This Anthology is my personal favourite among the 3 anthologies.
Anthology 2 opens with yet another faux Fab Four reunion cut, "Real Love." With a sprightlier melody and a less self-conscious attitude than "Free as a Bird," this once-quaint 1979 John Lennon demo has been fluffed up into '90s pop meringue by the surviving Beatles and producer Jeff Lynne.
The remaining 44 cuts document what is arguably the most creative 36 months for one band in rock history. From February '65 to February '68, the Beatles recorded six EPs (the double EP Magical Mystery Tour and four albums).
The majority of Anthology 2 consists of early takes that reveal the foundations beneath the Beatles' studio constructions. This is almost The Beatles Unplugged, and the revelations are gratifying.
Paul McCartney weighs in with first-take renditions of "I'm Down" and "Yesterday," which are remarkable for their jarring stylistic divergences from the final versions.
Lennon's introspection -- and his awareness of Bob Dylan -- can be traced through sublime acoustic renditions of "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "It's Only Love," as well as the first version of "Norwegian Wood."
The Lennon-McCartney axis reached its most perfect balance on Revolver. Lennon's experimental side blossomed (witness the first take of "Tomorrow Never Knows"). Meanwhile, McCartney's pop genius was never more refined than on "Eleanor Rigby" or "Got to Get You Into My Life."
Anthology 2 neatly deconstructs the grossly overanalyzed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with choices that uncover warmth and intimacy. "Strawberry Fields Forever" quantum-leaps in three cuts from a troublesome acoustic demo to a technically problematic masterpiece.
The final tracks are mostly from Magical Mystery Tour, and indicate the participants had become session players on each other's compositions.
With the exception of Lennon's "I Am the Walrus" and "Across the Universe," McCartney practically dominates. "The Fool on the Hill" is nearly perfect in its raw demo form.
All told, these tracks offer a compelling human story along with one of the most crystalline definitions of synergy in popular culture.
Highly recommended !!