When The Beatles released their three Anthology collections across 1995-96, the world gained an unprecedented glimpse into the behind-the-scenes workings of the most groundbreaking recording sessions of all time. With rare demos and live performances, the Anthology trio revealed just how remarkable The Beatles’ work rate was in their brief time together, while also capturing the spirit of adventure that John, Paul, George, Ringo – and the late Sir George Martin – conjured in Abbey Road’s hallowed Studio 2.
Following the hugely successful streaming launch of The Beatles’ catalogue in December 2015 (The Beatles’ music has generated half a billion streams in just three months), the three Anthology albums will be available to stream worldwide on Monday 4 April, from 12.01am local time.
Taking in The Beatles’ early days, from Quarrymen acetate recordings made in 1958, to a high-profile 1963 appearance at the Royal Variety Performance, and up to and including outtakes from the Beatles For Sale sessions, Anthology 1 provides vital insight into the way The Beatles developed as songwriters, turning out increasingly confident material in the shape of ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Eight Days A Week’.
Anthology 2 picks the story up in 1965, as The Beatles embarked on an astonishing run of albums that included Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. With early takes of ‘Norwegian Wood’ and a sequence of demos and alternate takes of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, the collection recreates the electric atmosphere of those recording sessions, while also revealing just how musically daring the group were during that period.
Having pushed musical experimentalism to its limits, The Beatles spearheaded a “back to the roots” movement in the late 60s, with stripped-down albums The Beatles (aka “The White Album”), Let It Be and Abbey Road, and Anthology 3 drops in on the more informal recording sessions that resulted in these late-period Beatles classics. With hints of what would come from The Beatles’ subsequent solo careers (an early demo of George Harrison’s ‘All Things Must Pass’ is among the riches), Anthology 3 rounds off their endlessly fascinating story.
Taken together, the three collections are invaluable for Beatles fans, filling out the backstory behind the great album run in the history of recorded music. They also include ‘Free As A Bird’ (on Anthology 1) and ‘Real Love’ (on Anthology 2), two single releases built upon original John Lennon demos which were completed in 1995 by George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, with production from Jeff Lynne.