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The Beatles: Eight Days A Week

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:17 am
by Adam Blake
Highlights of the new Beatles movie: footage of the Liverpool Kop singing "She Loves You" at Anfield in April 1964. Not a single female in sight. Finding out that the Beatles refused to play to a segregated audience in the Deep South - and that this was a major factor in the desegregation of concerts.

Apart from that, though, it was a bit of a whitewash. An enormously enjoyable whitewash, but very much a party line product. The very real love that the Beatles had for each other in their early days continues to shine untarnished. Most irritating, though: an inexplicable decision to exclude Lennon's infamous "Those in the cheaper seats clap, the rest of you rattle yer jewelry" quip to the royals at the Royal Command Performance in November 1963; a quip which kickstarted the 60s in Britain as powerfully as Mandy Rice-Davies's immortal rejoinder: "Well he would say that wouldn't he?" in her evidence at the Profumo court case. No mention of those breathless first years being fuelled by scotch and coke and amphetamines (certainly no footage of Lennon telling Harold Wilson: "Thanks for the purple hearts"), certainly no mention of the LSD that fuelled much of "Revolver". One coy reference to pot smoking during the filming of "Help!" and that was that. Absolutely most definitely no mention of the revolving door groupie activity. No references to Brian Epstein's helpless love for Lennon or the neurosis that killed him. No mention of Pete Best or the cruelty with which he was dismissed. One might almost think that, even after all these years and so many revelations (not least from Lennon himself), that McCartney has an image to protect. Certainly he remains the world's biggest Beatles fan, and Ringo's interview footage serves as a welcome reality check from time to time.

Mostly, though, what comes across is a story of a time when pop music really could and did change the world. Of a time when the most popular and successful pop group the world has ever seen were also the most talented, original and innovatory.

The 30 minute film of the Shea Stadium performance that followed the main feature was in many ways even more impressive: no P.A (just dozens of crappy little tannoys), no monitors, 53000 screaming people, no way the Beatles could hear themselves sing or play so much as a note, and yet the performance they give is fresh, professional, unique and - miraculously - IN TUNE.

Yes they're still my favourite band. Thanks, fellas.

Re: The Beatles: Eight Days A Week

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:06 pm
by john poole
Adam Blake wrote:it was a bit of a whitewash
You always say that about Beatles documentaries, but surely you would not expect anything else from Ron Howard or Apple films?

I enjoyed the film, although I would have liked it to have concentrated on the tours rather than risking becoming as it did in places just another retelling of a familiar story - I didn't miss seeing the jewellery and purple heart clips again. I did not think there was as much rare or previously unseen film as the pre-release publicity had claimed, but there was of course much that I had not seen on a cinema screen before, my highlights including 'I Saw Her Standing There' from the first American concert (the only song included in full?) and the rooftop concert excerpts.

I also liked Paul talking about the difference that Ringo made to the group after he joined, Dr. Kitty Oliver who attended the integrated Jacksonville concert, and hearing some unfamiliar studio outtakes. I would have liked to have heard more from those who attended the concerts and the supporting acts rather than for example Howard Goodall, and I would have preferred it if most of the clips had not been cropped top and bottom in order to be widescreen (and some of the b&w footage not "colorized"). I didn't remember hearing the story about the group being driven away from the later concerts in a "meat wagon" with no seats; unsurprisingly deciding to quit playing live not long afterwards.

Seeing the (uncropped) Shea film (which did have some overdubbing work done on it a few months later) on the big screen was a good bonus with a far more dynamic 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' than the one on the 'Help' LP being a standout I thought.

Re: The Beatles: Eight Days A Week

PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:02 pm
by Adam Blake
john poole wrote:
Adam Blake wrote:it was a bit of a whitewash
You always say that about Beatles documentaries, .

Aah, but I didn't say that about "Good Ol' Freda" ...!

Apart from that, though, John, I completely agree with you. I wrote what I wrote straight off the top of my head, immediately after coming home from the cinema. What you've written is much more informative. I do think that the "rattle your jewelry" clip is so important, though, for social context. And, yes, wasn't it wonderful to hear the Rooftop material sounding so good. You can really hear McCartney's bass properly and he was such a good player. I daresay he still is. Funny how he has never made a big deal of his bass playing.