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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 10:07 GMT
CD Review: The Beatles
Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison
Ringo, Paul and George: As relevant now as in the 60s
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

More than 30 years after The Beatles split up the popularity of the Fab Four is undiminished.

Today the band sells more albums than at the height of Beatlemania and the recently released Beatles' book is in the top 10 of almost every European country's book charts.

A new compilation album of their 27 UK and US number ones has been released just in time for Christmas, and I suspect the album will find its way into quite a few stockings on 25 December.

Beatles album
The compilation album is released on 13 November

This album, called simply 1, highlights why comparisons between the Beatles and the Irish boy band Westlife are laughable, despite their recent glut of number one singles.

Westlife's album Coast Coast is the reason why, close to 48 years after the Beatles' released their first single, Love Me Do, we need the Fab Four as much as ever.

In the pop pantheon the Beatles are gods and a true review of this compilation album is impossible because the band and their music seem beyond criticism.

The Beatles' music does not simply have a timeless quality - it is hard to imagine a time when their music did not exist.

It is worth listening to the tracks in chronological order and pretending the album is on an old-fashioned LP because the change in the music and lyrical content is quite startling.

The early songs are lyrically naive but that simplicity has given the Beatles a universality no other band has managed to achieve.

The release date of Love Me Do, 5 October 1962, sounds like pop's Year Zero.

From a recording point of view, the simple four-track, sometimes mono, sound and structure of the early songs seem dated, but the musical quality is undeniable.

In the 1960s the Beatles were re-writing the rules of popular music as they went along, breaking new barriers with each and every release.

While their true greatness now lies in the albums - most notably Sgt Pepper and Revolver - the singles are every bit as crucial.

Producer George Martin was the perfect translator for the raw talent of John Lennon and his foil Paul McCartney, who reined in Lennon's more excessive tendencies.

By the time Ticket to Ride arrives on the album, equating to less than two years after their first single release, John, Paul, George and Ringo had re-defined pop music.

The album is filled with creativity, and climaxes with All You Need Is Love, perhaps the perfect pop record - catchy, playful, joyous and irreverent.

It still sounds utterly contemporary and only accentuates the dearth of good bands and songs in the charts today.

Day Tripper - an ode to sexual permissiveness - was the Beatle's first flirtation with social realism, while Hey Jude, Eleanor Rigby, Get Back and Come Together remain complex, serious songs from a seriously important band.

The only serious omission on the CD is Strawberry Fields Forever - a number one single as a double A side with Penny Lane - and one can only imagine that the single was sacrificed to make way for one of George Harrisons' songs.

The album will go head-to-head with Westlife this week for the number one slot this week and if there is any justice in this word the Beatles will triumph.

The 27 tracks on the album completely fill the CD and while that equates to around 70 minutes of music in total it is enough to last anyone a lifetime.

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See also:

 | Entertainment
Slow start for Beatles album
19 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Beatles' film producer dies
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Beatles book draws fans
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