Despite breaking one of High Fidelity’s golden rules of compilation-making (“…you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side-by-side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs…”), The Beatles Jukebox makes an intriguing listen.
It could just as well be called The Best Of The 50s, as it spans skiffle, rock’n’roll, doo wop, music hall, country and R&B. Some tracks are well-known: Bill Haley & His Comets’ 1954 single Rock Around The Clock is credited as the then-14-year-old John Lennon’s first musical influence. Others, such as Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O by The Vipers Skiffle Group are less so, but there are no real surprises here.
That said, the effect that this music had on the young Beatles is clear. The beginnings of When I’m Sixty-Four can be found in George Formby’s music hall and songs The Beatles later covered, including Chuck Berry’s Rock’n’Roll Music and Larry Williams’ Dizzy Miss Lizzy, make an appearance.
This 28-track collection is invaluable in understanding how the Fab Four’s early style evolved and the sleevenotes explain their musical journey from Liverpool schoolboys, through The Quarrymen to Please Please Me. But that’s where it ends. To understand the Beatles’ career we really need Jukebox II, III and IV.