In an interview with Xfm, Paul McCartney admits that the Beatles in their earliest performances were not that good — and that the Hamburg days were a time of fine-tuning their live performance. In the interview, he brings up the now-infamous Decca audition of 1962 as the best evidence of the Beatles’ ineptitude: “We obviously weren’t that good. We were formulating it all.
“You wouldn’t have thought we were that great. You’d have turned us down if you were a record company. And they did – Decca turned us down!”
He goes on to say how much more adrenaline is present in a smaller atmosphere, and would love to play smaller club dates.
It’s funny with the Beatles and their attempts to humble themselves or try to remove themselves from the hype of the band. You can never be sure whether it’s an attempt to lower the band to hype their own solo careers or it is sincere. I think about it every time I hear “Magical Mystery Tour” on the radio, and think that even if it is so symbolic of the 60’s, it’s almost anachronistic in how it sounds so radically different from anything else of the era, and how few bands have a similar timeless quality to their music. I don’t mean to say every other band of the time sounds dated, but the reality is that the Beatles were a pop act, and they perfected the ideals of pop music.
George Harrison said it best, though: “If we had known that we were going to be The Beatles, we would have tried a lot harder.”
Here’s a clip from “The Rutles” starring Eric Idle and Dan Akroyd, spoofing the rejection of the Beatles.