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An evening with The Beatles

Last updated on: September 9, 2009 

An evening with The Beatles

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Raja Sen

The greatest band in history is coming back in a big way.

The Beatles back-catalogue has been all spiffied up and remastered, and the enhanced new CDs hit shelves on September 9. Soon, The Beatles: Rock Band game hits shelves, and it'll revolutionise game-guitaring forever.

It's always good to have the Fab Four around us, and when Rediff asked me to write a feature on the boys, I decided to just play their songs instead. Far too much has been written, and far too much has inevitably fallen short.

So this time I'm just listening. Ten Beatles tracks, played randomly at shuffle from their phenomenal discography. No preference, no order, not even a starting point. And they'll still rock our socks off. Let's go.


Image: Handout of Beatles album cover which appeared on special stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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Ain't She Sweet
The Decca Audition
1962

Ah, nice. A 1927 song that later went on to be a Tin Pan Alley standard, the Beatles performed this baby during their audition for Decca Records.

In the most tonedeaf moment in musical history, Decca rejected them. The track is a rollicking one, and John Lennon leads the vocals with a raspy snarl.


Image: Handout of Beatles album cover which appeared on special stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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Taxman
Revolver
1966

The opening track of my favourite Beatles album. Everyone assumes this song as one of Lennon's, but it was actually one of Harrison's first -- even though John did help with the one liners. And who plays lead guitar on the immortal song?

Paul McCartney, of course. Ha.


Image: The Beatles' landmark 1966 LP 'Revolver'
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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Drive My Car
Rubber Soul
1965

A very 'happy' track, this Paul song was -- like most of them -- a euphemism, this time a comedic one for sex.

The words drive the wonderful tune forward -- Working for peanuts is all very fine / But I can show you a better time -- and the beepbeep beepbeep yeah chorus just seals the deal.


Image: Handout of Beatles album cover which appeared on special stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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Piggies
The White Album
1968

Ha. Harrison chanelled some of George Orwell's Animal Farm to write this song about greed and class distinction, and Ringo played the tambourine delightfully.

While not showing off severe musicianship, the song is one of Harrison's finest crafted:

In their eyes there's something lacking
What they need's a damn good whacking.


Image: Four wax statues of Beatles pose with luggage trolleys after arriving in Liverpool
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters
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All You Need Is Love
Magical Mystery Tour
1967

So simple, and yet so complex.

This magnificently layered song starts with strains of the French National anthem before the song itself kicks off with a 7/4 time signature with the words love love love drilled by backup vocals.

Over all this enters John, singing There's nothing you can do that can't be done / Nothing you can sing that can't be sung / Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game / It's easy. As anthemic as songs come, this one.


Image: The Beatles are shown in a scene from the new video game 'The Beatles: Rock Band'
Photographs: Fred Prouser/Reuters
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Good Day Sunshine
Revolver
1966

A McCartney song, this one has him singing and playing bass while Ringo chipped in with drums and a tambourine. The other two just did back-up vocals, and the piano solo was by legendary Beatles' producer George Martin.

An incredibly bouncy song, this one is catchy and upbeat and has a chorus to die for.


Image: Handout of Beatles album cover which appeared on special stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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You Won't See Me
Rubber Soul
1965

Clearly iTunes is taking Paul's side this evening, and here we have one more McCartney track, a heartbreaking song about his girlfriend, Jane Asher.

The words are deeply personal, marking a big departure from Paul's formerly optimistic love songs. And like all effective rock laments, the upbeat sound almost completely masks the gloom.


Image: A man passes pictures of the Beatles on the main staircase at the Hard Days Night Hotel in Liverpool
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters
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Sexy Sadie
The White Album
1968

Ah, yes. John-time. Lennon, disillusioned by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, originally wanted to title this track Maharishi but changed the name at Harrison's insistence.

The song is about a fraud -- Sexy Sadie, look what you've done / you've made a fool of everyone -- but it isn't a mere litany of complaints. The writer expected much, and he lets the listener know it.


Image: Handout of Beatles album cover which appeared on special stamps issued by Britain's Royal Mail
Photographs: Ho New/Reuters
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If I Fell
A Hard Day's Night
1964

One of my absolute favourite John-songs, this one opens with the words If I fell in love with you / Would you promise to be true building atop each other in a haunting progression that isn't repeated throughout the rest of the song, but somehow manages to nevertheless drive the track. The words are simple, but the metre is phenomenal.


Image: A notebook in which McCartney drafted lyrics for 'Hey Jude' and 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club'
Photographs: Paul Hackett/Reuters
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Hello Goodbye
Magical Mystery Tour
1967

And we end with Paul, again. You say yes, I say no / You say start, I say go, go go -- how in the world can you go wrong with a song that starts like that?

The song traverses a series of opposites, but not just via words: the bongos balance the organ, the conga takes on the maracas, the viola gives the bass guitar an unexpected role. Delicious.


Image: A man photographs giant puppets of Beatles on his mobile phone at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset
Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
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So that's it, an expectedly pleasurable set of ten songs comes to an end.

A hand then for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Thanks for a brilliant bit of box-fruit, lads. Love is one thing, but all one really needs are The Beatles.


Image: The front cover of The Beatles new album, 'Anthology'
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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