Fab Four are re-masters of the universe

YOU could perhaps be forgiven for thinking that Beatlemania has never gone away. Here, there and everywhere you look the Fab Four's faces in various stages of hirsuitness stare out of the pages of music press and Sunday supplements, while the BBC has taken to running a Beatles season on both telly and radio.

It would appear that although the nation's love affair with John, Paul, Ringo and George has never quite faded, we are seemingly set on renewing our vows to them.

While their influence is ingrained in the DNA of post-Sixties music, the last time there was such a large-scale resurgence of public interest in the band was during the mid-1990s, with the release of two "new" singles, Real Love and Free as a Bird; a documentary charting their career; and the Anthology series of unheard material.

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But the public seemingly has an insatiable hunger for all things Beatle and on Wednesday, when the band-as-brand made sure that the 21st century would not be Fab-free, we got a fresh opportunity to indulge our obsession.

First was the re-release of the original individual albums in remastered stereo form. This is something that fans have been demanding since they were first released on CD format during the mid-Eighties to complaints that they sounded weedy and under-powered. Critics report that the remastering has addressed this problem, showering the new releases with plaudits and claims that listening to these now is like hearing them anew.

But while the stereo recordings will appeal to the wider public, it is the accompanying box set of original mono recordings that has set hard-core fans chattering. Strange as it may seem, for the Fab Four, stereo, still in its infancy, was seen as a fad. They were only really interested in the mono-mixes, happy to let George Martin look after the others.

Having never been properly released on CD, even now, these mono versions are available only as a limited-edition collection with a price-tag of 199, causing grumbles among the faithful.

But it is the third prong of this Beatle invasion that will see the band's longevity endure: the release of a Beatles version of the computer game Rock Band. Massively popular, it allows fans – and more importantly, their children – to play along with the lads on special instruments. The whole project has had the blessing of Paul and Ringo, while Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison are on record as claiming that both John and George would have loved it. And so, to celebrate this love affair with the group we have asked some of Scotland's best musicians about their favourite Beatles moments.


"I was fortunate enough to work with Sir George Martin on the Ultravox quartet album, and of course having access to somebody like George for months on end is fantastic, as you get to listen to all these stories that you would never have got to hear. He told us that John Lennon wanted to be suspended upside down.

"Do you know what a Lesley speaker cabinet is? It is a spinning speaker that spins inside a box and you have Hammond organs with it, and it makes a funny, choruses noise that speeds up and slows down.

"Well John Lennon once wanted to emulate that sound by being hung by his ankles from the roof of the studio and have a mike on either side of his head and he was going to sing the song while being spun round in circles. That is what the creativity was all about. They were willing to try absolutely anything in order to make music and have it deviate from the norm.

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"You can't choose a favourite song. That is like picking a favourite kid. In My Life from Lennon is a phenomenal song, and from McCartney it would have to be Here, There and Everywhere. It is just such a beautifully constructed song. A really simplistic idea and they execute it in a really incredible way.

"I have just had a text from a friend of mine. He overheard some kids in a shop listening to the Beatles remastered and they said: "sounds like an Oasis rip-off".

PAT KANE of Hue and Cry

"The first time that I ever heard Lady Madonna, I thought, "I want to make songs like that". It still has the best piano-sound, and bass-and-drums sound, I've heard on any record. I was always on the McCartney side of things, and on this song, his phrasing and sense of melody is just genius. I don't really look to Beatles lyrics for profundity, I think John Lennon wrote much better words after they broke up. But all things considered, to me it's a pop masterpiece – and also, incidentally the sound of a band and producer with a perfect mutual understanding."


"The Beatles changed our lives. They mean so much to our generation. They brought about a social revolution and swept away all that Doris Day image and the old establishment. They were there through Vietnam and all the turmoil of those years. They were also revolutionary in the way they took control of their music and changed the record industry, but in the end it all comes down to the songs. They also wrote such great melodies, and that is why they were so popular. People could whistle their songs."


"Before external hard drives were required for file storage, there existed a world of live stage recording, mono play back, analogue tape distortion, show-time arrangements and shared musical vision. The Beatles were kings of this world and with George Martin's cool guidance they leave a catalogue of recordings which are now like original blueprints for any songwriter or sound engineer. As a writer, their sound and their personalities are a never-ending source of enchantment. My favourite song is Happiness is a Warm Gun from The White Album. Four completely unrelated sections of music, brutally tied together to create one magnificent song about Yoko Ono. Hilarious."

ROD JONES of Idlewild

"Something is, in my opinion, George Harrison's finest song. Aside from the unsurprisingly clever and contorted musical arrangement, there is something wonderfully simple and honest about the lyrics that I miss in many other Beatles songs of that era.

"It seems to sum up the complexities of our relationships in such direct and uncomplicated way: the certainty we feel about a new love without really knowing why, and yet the uncertainty we have as to whether it will last. Add to this a seriously smooth guitar solo by George and you have a truly touching masterpiece."


"My favourite song is the one that I sing at the karaoke, Twist and Shout even though I can't sing a note. I've also always been fascinated by the final gig on top of the Apple building. I was down in London recently, working for Metal Hammer, and the photographer I was with pointed to the building and said: 'that was the old Apple building and there was where I was standing watching the gig'. I wasn't there myself. Wish I had been."

LEO CONDIE, The Low Miffs

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"I love absolutely everything about the Beatles. When I was growing up I listened to the Beatles exclusively for the first ten years and then I rediscovered them a few years ago. I love their music. They play these songs so well and you can hear in the tracks that they've created them through years of playing old songs in their early days. Yet they seem so clean and fresh. The music is also so clever.

"On It Won't Be Long the verse it goes from an E Major to an C Major which is a strange chord change. It shouldn't work, but they do it so brilliantly. They can meld a simple melody over their chord changes. My favourite Beatle? John Lennon."


"Although written predominantly by John Lennon, Happiness is a Warm Gun was Paul McCartney's favourite song on The White Album. I love the lack of formal structure within the song, the musical freedom and lack of a fixed time signature, but somehow it sounds like the same song from start to finish. Lyrically the song contradicts and jars with the public image of pacifist John finding happiness in a recently fired gun and the casting of a mother superior as the lyrical sandwich filling between needing a fix and firing the gun is beautifully dark."


"Something I've always appreciated in the Beatles' style of songwriting is John Lennon's amazing ability to deliver melancholic, sometimes even harsh lyrics over upbeat, seemingly cheerful music. A good demonstration of this is Help!. Up to this point, the Beatles had mainly been writing the classic 'I love you and you love me' pop song. However, with Help!, Lennon is fully admitting that the pressures of his success are beginning to wear him down and he's no longer afraid to let the listener know.

"The jangly acoustic throughout the track, twinned with McCartney's trademark 'bouncing' bassline adds to the quirkiness of the whole thing and gives Lennon the perfect backing track for his confession. The fact that it is 45 years old and is still continuing to influence people is a testament to how good it is."


"I think my favourite song is probably Ticket To Ride. I absolutely love it. It always reminds of being on holiday when I was younger. It was one of the first Beatles songs I got a hold of, so that's probably part of the reason it never loses its charm for me.

"It's such an amazing melody line. I remember being completely unable to shake it for weeks after. I couldn't get it out of my head. It's a perfect pop song. "She Loves You is also a favourite. It's so instant. Bang! Within about ten seconds you're completely hooked. It's such a brilliant pop song. It just goes around and around in your head. I also think it's fantastic because of the way it starts on the minor chords and sneaks into a very cheery little verse.

"It really drives home the chorus and it always makes me feel brilliant whenever I hear it. It always takes me straight back to when I was younger and just discovering their music."

BILLY RANKIN, former guitarist with Nazareth

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"I was raised on the Beatles. My first recollection was the Revolver album. My brother bought it and I heard it every day. I remember the songs so well: Tax Man, Eleanor Rigby.

"It was the forerunner to Sgt Pepper. They were using a lot of effects and I still think Revolver is a better album than Sgt Pepper.


The song In My Life is sheer beauty from start to finish. Harrison's melancholic lead guitar and McCartney's bass chiming together in perfect harmony. Ringo's simple but effective percussive touch.

"George Martin's double-speed piano solo – recorded when the boys were out to lunch – adding something of the bizarre. And then Lennon's vocal: mournful, reflective, but immediate. It's a song which is almost child-like in its simplicity, but one which goes straight for the heart.

"A band of brothers working for the sake of the song, this is among the very best moments in music the Beatles ever gave us. But in my life, I've loved them all."

JENNY REEVE, Strike the Colours

George Harrison has always been my favourite Beatle. His songs are wonderful. Something and While My Guitar Gently Weeps are beautiful. I grew up with Abbey Road when I was little. My dad and I would sit and listen to it all the time. Once I asked him how the Beatles managed to play all those instruments all at once.

"My father explained that actually, they didn't, that they over-dubbed some things and for a while that burst my bubble because I liked the idea of the whole band all playing away in those speakers and could imagine everything, as if I were there in the room with them. They were like my friends, George especially."