‘The kids of AD 2000 will understand what it was all about and draw from the music much the same sense of well being and warmth as we do today. For the magic of The Beatles is timeless and ageless.’ That prediction in the sleeve notes for Beatles For Sale was made by Derek Taylor in 1964, when pop stars had a limited shelf life of perhaps two years. But sure enough, since its release in November 2000, the success of The Beatles’ album 1 proved him right in spectacular fashion with over 30 million sales worldwide …and counting. Decade after decade, the music of The Beatles continues to captivate generation upon generation.

Proving that the simplest ideas are often the best, the compilation included every number one Beatles single listed in the British chart published by Record Retailer and the Hot 100 of Billboard magazine. Fortunately, the 27 chart-toppers fitted onto a single CD with just a few seconds of playing time to spare. For those keeping score, six songs were number one just in the UK; eight reached the top only in America. ‘Eight Days A Week’, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’ were not released on singles in the UK. Thirteen songs reached number one in both countries.

The tracks play in the chronological order of the dates when the singles were first released. The US fell under the spell of The Beatles a little late, so in 1964 ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Love Me Do’ followed the number one breakthrough of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. From ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ onwards, the world was in sync as it waited for the next exciting single. Rightly, we celebrate the group’s achievements with their albums, but the release of the next Beatles single was always a much anticipated event. Listening to 1, you can hear the group’s dazzling progression in performance, songwriting and recording.

Released first on seven-inch vinyl discs, these songs have been heard over the years on a range of formats, including eight-track cartridges, analogue cassettes, compact discs and digital downloads. Now streaming on a device near you, the magic of The Beatles continues to be ‘timeless and ageless’.
At the beginning of 1965, John Lennon and Ringo Starr were both 24-years old, Paul McCartney was 22 and George Harrison was 21. A huge weight of expectation was placed on their young shoulders, but by the end of the year The Beatles had delivered records that were both musically innovative and commercially successful. Featuring seven songs from their second movie, Help! was released on 6 August 1965.

A rise in the popularity of contemporary folk music was reflected in the LP’s ambitious lyrics - most notably its title track - and the prevalence of acoustic guitars. However, in addition to the acoustic sounds of ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’, there is a strong rhythm and blues presence on tracks such as ‘Another Girl’ and ‘You’re Going To Lose That Girl’. ‘Ticket To Ride’ was the first Beatles single of 1965 and felt so different to every other record around. The powerful guitar riff jangles, Ringo’s impeccable drumming propels the song and the voices make thrilling falsetto leaps. The Beatles had recognised the crucial role the tambourine played in driving the beat on their favourite Motown discs. The tambourine is everywhere on Help!.

A new album guaranteed new guitar sounds from George. The arrangement for his song ‘I Need You’ is characterised by the use of a newly invented volume pedal. There was another fresh sound heard on ‘It’s Only Love’. It was created by recording George’s guitar coming through a rotating Leslie speaker, usually connected to a Hammond organ. There would be much more of that sort of experimentation to come. In The Beatles’ quest for new sounds, their most radical step was the arrangement for ‘Yesterday’. Over the recording of Paul’s guitar and voice was added a string quartet. The distinctly classical score was designed to avoid an over-sentimental treatment that others subsequently gave the song. Soon to become the most covered Beatles composition, in the UK ‘Yesterday’ was not even released as a single in 1965. Not so in the States, where it was a number one.

The group’s first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, was shot in black and white. With the release of their second film Help!, the sixties burst into vivid colour and the music The Beatles recorded in 1965 embodied the transformation.
The Beatles’ tenth album was released in January 1969. Unusually for a soundtrack album, this was exactly six months after the Yellow Submarine movie’s premiere in London. One side of the original LP was devoted to six Beatles tracks and the other featured a new recording of the film’s orchestral score composed by The Beatles’ producer George Martin. Clearly, the title song had to be included so ‘Yellow Submarine’, a number one from 1966, opens the album. It also featured ‘All You Need Is Love’ from 1967, which was, as Paul McCartney saw it, ‘basically the message of the movie’.

The remaining tracks were previously unreleased songs first heard in the film. Three came from 1967. George Harrison’s ‘It’s Only A Northern Song’ dated from the sessions for St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but was replaced on that album by his composition ‘Within You Without You’. Another of his songs ‘It’s All Too Much’ was recorded on 25 May 1967 - a week before Sgt. Pepper was released. It was around this time that The Beatles signed up to provide some new as well as old songs for the movie. The sing-a-long catchiness of ‘All Together Now’ proved perfect for the finale of Yellow Submarine. As John recalled, during the latter part of the film’s production, ‘they wanted another song so I knocked off “Hey Bulldog”. It’s a good-sounding record that means nothing.’ Typical Lennon understatement. This outstanding example of how hard The Beatles could rock together was recorded, overdubbed and mixed in a single ten-hour session on 11 February 1968.

Directed by George Dunning, the innovative animation of Yellow Submarine evoked the psychedelic spirit of Sgt. Pepper to show the triumph of Love over Evil. As George Harrison observed: ‘That film works for every generation - every baby, three or four years old, goes through Yellow Submarine.’ It is an illustration of how easily children fall under the spell of The Beatles’ music - a melodic force more powerful than all the sour Blue Meanies of the world.
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