The Beatles Songbook
What can you do in seven years? Could you build a house with fixtures and fittings? Could you have a child and then garnish the little sod with love? Or could you change the way that music will be perceived forever more? Well, the Beatles did the last one – as seen in this 60 minute documentary made in 2010.

The Beatles International (5 DVD)

This Beatles related documentary is about the Beatles, pre-narrated by the Beatles (including George Martin), and complemented with a plethora of associated animated stock photography plus archive movie clips to boot.

Primarily this program focuses on the Beatles musical pursuits within the recording studio, whilst at the same time it chronicles their progression as musicians, as people, and as a band too.

What now follows is a brief run down on how this show plays out in album order:

  • Please Please Me (1963) – The Beatles first studio produced collection of songs, where they started to find there way within this new environment.
  • With the Beatles (1963) – Basically, this is a recorded collection of Beatles covers, all of which they previously played whilst on stage in Hamburg, Liverpool, and elsewhere.
  • Beatles for Sale (1964) – With this next step in the Beatles road to stardom, this busy Liverpudlian quartet, perfected what they knew, whilst simultaneously enhancing their existing knowledge with the help of record producer, George Martin.
  • A Hard Days Night (1964) – The Beatles used one of Ringo’s malapropisms as a guiding force for this movie tie-in album.
  • Help (1965) – In this subsequent movie tie-in album, the Beatles (mainly George Harrison) utilized exotic musical practices upon the tracks played.
  • Rubber Soul (1965) – A surrealist collation of songs where the drug influenced Beatles started to show what they had inside them.
  • Revolver (1966) – Like the previous album, Rubber Soul, this album was an innovation and an integration of the Beatles work, thus giving them a whole new set of parameter to work within.
  • Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) – Once the Beatles decided to stop touring, they then focused all of their attention in the studio with this musical masterpiece. However, in doing so, they also started to show their individual styles both progressively, musically, and thematically.
  • The White Album (1968) – This double album was the culmination of the Beatles trip to Rishikesh when they tutored under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maybe that was why there are so many songs to this piece, as well as why it possessed a rather diverse style also. 
  • Yellow Submarine (1968) – This animation tie-in housed a collection of songs that the Beatles have performed before.
  • Let It Be (1969) – The idea behind this album, was that the Beatles was going to develop, record, and perform a number songs together in front of a camera, to document how they worked. But alas, this was the beginning of the end for this fab-four, even though they did manage to complete this lyrical collation on the roof-top of Abbey Road Studios. 
  • Abbey Road (1970) – This final Beatles masterpiece encapsulated all of the elements that they brought to the fore previously. Please note, their last ever recorded song together was called ‘The End’. Apt, right?

‘The Beatles on Record’ is what I would call a must see documentary for all Beatles fans everywhere. Personally speaking, I like it on a number of levels, as: (1) It showed how the Beatles changed over the years – stylistically, cosmetically, and musically. (2) There is a shed load of Beatles music on offer – which is just fab. (3) There’s a lot of little pieces’ of trivia scattered all over the place – as I did not know that ‘Yesterday’ was initially called ‘Egg-bits’! (4) The incidental snippets of personal recordings were a blast to listen to too – especially those little segments where the Beatles gave each other gip. (4) It was nice to see the musical innovation of the Beatles, and goes to show that once they changed over time, that they as a collective had to change also – thus there spit. (5) I loved how the animated stock photography seemed to gel with the voice over narration and the music being played – there is an almost pastoral quality about the transitions and the movements that really enhanced the overall presentation. (6) I enjoyed listening to some of the reasons why certain songs where made – for example, ‘A Hard Days Night’ was devised due to Ringo’s bad grammar. And (7) I liked listening to the Beatles speak – simple as that really.

The Beatles Singing

Granted, this documentary was not all flowers and roses – because there are a number of strained daffodils poking out of the meadow too, like: (1) Not all of the Beatles albums were on show in this show – most notably ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. (2) The interpersonal relationships between the band and there respected spouses was hardly mention – which would have added a bit more depth to this piece. (3) I would have liked to have seen a contradictory stance on the narration posed – as it does feel slightly manipulated in places. And (4) This film was too short for my liking – and I wanted to see more.

The Groovy Beatles
Well, if you have not guessed by now – I am a Beatles fan. And it is precisely because of this fact, that I can put my hand on my heart and say ‘THIS DOCUMENTARY IS GREAT’. Listen now – I did not say ‘perfect’ – I said ‘GREAT’ –  as in someway this feature reminds me of a sort of foot note to the ‘Beatles Anthology’ series. Moreover, it is well worth a watch for music lovers, Beatles fans, and documentary buffs all over.

A great documentary about a brilliant band (you do realise I am biased, don’t you?)