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2014: The Beatles In Their Prime, 50 Years Later

2014: The Beatles In Their Prime, 50 Years Later

The Beatles haven’t released an album of original songs since 1970, but the most important entertainment phenomenon of all time is inits prime — 50 years after they hit America. On Feb. 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS and electrified American teens.

One of the treats of the Beatles revival is the release of the U.S. Beatles albums, starting with Meet The Beatles and going through to Hey Jude including such special American-oriented releases as The Beatles Second Album, Beatles ’65, Beatles VI and Yesterday and Today. 

This is a baby boomer’s dream, a chance to re-live our youth and bask in the nostalgia, remembering the times we walked past a record store and saw a new Beatles album in the window. It seemed to happen every six months. Talk about having a serious flashback to a happy time.

Over the years, Beatles fans and journalists have discredited the American releases and belittled them because they weren’t accurate representations of what John, Paul, George and Ringo intended. Rock journalist Dave Marsh even wrote an excellent, thoroughly reported book called The Beatles Second Album (published by Rodale). The Beatles would have appreciated Marsh’s efforts to set the record straight.

That may well be true and correct. But in time, we in America were able to get the original Beatles albums on CDs. It was cool to listen to the songs in sequence, as JPG&R had intended at the time of their releases in the 60s.

We also have another special event to appreciate: Mark Lewisohn’s remarkable 9000=plus book on the rise of The Beatles.It traces their ancestors and goes up 1962, just before The Beatles had their first No.1 record in Britain, Please Please Me. Lewisohn is scheduled to write two more volumes to complete The Beatles’ story. (I can’t wait; I am about 500 pages in, to the first volume, ad I am already lamenting that I’ll soon finish it.

Sociologists and historians have discussed ad nauseum why The Beatles could achieve such an amazing breakthrough in the U.S. in 1964 They inevitably bring up JFK’s death and say The Beatles began the mourning nation’s healing process.

On one level, that’s true. But the theorists seem to forget another key detail: The Beatles were really, really good, right from the start. 

Lewisohn’s meticulous research underscores how dynamic,worldly and innovative The Beatles were, even before they were famous. Once The Beatles added Ringo on drums, began featuring John Lennon’s vocals and Lennon-McCartney originals, they were unstoppable.

And they stayed that way, right till the end.

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