Guide to British Music of the 1960s

February 2020

CD Review: The Beatles - Anthology 1

The mid-1990s were important years for Beatles fans with the release of the three Anthology CD sets as well as the video series and extensive book. The CDs are not repackaged greatest hits but are full of unreleased tracks and curios that do much to tell the story of the Beatles and are thus of major historical importance.

Released in November 1995, Anthology 1 covers the early years up to the release of Beatles for Sale. Leaving aside the later track Free as a Bird, the compilation starts with two tracks from the Quarrymen, the oldest recordings of John, Paul and George. In Spite of all the Danger is a McCartney/Harrison song with Lennon handling the lead vocals and shows that even in the late 1950s they were already writing their own material. This was unusual but turned out to be a major reason for their later success.

The next three tracks are the only known recordings of the Beatles with Stu Sutcliffe. The Ray Charles track Hallelujah, I Love Her So was a stalwart of the live shows and appear on the Star Club tapes. These three tracks were recorded as demos at Paul's Liverpool home.

While in Hamburg the band befriended singer/guitarist Tony Sheridan and Polydor made the first "official" recordings of the Beatles. Only two tracks were credited to the Beatles, Ain't She Sweet and Cry for a Shadow, while My Bonnie was credited to Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers. By now, Pete Best had been recruited on drums and he features on these recordings. My Bonnie is an important disc in Beatles history. Released initially in Germany only, Raymond Jones requested it in NEMS record store in Liverpool run by a certain Brian Epstein. This encouraged him to check out this local band at the nearby Cavern Club.

By now Brian Epstein was the group's manager and he approached record companies in London. Decca invited the band to record some demos in January 1962. The tracks chosen were mostly covers of standards which were OK but nothing special and did not highlight the band's original songs. Decca were not overly impressed. This is despite the inclusion of Paul's Like Dreamers Do and John's Hello Little Girl which were later hits for the Applejacks and the Fourmost respectively.

Almost the last chance was George Martin who ran EMI's Parlophone label. This imprint released mainly comedy LPs but the Beatles were impressed that the artists included the Goons. Two of the four numbers played at EMI's Abbey Road studios are included here. Besame Mucho was a stage favourite while Love Me Do eventually became the group's debut single. Interestingly, the Beatles made three studio recordings of Love Me Do. This version features Pete Best on drums before he was replaced by Ringo Starr. The LP version of the track features Ringo while the single version has session drummer Andy White.

How Do You Do It was lined up as the follow-up to Love Me Do. The band wished to stick with their own material. Gerry & the Pacemakers used the Beatles arrangement of the track and it took them to number 1 in the charts. The Beatles finally released Please Please Me and the version included here is an early recording without harmonica.

An early Lennon/McCartney composition is One After 909. These are early attempts although the song was finally released on the Let It Be LP.

The remainder of disc one is made of live versions of well-known Beatles tracks and include two cover versions from the new LP With the Beatles. Despite having plenty of their own quality material they still included cover versions in their stage show and on LPs.

Disc two starts with the famous Royal Variety Show performance. This was a major showcase for the Beatles and they opened with their number one single She Loves You. They then followed with two covers, Till There Was You and Twist & Shout. This was a good way to please the broad audience. The final track was prefaced with Lennon's quip about people in the cheap seats clapping and the remainder rattling their jewellery.

Morecombe & Wise was another important TV show with a huge audience. The Beatles turned in with the comedy of Morecombe & Wise and showed off their own wit. George, in particular, was ready with a quick line while John Lennon could always master the "put-down", noting that being famous was "not like in your day".

One thing that is amazing about the Beatles is that so many of their LP tracks are as well-known as the hit singles. Paul's All My Loving was the first sing the band played on America's Ed Sullivan Show. Taken from the new LP With the Beatles the song made an immediate impact and the show effectively broke the Beatles in the US. They would return several times.

After returning to the UK, the Beatles started to record the soundtrack for their first film A Hard Day's Night. This was recorded before the start of filming as they did not play live in the film. However, even while they were undertaking the hectic filming schedule they were still booked to record a TV special in April1964. I Wanna Be Your Man - a Lennon/McCartney sing that was a hit for the Rolling Stones - Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, the Shirelles' Boys (recorded on Please Please Me) and Shout were recorded although Shout was not featured in the final Around the Beatles programme. Shout is particularly interesting as Lulu's cover of the Isley Brothers song was a major hit later. The Beatles version is quite different and has all four Beatles sharing vocals.

No Reply, I'll Be Back and Eight Days a Week are works-in-progress for the forthcoming Beatles for Sale as is the Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey medley which dated back to Hamburg days. Two previously unreleased songs were George's You Know What To Do and the cover Leave My Kitten Alone. George's track was his second song and did make any previous Beatles album although he did have a song on With the Beatles. Given the number of cover versions included on Beatles for Sale it seems strange that a decent song like You Know What To Do was omitted. Leave My Kitten Alone was intended for inclusion on Beatles for Sale but was left out.

Anthology 1 is arguably the most interesting of the three Anthology releases as it shows the band evolving from its stage act through gaining a record contract and becoming global megastars. The inclusion of tracks by the Quarrymen as well as recordings with Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best make this essential listening.

CD Release: 21 November 1995


Essential Tracks

  • How Do You Do It
  • Please Please Me
  • She Loves You

Track Listing (Interview segments omitted): 

Disc One

  1. Free as a Bird
  2. That'll Be the Day (The Quarrymen)
  3. In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen)
  4. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
  5. You'll Be Mine
  6. Cayenne
  7. My Bonnie
  8. Ain't She Sweet
  9. Cry for a Shadow
  10. Searchin'
  11. Three Cool Cats
  12. The Sheik of Araby
  13. Like Dreamers Do
  14. Hello Little Girl
  15. Besame Mucho
  16. Love Me Do
  17. How Do You Do It
  18. Please Please Me
  19. One After 909
  20. Lend Me Your Comb
  21. I'll Get You
  22. I Saw Her Standing There
  23. From Me To You
  24. Money (That's What I Want)
  25. You Really Got a Hold On Me
  26. Roll Over Beethoven

Disc Two

  1. She Loves You
  2. Till There Was You
  3. Twist & Shout
  4. This Boy
  5. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  6. Moonlight Bay
  7. Can't Buy Me Love
  8. All My Loving
  9. You Can't Do That
  10. And I Love Her
  11. A Hard Day's Night
  12. I Wanna Be Your Man
  13. Long Tall Sally
  14. Boys
  15. Shout
  16. I'll Be Back
  17. No Reply
  18. Mr Moonlight
  19. Leave My Kitten Alone
  20. No Reply
  21. Eight Days a Week
  22. Kansas City / Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!

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