all-you-need-is-love-the-beatlesUp close and personal with iconic artists as they make their impact.

Distributor: Boulevarde Entertainment
Time: 53 minutes, no bonus material

If John Lennon suggests making a series about music, you have to listen. Palmer did more than listen; he acted.

Some while ago, based on review copies of the first three episodes, we reviewed Voiceprint's DVD release of this unique 1970s documentary series that traces the development of popular music from the turn of that century.

The series, originally broadcast on the BBC between 1976 and 1981, has never been repeated on television and now Boulevarde Entertainment are releasing the single episode about the Beatles as one of several Palmer music features.

Lennon's suggestion reveals how close Palmer was to a whole bunch of musicians who were creating artistic history and this comes through in the interviews that he includes – Paul McCartney, for example, tells a couple of lovely little anecdotes – and the footage that he shows, which gives a real sense of being an insider at the time. We see the Beatles in a taxi, hearing a radio taster for an interview that they were about to give as they had just arrived in the USA.

With hindsight, some of the comments sound a little naïve, but this gives a flavour of the times, as do interviews with Mike Love, Carl Wilson and Roger McGuinn, who talk about how the Mersey sound affected their own approach to making music. Made when it was affects the perspective of the artists as they speak. Despite their current fame, the iconic status of the band some 40 years on was still unknown, so conversations remembering discussions about whether or not they could afford jam on their bread in the early years may well have been forgotten had the film been made now.

Through it all, Palmer sees with a film-maker's eye. In a sequence of shots that show fan reaction to the band, he includes an edit that captures a policemen giving a brief smile as he holds back a line of girls. It's only a second, but it adds warmth to the account.

All of Palmer's bar-setting documentary work is shot  from the perspective of a music lover and that acts as a bridge to the viewer's own heart. More content would always be welcome, but this is a condensed snapshot of musical history (as well as a gateway to our own youth for many of us) and well worth a watch or three.

Palmer also enjoys filming the quirkier aspect of music, so this new set of releases also includes his co-write with Frank Zappa (200 Motels); an account of Leonard Cohen's 1972 European tour (Leonard Cohen – Bird on a Wire); and an eponymous portrait in The World of Liberace.


Derek Walker

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