The FIRST documentary on Beatlemania, and first-rate in every way
This kind of thing is pure gold to lovers of classic rock and pop culture. Originally broadcast October 9 1963 (which coincidentally was John Lennon's 23rd birthday), this 36 minute BBC special succinctly captures one of the most magical moments in musical history: the birth of Beatlemania. This fueled the Mersey Sound, which turned into the full-scale British Invasion that changed the world.
The footage is absolutely wonderful. The audience: completely, deliriously high on nothing but the music. Remember when Rock'n'Roll had nothing to do with drugs? Neither did I till I saw this. The bands: young, fresh, enthusiastic performing live; intelligent and serious in interviews. The men behind the scenes: most notably British music PR genius Bill Harry. Harry went on to do PR for acts like Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. Even in 1963, it's obvious that Harry knows his stuff. (He has written one of the best books on the subject, "British Invasion: How the Beatles and Other UK Bands Conquered America.")
The cinematography reaches an achingly beautiful apex in the depiction of the city of Liverpool itself.
Much of the footage in this documentary would be plundered time and again for future films, in particular the excellent "Compleat Beatles." This is the origin of the famous interview where Ringo reveals his hairdressing aspirations! (Look fast for Cynthia Lennon under the hairdryer.) I also loved hearing John and Paul talk about forsaking their black leather stage gear for the clean-cut suit & tie look, in order to be taken more seriously as a group. Rock fashion has been through some changes since then!
Beatles live footage was shot August 27, 1963, at Little Theatre, Houghton Street, Southport. (Manager Brian Epstein, interviewed for this film, would be found dead of an overdose 4 years later to the day.) Songs performed are Twist And Shout and She Loves You.
The other bands featured are Group One and The Undertakers. I had never heard of Group One, a skiffle-influenced band before, but their interviews are wonderful, as they talk about poverty in Liverpool, and the thankless task of being opening act for The Beatles. The Undertakers, featuring Jackie Lomax, enjoyed a brief fling with musical fame on the Pye label. Pye tapped into the Liverpool music market early by signing Northern guitar legend Lonnie Donegan, and would be hugely influential in bringing many English acts before the music-buying public. However, Pye committed serious strategical blunders in their promotion of The Undertakers, who soon faded to obscurity. In addition to rare interviews, the band is shown performing their #1 crowd-pleaser (Do The) Mashed Potatoes.
Very exciting to watch. Family-friendly too. FAB! GEAR! SMASHING! To miss it would be dead grotty!
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