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In 1995, twenty five years after The Beatles had stopped working together, a TV series telling the group’s story was broadcast. Called Anthology, it featured recently filmed interviews with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr; John Lennon, who had died in 1980, was represented by archive footage. To complement the documentaries, three albums of previously unreleased Beatles material were issued under the same title.

Anthology 3 encompasses the recordings the group made between May 1968 and January 1970. The seven tracks dating from May 1968 are acoustic demos recorded at George’s home in Esher, Surrey. Four of the demos featured on Anthology 3 were later recorded at Abbey Road for the double-LP The Beatles - forever known, because of its plain white sleeve, as the ‘White Album’. ‘Mean Mr Mustard’ and ‘Polythene Pam’ were completed over a year later for inclusion on Abbey Road. ‘Junk’ was eventually recorded for Paul’s first solo album McCartney.

There are twenty more songs included in this collection that were recorded during the nearly six months of ‘White Album’ sessions. There is the menacing Take Two of ‘Helter Skelter’, which is very different to the raucous released version. Ringo’s first solo composition ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is heard without the added violin part, which enhanced its country flavour. ‘Blackbird’ is an early take without the chirruping mixed into the master take. ‘Glass Onion’ is a fascinating blend of the finished musical performance with sound effects, including a football commentator exclaiming ‘It’s a goal!’ These elements were removed and replaced by an orchestral arrangement for the final version. Two George Harrison songs leave the listener wondering why they were not released at the time. ‘Not Guilty’ was completed, yet remained unreleased by The Beatles until Anthology arrived in 1996. His gentle acoustic take of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ sounds too beautiful not to have been issued alongside the familiar rock version in 1968.

Group recordings included from 1969 were eventually completed for the albums Abbey Road and Let It Be. The tracks dating from January 1969 were recorded live, with a strict rule of no overdubbing. The initial concept was to introduce new songs to a global audience in a televised live performance, but once that scheme had been abandoned, orchestral arrangements were added to some of the tracks. Anthology 3 uncovers the group’s elegiac performance of ‘The Long And Winding Road’ that lay beneath a lush score overdubbed onto it by Phil Spector. There are also several impressive solo demos of songs made during 1969 at Abbey Road. Paul created a demo of ‘Come And Get It’ as a template for his production of a version by Apple Records group Badfinger. George completed three demos in a session on 25 February 1969, his 26th Birthday. ‘Old Brown Shoe’ and ‘Something’ were eventually recorded by The Beatles, but they never did complete a version of ‘All Things Must Pass’.

One of the most moving tracks on Anthology 3 is ‘Because’. A new mix stripped away all the instrumental accompaniment to leave the sound of John, Paul and George singing intricate and delicate harmony vocals. This was the last time John was present at a Beatle session. He was in Denmark when ‘I Me Mine’, the last Beatles song to be recorded, was humorously introduced by George in a session on 3 January 1970.
Various Artists
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