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Somewhat Padded-Out Story of The Beatles' Debut Single

5/10
Author: l_rawjalaurence from London
30 September 2015

Sometimes it's difficult to detach truth from fiction. When thinking of The Beatles and the origins of their debut single "Love Me Do," it's difficult not to think of Philip Larkin's lines referring to the growth of worldliness that took place "between the trial of Lady Chatterley and The Beatles' first LP."

"Love Me Do," wasn't a great success. It did not reach No. 1 in the charts, but it signaled The Beatles' arrival on a music scene which at the time seemed rather tame. At the beginning of '62 "Moon River" (from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S) was top of the hit-parade, and while young people had the freedom to go to clubs and indulge in the twist should they so wish, the choice of hits available was a little limited.

In this documentary produced to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the release of "Love me Do," presenter Stuart Maconie retraces the familiar steps round the Cavern Club to tell the story of how the song originated. There are some familiar guest appearances from Gerry Marsden (of Gerry and the Pacemakers fame), "Whispering" Bob Harris, plus archive footage of The Beatles being interviewed.

The documentary includes some familiar material to set the release in context - of the Cuban War crisis, the growth in youth cultures, CND, plus unemployment. None of this material seems especially relevant to the central argument, which could well have been shortened into a half-hour slot.

Nonetheless we learn some fascinating things about The Beatles: their audition for Decca Records proved catastrophic, and they were dismissed as just another guitar group. At that time Parlophone Records was a small division within the EMI empire; it was The Beatles themselves who transformed it. There was a fascinating interview with Pete Best - the fifth Beatle who was unceremoniously junked in favor of Ringo Starr as the drummer. Although Best insisted otherwise, it was clear that he still harbored resentment at the decision. There was also an interview with Stuart Sutcliffe's sister; Sutcliffe was perhaps the most talented member of the original Beatles, who died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of twenty-two.

LOVE ME DO adopted a reverential approach to the material, but it could have been constructed better.

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