Few music fans would hail “Let It Be” as the best work of The Beatles. But the album marked an important chapter in the history of the group. Legend has it that the 1969 recording sessions marked the beginning of the band’s demise.
“The Beatles: Get Back,” which debuted Thursday on Disney Plus, neither confirms nor contradicts this theory. If anything, it just muddies the waters.
Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy is more interested in raising the jam than pointing fingers. For those who enjoy the Fab Four, or pop music in general, this is a must-watch.
The three-part documentary is nearly eight hours long, but allow at least 10 hours to watch it all. There are just too many magical moments you’ll want to replay. Taken from over 60 hours of film and 150 hours of audio, the footage includes tiny details that will delight and amaze even the most die-hard of followers.
You get the first versions of future hits like “Another Day” and “All Things Must Pass”. George Harrison presents “Something” with silly lyrics, “draws me like a pomegranate”. Ringo Starr wows his bandmates with the opening verse of “Octopus’s Garden”.
For “Get Back”, once conceived as a song of support for immigrants, Paul McCartney and John Lennon plan to give Jojo the Pakistani surname. Lennon struggles with a song called “Road to Marrakech” which would later turn into his solo hit, “Jealous Guy”.
You hear Lennon and McCartney resurrect “Thinking of Linking” and “My Chances With You”, songs they wrote when they were teenagers.
It’s no surprise to hear guys noodles on Chuck Berry classics and Bob Dylan numbers like “I Shall Be Released” and “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind”. But you can do a double take when they launch into Canned Heat’s “Going Up the Country” and the instrumental “Harry Lime Theme” from the 1949 movie “The Third Man”.
These blankets seem to serve as both motivation and tension relief. And there was a lot of tension to be broken the first week.
As previously reported in Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s 1970 film “Let It Be,” Harrison spent the early days at Twickenham Studios falling deeper and deeper into a funk, bristling as McCartney treated him like a college student. in a high school orchestra.
“I think I’m going to quit the band now,” he said towards the end of the first part.
But the differences are eventually resolved and the group goes back to business, which the Lindsay-Hogg film failed to convey. This film also led to other misconceptions.
If Yoko Ono’s constant presence was a source of frustration, it doesn’t really show this time around.
At one point, McCartney and keyboardist Billy Preston happily play the game as she screams into the microphone. In one of the film’s most touching moments, Lennon and Ono waltz through the studio as Harrison tries out “I Me Mine”.
In a few of the early sessions, Lennon shows up late, but he’s mostly a trooper, even when playing second fiddle to his writing partner. His kinky sense of humor is brought out well in Part 2 as he sends out his early hits like “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” and “Help!”
Lennon’s antics are too much for actor Peter Sellers, who passes by shortly after Harrison’s temporary departure. When the bespectacled Beatle tries to lure him into an absurd comedy, the “Dr. Strangelove” star quickly finds an excuse to disappear.
Heather, the daughter of Linda Eastman, McCartney’s future wife, is a kinder visitor. Everyone in the band finds time to have fun with the giggling 8-year-old, even as the album deadline draws near.
If there’s a villain in the movie, it’s Lindsay-Hogg. Sometimes he behaves like a full member of the group, interfering in the creative process. He insists to Eastman that he’s a bigger fan of the band than she is.
It feels like Jackson included this scene as a rebuke to his predecessor for distorting the true nature of the sessions. (The Beatles would stay together after “Let It Be” and long enough to record the best “Abbey Road”.)
For casual fans, a good chunk of the project will come across as a bit of work. They can yawn after hearing the umpteenth version of “Don’t Let Me Down” and the band’s debate on whether or not to do a rooftop gig. This 40-minute performance, shown in its entirety in Part 3, will be a disappointment to those who would rather hear “She Loves You” than “Dig a Pony”.
For viewers more interested in the biggest hits, there are better options. “The Beatles Anthology”, which aired on ABC in 1995, remains the most comprehensive television project on the band’s legacy. For something fresher, check out Hulu’s “McCartney 3, 2, 1” where acclaimed music producer Rick Rubin takes Paul to dive deep into the songwriting process.
But if your main interest is the interaction between the four musicians, “Get Back” raises the bar to a new height. It won’t disappoint you.
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