The Beatles on video
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

Did you know that we will not be watching music videos today if it were not for the Beatles? Just as these guys revolutionized popular music, they also changed the way songs were being promoted with little films. In fact, Richard Lester, who directed the Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night, is now recognized as the Father of MTV for his clever idea of using the Beatles songs as background music while the boys from Liverpool cavorted on camera in assorted, unexpected settings. 

The idea to make videos came about when the band became too busy to accommodate the phenomenal demand for live appearances worldwide. So the Fabulous Four thought it might be a good idea to instead make short films of them performing their songs that fans can see on television. Those were nothing fancy. Not at all like the music videos we see today. 

The videos were just simple studio shoots with whatever props were available. But just as there exists no bad pictures of The Beatles, those guys were just so photogenic, the results of the shoots proved so popular that they kept shooting more and more films to promote their recordings. I say films, because, remember, they were not called videos back in the ’60s.

Those films are the subjects of a new Beatles compilation that is sending fans swooning with delight off to high heavens. Note that aside from the movies, A Hard Day’s Night, Help and Let It Be, the only film footage of the Beatles available are grainy live performance shoots with bad audio from old TV shows or questionable sources. Whatever videos they made had become closely guarded treasures seldom seen or not at all. However, this situation changed late last year with the release of 1+.

Remember, there was the album titled 1, a collection of No. 1 hits by the Beatles that was released in 2000 to commemorate the 30th year of the break-up of the group. It featured 27 of the band’s songs that made No 1 in the charts of the UK and the U.S. of A. I do not know if the record still stands. But back then 1 easily became the fastest selling album of all time and later the biggest-selling album of the year and eventually the biggest-selling album of the decade 2000 to 2009. It has sold 31 million copies so far.

Now it is the videos of those 27 No. 1s that have been collected and compiled in the 1+ album. It is a three-disc set with the complete 1 album on CD, a DVD of videos of the same 27 songs and another DVD of 23 more videos. Just as every cut in 1 was lovingly mixed and mastered from the original tracks to conform with the clarity demanded by the new music players. The songs literally sparkle. Every video in 1+ was painstakingly cleaned, processed and restored and even re-edited for use in the latest machines in video technology. 

Cheers to all those who took on the demanding job. The results are excellent and they must feel really good about the fact that they have restored and now preserved a most important part of pop music history. The promo films, live performances and footage from TV appearances, most of them never seen before, are wonderful to watch. And that is not all. These discs come with a booklet with great pictures and the history of every video included.

The films tell quite a tale. It is both sad and beautiful and amazing. This is the life of the Beatles told through 27 videos. The Teddy Boys of Love Me Do, so vibrant with youth was the beginning. They look so natural, so carefree, just having fun. These are just four kids enjoying themselves, unaware that the simple music they are making would not only change their lives but also the world. I do not think they even knew then that they had so much talent. 

It was not long after this that the music got deeper and the accompanying films became more and more sophisticated. All of these are in 1+, their growth as musicians, their acceptance of psychedelia, the women they loved. By the time the video gets to Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road, we see them poised for greatness. They had become brilliant but we also see the sadness in their eyes. They knew the Beatles was coming to an end.

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