I can’t remember the exact year but I’m sure it was around 1992 or 1993 that I became a Beatles fan. It started after taking my father to a Beatles tribute band concert as a Father’s Day gift and as I heard the music it just spoke to me. After that, I started with the blue album, 1967-1970 greatest hits collection, and then went on the red one collecting songs from 1962-1966. Then I just had to buy the albums, I did not start in order but I worked on Saturdays with my father, and with the money I earned I would go to the music store and buy one of their albums until I got them all. To this day they remain my favorite band and their albums still in my opinion have no match with any albums released today.
When we look at The Beatles today, we are getting a lot of releases of remastered albums, vinyl versions, and different things, but that was not the case before. There were always compilation releases and the cd versions where released in 1988 and with that came the Past Masters’ volumes 1 and 2. But for me as a new fan, not knowing much yet about the band to suddenly have new releases of never before heard songs (I had no bootlegs) was so exciting. I still remember the store when in 1994 I went to get my copy of The Beatles Live at the BBC. One thing kids today with digital music don’t understand is the feeling of getting the cd, reading the booklet, and hearing the music. I still do it, as I write this I am listening to the Live at the BBC and I have the booklet out and read the liner notes. This album is great, The Beatles playing music in radio and the interviews and dialogue shows the humor and the uniqueness of The Beatles. The album includes cover songs and some of their songs are re-recorded to be played on the radio.
But for me, the real gold came later with the announcement of The Beatles Anthology. A new song, new albums, and a documentary was great news for this new fan. The only source I had to The Beatles was a great documentary that I rented in Blockbuster Video called The Complete Beatles. But this documentary was told by the band and those close to them, so it would be the definitive story. Aired on ABC on a Sunday, I remember being glued to the tv set as I saw amazing footage of live performances and interviews both new and archive (Lennon’s interviews were all archive) and it was great. That Sunday the episode ended with the new song finally reuniting Paul, George, and Ringo with Lennon for the song Free as a bird. The magic of that time was that there was no YouTube so I never heard the original Lennon demo, so when the song started everything was new. The words and the voice of John and music made by the band with them all singing together, it was so beautiful to hear John again, and what better way than to hear him than with his bandmates. George’s beautiful slide guitar, Paul’s bass, and Ringo’s drums really felt like a Beatles song. Of course, The Anthology documentary was later released in expanded form on video and DVD. It was so good to see all the live TV shows footage, live performances, and the music videos that were not available then. To see the video for Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, and Hey Jude was so great. The DVD has some cool additional footage and interviews, Paul, George and Ringo jamming.
The albums contained gems for fans. The Anthology 1 album included recordings made when they were still The Quarry Men, the quality is not great but the historic meaning is more important. In spite of all the danger, a McCartney-Harrison collaboration was recorded by John, George, and Paul. Also, there were home recordings that featured Stuart Sutcliffe, the Decca auditions. The three sets include alternative versions as they were recording the songs in the studio and it’s amazing to see how quickly they could change a song or in some cases how these versions sounded as good as the released version. Also, the first two collections included live performances. The second new song was Real Love and this one I had heard it before in Imagine: John Lennon film, but I love The Beatles version, once again George added so much to the song with his guitar and it just sounded better with the band behind John.
So you see, 1994 to 1996 for Beatles fan, was a great two years.