Anthology 1 (1996)

Disc One
1.Free as a Bird
2.We Were Four Guys...That's All
3.That'll Be the Day
4.In Spite of all the Danger
5.Sometimes I'd Borrow...Those Still Exist
6.Halleluia, I Love Her So
7.You'll Be Mine
9.First of All...It Didn't Do a Thing Here
10.My Bonnie
11.Ain't She Sweet
12.Cry For a Shadow
13.Brian Was a Beautiful Guy...He Presented Us Well
14.I Secured Them...A Beatle Drink Even Then
16.Three Cool Cats
17.The Sheik of Araby
18.Like Dreamers Do
19.Hello Little Girl
20.Well The Recording Tests...By My Artists
21.Besame Mucho
22.Love Me Do
23.How Do You Do It?
24.Please Please Me
25.One After 909 (False Starts)
26.One After 909 (Complete)
27.Lend Me Your Comb
28.I'll Get You
29.We Were Performers...In Britain
30.I Saw Her Standing There
31.From Me To You
32.Money (That's What I Want)
33.You Really Got A Hold On Me
34.Roll Over Beethoven

Disc Two
1.She Loves You
2.'Til There Was You
3.Twist and Shout
4.This Boy
5.I Wanna Hold Your Hand
6.Boys I Was Thinking...
7.Moonlight Bay
8.Can't Buy Me Love
9.All My Loving
10.You Can't Do That
11.And I Love Her
12.A Hard Day's Night
13.I Wanna Be Your Man
14.Long Tall Sally
17.I'll Be Back (Take 2)
18.I'll Be Back (Take 3)
19.You Know What To Do
20.No Reply (Demo Version)
22.Leave My Kitten Alone
23.No Reply (Take)
24.Eight Days a Week (Sequence)
25.Eight Days a Week (Complete)
26.Kansas City / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey


After the unexpected success of Live at the BBC that proved to everyone that the fab four would truly live in everyone's hearts forever, it was now time to put out the definitive story, or "Anthology" of the band. By "definitive", the 3 surviving members were extensively interviewed for a video series (shown on network TV on 3 nights - edited - the complete series was about three times the length and available to purchase) that would attempt to tell the best, complete story of the band, from the beginning to the breakup. In addition, a hefty $60 coffee table hardback packed with pictures and memorabalia was made available, again with the three members extensively interviewed. For the book, the interview archives were scrounged to include Lennon's thoughts as well during the timframe. As a creme de-la creme, Paul, George and Ringo even reunited and recorded a few songs over a John Lennon demo given to him by his widow, Yoko Ono. So to go along with all the hoopla, it was decided that several CDs (nobody knew how many at the start of the project) would be released as well.

To be fair, as extensive as the CDs (there ended up being 3 2-disc sets) were, the end results were a mixed bag - at least in terms of what everyone was expecting. Rather than an exclusive CD collection of the band's "best" material (which really wasn't even needed), it was decided that they would release only unreleased material. Maybe they figured everyone already had the "best" material. Maybe it was because they realized, probably more than any other recording artist, there were loads of fans that were dying to get there hands on what had been locked up in the vaults for over a quarter of a century. What ended up resurfacing out of all the unreleased material, was very little new material, yet re-takes, live versions and alternate recordings of what was already available. Since this was the first collection, covering the earliest time-frame of the band's history, there are plenty of "we could do without's, but it is kind of interesting" material here.

The first thing that kicks off the set is one of the new recordings, Free as a Bird, that originally was very rough demo of Lennon barely singing the chorus over a piano. After the band played around with the mix and added a few verses, they called in production extraordinaire Jeff Lynne to spruce it up (original Producer George Martin bowed out of the producing duties due to deafness in one ear). The song holds up fairly well considering how sparse the demo was. It definitely has that "Jeff Lynne" feel that most fans were very happy with (you could argue that his supergroup The Electric Light Orchestra, was essentially The Beatles with strings). It's immediately after this initial song that the listener feels more as though they're visiting a museum rather than listening to a CD.

The majority of the first disc is littered with snippets that the band "recorded" before they even had a record deal. Again, for the true fan this is a treasure trove. We're treated to some rough early compositions that the boys (John, George and Paul - no drummer yet) recorded in a local drug store, the popular back up songs they did for Tony Sheridan (that made Brian Epstein take notice) and several of the songs from the failed Decca audition. Again, all of this sounds very primitive. After listening to the Decca audition songs - dare I say, it's not surprising to see that they were turned down.

We then hear more audition tapes, again - nothing really good. Fortunately, Producer George Martin, the one auditioning them, realized that the problem with the band was, in fact, that their original drummer wasn't very good. It's easy to now see that getting rid of Pete Best, although some regarded as harsh, was really the only sensible thing to do. The rest of the first disc contains several "demos" of the popular early songs, as well as a few tunes that they never recorded, or would show up years later on different albums.

The second disc contains nothing that special for the causual fan either. We have several live versions (not the band's speciality back then) as well as some songs recorded for television appearances (including the famous Ed Sullivan appearance). It is particularly interesting to hear the original version of I'll Be Back done in 3/4 time before the song breaksdown with Lennon commenting it's "too hard to sing". They then quickly change the song to 4/4 time, do it over again, and have their new song. Also quite entertaining is the quick little 2 minute demo of a George Harrison song You Know What To Do. This was before George was really writing, and the piece is so catchy, it makes you wish that it would have surfaced somewhere as a legitimate recording. The rest of the second disc is comprised mostly of alternative takes to songs already in the cannon. Some seem like carbon copies, others obviously had major song restructures (Eight Days a Week, for example).

All in all, it was a nice release for the rabid collector, but the average fan was probably put off by the rough edges - especially when they were probably expecting a release of legitimate, popular songs. Even though this release sky-rocketed upon release, the next two CDs in the Anthology series didn't fare as well since a lot of the casual fans decided to pass the next time.

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