Written by By N & S, for CNN London Written by
Now that “On Air” is over, Paul McCartney’s engaging new feature-length “Behind the Music” documentary draws a step back into the studio, where the future Beatles seemed to be taking a break from the touring life.
In this respect, “Get Back” was the obvious choice for the Fab Four’s biographer to pitch. Not only did it take place during the band’s early recording sessions, but at the same time (reluctantly at first), McCartney put out the sonic equivalent of a duet album: his first solo effort, “Rubber Soul.”
Also, “Get Back” was a chronicle of an odd and interesting young band whose members probably wouldn’t have lasted long on their own.
Indeed, around the same time as being in the studio, the Beatles were playing their first Rolling Stones show, of all things, and as their music began to really gain traction with their record label, it soon became clear that they were able to go the distance. They could both write the hits and pull off live shows without getting lost in the quicksand of mass appeal.
Getting back, McCartney on why The Beatles were a poor band
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” documents much of the same story from the perspective of McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison, taking in the rise of the band, the disintegration of the relationship with their mutual manager Brian Epstein and the battles between McCartney and Lennon over songwriting.
Also on hand are Michael Knox, former Elvis Presley producer, Peter Asher, Ringo’s manager, and George Martin (often heard before as producer of the numerous Beatles EPs and albums), who actually brought them together by accident when he was asked to play a few compositions for Lennon, but hadn’t bothered to look up their work.
Like all the recent biopics that have presented a new perspective of the pop legends, this film gives a facelift to the actual picture, making it more engaging and essential (in my opinion) than the slightly historical and antique looking documents that exist of their immediate history. But as hard as the film tries, it fails to fully connect the dots and offer a convincing picture.
Paul McCartney visits Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, to mark the 25th anniversary of his death. He’ll perform tonight in London. Aspiring Beatles fans can get tickets to his international solo residency through Ticketmaster.
Aside from the obvious emotional connection that this film makes to McCartney and his collaborators, it is oddly silent about the true nature of the Beatles and their music. The filmmakers are unable to trace the influence that Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison had on subsequent British bands like Blur, Oasis, Supergrass and Pulp, nor does the film explore the intersection between British pop music and the counterculture that was sweeping the country during this period.
If we must see McCartney move on, we can only hope that a new film can sort out this mystery as well.