On November 16th 1996 the Beatles Anthology had made its way to number 1 on the UK albums charts. It was the third collection of music released by the remaining three Beatles in the 1990s. In the two previous volumes, the artist reworked demos recorded by John Lennon to create the two new songs, “Real Love”, and “Free as a Bird”. Anthology 3 includes demos and alternate takes of recordings dating from the White album sessions to their final recordings for Abbey Road.
Of the many takes, and demos the ones that most stand out are an acoustic version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, a version of “Helter Skelter” in a different time signature, and a stripped down version of Harrison’s “Something”. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is one of the group’s most well known songs, and is most memorable for the guitar solo that was recorded by the god of guitarists, Eric Clapton. The Anthology version couldn’t be more different. George Harrison’s voice is frail, gentle, and yearning. The song easily could be placed on Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheelin Bob Dylan” due to its philosophical, and political lyrical appeal, and is just another piece of evidence that the fab four were influenced by Dylan’s work.
The Anthology version of “Something” should also be very interesting for any Beatle fan. Void of the lush strings from the final version, and including a verse that didn’t make it to the final cut makes the early take a must listen. As with the Anthology version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Something” stripped down, delivers. Harrison’s delivery of the lines is raw and heartfelt.
What is most intriguing to listening to the Anthologies by the Beatles, is to see the artistic process. The listener can hear what the band was experimenting with. So much influential and long lasting music was made by the Beatles in such a short time, that these Anthology recordings are worth listening to not just because they are nice to listen to, but because they are of historic merit.