The Beatles 1
I'm not quite sure how to approach this one (1) by the Beatles. In fact, I don't even own it, and I don't know if I ever will. I have the songs, and I've heard each and every one of them about a million times. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that these songs have appeared on a number of different, far superior compilations -- most notably the two volume PAST MASTERS releases from 1988, and the two volume 1962-1966 (known as the RED ALBUM) and 1967-1970 (known as the BLUE ALBUM) sets that were issued a mere three years after the band broke up. While many of the other "official" post-Beatles releases have always boasted some kind of angle ("Love Songs," "Rock and Roll Music" or "Celluloid"), the ANTHOLOGY series from the mid 90s proved to be the most enriching. After that, where else do you go but back to the hits, I suppose.
1 is pretty straight forward. It is made up of 27 British and American number one (1) hits. Actually, the lone George Harrison composition, "Something," never made it to number one (1), but it probably should have. The CD's booklet is full of all kinds of cool stuff like photos of the original picture sleeves that held the number one (1) singles. From a marketing point of view, I suppose releasing an album like this makes a lot of sense. Last month, the long awaited "official" Beatles Anthology book was published. There are lots of juicy tidbits in this book for the Beatles fanatic. The graphics and lay-out are nothing short of spectacular. The book is so big and fat that it takes a lot of effort just to prop it up to read. I nearly suffered a concussion when I attempted to read it in bed. Also coming to a theater near you: "Hard Day's Night", the third or fourth re-release of the Beatles' first feature film. Obviously, the goal behind this as well as the 1 disc is to turn an entirely new generation onto the Beatles phenomenon. I guess the brains behind this whole campaign figures that the kiddies grooving on Britney Spears and 'NSync will take to the Beatles like a whale to water. Of course, for those of us in the know, there's a big difference. The Beatles were actually good.
The forthcoming television special that ABC is putting on, The Beatles Revolution, can hardly be that revolutionary. Without even seeing it, I can tell you that hearing Mike Myers or Kate Hudson expound their views on the influence of the Beatles will make for some enticing TV viewing. NOT! Do you really think that Bill Clinton and Jeff Bezos give a rat's ass about the Beatles? I'd bet good money that neither one of these phonies ever sat down and really listened to THE WHITE ALBUM. I bet they don't even own the thing. Do you think ABC cares? Not on your life.
The only positive thing to come out of this whole Beatles 2000 push is The Beatles' "Official" website. When I wrote a piece called Across The Universe: The Beatles On The Web back in 1996, I was astounded by the number of high quality and comprehensive websites paying tribute to the Fab Four. While many of the sites I covered have been taken down, others have popped up and continue to flourish. The "official" site takes full advantage of the multimedia possibilities the web has to offer. Each song -- taken from the new CD -- gets a full treatment with recording notes, chart position, picture sleeve art, photos, games, even shockwave movies. We can only hope that Apple and the creative forces behind the site will dig in their heels and make it something special.
As for the 1 CD, I'm back to square one (1). If you really want another copy of "Yesterday" or "Hey Jude," it's here. If your kid is aching to know about that Beatles band he's been hearing about, this will probably satisfy his curiosity. Looking for a Christmas gift? This will make a great stocking stuffer. Looking to make Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono even richer? EMI has gone on record saying that 1 will become the greatest selling record of all time. If they're right, then Paul and Yoko will be rich beyond their dreams. Okay, they're already rich beyond their dreams. But who's to say history cannot repeat itself.
~ Shawn Perry