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Customer Review

on April 28, 2005
This is such a great record. It contains interviews with all four Beatles at or around the time of their traumatic split. And it is truly revelationary to hear anecdotes and opinions which are often at odds with the publicly accepted version of the split. In other words that it was a welcome relief which all four, or at least John and George, viewed as inevitable and beneficial to all four concerned. Well that is the benefit of hindsight of course. It is true that The Beatles are truly the only band who called it a day when they were absolutely at the top of their game. A listen to their masterful swansong 'Abbey Road' is proof enough.
But at the time it was somewhat different. This was 35 years ago after all. So no amount of commentary written since, even the detailed Anthology input from John, Paul, George or Ringo is a match for how these four felt at the time.
It is very touching for example to hear Ringo talk so lovingly if uncertainly about the future of the Beatles in those uncertain months of 1970. When the most they were doing was just coming to terms with a traumatic experience. These interviews are for the most part from this period, give or take twelve months, which is not nearly long enough for wounds to heal or for any kind of final understanding as to why the Greatest Band in history had to split at all, or why there should be an acrimonious taste to it all. History may cover up some of those naked flesh wounds but here you can hear genuine affection from all four for what The Beatles represented. At the very time they were splitting up.
John Lennon with his October 1971 interview comes closest to explaining the reasons. But even as his arguments sound compelling here ('at their peak The Beatles were...cutting eachother down to size') you can hear regret as to the manner of the split ('...just warning any kids coming into the business.....don't sign anything....unless the lawyer's your brother'). Other parts of the Lennon interviews (Side 1 of this record) include generous and positive comments about whether the future of The Beatles 'could be a death...or a rebirth...it'll probably be a rebirth...for all of us'. Such conflicting and complex emotions at the time...for all of them. Resentment, yes (listen to Lennon's viscious attack on McCartney on 1971's 'How Do You Sleep' for example) but not only that. Thes guys were close. And not just according to Ringo Starr.
Other engaging passages are George's favourable comments on the 'Abbey Road' album from October 1969, a few days after its release. And no sign of an imminent split when George says in the same interview: '...Split? Naa....you can't split....because if you're listening...I'm the walrus too!'
Very different from George's comments on 1995's Anthology when he talked about nothing other than what a huge relief the split was or that the band had come full circle. Well maybe that's true, but I don't think anyone should underestimate just what a gigantic sea change the split was. After all, it's not as if the Beatles could not have carried on and produced equally stunning music. It's just that there was no room for so much talent (and with it ego of course) to fit on a single thing called the Beatles album.
Paul McCartney is thoroughly engaging....and illuminating...in his interview. No repetition here. No hindsight. This is Paul McCartney interviewed at the time of the release his greatest masterpiece, his immense contribution to the 'Abbey Road' album. Worth the admission price alone. It is so nice to hear Paul and George talk so glowingly of eachother's contributions to this album. Because the press then and since have made you believe they were at eachother's throats.
Nothing in life is ever that simple. Of all the Beatles interviews I've heard over the years, these are the most special to me. And by the way everything Lennon says here about peace or growing your hair for peace is never less than captivating. Lennon's interviews may have often have been provocative but were always the most interesting and thought-provoking if we're honest. Easily.
But the other Sides hold up. Ringo has rarely been this charming and humorous. All four sides are a compulsive listen and a crucial document of how these guys felt at the time not with the benefit of 25 years hindsight. I never tire of listening to this album.
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