Best Of The Beatles Geoff Wonfor

Nine years after the Beatles told their story in The Anthology, former drummer Pete Best sets the record straight with his own authorised bio. Surprisingly, Best of the Beatles rises above the slew of B-grade exploitation rock docs and convincingly tells the story of a man who missed out on rock superstardom. Best is famous for being the Beatles drummer before Ringo. What's not well known is that Best's mum gave the fledgling rock band their first residency in her basement club, the Casbah. Best was enlisted merely out of necessity and stayed when the band cut their teeth playing long, boozy nights at the strip joints of Hamburg. Then, days before cutting their first EMI record, John, Paul and George callously dumped him, making Best rock's saddest footnote. Though none of the former Beatles appears, this doc interviews the right characters: early Beatles manager Alan Williams, Lennon's ex, Cynthia, a few Quarrymen and Hamburg mates Klaus Voorman, Horst Fascher, and photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Lennon dominates their memories as an arrogant bruiser hiding a sensitive side. In 1961, it was typical to enter a Reeperbahn club and find Lennon punching an audience member or calling their German friends "fucking Nazis." Naturally, the film sympathises with Best and characterises him as a superb drummer. In reality, Best was a decent player but not good enough to play for EMI. True, the other Beatles envied his popularity with the girls, but the moody Best never meshed with his cheeky band-mates, as symbolised by his different haircut. The doc scores points for excerpting the earliest footage of the leather-clad Beatles and offering some good special features: interviews that examine the fateful Decca audition, Best's trip back to Hamburg and an interview with Andy White, the "Love Me Do" drummer. Best of the Beatles may not appeal to a wide audience, but it will enlighten Beatles fans and sit nicely alongside The Anthology. Plus: additional interviews of Best and others discussing the Decca audition, Hamburg, Andy White, Best's life post-Beatles. (Best Wishes/Lightyear)