“It was 50 years ago last week.”
No, that wouldn’t be a good way to start any song. That’s just another reason why I’m a columnist, not a composer.
October 5 marked the half-century anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ first single, Love Me Do. This milestone begins the aural avalanche of classic rock bands marking their respective golden anniversaries with upgraded issues of their singles and albums.
Most folks in the U.S. first heard The Beatles via their infectious I Want to Hold Your Hand single (the only song the Fabs played on all three of their February 1964 Ed Sullivan performances), but Hand was actually their fifth single.
Inexplicably, their previous singles Please Please Me, From Me to You and She Loves You had all failed when first issued in the States. Wow, did that change quickly after the Sullivan broadcasts!
On 9-9-9 (heh-heh), The Beatles officially upgraded their entire album and singles catalog with stunning results. The stage is now set to tackle other Beatles’ releases: their films Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine.
GOO GOO GOO JOOB DEPT. Magical Mystery Tour was grossly maligned by critics when first shown in 1967 in England. For years, most Beatles’ fans had never viewed the flick as it didn’t have a U.S. release until a Betamax (remember those?) version showed up in 1978.
The first time I saw Magical Mystery Tour was at a film series in the mid-’70s at Augusta College. Of course, it was a poor print from an authorized source but hey, we finally got to see it!
In all candor, (and frankly, no, I just can’t resist good, old-fashioned candor) Magical Mystery Tour is not in the same league under or above the sea in terms of storyline. It’s mostly just random shots of The Beatles and the cast happily riding around stoned on a bus in the English countryside with a few Pepper-like detours of insanity.
This month, a new Blu-ray version of the 53-minute feature is in stores. Bonus scenes abound, and the video restoration is, of course, fab. The 5.1 surround sound mix is stunning, especially on I Am the Walrus and The Fool on the Hill. An extra bonus of The Beatles miming to Hello Goodbye is another treat.
THE SEA OF GREEN DEPT. The Beatles’ 1969 animated flick Yellow Submarine has already undergone one digital upgrade (1999), but these days technology is moving jet-stream quick so it was time for another go-round.
The new version is a timeless body of work that every child (old and young) should experience. Available now in pristine Blu-ray, Yellow Submarine has been painstakingly restored by hand frame-by-frame in 4K digital resolution with 5.1 sound that puts the viewer right in the sea with glee.
As with the previous version of the DVD, there’s a companion CD featuring songs from the movie that are a fine introduction to the Fab Four’s greatness for the uninitiated.
Next up for Beatles fans are new vinyl editions of each of their studio albums, which will mark their first re-release in album form since The Beatles remastered their catalog over three years ago. They will be available soon in a set for around $400 or individually for around $30. To paraphrase the song, “All you Need is Cash.”