Friday, February 24, 2017
The American Tour with Ed Rudy - The Beatles
Radio Pulsebeat News News Documentary #2
I enjoyed Ron Howard's recent documentary on the Beatles touring days although I didn't learn anything new and it wasn't particularly insightful. I think Albert Maysles' documentary on the first tour is the best portrait of this time. For me the highlight of the screening was watching the Shea Stadium concert film on the big screen with good sound. That was fantastic. All the hoopla about the movie inspired me to pull out this record which attempts to document the Beatles' first visit to the United States. It is presented and narrated by Ed Rudy who was a journalist who accompanied the Beatles on their trip. Rudy seems to like the group and is consistently enthusiastic, but he has nothing interesting to say about Beatlemania and generally ignores the music, he is mostly attracted to the mass hysteria they generated. Side one is a 22 minute assembly of sound bites from the tour mixed with a bunch of promos for Rudy by the Beatles as well as roadie Mal Evans, Lennon and Harrison even label Rudy "the fifth Beatle." There are numerous snippets from the Beatles' first press conference in New York and Rudy interviews some fans as well. Despite traveling with the band, Rudy doesn't get much face time with the group. Initially the longest conversations he gets are with Mal Evans and road manager Neil Aspinall. He also wastes some time talking to a twit from the British Embassy. In Washington D.C. Rudy gets some muffled comments from a Beatle who he claims is John Lennon, but it sounds like Paul McCartney to me. He also has an amusing conversation with Ringo Starr at the British Embassy party in Washington regarding his sex appeal. Near the end of side one, on the plane flying back to New York after the Miami visit, Rudy finally gets some quality time with the band and their handlers. On side two there is a fifteen minute telephone interview with George Harrison. Predictably the sound quality is not good, but it is a nice conversation. The "quiet Beatle" is surprisingly loquacious. He and Rudy discuss the fan reaction on the tour, the Beatles' sound, the origin of the group's name, Beatle haircuts and fashions, mods vs. rockers, Harrison's personal ambitions, dating, friendships with the other Beatles and musical influences (Rudy astutely compares them to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.) At one point Rudy refers to "Johnny" Lennon and asks if Harrison ever calls him "Jack" Lennon, which cracks me up. This record is worth buying for side two alone. I enjoy the entire record aside from Rudy's relentless self-promotion. Even though it contains virtually no music at all, I still prefer it to Capitol Records' vinyl documentary of the Beatles on "The Beatles' Story." This album is easy to find and generally not expensive (I bought my copy in a thrift shop for $2.) Recommended to Beatlemaniacs whose favorite Beatle is George.