By Michael Kaye
The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (Review)
While I've certainly talked a lot about movies that revolve around music, especially films from this year such as Sing Street and the criminally underrated Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, this'll actually be the first time I get to just cut loose and gush about one of my favorite bands of all time, The Beatles! However, I'm still a film critic, so I'll begin this editorial sharing my brief thoughts on a brand new documentary that's currently streaming on Hulu called The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, directed by Ron Howard.
This documentary is compilation of found footage featuring music, interviews and stories of the Beatles 250 concerts, from their earliest gigs at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1962, to their final performance in Candlestick Park, San Francisco in 1966.
Like I said, I'm not going to give a full review of this movie, partly because I generally don't cover documentaries, but also because there's absolutely no way I'd be able to review this without a shred of bias. So here are my brief thoughts before we move on to a more interesting discussion.
Literally the one complaint I have about this documentary is that it left me wanting more. While not impossible, the reason why it'd be a challenge for any filmmaker to even attempt to make "the definitive" Beatles biopic is because there is way too much ground to cover. That being said, I commend Ron Howard for covering as much as he did. Personally I'm more a fan of The Beatles' latter half albums as opposed to the early years, so I've taken for granted just how massive an impact they had on pop culture in the early 1960's. I like how he's gathered interviews from not just the band and the people directly associated with them, but also celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Sigourney Weaver who experienced Beatlemania first hand. I actually found myself getting a little emotional when Whoopi told her story about how her mother got her tickets to see the band perform at Shea Stadium, which would have been amazing if I were alive back then. Overall, as a lifelong fan of the Beatles, this was a very emotional experience, and if you're just getting into the band and are looking to learn about their history, this would be a great place to start.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, we can begin to gush about the greatness that is the Fab Four. I've pretty much been a Beatles fan my entire life, they've been a constant presence for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories was in fact the first time I was exposed to the band. It was just a random Saturday night, my parents went out to dinner and they called my aunt Melissa over to babysit my brother and I. We have a lot of CD's in the Kaye household, and two of the very first full albums I ever listened to were Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, and Abbey Road. From the first track, "Come Together," I was hooked, and I knew right away that these guys were something special. I wasn't really until I was a little older that I made it through their entire discography, or at the very least the "Official Canon," which features 12 studio albums.
One of the toughest questions you can ask a Beatles fan is to rank their favorite albums. I'm not going to do all 12, because that would be a nightmare. Instead, I'll keep it to a nice tidy top 5, and this order is complete subject to change depending on when you ask.
5. A Hard Day's Night/Help!
This is probably going to be the only tie on the list, because these albums have one thing in common: they're both soundtracks to their respective films directed by Richard Lester. One of these days I'll get around to reviewing those movies, but for now I'm just talking about the music, which highlights everything great about the Touring Years. The songs that stick out the most aside from the title tracks are "If I Fell," "Tell Me Why," "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," and "I've Just Seen a Face."
I think of this album as a transition between the band's early sound and their more psychedelic records that soon followed. This is where their song "Yellow Submarine" originated, which would later be turned into an animated film a few years later, but that's not even my favorite track. George Harrison really comes to play with a great opening track "Taxman," as well as two other tracks he wrote, "Love You To" and "I Want to Tell You." And of course, how could I talk about this album without mentioning "And Your Bird Can Sing" and the closing track "Tomorrow Never Knows."
3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Arguably the most important album in the history of rock 'n' roll, it was heavily influenced by The Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds, which in itself was influenced by the American version of Rubber Soul (which I'll talk about soon). It's really hard to point to any specific track, as this one's best experienced as a whole. But if I had to pick a favorite track, it'd have to be either "A Day in the Life" or "When I'm Sixty-Four."
2. Rubber Soul
I don't care whether it's the UK version or the American, I just love this album! It was only their second LP in the UK (first in the US) to feature entirely original music, while their previous records would usually have at least one cover. Where do I even begin with this one? The first half has some of their best material, leading off with "Drive My Car," and immediately following that is "Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown)" "You Won't See Me" and "Nowhere Man." The only reason this album's not #1 is because I didn't grow up with it as long as my #1, which should be pretty obvious by now...
1. Abbey Road
Yeah, that's not changing anytime soon. Rubber Soul might be a better produced album, but there's just so much nostalgia attached to this one. I've already talked about "Come Together," but the songs that I started to appreciate more as I grew up are "Something," "Here Comes the Sun," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," and basically the entire second half of the album.
So that was a little bit of insight on my Beatles fandom. Ron Howard's documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years is now playing in select theaters and streaming for free on Hulu, so go check it out ASAP.
And now I'd like to hear from you guys. Have you seen The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, and if so what did you think? Also, what are your favorite Beatles albums? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the infamous whistleblower who worked for the NSA in Oliver Stone's latest film Snowden.