‘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’.
From the impact of their second album to the release of A Hard Day’s Night on 10 July 1964, The Beatles’ career outside the UK took giant leaps forward. At the end of 1963, it had seemed unlikely that an English group playing rhythm and blues could compete in the birth place of that music. Yet during the early weeks of 1964, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ was in heavy rotation at American Top 40 radio and rapidly ascending to the top of the US singles chart. Its success heralded the biggest commercial domination by a recording artist since Elvis Presley had rampaged through the charts in 1956. During a two-week promotional American tour in February 1964, The Beatles made three TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Their introduction to the USA changed the lives of a generation and turned the American music scene upside down.

On their return to the UK, the group quickly recorded songs for their first film. Under intense pressure, The Beatles created a landmark album. Their astonishing triumph is twofold. First, it consisted entirely of Lennon-McCartney material when it was unusual for a group to sing their own compositions. Songwriting was thought to be best left to ‘professionals’, but in fact several songs ‘crossed over’ when interpreted by a variety of singers outside the sphere of ‘beat music’. Jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald made a swinging version of ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. Similarly, ‘And I Love Her’ soon attained standard status and ‘If I Fell’ was recognised as a sophisticated ballad rooted in the classic American songbook tradition. Second, The Beatles’ blend of instrumentation and harmonies on A Hard Day’s Night defined a new musical genre - folk-rock. The album is driven by a combination of shimmering acoustic guitars and the jangle of George Harrison’s Rickenbacker electric twelve string guitar. Inspired by A Hard Day’s Night, Roger ‘Jim’ McGuinn’s adoption of the Rickenbacker created the signature sound of The Byrds in 1965.

The Beatles had recorded their strongest album so far; one brimming with youthful innocence and optimism. The quality of their work in the first half of 1964 makes a convincing case for the beneficial effect of deadlines. There is no better example of recording artists seizing their moment and capitalising on it, but doing so without artistic compromise. The Beatles came of age with this album.
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.
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