So this is Day 2 of me watching and reacting to The Beatles: Get Back. In case you haven’t read part 1, you can read it here. Obviously as with any review, there are spoilers. This review, like the last one is going to be more of a reaction/first impressions typing it out on my iPad as I watched it. This is the longest installment at about 3 hours, about as long as The Godfather, but this one is more something you can watch in the background. Anyway, onto the review/first impressions!
Part 2 opens up with Ringo being the first in the studio and he talks to the film crew about the documentary. He gets some flowers from the Hare Krishnas. After some time, Paul and Linda arrive and they talk about John and Yoko. Paul says it’s hard starting from scratch with Yoko there. I laugh when Paul says the group needs a “central daddy figure”, that just sounds funny.
John arrives at lunchtime and he chats with Paul. Neither were expecting to be recorded, but there was a hidden microphone in a flowerpot, recording their conversation, where they talk about George, who had enough of the band. His song “Wah-Wah” was written during this time when he left the band and you could say it’s a cathartic diss track to John and Paul and even Yoko to an extent. John was too lackadaisical in George’s eyes and Paul too bossy.
The group are sans George for a couple days, and they continue to rehearse “Get Back” and change up the lyrics. A reminder that the best songwriters ever need to edit and change things. A rare occasion when you can see a song in its early stages, something music nerds and super fans would love. But even I can only take so much of hearing a band play the same song over and over again. It’s like me with looking through my own book that I’m working on.
The calendar changes up and there’s a delay in when they’re going to perform. The 13th ends with a shot of Paul’s bass with a handwritten set list taped on it, a clever trick and something fans wouldn’t notice. Gotta admit it looks cooler than a set list taped on the stage, but not as easy for fans to take with them.
While George is gone, they jam on the piano and it’s precious seeing these scenes. We’re so used to these elaborate rock and roll songs and it’s cool to see stripped down, back to basics just piano approaches. Well, Let It Be is a back to basics, live music friendly album. It’s as if the band ventured down an experimental path and realised their true selves is back to basics, like coming full circle or something like that. You also hear Paul play one of his compositions for Peter and Gordon, “Woman”, a favourite of mine.
How legendary is Paul McCartney that he can write songs and give them to musicians because they weren’t ‘good enough’ for The Beatles and they become hits, look at Peter and Gordon and Badfinger. Your fave could never. I hear a story about a dad joke Ringo told about yew trees before sets for The Magic Christian come back in the studio. Famous face Peter Sellers appears in the documentary, chilling with The Beatles. Then things get meta with them talking about the making of a documentary.
John starts speaking the lyrics to “Help” and segues into one of his biggest influences, Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti”. Go getter Paul emphasises the importance of goal setting and organisation and tells John and Ringo they need a schedule with tangible goals, things they can actually achieve each day. Ringo looks tired, and I’d be the same way too if I heard so much chatter.
The band start rehearsing “Mean Mr Mustard”, from the Abbey Road medley (hands down one of the best medleys ever). Then Paul essentially says cut and wants to stop filming. The 14th concludes.
It’s a new day and they meet with George. Plans change and there’s no TV special. Would have been cool to see, but I wouldn’t want a TV special where everyone looks out of it and would rather be somewhere else. A setting change happens and The Beatles go to Apple’s offices on Savile Row before going to a new studio. Paul plays “Oh Darling” in the mostly grey looking studio.
George comes back cigarette in hand and shit hits the fan with equipment snafus. Some days are lost to equipment having to be installed. What’s that line about deadlines being closer than they look? Now I’m thinking of that SpongeBob episode with the essay.
We see two Apple Scruffs who camp outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the Beatles. Let’s just say that I don’t think what they do would be socially acceptable today, you’d be called a stalker if you did that. A very well dressed George goes inside in between shots of the Apple Scruffs (he later wrote a song about them, which would be on All Things Must Pass). The Beatles come in the studio and it’s very white and clinical looking except for the grass green carpet, a contrast to the colourful late 60s fashion the band are donning. The rooftop concert is alluded to in titles. A silly picture of George in the newspaper is show and the band laugh. They then talk about The Rolling Stones Rock n roll circus, which John Lennon appeared with once off supergroup The Dirty Mac. That wouldn’t be released for decades because The Who blew The Stones out of the water, sorry not sorry. Incredible how small of a world British rock and roll is. Just a couple degrees of separation at most between musicians and that’s why I love to see the connections.
The Beatles being innovators, we see a unique two sided guitar/bass prototype. Sounds like it’ll make your hand full of blisters! Once again they play some covers and we see George holding a Smokey Robinson vinyl, good choice! Many closeups and the video quality is so good we can see spots on George’s face! Rock stars are really just like us!
Paul reads an article about the band’s personal lives, telling the story of The Beatles at this stage, and I can only imagine how awful privacy was back then if you’re the biggest musicians in the world then, has to be even worse now! Meanwhile, John’s singing. I even learnt that George got in trouble in Paris for hitting a photographer. I couldn’t see George doing that, very surprising, but it must have been an annoying photographer. Aren’t paparazzi the worst? Let celebrities breathe!
John’s usual dirty sense of humour comes back and he sings “you’re going to shag that girl”. I always love seeing musicians I love being silly in the studio, like when Freddie Mercury sang “One dump, one turd, two tits, John Deacon” in place of the usual lyrics for “One Vision”. If only we could see John Deacon’s reaction to that. And there’s more dirty John Lennon jokes where that came from, don’t worry, like him singing “everybody had a wet dream” and making jokes about MLK. I have a feeling if John Lennon were alive, he’d be really into meme culture.
The band continue to work on rooftop concert highlight Don’t Let Me Down. In more legends supporting legends, we see John praising Fleetwood Mac, of course the OG Peter Green blues rock lineup. John also says to give up playing like Canned Heat (who’d play Woodstock later that year) because they’re The Beatles, made me chuckle. Even funnier is when John says that with a few of the songs being kind of linked, he said they were like lovers and they needed to camp it up. The McLennon shippers are happy!
In this episode, we see a big highlight, Billy Preston joining The Beatles in the studio. Pretty cool to see this very young musical genius with The Beatles and this documentary helps you understand why he’s often called the Fifth Beatle. It’s not every day The Beatles bring in other musicians to play on their songs, so this is truly special, like when Sandy Denny sang on Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore”. The Beatles themselves even refer to him as the Fifth Beatle.
Yoko sings in the studio and honestly, this is too much for me. I’m all for listening to all kinds of stuff, but this is too experimental for me. No doubt this inspired noise rock and avant-garde stuff though. Don’t worry that’s not too long. We get a nice treat with Paul covering Eddie Cochran’s “20 Flight Rock”. So important to appreciate the rock and roll of the 50s since it inspired the 60s. Rock and roll builds on each other.
In the studio, we see an anvil while Paul sings “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, reminds me of the roadrunner and wile e Coyote. George also is seen playing slide guitar. He was an incredible musician and knew how to play so many instruments. He could learn quickly and that’s a talent!
It was also cool to hear a song John and Paul wrote in their teens called “Fancy My Chances With You”. And finally, we see Pattie Boyd walk in and give George a kiss. This also wouldn’t be a Beatles documentary without a mention of The Beatles in India and that whole psychedelic raga rock trend of the mid-late 60s. Incredible to see how many famous faces besides The Beatles were there like Donovan and Mike Love (everyone’s least favourite Beach Boy, no tea no shade). Cool to see Paul reminisce about that trip with John.
And now we set the stage for the Rooftop Concert, a venue chosen impromptu because The Beatles wanted to play live somewhere and as soon as possible. T-minus 4 days… in their time. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the finale!
Overall, my impression thus far is that this is really long and drags on and is really for a Beatles completionist super fan with a lot of time. It’s nice seeing the songs develop and evolve, but when you hear all the stages it becomes a bit same-y. For everyone else, wait for people to post clips and highlights. Can’t say I’d watch this again since I think it’s like very long DVD extras content wise, but still a good watch with beautiful restoration.
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