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  The Beatles are still no 1

The Beatles are still no 1

Published : Nov 9, 2015, 5:39 am IST
Updated : Nov 9, 2015, 5:39 am IST

American music industry publication BILLBOARD announced in its news item of October 27 that One Direction’s song, Perfect, entered the U.S.

American music industry publication BILLBOARD announced in its news item of October 27 that One Direction’s song, Perfect, entered the U.S. singles chart at no.10, marking the boy band’s fifth ‘Top 10’ debut and, with it, besting the Beatles' four, who launched three of their fab four ‘Top 10’ debuts in their original historic heyday.

Hey Jude (no. 10, 1968), Get Back (no. 10, 1969), Let It Be (no. 6, 1970) and, the fourth, as a reunited trio (featuring the then late John Lennon's vocals) more than a quarter-century later with Free As A Bird (no. 10, 1995).

Nevertheless, even some 45 years after The Beatles’ “demise”, they remain one of the world’s best-selling acts.

For instance, in 2014, two of the ten highest selling vinyl albums were from these stalwarts: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), and Abbey Road (1969).

As if that was not enough, The Beatles‘ best-of collection, 1, which was originally released in India in 2000 while I was part of EMI India (selling in excess of 30,000 CDs then), received a global deluxe reissue on November 6 by Universal Music.

The newly expanded 1 made a number of changes to the original, chief among them being the addition of dozens of promotional videos — all newly restored, many being made commercially available for the first time.

Apparently, an 18-member team of film and video technicians, along restoration artists, was assembled by Apple Corps — The Beatles’ multimedia corporation founded in January 1968 in London — to undertake, painstakingly, frame-by-frame cleaning, colour-grading, digital enhancement, and new edits that took months of dedicated “round-the-clock work” to accomplish.

They then scanned them in high-definition 4K and restored the audio from the original analogue tapes lying at the Abbey Road Studios in London.

Hence, on the audio front, fans of The Beatles now have an opportunity of listening to new stereo mixes of the album, which collected 27 of the band’s biggest hits — all no.1s, as the album name suggests — as well as mixes in 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS HD surround audio.

The reissue has been made available in a variety of configurations.

These include single-disc CD, DVD, and Blu-ray versions, as well as CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray combo packs, and a two-LP vinyl edition.

Die-hard fans have the opportunity to opt for 1+, a deluxe package that adds a bonus DVD or Blu-ray featuring alternate versions of many videos as well as “an expanded 124-page illustrated hardcover book.

The hardcover book includes ‘an appreciation’ of The Beatles’ ground-breaking films and videos by music journalist and author Mark Ellen and extensive, detailed track/video annotation by music historian and author Richard Havers.

Meanwhile, India’s fascination with The Beatles can be traced to February 1968, when the band travelled to Rishikesh in northern India to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Along with wives, girlfriends, assistants, and numerous reporters, The Beatles arrived with a group of musicians, including Scottish folk singer Donovan, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and flautist Paul Horn. Members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison wrote many songs during their India sojourn with 18 of those songs recorded for ‘The Beatles’ (popularly known as the White Album), two songs appeared on Abbey Road and, the balance, for various solo projects.

Indian musicians have covered the songs of The Beatles from the 1970s, including several Mumbai-based bands including, as I remember, Savage Encounter, featuring vocalist Nandu Bhende.

Another band that continued to keep the music of The Beatles alive was another Mumbai-based rock band called People that featured musicians such as Ronnie Desai, Ranjit Barot, Hosi Nanji, and an outstanding guitarist by the name of Babu Choudhary, who became a member in 1978.

Initially, the band became popular on the college circuit, adding to their popularity by performing 13 shows of Beatles 4Ever — as an audio-visual event — with the first tribute show performed by the band when John Lennon was shot.

For some intriguing reason, Babu stopped playing guitar for ten years after he joined People but, fortunately for music listeners, he returned to playing musicin 2007 and has recently produced his first ever album, Somewhere Out There.

In the meantime, if you are still a novice in the music of The Beatles and are curious to study what made the band revolutionise the global history of rock and roll, this would be an ideal time for you to become ‘1’ with The Beatles!

The writer has been part of the media and entertainment business for over 23 years. He still continues to pursue his hobby, and earns an income out of it!