Act naturally, indeed. The new deluxe 1+ DVD/Blu-ray collection is a treasure of Beatle footage from every phase of their career — promo videos, TV appearances, Abbey Road studio footage, a few drastically restored favorites already familiar from Anthology, loads of little-seen gems — and all of it revelatory for fans. A handful of clips get new commentary from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who really didn’t like having to ride a horse for the “Penny Lane” video. Here are just 10 of the fabbest moments.
“She Loves You” (1963)
The lads in Sweden, performing “She Loves You” on Stockholm TV for the show Drop In, with Beatlemania in full flower all over Europe in October 1963. (The U.K. press had only started using the word “Beatlemania” a few days earlier.) The confidence level is surging — you can see that they have their eyes fixed on the toppermost of the poppermost.
“Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964)
A live performance from the BBC special Around The Beatles — John and Paul jump into the cold-open vocal intro, a little ragged but caught up in the electric excitement of being Beatles, playing in the round, surrounded by dazed-looking kids. This was the same TV special where they acted out a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with John and Paul as the star-crossed lovers Pyramus and Thisbe.
“I Feel Fine” (1965)
The Beatles trooped into Twickenham Film Studios on November 23rd to grind out a few quickie promo videos — 10 in all. They took a lunch break for this version of “I Feel Fine” — instead of miming with their guitars, they munch fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, with John and Ringo sitting on the floor. But it got shelved because Brian Epstein nixed the footage — he was horrified at the idea of the world seeing the boys eating with greasy fingers. 1+ includes another surreal version of “I Feel Fine” filmed the same day, where Ringo is riding an exercise bicycle.
“We Can Work It Out” (1965)
Another gem from the November 23rd Twickenham marathon session. John and Paul do their sweet-and-sour harmonies, with John sitting down at the organ. At first, they’re playing it all straight in their suits, until John sets out to make Paul crack up on camera. He makes it impossible for anyone else to keep a straight face — by the end, he’s playing the organ with his feet.
There are two clips included here for “Rain,” the guitar drone with Ringo’s most brilliantly demented drumming. The first was done at Abbey Road, with John valiantly attempting to lip-synch the backwards-guitar solo. The next day, they filmed an even better version: the Beatles in the garden of Chiswick House in West London, their faces blank and impassive, giving nothing away as the brash new guitar noises swirl around them.
“Penny Lane” (1967)
The psychedelic video for Paul’s portrait of Liverpool life — although the Beatles, busy making Sgt. Pepper’s, filmed their scenes closer to Abbey Road, in Stratford and Kent. The lads ride on horseback, which gets some priceless commentary from Starr and McCartney. “Ringo’s really not a horseman,” Paul explains. “My big memory of that shoot is always saying, ‘Where’s Ringo? There he is, disappearing over the horizon on that galloping white horse!'” Apparently, it’s still a traumatic memory for Ringo, who shudders as he introduces the clip. “These are monster giant animals!” he says. “Mine tried to run away, so the memory is pretty damn scary.”
“Hey Bulldog” (1968)
The film crew went to Abbey Road on February 11th to shoot a video for “Lady Madonna” — but the Beatles didn’t feel like lip-synching that day, because they were absorbed in cutting a new song instead. Result: astounding footage of the band at work on “Hey Bulldog” in the studio. John and Paul share a mike, eyeball to eyeball, ad-libbing the same demented barks and howls you hear on the record, making each other laugh. It’s poignant to see film evidence of how, even at this late stage in the band’s deteriorating personal relations, John and Paul can have so much fun standing face to face, throwing ideas at each other.
A full-on electric blowout, with a black-clad John snarling while the others chime in with the “shooby-doo-wah” vocals. It’s the definitive version of the song, combining the best of both the electric and acoustic versions, with John in “count me out — in” mode. They filmed this clip in the middle of the combative White Album sessions, when they were falling apart as a team. But as the first verse kicks off, George tosses his hair in unmistakable joy, looking fabber than ever in his red turtleneck — a perfect image of why, even in these grim days for the band, they absolutely loved being Beatles.
No chance of getting all four Beatles together for this clip — instead, each Beatle appears in separately filmed footage at home with their wives. And each couple projects a totally different vibe — George and Patti peacocking in their hippie-royalty finery, Paul and Linda on the farm in Scotland with Martha the sheepdog, Ringo and Maureen goofing around on motorbikes, John and Yoko serene in their matching black robes. Each Beatle looks like he’s found what he was looking for — but they’re heading for four separate futures.
“Don’t Let Me Down” (1969)
From the rooftop jam of January 30th, 1969: None of them realized it would be this cold, so Ringo wears Maureen’s red coat, George wears Patti’s jacket, and John wears Yoko’s fur wrap. Their breath freezes in front of their faces; their hands can barely feel the chords. But with “Don’t Let Me Down,” they look resolved for the future, ready to leave one phase behind and embrace the next. The dream is over.