Friday, January 17, 2014
Tune In: Lewisohn Makes His Mark
Where Lewisohn really shines, though, is his ability to bring the Beatles to life as people; you get to know them as teenagers and early-twenty-something musicians who have to overcome setbacks before they achieve success. You see them progress from struggling local musicians to the polished professionals we know them to be. You get a full picture of their unpleasant experiences in Germany, and you can appreciate the Star Club recordings in perspective.
The longer version is positively massive (1728 pages compared to the 800 pages of the standard edition), offering much more of the supporting documentation; I find it fascinating, although the standard version may be all the biography that most will want. And remember, this is just a biography through 1962--the Beatles were on the cusp of fame as the book ends, leaving us eagerly awaiting the second volume of his biographical series.
After reading so much in here about the sessions that produced "Love Me Do," "PS I Love You," "Ask Me Why," and "Please Please Me," I decided that I wanted to hear those again, so I pulled out no my complete Beatles vinyl sets, but a less well known collection: The Beatles--From Liverpool, an eight-album boxed set overview of their career. It's a must-have for collectors, even if you have the most recently remastered Stereo boxed set, because it includes a lot of versions of Beatles songs not found on the standard releases ("All My Loving" with the five-tap "hi-hat" cymbal intro, "And I Love Her" with the six bar acoustic guitar fadeout, "Love Me Do (Version 1)" with Ringo on drums, just to name a few). It's also the most comprehensive chronological "best of" that there is, featuring 124 Beatles tracks from their first release "Love Me Do" to "Her Majesty," the final song on the final album the Beatles recorded, Abbey Road (Let It Be was released after Abbey Road, but recorded earlier... don't worry, half of the Let It Be album makes it onto this set as well). The vinyl quality is superb, the production values are excellent... I'm surprised this set hasn't been reissued, to be honest!
I put on the first disc, cued everything up, and rediscovered the joy of those first four songs, heard with a new appreciation of what the Beatles went through to get them recorded. For a brief moment, I could imagine what it was like for them to hear these songs on a tape playback or an acetate for the first time...