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The Beatles: Get Back


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I'm less than 20 minutes in and god I want to light up a smoke. Need a guitar on my knee too.

And captioning is a must. 

Ringo can tap. And play piano.

George isn't using a pick on his electric. And is a great, sly smart-a$$.

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I grew up as a fan of The Beatles. I loved The Beatles. I was caught up in "Beatlemania." The "Fab Four" were, have been, and always will be an inextricable, indelible part of me.

Watching Part One of  Peter Jackson's document, for me, was like watching "sausage being made." Excruciating.

The motif of a calendar is used to progress through The Beatles rehearsals until they perform their final live gig. When the first day was checked off, I was thinking, "I don't know if I'm going to make it through this."

After Part One ended -- on the cliffhanger of George Harrison leaving the group -- I still haven't decided if I'm going to subject myself to Parts Two and Three.

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19 hours ago, Eucalpytus P. Millstone said:

I grew up as a fan of The Beatles. I loved The Beatles. I was caught up in "Beatlemania." The "Fab Four" were, have been, and always will be an inextricable, indelible part of me.

Watching Part One of  Peter Jackson's document, for me, was like watching "sausage being made." Excruciating.

The motif of a calendar is used to progress through The Beatles rehearsals until they perform their final live gig. When the first day was checked off, I was thinking, "I don't know if I'm going to make it through this."

After Part One ended -- on the cliffhanger of George Harrison leaving the group -- I still haven't decided if I'm going to subject myself to Parts Two and Three.

I just watched Part 1 last night.  I think it could have used some additional editing.   For instance, he could have omitted Ms. Ono's vocalizing and not have lost anything of value.

 Agree it's painful to watch at times.  If I were just listening to it without seeing it, I would have guessed it was some 20-somethings goofing around in a garage trying to play Beatles songs. I came to realize that they aren't the most technically proficient on their instruments, but that's OK.   It is rough in the early days of creation - out of tune instruments, off-key singing/wailing, and what looks to the layman as a lack of focus.

What's most surprising is that disorganization - Paul mentioned it as well - in getting ready for a TV special in a few weeks, and an album, with no musical material at all, and concepts for what it and the special should be flying all over the place.   It's pretty clear they miss Epstein's guiding hand.  But then that alternates with what seems to be strokes of inspiration, like McCartney creating "Get Back" seemingly out of thin air while waiting for Lennon to arrive at Twickenham Studios in St. Margarets.  For all we know, McCartney could have been working on it off and on for a long time.  We see a glimpse of that too when he & Linda arrive (I think this is the first time we see her) and he starts playing a song that will be on one of his post-Beatles albums.

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I have seen all eight hours now and I can say that when the rooftop concert finally happened, I had the same feeling I had while reading Moby Dick when the Pequod at last, at long, long last, turned west. The story came alive again and was ultimately quite satisfying. Their performance was sharp and polished and I could tell they had spent much more time rehearsing that set than we saw. 

I plan to watch it again and maybe take some notes of where the high points and the "don't blink when" bits happen, and there are many of the latter, such as when in part 3 someone mentions Allen Klein is coming and there is a quick cut to Paul raising a suspicious brow, unseen by the others and only for a moment, telling us all we need to know about how he felt. I wondered if those two things really happened in that order or if that was an edit for narrative. If the latter, and I suspect it was, it is a very smart cut. 

I was also interested in the equipment they were using, especially George's red Les Paul guitar (which has its own story), the then-relatively-new Fender silver face amps surrounding them that collectors sniffed at for years, and John's devotion to his Epiphone Casino that he never seems to put down. I knew he loved it but it appears to have been his only guitar.

Millstone, you are correct about the sausage making aspect but then this is really quite rare sausage. I'd like to see a more energetic cutting at some point, but I am very happy that we have this fan cut, so to speak, that these eight hours comprise. 

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7 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

This was originally intended to be theatrically released, so it's run-time would probably be 2-3 hours.  I wonder what that would've looked like?

It became Let It Be which the band was very unhappy with. I never saw it but the common description is that it shows the band unravelling. Paul and Ringo apparently suppressed any re-releases of it, or so I suspect.

It occured to me while watching the first hour that the only moments where we can really understand what they are saying are when they are complaining. I wondered if that might not be why Let It Be came off as a downer - it was made up of the only coherent segments, which were gripe sessions.

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1 minute ago, txfilmfan said:

No, I meant this iteration (Get Back) was originally supposed to be theatrically released by Disney, but the plans changed and it morphed into a streaming mini-series instead.

Ah. I didn't know that. 

The length is a common complaint among reviewers. I will not be surprised to find an edited version at some point. The guy who made the trailer is the first one I'd call.

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I'll probably hang in there and stick it out for watch Parts 2 and 3.

For dullards such as Yours Truly who never quite grasped the importance of film editing, Get Back is a perfect example of, and master class on, its importance and necessity.

I get it why Peter Jackson's documentary is so meaningful and exalted by some Boomers. Whether or not it is passionately embraced by Boomers' kids and grandkids remains to be seen. 

I was in swaddling clothes during the birth of Rock 'n Roll. By the time The Beatles arrived on the scene, I was in grade school.  To me, The Beatles defined my generation. More, they were cultural icons and wholly remarkable wunderkinds who "single handedly" changed the world -- veritable demigods! Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly? Yawn! They had about as much meaning  -- and were as about as exciting -- to me as the four codgers on Mount Rushmore. Bill Haley & His Comets wailing "Rock Around the Clock"? Man, that was like listening to Lawrence Welk, as far as I was concerned.

So if the Hip-Hop generation regards Get Back with an insouciant "Meh!" -- wouldn't bug or upset me. Au contraire! I would totally dig and relate!

Several Beatlemaniacs on YouTube regard John, Paul, George, and Ringo as "geniuses" and The Beatles as the "Greatest band in the Universe . . . PERIOD!" Another Fab Four fanatic equates The Beatles with Mozart.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, Boomer. If you say so. Whatever.

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There are people who love the Beatles music much more than I ever have. I appreciate them, but they were never my band, not in the way Zeppelin was, nor even to the degree the Stones or the Who would become for me.

Still there is an undeniable charm about them, especially Paul and John, but also in the four of them as The Beatles, that I have aways found compelling, and watching this is very much like being one of them for a little while.

They do not obviously play to the cameras but they are certainly aware of them, so we are also seeing a style of performance from them even when not playing their instruments, and John in particular seems eager to entertain. 

So I think this can be enjoyed, in smaller doses, by almost anyone really, even those not particularly interested in Beatles songs. Obviously though for those who can't stand pop music or rock or blues, patience will soon wear. 

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I'm almost finished with part two and as a major Beatles fan I am loving it. I feel like you have to have a deep connection to the songs and have listened to them a lot and know some background in order to fully appreciate the whole thing. I mean my God (spoilers ahead in case for some reason ppl don't want any) when they were unsure of what they were gonna do about the electric piano bits and Billy Preston just happens to be in the neighborhood and drops by and takes over like that was surreal to witness it happen in "real" time because there's no telling what the entire Let It Be album would have been like had he not been there in the right place at the right time. Just to be able to see the brilliance of their songwriting and them interacting and tensions developing just more or less shows them as people and not just as some iconic image of rock and roll, if that makes sense.  All I know is that this modern day Beatlemaniac is very happy with it😊 

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24 minutes ago, SweetSue said:

I'm almost finished with part two and as a major Beatles fan I am loving it. I feel like you have to have a deep connection to the songs and have listened to them a lot and know some background in order to fully appreciate the whole thing. I mean my God (spoilers ahead in case for some reason ppl don't want any) when they were unsure of what they were gonna do about the electric piano bits and Billy Preston just happens to be in the neighborhood and drops by and takes over like that was surreal to witness it happen in "real" time because there's no telling what the entire Let It Be album would have been like had he not been there in the right place at the right time. Just to be able to see the brilliance of their songwriting and them interacting and tensions developing just more or less shows them as people and not just as some iconic image of rock and roll, if that makes sense.  All I know is that this modern day Beatlemaniac is very happy with it😊 

I think Billy's appearance was less chancy than just popping in to say hello. George invited him over, and the band had been talking about getting maybe Nicky Hopkins to help out as an extra pair of hands for the performance, in whatever form that was going to take. But yes, right place and right time. 

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I watched Part Two, which I enjoyed more than I enjoyed Part One.

Still -- and again I am a Beatles fan -- the application of "geniuses" is, as far as I'm concerned, overused and strictly subjective.

Whether "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Octopus's Garden," "Rocky Raccoon," or even superb Paul McCartney songs that I consider timeless and eternal -- specifically,  "Yesterday" and "Michelle" -- are "classics" that will hang with "Beethoven's Fifth" and Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," or, for that matter, "Happy Birthday to You" . . .

Only Time will tell.

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Mozart was a genius. The Beatles were talented. Nothing wrong with topping out there.  We shouldn't expect any pop music to last much beyond the performer's lifetime, and even that is if they are highly successful.

I had a music professor say in class that the music that lasts is the music musicians want to play. That saves Mozart and that bunch. I have a Beatles song book that I enjoy strumming through - they were very inventive with chord changes - so if enough guitar and piano players, and singers, maintain an interest in them over time, their songs will be around, much like Berlin, Porter, Gershwin, and maybe Sondheim, probably Dylan.

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28 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

One question that lingers is, why was Glyn Johns there? AND George Martin? Did big George not want to mess with it? Haven't looked it up yet. Just wondering if that was covered in part 1.

"George Martin – the fifth Beatle
Long-standing Beatles producer, on hand at the sessions to oversee microphone positions, advise on acoustics and organise any recording that might take place." -- Who’s who in ‘The Beatles: Get Back’? A guide to the non-Fabs

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39 minutes ago, Eucalpytus P. Millstone said:

"George Martin – the fifth Beatle
Long-standing Beatles producer, on hand at the sessions to oversee microphone positions, advise on acoustics and organise any recording that might take place." -- Who’s who in ‘The Beatles: Get Back’? A guide to the non-Fabs

Right, but why is Glyn there? Why not just let George produce like he always had? His (Glyn's) wiki page just says he was called in to rescue the troubled let it be sessions. 

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24 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

Right, but why is Glyn there? Why not just let George produce like he always had? His (Glyn's) wiki page just says he was called in to rescue the troubled let it be sessions. 

George Martin did produce Let It Be.

"Lennon chose not to credit [Glyn] Johns for his contribution as a producer. When EMI informed [George] Martin that he would not get a production credit because [Phil] Spector produced the final version, Martin commented: 'I produced the original, and what you should do is have a credit saying 'Produced by George Martin, over-produced by Phil Spector'." -- Wikipedia

Why Glyn Johns Was Called In

"Johns was called upon to rescue the troubled Get Back sessions for The Beatles. Johns compiled several versions of the album, which were all rejected by the band, before the project was eventually turned over to producer Phil Spector ." -- Wikipedia

 "Paul McCartney rang me one evening in December 1968 to ask if I would be interested in working with The Beatles on an idea he had to record a live concert." --  The Beatles’ Let It Be: Glyn Johns Remembers

"We let Glyn John remix it and we didn’t want to know, we just left it to him and said, ‘Here, do it.’ It’s the first time since the first album we didn’t have anything to . . . we just said, ‘Do it.’ Glyn Johns did it, none of us could be bothered going in and Paul… nobody called each other about it. The tapes were left there, and we got an acetate each, and we’d call each other and say, ‘Well, what do you think? Oh, let it out.’ We were going to let it out with a really **** condition, disgusted. And I wanted . . . I didn’t care, I thought it was good to go out to show people what had happened to us. Like this is where we’re at now, we couldn’t get – we can’t get it together and don’t play together anymore. Leave us alone. Glyn Johns did a terrible job on it, ’cause he’s got no idea, etc. Never mind. But he hasn’t, really. And so the bootleg version is what it was like. Paul was probably thinking, ‘Well, I’m not going to **** work on it.’ It was twenty-nine hours of tape, it was like a movie. I mean just so much tape. Ten, twenty takes of everything, because we’re rehearsing and taking everything. Nobody could face looking at it." -- John Lennon, Lennon Remembers

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