Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Beatles Anthology

There are dozens of Beatles facts about The Beatles Anthology. This title alludes to the three-part documentary series aired by ABC in 1995 (November 19, 22, 23), which was the first time the three surviving band members told their history in their own words. The series, which also featured interviews with Neil Aspinall and George Martin, covered the history of the group from its early inception in Liverpool to the breakup of the band in 1970.

The series was accompanied by the release of three double CDs with alternate versions of Beatles tracks from studio sessions, as well as live performances and songs never included in the original Beatles catalog, although many of the alternate versions and live perfomances had circulated as bootlegs for many years. The TV series, which required five years of production time in order to secure interviews and collect film footage, was produced by Apple manager Neil Aspinall.

Finally, a book, The Beatles Anthology, was released in 2000, with photos and interviews from the original TV series as well as new material. The large hardcover volume quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Both the TV series and the CDs debuted two new Beatles songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," on which McCartney, Harrison, and Starr overdubbed new vocals and instrumentation to augment John Lennon's voice and guitar on two Lennon demo tapes provided by Yoko Ono. It was the closest thing the Beatles could do to effect a "reunion."

The first CD, Anthology 1, was released on November 17, 1995 and fetured material from the early days of the Quarrymen to the albums Please Please Me and With the Beatles.

Anthology 2 was released on on March 17, 1996, with material from Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour.

Anthology 3 was released on October 28, 1996 and contained material from The White Album, Let It Be, and Abbey Road.

The covers for all three CD cases consisted of collages of peeling Beatles posters and were designed by musician and Beatles associate Klaus Voorman, who had designed the iconic cover for Revolver.

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