Perhaps no band has had a greater impact upon the history of recorded music than the Beatles. The studio wizard George Martin claims that he liked the energy the young four musicians had when he began recording them in 1962 but he never imagined that they had musical ability or the creativity to sustain a long career. His opinion, needless to say, shifted radically over the course of their working relationship. Together, the Beatles and George Martin would produce one of the greatest collections of studio recordings of popular music.
The Beatles on Record, a new documentary on the History Channel, tracks the Fab Four through their recordings. The film is a marvel of editing. It includes filmed footage, enlivens still photographs by giving them a virtual three-dimensional feel, and uses only the voices of the Beatles themselves along with their producer and studio collaborator George Martin as narrators. Obviously the producers of this documentary lavished considerable attention to culling from the various recorded interviews with John, Paul, Ringo, George, and George to find pertinent commentary on each of the record releases. Bob Smeaton, the man behind the Beatles Anthology series, is at the helm here and his attention to detail and his stylish use of archival material creates a truly admirable piece of work.
Those who know something about the recording history of the group may not learn a lot of new information here but the presentation makes for enjoyable viewing nonetheless. Besides, who could ask for better music?