The Beatles

The Beatles Tapes [Interview]

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This two-CD set of interviews might have a worse reputation than it deserves, for when it was first released in 1976, some fans assumed from the title that it might contain some Beatles music, perhaps previously unreleased. There isn't any Beatles music here, however; it's a collection of interviews done by British journalist David Wigg with each of the four Beatles, individually, in the late '60s and early '70s. (It does say "The Beatles Tapes from the David Wigg Interviews" on the cover, though the "David Wigg Interviews" part is in small print.) The only music is heard in brief instrumental versions of Beatles and John Lennon songs (with none of the Beatles participating) linking the interview segments. Judged as an interview record, however, it's not bad, and perhaps the best of the Beatles interview discs. Wigg's questions are intelligent and not geared toward showbizzy exploitation of Beatlemania, and one imagines that each of the foursome appreciated this, after the histrionic inanity of so many interviews they had to endure in earlier years. Each Beatle gives considered opinions on a variety of subjects, from the future of the group to politics, celebrity, religion, and the band's business and personal problems. If there's one shortcoming, it's that one wishes Wigg had focused a little more on the music, though he doesn't ignore that angle. There are some good sections here, however, whether it's John talking about his peace activism; Paul McCartney discussing Abbey Road, citing the songs "Come Together" and "Because" as a couple of his favorites; and George Harrison discussing, in depth, his songwriting growth and how he wrote "Here Comes the Sun." Like most interview discs, it's not the kind of thing you can play over and over, like you can all Beatles records. But these conversations have historic value, as you hear the Beatles talking about themselves while the events they're discussing are recent or ongoing -- even shortly before their breakup, they're still answering questions as if the group's a vibrant project -- rather than back in the musty past. Too, each one comes off as a likable individual, often relaying their opinions in a light humorous tone that makes their observations more engaging than reading them on the printed page.

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