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The Beatles Story
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 60 mins . PG . PAL


The Beatles are probably the most documented band in the history of music, which isn’t particularly surprising considering the dizzying success they had, the likes of which undoubtedly will never be seen again (sorry Scandal'us, you'll just have to deal with it). Because of this every man, his dog, his dog's fleas and whatever parasites attack them has pretty much had a go at producing some sort of book, magazine or visual documentary on the band. And oh joy of joys, here's another one.

This offering contains anything vaguely public domain, such as some interview footage of the Fab Four (which admittedly is often rather interesting), film of anything even distantly related such as security briefings and interviews with fans at the time, plus occasional live footage - although sans actual Beatles music, of course. As using the band's own output would cost money, some mob called The Liverpool Echoes get some time in the sun with their close, but not close enough to get their jacksies' sued into next century, '60s-ish 'Merseybeat'-styled musical doodlings. So, it's a DVD about a group of musicians that doesn’t actually feature any music by them - my, how interesting.

Sure you could argue that The Beatles' status as simply another band of musos was transcended somehow into them becoming public property, where we the great unwashed suddenly had the right to hear of every little event in their every day lives - and indeed the mere fact that this release exists would support that argument. As well as all the found archival stuff on offer, there are recently filmed interviews with all the types who considered themselves best Beatle mates - old Cavern Club owners, bands who played Liverpool at the time, DJ's and then there are the journalists (including the most interminably dull man ever to write about popular music, Jon Savage - you have to have grave concerns about anybody who can write a book on punk that reads like a university thesis specifically for university professors) and worst of all chats with the lowest form of pond scum on the musical circuit - a covers band (ooh, I feel dirty even typing the words). Probably the only interview of any significance is that with Tony Barrow, who at least worked with the band in a PR capacity.

Narrated by somebody with a very posh British voice named Kevan Brighting, the same old stuff is covered - Liverpool, The Quarrymen, the Cavern Club, Brian Epstein, Decca, George Martin and Parlophone, Pete Best, 'Beatlemania', Ed Sullivan, MBEs, record burnings, Abbey Road, the Maharishi, Apple Corps, drugs, Yoko Ono, blah blah blah - almost everything they could get away with whilst avoiding mentioning the music (well, OK - a few songs get vague mentions, but seriously…) In fact it's often rather comical, with the packaging boldly proclaiming that "This one-hour documentary recounts the musical career of the Fab Four in its entirety" it's hard not to have visions of somebody cracking a whip on poor Kevan, as he inexplicably ups the tempo of his narration markedly at times so they can fit it all in. Needless to say though, squishing the "entire" history of The Beatles into one measly hour is somewhat akin to parking a Jumbo Jet in a matchbox.


One of the basic mathematical laws of documentaries such as this is rather simple - age multiplied by the amount of found footage will generally give you an idea of how good or bad the vision is. Or something like that - hey, I failed year 10 maths, so what would I know?

At any rate, this documentary-like thing features a lot of black and white stuff rescued from the '60s, and as such there's some footage here that's in pretty shocking shape. Still, if you expected more, well…

That which was recorded more recently, notably the interviews, scrubs up fine however, and whilst not the greatest example of vision you'll ever witness pumping from your DVD player, is perfectly serviceable for such a product.

Sound? Well, it's just Dolby Stereo, although of course much of the old stuff is really in mono. It's all quite clear and easy to understand, although if you tend to go, "Huh? Wha…?" at the mere utterance of a syllable in Liverpudlian you may have a few problems. It's much like Connollyese - once you eventually get the knack of just what the heck Billy is saying once, the built-in Babel Fish within you will generally have no problems at any time in future.

You want extras? Well, there's one that's selectable from the rather drab static and silent menu, and that's a diary. Ironically this is in some ways more useful than the actual included programme, giving a potted history of The Beatles' career via 60 diary entries, and even occasionally mentioning the actual music. As to why some entries appear in black and some in blue, seemingly at random, is anybody's guess.

Everybody wants a piece of The Beatles - by not buying this tawdry cash-in the makers of this get what they deserve from the band's incredible legacy...

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  •   And I quote...
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    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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