Welcome to the Music of The Beatles. We start now, with our first week, talking about the first two albums that The Beatles, Please Please Me and With the Beatles, and the singles that go with this time period. As we'll talk about in a minute, a lot of times the singles are not included on the actual albums, something that can confuse people as they're looking for Beatles music, at least on CD. I want to to start the course by providing this introduction that kind of organizes some of the things that we will continue to some of the ways in which we'll continue to sort of pursue this throughout the six weeks of the course. I want to start by organizing this biography a little bit. and, and, just present you with a list of names of people, figures, in the history of The Beatles that it will would be good for you to know. Of course the first four names are, are the names of the Beatles as we know them: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, a.k.a, Richard Starkey. I think what's important to note about The Beatles is the date of birth. John Lennon born in 1940, Ringo also born in 1940, Paul McCartney in 1942 and George Harrison in 1943. I think by noting their date of birth and thinking about what was going on in the UK musically and culturally at the time they were teenagers or young musicians. They're beginning to sort of learn music and be exposed to these kinds of things. It tells us an awful lot about the kinds of influences that might be in their music and as we look later into some of their original music and some of the other kinds of things we are doing, we're going to wonder where did they think about, where did they get the idea to do this. Where did they get the idea to do something else? And so we'll come back to that a lot. And always knowing the, the time which one of these musical figures was born is a very help thing. And so I ask you to keep that in mind. The other thing, I suppose, to keep in mind, and it's always worth reminding ourselves of, is that, you know, when the Beatles started to hit In 1963 in the UK, in 1964 in the US, John Lennon was only 23 years old. Paul McCartney was only 21. George Harrison was only 20 years old. It's good for us to remember how really young these guys were when this first, when this first blush of success hit them. So other important names that we need to keep in mind, especially early in the story, are Pete Best, who was the original drummer in the group before Ringo joined. Ringo actually joined just before the first the first recordings were released. And Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe was the original bass player in the group, although by all accounts he didn't play bass very well and sometimes that was such a problem that they didn't even, they sort have made him turn around, so that he wasn't facing the audience, so the other musicians couldn't tell he was playing notes on the wrong place. They'd already sort of turned the bass down. Anyway, Stuart Sutcliffe was, was one of John's art school friends and was in many ways, sort of before Paul McCartney, his kind of partner in crime when it came to this group. We'll talk in a, a, a, in a, one of these videos to come this week, about the Beatles trip to Hamburg. And in the Beatles trip to Hamburg when they they went there to play Stuart Sutcliffe began a relationship with Astrid Kircherr and and they ended up getting married. And so Astrid is a very interesting person in the sense that Astrid was a photographer who really, in many ways has a lot of responsibility for the early Beatles look and that, that early With the Beatles, Meet the Beatles album cover where they're, they're, they've got the Beatle haircuts and they're sort of half, half in light, half in shade. All that comes from the pictures that Astrid took. So that whole Hamburg scene Astrid Kirchherr Clause Foreman, others who were part of that Hamburg millieu of art students that were hanging out with the Beatles. That's all very, very important on their early development. Two people that we really are going to keep an eye on as we go through the entire history are George Martin, the Beatles producer, and we'll talk a bit about George Martin a little bit later in one of the videos this week. George Martin is there from the very beginning. And with the exception of one album is there to the very end and plays a crucial role in helping the Beatles shape their sound. George Martin is many years older than the Beatles, so he's more like a kind of a a senior figure, sort of a school master or the teacher, the adult in the room when these young Beatles are working their craft. And then their manager, their first manager anyway, Brian Epstein. Brian Epstein also plays an incredibly important role in bringing the Beatles music to the public and in helping them refine their image and, and, and break through in the UK and in the US. So we're going to want to keep an idea on the, keep an eye on George Martin, the producer, and Brian Epstein, the manager. A couple other names that will come up in the course of our discussion. Allen Klein, who was the manager that took over at the end of the 60s, sort the end of the Beatles run, after Brian Epstein passed away. And some controversy around Allen Klein And Paul McCartney not wanting him to be the manager, and leading to the breakup of the group and all that. But Allen Klein, if we're talking about Brian Epstein as manager, we should probably also mention Allen Klein. And two other people who are in the story from the very beginning, but very much behind the scenes: Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall. Mal Evans was kind of the both of them were kind of roadies for the group, you know, helping him you know, load their gear. I mean, imagine, back in 1963 when they were touring around the UK. There was just the four Beatles and Mal and Neil, you know. They would go to a gig, and they'd basically carry on their own stuff in, not unlike a lot of bands that play clubs you know, locally and regionally. Anyway, Mal and Neil. Neil went on, to, to run, Apple Records for them and became kind of a business important sort of man on the business side of things after Allen Klein and and, and Brian Epstein were out of the picture. And one last name, Dick James, this is the guy who was responsible for the early publishing deal that John and Paul struck for their for their music at the very beginning of their career. In addition to important names, there are import, couple of important places and companies we're going to need to keep straight. If you'd haven't looked in a map and sort of oriented yourself with regard to the way England is set out we need to keep, we need to keep a clear idea of, of where Liverpool is and what the Liverpool scene is, as opposed to where London is and what the London scene is. Of course in the UK, London is the capital of the country. Is is where the music business was focused and was, was really, thought of itself as being extremely sophisticated and cosmopolitan, and these kinds of things. And Liverpool was kind of seen as kind of kind of a northern outpost. Not particularly glamorous, a, a port city relatively prosperous, but not seen as very culturally advanced. And so there are issues about the Beatles coming from Liverpool and making it in London that we'll address a little bit later in the course. I've already mentioned Hamburg. The important city in Germany where the Beatles went and really learned their craft in as we'll discuss a little bit later, sort of mercilessly long hours and, and in the clubs playing tune after tune after tune. But it's a, it's an important city, Hamburg. The companies that we need to keep an eye on are Parlophone, the actual label that George Martin worked for, which almost all of The Beatles music in the UK was, well, all The Beatles music in the U.K. was released. And the parent company to Parlophone, EMI. So EMI was the big company that wasn't just a record company. EMI made audio gear and did a lot of different kinds of things. Parlophone was one of the record labels, and we'll talk a little bit more about that later but keeping an eye on the labels and the business end of things, the business part of what was going on with the Beatles and the record labels they worked with. Capitol Records in the United States was the, the label on which most of the Beatles stuff was released in the US with the exception for two independent labels Vee Jay and Swan at the very early end of things 1963, into early 1964. We'll come to that, but keeping an eye on those places and those companies. Now, let's take a minute to talk about organizing the music. How are we going to do that? And what, what are the ways that we're going to do to think about this? The first thing we need to keep straight is that there's a difference between the British and the American releases of Beatle's music. So for those of us who grew up in the United States, for example, there were a handful of albums that were never ever actually albums in the UK release. The Beatles records were typically at the beginning, have about 14 tracks on them. When they would send the, when Parlophone would send those records over, and, and oftentimes, they wouldn't have singles, so there'd be additional tracks that, in addition to 14, there might be a single on a B side, you know, that capital in the U.S. in Los Angeles, we'd get a hold of. Well, they thought, well, look, we only ever release 12 songs at the most on an album and you know, we gotta have the singles on the album. And so capital would slice some tunes off and and release an album that was a pretty close parallel to the British release, but wouldn't have all the songs on it. And then when they gathered up enough songs to create a new album, that The Beatles had never released, they would just put them altogether into a hodge podge and miscellany and just sort of release them that way. And so, people are sometimes, who grew up with these records, are sometimes confused why I'm not talking about albums that they bought back in the day. Well, the fact is, we're going to organize this according to the UK release. That's the way the CDs were released when they were redone in the 80's according to the UK release and one of the things you'll find is that there are 11 EMI albums, plus one EP, and then there's the Yellow Submarine record the singles do not appear, in a lot of cases, on the EMI records. So you'll notice that the CD's as they were released had past masters volume one and past masters volume two. Those are where a lot of the songs are that are some of the most famous ones. She Loves You, I want to Hold Your Hand for example don't appear on any of the regular albums. They were only released as singles. So as you go through, we'll organize this by album releases. But they're also singles that go with this. So you're going to have to keep masters available, so that you can plug the singles in where you need to kind of keep up with the chronology. Some other recordings that I think are worthwhile having are the Live at the BBC recordings. There are now two collections of Live at the BBC, which give us a sense of how the Beatles sounded live in the early days. The, the three Beatles Anthology CDs are fantastic and there are tons of bootlegs now, sort of on YouTube of, of variant versions of things. All of those help kind of flesh out the picture. One last thing we should talk about is, when we talk about organizing the music has to do with the ways in which the music was made, composed, the elements of creation here. One of the things that we're going to do thoughout the 6 weeks, is we're going to keep track of which songs were John songs, which songs were Paul songs, which songs were George songs. We always think of these songs as music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but there aren't really a lot of songs, really after the early days, there aren't really a lot of songs that John and Paul really truly wrote 50-50 together. A lot of times, it was John who would have a song and there'd be a section missing and Paul would help him with that or a lyric or something like that and vice versa with those two working together and George working all by himself. So it won't be long, once we get to this course when we'll really start to be following three paths through The Beatles music: the John path, the Paul path, and the George path. And we'll try to find parallels in the way that each of them developed as songwriters, and contrasts as well. We also want to watch the use of the recording studio. Early on The Beatles are basically sort of taking audio snapshots of their sound. Their first album was recorded in one day. Basically, put some mikes up and, and record the group the way they sound. As they continue to develop, they continue to use the recording studio in increasingly interesting and experimental kinds of ways. We're going to want to keep an idea on how that develops over the course of the albums. We also want to keep an eye on instrumentation. Early on it's two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. Then other instruments start slowly, sort of, working their way into the texture. You want to keep an eye on the lyrics. The seriousness of the lyrics going from, sort of very innocent, naive, teen love kind of lyrics, to things that are increasingly more philosophical and sophisticated, even sort of drawing on elements of avant garde art and that kind of thing. And we also want to keep an eye on the Beatles musical ambition. That is, the idea that they're always trying to push the envelope, do something new, do something that they haven't done before. At first, one, one of the stories is that, that the story we're going to tell this week is how the Beatles excelled as being fantastic pop craftsmen. They learned the pop craft, the craft of arranging and writing a good pop song. But next week we're already going to start looking at how, not being totally satisfied with that accomplishment, they're already sort of pushing at the edges of that to do things that are increasingly ambitious. Of course, by the time we get to albums like Sgt Pepper or Abbey Road they're doing all kinds of really almost sort of art music kinds of things with their music. So we're going to watch that progression as we go. Well, with that introduction, let's dig in to the Beatles and think about what was happening before Beatle Mania, the UK pop scene pre-1963.