Anthology 2 (1997)

Disc One
1.Real Love
2.Yes It Is
3.I'm Down
4.You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
5.If You've Got Troubles
6.That Means a Lot
8.It's Only Love
9.I Feel Fine
10.Ticket to Ride
13.Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
14.Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
15.I'm Looking Through You
16.12-Bar Original
17.Tomorrow Never Knows
18.Got To Get You Into My Life
19.And Your Bird Can Sing
21.Eleanor Rigby (Strings Only)
22.I'm Only Sleeping (Rehearsal)
23.I'm Only Sleeping (Take 1)
24.Rock & Roll Music
25.She's A Woman

Disc Two
1.Strawberry Fields Forever (Demo Sequence)
2.Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 1)
3.Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 7)
4.Penny Lane
5.A Day in the Life
6.Good Morning, Good Morning
7.Only a Northern Song
8.Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite (Takes 1 and 2)
9.Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite (Take 7)
10.Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
11.Within You, Without You
12.Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13.You Know My Name (Look Up My Number)
14.I Am the Walrus
15.The Fool on the Hill (Demo Version)
16.Your Mother Should Know
17.The Fool on the Hill (Take 4)
18.Hello Goodbye
19.Lady Madonna
20.Across the Universe


The second of the Anthology series - and a much more interesting offering. To be fair, the timeframe here is the most creative period during the group's tenure. Beginning around the time of Help!, the CD goes all the way through Magical Mystery Tour.

As with the first Anthology compilation, there is a "new" recording here that leads off the set. Real Love sounds much more "polished" than Free as a Bird. It doesn't sound like, well, like it's been "resurected". It sounds very fresh, very Lennon, and very Beatles. Like the first new song, Jeff Lynne produced the song and added his flavor to it, which again, depending on your taste is either the best thing for a new Beatles song or an abomination. Fans can be finicky.

The first section of the compilation picks up right where the last one left off, but fortunately everything here - well, almost everything here is pretty listenable. Close to the beginning of disc one are two songs that were never released - That Means A Lot and a great Ringo song If You've Got Troubles. Apparently the last one was never released since there was "already" a Ringo song on the current album that they were recording. A few songs later into the repertoire is a great jam session, simply called 12-Bar Original. Not only is it a great little tune, but it's very unique since we never really got to hear this band just cut loose and jam quite like this. Yes, they were great songwriters and great musicians.

Unlike Anthology 1 which featured a lot of rough, unrehearsed demos, this series has a lot of "alternate" versions of the songs which are, well, listenable. George Harrison's Taxman is a prime example. The structure of the song is identical to the orginal, yet the backing vocal is a different refrain that doesn't sound any better nor worse, just different. Likewise, Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows is just as bizarre as the original, yet the arrangement is substantially different and probably wouldn't surprise most listeners had the one here been the one the group chose instead of the one that closed Revolver. There are some rough spots as well. And Your Bird Can Sing is a prime example of the boys so stoned that they literally laughing hysterically throughout the whole track. Interesting? Yes. Listenable? Not really.

Things really get interesting on disc 2, which begins with the "Sergeant Pepper" sessions. Yes, there are 3 cuts of Strawberry Fields Forever, but remember, that song was so complex that it's a lot of fun to see its development in the 3 versions here. And, yes, Lennon does sing "Cranberry Sauce" at the end of the song. Penny Lane, again sounds perfect, with only a different instrumental middle eight. Conversely, A Day in the Life is featured in a raw, early form that's just as pleasurable (the song, when completed, managed to merge 2 completely different songs - one a Lennon, the other a McCartney. The unfinished Lennon version is here).

There's also a nice alternate version of the most famous Beatle B-Side You Know My Name (Look up the Number) complete with The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones on saxophone. The majority of the second disc includes alternate versions from Magical Mystery Tour. Most aren't as interesting as the "Sergeant Pepper" sessions, so it's easy to lose interest that far into the second CD. Next is an unspectacular version of Lady Madonna followed by a pretty good alternate version of Across the Universe.

It's interesting to note that right after the timeframe here is when the band went back to their "roots" and became slightly less experimental. That's what make this anthology so interesting. Whether or not a coincidence, it was nice that the 3 Anthologys represented well defined time-frames of the band's career. This one was a lot of fun.

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