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Though the Beatles changed rock & roll forever from low culture to high art, they started as a skiffle group, a British amalgam of American rock & roll influences—Elvis’ swagger, Little Richard’s unholy gospel, the Everly Brothers’ country-rock harmonies, Smokey Robinson’s sensual soul. THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY: 1 traces these roots, tapping a rich motherlode of unreleased early Beatles material. There are scratchy recordings of the Quarry Men (Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, circa 1958) and pre-Ringo Beatles practice sessions that show the Fabs dreaming of being Elvis and Buddy Holly. Amazingly well-preserved tracks from the early ’60s show them starting to let their hair down, while rocking merrily through such pop standards of the time as “Ain’t She Sweet” and “Besame Mucho”. They were an electrifying live band, and among the treasures here are Ringo tearing through “I Wanna Be Your Man” and “Boys” at a 1964 TV taping, and John ripping into “Twist And Shout” at the band’s 1963 Royal Command Performance after his famous request: “Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, and the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewellry”. Equally compelling is the one “new” track. “Free As A Bird” was the pop event of 1995, a Lennon demo completed by the surviving Beatles with the production guidance of Beatles disciple Jeff Lynne.