Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vaunted Beatles 'Reunion' Has Fans Holding Breath

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vaunted Beatles 'Reunion' Has Fans Holding Breath

Article excerpt

David Whitney has mixed emotions about this Beatles reunion. Whitney, an architect and musician, has heard the hype surrounding the release of new music by the legendary pop group. What he wants to know is: Will it be any good?

"I want very much for it to be great," says Whitney, a longtime fan. "But will it be the Beatles? Or will it just be three guys trying to sound like the Beatles?"

Whitney's ambivalence is typical among the group's fans, many of whom have waited 25 years for a reunion - but now are worried about how it might come out.

Their long wait ends Sunday, when ABC broadcasts "Free as a Bird," one of at least three songs begun by the late John Lennon in the 1970s and finished by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr in the last two years.

The new songs are the highlight of "The Beatles Anthology," the documentary planned almost since the group broke up in 1970. Along with the broadcast on Nov. 19, 22, and 23, the group will release the first of three double-disc sets of unreleased material - studio outtakes and other rarities.

The historic recordings will be treasured by collectors, many of whom already have some of the tracks on unauthorized "bootleg" releases. But it is the studio reunion that has landed the Fab Four back on magazine covers.

The Beatles and their albums "Revolver," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," and "The Beatles" (The White Album) defined the era's pop music and predicted much of what followed.

Ultimately, business difficulties, creative differences, and personal strains led to the group's split in 1970. While the former bandmates continued to play on each other's records, all agreed the time of the Beatles had passed, and warned their still-adoring public that a group reunion would be anticlimactic.

"You cannot get back together what no longer exists," Lennon said days before his death. "{We} could put on a concert, but it can never be the Beatles.... We cannot be that again, nor can the people who are listening," he said in a 1980 interview.

In 1993, Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, gave McCartney demonstration tapes of four songs on which Lennon had been working when he died: the elegiac "Free as a Bird," the wistful "Real Love," the romantic "Grow Old With Me," and an as-yet unheard song, reportedly titled "All for Love. …

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