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The Beatles Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years Review
The Beatles Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years Review
By Matthew Robinson

Today, I went to see the new Ron Howard directed documentary on The Beatles called Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years. I had heard about this documentary ever since they first announced it was in the works. I’ve been a Beatles fan since I was probably about 14 or 15 and I well remember when I received the Beatles “1” album when it first came out which was a greatest hits album comprised of all their US number one songs. I also remember when I got The Beatles Anthology documentary series on DVD for my birthday one year. Why am I telling you all this? The reason is I want you to understand that I am a fan of the band but not just a fan, a very huge fan. Now The Beatles don’t belong to me they belong to the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look upon them as my own special band. All of their songs have gotten me through some hard times emotionally and for my money Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the greatest, if not the greatest rock albums of all time.

One of the first Beatles documentaries that gained notoriety was called The Compleat Beatles and it was released in the 80s. The narrator for that documentary was famed British actor Malcolm MacDowell. I only saw that documentary once and while it did a good job in telling the story of the Beatles, it lacked that official endorsement from the lads themselves. The Beatles had actually made plans for a documentary series in the 80s which would’ve been called The Long And Winding Road but for some reason the plans were scrapped. Another idea for a Beatles documentary series came about in the 90s which became The Beatles Anthology, that documentary today is still considered to be the definitive portrait on the band. With The Beatles Anthology you have interviews both new and old from all four members and several pieces of live footage and promotional videos which are practically all uninterrupted. Once you watch The Beatles Anthology you will say to yourself what else is there to be said? Well, that was the question I asked myself when news about this new documentary came out.

In several interviews Ron Howard assured all the fans that no matter how much you thought you knew there was a good chance you would still come out learning some things you never knew about the band. For me that’s true since I did learn about a few things in regards to their touring that I never knew. One of the biggest revelations was learning that they refused to play to a segregated audience at a concert in Tampa, Florida. An African-American woman who later went on to become a professor said in the film that she went to the show (which they eventually did) and she was shocked to find blacks and whites sitting together for the first time. Of course the big draw for this documentary is newly recorded interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and they still have a lot to say. Also George Harrison speaks pulling from his interviews recorded for The Beatles Anthology series and John is featured several times through vintage interviews on talk shows and also with the Beatles. If you have watched The Beatles Anthology series you will see several of the same clips such as the press interview they gave fresh off the plane into America but the difference is some of these clips have now been colorized and the color looks alright. Aside from The Beatles you also hear from other famous faces like Whoopi Goldberg, Elvis Costello, Eddie Izzard, and people who were close to the Beatles like Larry Kane, a radio disc jockey who was invited to join The Beatles on their 1964 American tour. Some of these people add interesting insights like Whoopi Goldberg and others (Elvis Costello) don’t add anything very interesting.

In the film you’ll see a lot of live footage, most of it has been shown before but there are a few new poorly filmed clips from people in the audience sent in by real fans that add to the live experience. This film also discusses the ups and downs of their career such as incidents like John’s misquote about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus and the band’s eventual displeasure with touring altogether. It makes you understand the power they had over America at the time and how fickle people were, one minute they loved them, but the next minute they were ready to burn all their Beatle records. As you get to the end of the film it’s not hard to understand why they were so eager to stop touring and focus on their music. The film ends giving a quick run through of every hit album they made after 1966 when they finished touring completely and then showing two songs from their final live performance on the Apple rooftops in 1969.

At the heart of it the question is, did this film really need to be made? My answer is probably not, but I’m so glad that it was. For me it’s always nice to see The Beatles back in the news again and hearing people talking about them and having parents who can now introduce their young ones to The Fab Four is great. The big draw for me for seeing the film in theaters (as it’s already available to stream online now on Hulu) is the promised 30 minutes of footage which follows the end of the film from The Beatles Shea Stadium concert. As soon as the credits finished a bit of text appeared on the screen informing people of just how large that particular concert was, and right after that we were watching The Beatles on stage amongst thousands of screaming girls performing several songs. One of the highlights for me was seeing Paul McCartney singing a song called I’m Down as it features John on the keyboard doing what I feel is one of his best Jerry Lee Lewis/Little Richard style performances on the keys.

In recent years the son of George Martin, Giles Martin took over his father’s position in remixing and remastering all Beatles music for new albums and documentaries and the newly remastered Shea Stadium footage also boasts new sound which allows you to finally hear the boys performance very well over the screams of the crowd. It really was the first time I had gotten to see the almost complete performance (minus a couple of songs) from Shea Stadium uninterrupted since the last time anybody saw full clips were in the Beatles anthology documentary. Nothing really compares to sitting in a dark theater and hearing the screams of several thousands of girls come to life over the speakers and feeling like you’re really there and being fully immersed in The Beatles performance.

In closing, I will say that while you can go online and stream this movie right now (as online streaming through computers have taken over the old ways like actually going out to a cinema) but if you do you’ll miss out on the Shea Stadium footage as that’s only for the theater showings, and you’ll also miss out on the feeling you get when you sit there in the theater and just get totally immersed in the whole experience. I really enjoyed this film and even as a moderate fan who doesn’t feel he needs to own everything Beatle related, I may still purchase this when it comes to DVD. So as an ending I will say quoting from John Lennon on their last performance from the Apple rooftops “Thank you and I hope we passed the audition.” (They certainly did)
Thank you for a super review. A most enjoyable read.
(20-09-2016, 05:39 PM)frogman Wrote: Thank you for a super review.  A most enjoyable read.

You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.
(20-09-2016, 05:39 PM)frogman Wrote: Thank you for a super review.  A most enjoyable read.

Agree very strongly. This is a wonderful review that adds an extra dimension to our forum. Many thanks, Beatlenik. Keep the reviews coming!

Reviews of all kinds of subjects are most welcome from members here.
Very interesting

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