excited enough about disc 1 to want to dig in and watch a few more times.

For newcomers: The Beatles are my favorite band. Friends and acquaintances consider me an expert, and every time I think they’re giving me credit for knowing more than I do, it turns out they’re giving me exactly the right amount of credit. Nevertheless, I do not proclaim myself an expert on the videos. So any errors of fact or interpretation are strictly on me, my knowledge or lack of same, and my ability to access same.

That said, yeah yeah yeah. Did I mention these guys are the most significant artist of my lifetime, and possibly of the last 150 years, if you’re willing to slide Edison and Tesla around a bit?

“Love Me Do”
Oh no. This one. For some reason this got played a lot for a stretch on either MTV or VH-1. (Early on, of course.) This seems like such an 80s-ish attempt to make The Beatles “relevant.” I despise people clapping out of sync. I mean, the actual people in the film. They should be ashamed for allowing themselves to be treated like that.

“From Me To You”
The difference between this clip and “Love Me Do”? They were to the second bridge before I thought to type anything. Even 50 years on, I am enraptured.

“She Loves You”
This animation on the titles has to stop. You can really make the case that even visually, early on, this was John Lennon and three other guys a lot of the time. Look at how much fun George is having. Still my favorite of all the early stuff.

“I Want To Hold Your Hand”
I’ve never seen this. I don’t recognize the set, or the guitarists both playing acoustics, and this lighting, that turns it all into a hideous mess. The designer of this set, as I go to Bob Dylan for the appropriate punishment, “should be made to wear earphones.”

“Can’t Buy Me Love”
OK, maybe this is my favorite early Beatles song. I’m not sure what’s going on with the audio here. It’s clearly some kind of live, but not meshing with the video, of course.

“A Hard Days Night”
Jeez. Here again is an example of how this is “John Lennon and Three Other Guys.” McCartney knows how to work the crowd though, doesn’t he? Lennon just looks like he’d gladly take out anyone who wants to try to mess with him.

“I Feel Fine”
Stop the animated titles! Ahh, George. Brilliant. I’m guessing this is 9 or 10 a.m. and they’re operating on no sleep and no bathing. I’ve always enjoyed this clip. I always figured Ringo showed up late, and maybe was worried about getting fired if he didn’t animate for the filming. Of course, he’s the only one whose hair is combed.

“Eight Days a Week”
The “S” is animated. Stop. Shea Stadium show footage. Astonishingly clean. I mean, wow. Is this backstage footage new? It is to me. This, especially for a kind of outfake/manufactured thing, is really a pleasant surprise.

“Ticket to Ride”
Now, this set is just as obscene as the one in “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But here, the boys have clearly partaken of the ganj, and I can only imagine the sounds actually on the set. George in particular seems to be in his own world. I love the Lennon-McCartney two-shot. Two guys sharing the universe’s greatest joke.

OK, that animation I approve. I love this clip so much, I am just going to watch and marvel about how clean it is. But it’s still John and the Lads, right? They’re just fucking around behind him while he’s trying to sing his serious song. I hope that’s not asbestos.

Damn. Was he scared singing this? He looks like he might half be. He has no right to have written it when he did. He can’t possibly have understood it. Hell, I don’t understand it now. Man, he grows into this song on the spot, doesn’t he. By the time he gets to the end of the penultimate verse, he’s throwing his little Paulisms in. Amazing.

“Day Tripper”
I’m wondering if they shot this at the same time as the “I Feel Fine” clip. Same bad close-up lighting. The fog has lifted for McCartney, but not the others yet.This song has so many pieces that just make it a great sound. Ringo’s got like a half-dozen of them himself.

“We Can Work It Out”
Lennon is clearly getting to the point of being sick of this nonsense. As I think about it, I’ll bet this and “Day Tripper” are from the same shooting, and not “I Feel Fine.” I always loved the bridge of this song most, which made me smile, because that’s one of John’s.

“Paperback Writer”
AHHHHH!!!! This is what this is supposed to look like?? Holy shit! I mean, holy shit!! I can’t wait to see “Rain.” This is worth buying this set for by itself. You can see what’s in the reflection in their sunglasses! That shot of Paul near the end looks like it’s shot in a studio. This might have been a nice day outside after all. I always assumed it was not.

“Yellow Submarine”
Such is my ignorance about the minutiae of the film that this could have animation that wasn’t in the film, and I wouldn’t know. It’s OK. I have people for that. I’ve never been a huge fan of the song, but let’s face it, it’s one of those things that makes The Beatles The Beatles.

“Eleanor Rigby”
The “Yellow Submarine” animation. Which is surprisingly touching, appropriate, and retro and forward-looking all at once. It’s one of my favorite parts in the movie.

“Penny Lane”
Oh! Again! No one has ever seen this clip this clean. It never was this clean from the start. Breathtaking. The stuff that used to look overexposed or overlit (or poorly lit) now look like they were intended to be that way. There can’t be many photos of George with this weird cutting of his beard. This whole thing is wonderfully absurd. And it’s still kind of visually presented as John’s band, even though it’s Paul’s song.

“All You Need Is Love”
Do I see a sign that says “Come Back Milly”? Is this is a story I should know but don’t? This is like a nice film from the time. Looks superb for what was worldwide live video. What a dichotomy. These kids were going to ruin the damn world, and look at how horrible those clothes and that hair is! But… they’re singing about love. There’s a bunch of guys in tuxes playing. And they all seem to like each other. Oh, isn’t that cute that there’s a bunch of signs saying “love is all you need” in different languages. (And then I shake free of my reverie and see the damn “Milly” sign again, for the second time, when I was positive the first time that I’d never seen it before, but how could I miss it? It’s so clearly in there at the end. Dammit.)

“Hello Goodbye”
Oh my. It’s fascinating how much of these color pieces are set with a very specific look to them in my head, and this viewing is really throwing them off. I want the people who made all the bootleg pins off the grainy VHS copies of this clip to scan this one and remake all of those buttons. I mean, I’ll pay ya and stuff. The “Pepper” uniforms look fantastic.

“Lady Madonna”
Again, wow. This has never been this sharp. There’s actual contrast. I love the guy who figured out that this is footage of them recording “Hey Bulldog.” Fantastic how they’re wearing ties.

“Hey Jude”
They have the bit of them playing the David Frost theme! This didn’t need much cleaning, so the look doesn’t stun me as much. I adore this clip. They had it. And Lennon is now at the point of actively desiring to be aywhere else, especially when he’s on camera. Listen to those backing vocals. Holy crap, they’re as perfect as McCartney’s lead. That’s probably why this has again emerged as my favorite Beatles song. And to see this for the first time and all of a sudden see those people there and wishing I could be one of them. And while I think I’d heard the song long long before I first saw this, I still remember the feeling that it might not ever end. Does anybody in rock do the kind of scat McCartney is doing any better than he? I mean, he might overdo it every once in a while, but he’s usally so perfect, I forgive him his excesses. And there are no excesses on either this version or the recorded version.

“Get Back”
Again, copies of “Let It Be” can be cleaner, but any polish isn’t going to make a huge difference, especially on a cold and overcast January day in London. I’m still appreciative of this being the inspiration for a hilarious scene in The Rutles movie. Oh! They’re faking the coda on top of the “Let It Be” version. Very clever.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko”
Seen it. And cool. Boy, those “Let It Be” clips are almost leaking heroin, aren’t they? I’ve always thought I loved this song more than it deserved, but I never cared. It’s good fun.

Well this is nice. It’s not so much that I find this clearer or cleaner, but (like “Penny Lane”) the lighting looks more natural. It makes everyone at once more and less attractive, but specifically more real. This is one of the few times I’ve seen clips from the laters years and thought, “They look happy and like people I’d enjoy spending time with.” George looks like he’s aged so much by this time.

“Come Together”
OK. New animation. I am not opposed. It’s an interesting look. It’s not standard. I could probably see the band endorsing something like this. Wait, are they riding “Ono sideboards”? I hope not. This is quite funky. Teacups? Teacups? Seriously? Nice “Abbey Road” reference near the end.

“Let It Be”
“The” clip. This is exactly what Lennon meant when he said “That film was made by Paul, for Paul.” George actually looks like he’s having fun. Amazing that amid all the hostility, they can all still sing like angels.

“The Long and Winding Road”
Again, from the film. I wish I liked this song more than I do.The same shots at the end of both of those videos? Crap! Unacceptable.


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