The Beatles: "Anthology 2"

The Beatles: "Anthology 2"

Apple/EMI 7243 8 3444 8 2

Dial-a-track code: 1201

Take the afternoon off for this one - better still, take the whole weekend. The Beatles' second anthology is a rich repository of out takes and alternative versions, culled from the Fab Four's most intensely creative period between 1965 and 1968. Where Anthology 1 was a mere curiosity, of lasting value only to collectors and completists, volume two actually offers much in the way of listening pleasure, and extracts from the Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt Pepper sessions allow you to enter the inner sanctum of The Beatles' studio and observe their work in progress almost first hand. Short of actually dropping funny tabs with the band, this is probably as close as you'll get to the core of their creative drive.


Skip quickly over the opening track, Real Love, the second "new" Beatles song, and whet your appetite with songs from the Help! sessions such as I'm Down, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, and the only out take of the classic Yesterday. Then skip over the live recordings from Blackpool and Shea Stadium and get straight into the first sessions for Revolver, starting with an early version of Lennon's landmark composition, Tomorrow Never Knows, a giggly take of And Your Bird Can Sing, a vocalless version of Eleanor Rigby, and an all acoustic I'm Only Sleeping.

CD 2 marks the beginning of a new creative era for The Beatles, and out takes of Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, A Day In The Life, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and I Am The Walrus are just some of the treasures which are strewn through this golden age of pop. Listening to these tunes in all their unformed glory is like going on a real magical mystery tour, and, like all good trips, when it's over, you won't want to come down.

The Auteurs: "After Murder Park"


Dial-a-track code: 1311

The usually dyspeptic Luke Haines is in seriously acid form on The Auteurs' third album, the follow up to 1994's Now I'm A Cowboy. Steve Albini's blunt production combines with Haines's jagged songwriting to create a raw, uncompromising album, filled with songs that refuse to go down smoothly, preferring to take the torn and twisted route. After Murder Park was recorded in Abbey Road studios, and songs like Unsolved Child Murder and Married To A Lazy Lover sound like bitter Beatles tunes, complete with sombre string arrangements and vaguely familiar chord progressions. Light Aircraft On Fire and Land Lovers are peppered with wartime images and intermittent bursts of flaming guitars, while Dead Sea Navigators takes a maritime motif and throws it to the sharks. The title track revisits the scene of Unsolved Child Murder, which Haines wrote from his own childhood experience, and there is a strange feeling of nightmarish nostalgia in this cello drenched closing track. Another great Auteurs album, but an altogether tougher pill to swallow.

Various Artists: "Bis: Songs And - Voices From Ireland"

Treasure Island Discs 008CD

Dial-a-track code: 1421

This compilation CD is an admirable attempt to promote some of Ireland's new songwriters on the international market, and while there is some genuine if undeveloped talent here, there's also some self indulgent, folksy navel gazing. The format is acoustic, with the focus on the songs, and Bis . . . opens with the confident tories of Coade, as he brazenly borrows from the first line of Strawberry Fields Forever to begin the catchy, Beatlesque Heaven. Dr Millar and Leslie Keye beef up their songs with Fab Four style harmonies and arrangements, but Jack Lukeman drowns his own excellent voice in too much production. Dempsey comes on like a Rastafarian Pat Ingoldsby who's just joined Public Enemy, and his poppy polemic on Dubbalin Town is too simplistic to be truly radical. Mark Dignam and Brian Roche both suffer from a surfeit of intensity, sounding too overwrought for comfort, while Miriam Ingram and Tracy Cull en unwittingly reveal the presence of Joni Mitchell and Melissa Etheridge in their respective record collections. Other acts like Larry Hogan, Eoin O'Brien, The Screaming Orphans and former Fat Lady Nick Kelly also turn in adequate but hardly world shattering performances.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist