The Beatles

Rock on ROM

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There are some items of interest to very serious Beatlemaniacs on this CD-ROM, but these are of such marginalia, and so marginally packaged, that they stop just short of being a ripoff. Certainly it constitutes nothing like even a basic overview of the band, or an aspect of the band. For the most part, it features brief talking-head video interviews with a few figures who had a small part to play in their early years: Victor Spinetti (who had supporting acting roles in A Hard Day's Night and Help!), Tony Sheridan, Roy Young (who played with the Beatles briefly in Hamburg), and Howie Casey (who was in fellow early-'60s Liverpool band Derry & the Seniors). These interviews are reasonably interesting and have a few details and stories that will be unfamiliar to all but the most devoted Beatles experts. But they're brief, all four together lasting only about 18 minutes, giving you the impression they're getting cut off just when they're about to give you some more really good stuff. The 14-minute "video documentary" titled "Beatlemania" is a bit of a joke, as a more or less random and unstructured assemblage of silent and sound clips of both the Beatles and their fans in the group's early days of stardom. There's an audio-only file of their zany 13-minute interview with Kenny Everett on Radio Caroline in June 1968, and while it's fairly chaotic and the scraps of music John Lennon plays are totally off-the-cuff, trivial humorous buskings, at least the sound quality's good. It's hard to see anyone but the most ignorant of readers getting much use out of the 24-page PDF-format article "Hamburg Days," which is a rundown of the basic facts (with a few mistakes) of their pre-1963 career, written in a smarmy tone by a guy who confesses right away that he's not a Beatles expert. That article does at least have a few early-'60s photos, and a (not terribly revealing) printed Q&A interview with Tony Sheridan. In all, even collectors should pay no more than five dollars for this -- and in any case it contains material that would be far more user-friendly for viewing in the DVD format, rather than the outdated CD-ROM one here, which requires that everything be seen, heard, and read on a computer screen.

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