Picks and Pans Review: Past Masters, Vols. I and Ii

updated 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Beatles

With the distribution of these two compact discs, every record the Beatles ever released commercially is now available on CD, and at least a mild "Eureka!" is in order. The Beatles usually recorded under conditions advanced enough that their records benefit from enhanced CD technology, and in any case it's great to have an excuse to go back and listen to what is still an extraordinary body of pop music. The 33 tracks on these discs were a originally released only as singles or on extended play albums (some are alternate versions of songs that appeared on LP), and they range from the ingenuous days of I Want to Hold Your Hand (in both the English and German versions) and Long Tall Sally to far more complex tunes such as Lady Madonna, Hey Jude and Revolution. Among the relatively obscure tracks are Slow Down, a cover of a song by '50s R&B singer Larry Williams, Old Brown Shoe, a 1969 George Harrison tune, and the bizarre, rambling You Know My Name (Look Up the Number), with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones on saxophone. There's plenty of the group's early sweetness and plenty of its later cynicism, a of it informed by that remarkable sense of melody and harmony that makes even such simple tunes as This Boy or I Feel Fine enduring pleasures. (Parlophone)

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