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The Beatles

From Liverpool to San Francisco DVD

Review by Gary Hill

This new DVD is a pretty interesting look into the history of arguably the most important band in the history of rock music. To begin with there is a documentary of the band covering their history from 1963 in Liverpool to the end of the band in 1970. This is accomplished through narration and interview clips. It gives an interesting view of the band and should appeal to both hardcore Beatles fans, and those, like myself, more on the periphery. There were a few things in this documentary that really resonated with me. First it was interesting to see the footage of these legends as young guys. Secondly, I found it an interesting comment on group interaction and personalities and even the media that in the beginning it seemed to be George Harrison who spoke more often than not for the band. As the time went on, though, it seemed like either the band or the media or both pushed him aside and focused on Paul McCartney and John Lennon. As one who was too young to see this as it was happening, I have to say that it might just be a function of the footage that was chosen for this film rather than the truth of what happened. Finally, as someone who remembers the days of churches burning heavy metal albums, I never knew that there had been a similar situation with the Beatles. Frankly, I never really realized just how much controversy surrounded the band. This shows that in many ways the conservative far right wing in the US hasn't moved on one iota from the 1960's. It's like they are stuck in a time warp living in the 1950's and expecting the rest of the world to stay there with them. The parallels were amazing to me between those protestors and the current "morality" wave in the US. I think it is both eye opening and a bit frightening.

The DVD also includes another feature called "Beatles Across America." This is a documentary about their tour following John Lennon's Jesus comment. In some ways this is more riveting than the main film. Parts of this are actually used in that first documentary, though. This sheds light on the Beatles, the KKK, the media and the Christian right in America - again, as they stood in the 1960's and ironically enough with an unspoken parallel to today.

The long and short of it, although this is all black and white footage and doesn't feature music by the band, it's a very good piece of work. While there are other Beatles documentaries, this one holds up well as both entertaining and insightful. I would recommend it both to the hardcore fans and the less devoted.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at

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