Various Artists

The Beatles: Day by Day -- The Originals

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During the 1969 studio sessions for the album that would eventually be called Let It Be, the Beatles, perhaps desperate to find out who they really were as a band again after years of unbelievable creative and commercial success, jammed and played snippets of an astounding array of songs from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s that had been a part of their musical DNA when they were still a raucous young band playing the clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg. It was in many ways the same thing that Bob Dylan and the Band had done in Woodstock with the material that was eventually honed, sweetened, and released as The Basement Tapes -- reaching back to roots and influences in order to find a way forward again. This intiguing four-disc set collects the original versions of some of the songs the Beatles attempted during the Let It Be sessions, and the list is remarkably diverse, ranging from Little Richard’s piano stomper “Kansas City” through the skiffle of Lonnie Donegan’s “Rock Island Line”; jazz classics like Louis Armstrong’s “St. Louis Blues” and Duke Ellington’s “Tiger Rag”; the opening salvo of rock & roll, Big Joe Turner’s “Shake Rattle & Roll”; and songs like “Milk Train Blues” by rock & roll’s impending future, Elvis Presley. The Beatles' personal playlist is here, and what they did with it is, as they say, the stuff of history. But even without the Beatles association, this would still be an impressive collection. It essentially outlines the roots of the pop music that would end up dominating (in one way or another) the airwaves during the latter half of the 20th century.

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