Get Outta Here November 19

(November 19) Once again, the Get Out of Town segment is expanding its homebase. In the past, Hudsonland has expanded outside of the KRRO listening area, including a few weeks ago when I kicked out the entire state of California for their embarrassing gubernatorial mess.
Well, this week we’re going international! The American borders can no longer harness my rage, so I’m crossing the ocean to get rid of a Brit.
Anybody who is acquainted with me knows that I’m a Beatles fan. I’ve stated before how this was destiny – after all, I was born on the day when the Fab Four recorded “Love Me Do”, their first single.
My very first album was a copy of A Hard Day’s Night that I liberated from my mother. Sgt. Pepper was my initial plunge into purchasing albums with my very own money…although it was undoubtedly cash that was given to me by some family member. My first bootleg album was also the Beatles, as was my first bootleg CD, my first box set (every vinyl album in a cool blue box), my first radio contest win. I’ve heard tales of being propped in front of the television for the Beatles legendary first Ed Sullivan appearance and the television debut of Help. When Yellow Submarine came out, I convinced my father to take me to the theater. I recall the television ads stating that anybody over 30 won’t understand. That ad was correct, as my pop had just turned 30, and he hated it.
And if one was to take a look at my music collection, it’s pretty obvious that the Beatles (along with the Stones, Dylan, Chuck Berry, and the Who) continue to influence my purchases to this day. My love of power pop is well-known, and the pop-influenced punk I love so much is generally revved-up Help-era Beatles. Most of my singer/songwriter faves owe as much to Lennon as Dylan, and even my more avant-garde choices owe quite a bit to Sgt. Pepper and the White Album.
As much as I love the band, though, I have to admit that for the most part they suck as solo artists...and I’m not alone in that thought. My favorite critic, Lester Bangs, wrote way back in 1973 that the “splintered Beatles may well have weathered the pall and decay of the 70’s the worst.” Paul McCartney, in his opinion, was “as inconsequential as the Carpenters”. Lennon would “do anything…to make himself look like a Significant Artist”. George Harrison “belongs in a daycare center for counterculture casualties…his position seems to be I’m Pathetic But I Believe in Krishna”. And poor Ringo was simply “beyond contempt”.
To be fair, there was no way that the Beatles could have continued to be musical and cultural heroes. Their career was just too intense; every record was expected to top the last, and the whole world was watching their every move. They changed rock ‘n’ roll from a silly teenage novelty to an actual art form. That kind of pressure can only drive you to excellence for so long.
And there is also the reality that the truly great bands are the sum of their parts. The four Beatles together had an exponential power that can’t be exaggerated. And that’s true of all great bands. Look at the members of Led Zeppelin after their breakup. Or the Who after Keith Moon’s death. Or Mick and Keith’s limp solo releases. Johnny Rotten without the Sex Pistols. Strummer and Jones outside of the Clash. Paul Westerberg without the rest of the Replacements. Nick Lachey without 98 Degrees…oops, forget about that one. He sucks no matter who he’s paired with.
Because of what they accomplished as a group, I’m willing to cut the solo Beatles some slack. I’ll forget that Harrison spent himself with a triple album solo debut that emptied his song stockpile. I’ll forgive Lennon for Yoko Ono. I’ll even forgive McCartney for dreck such as “Say Say Say”, “Let ‘em In”, “Coming Up”, and “Freedom”. And I obviously forgive Ringo since nobody, and I mean nobody, expected him to do anything after the Beatles.
But I can no longer forgive McCartney. He has crossed the line. The bastard should just take his two billion dollars and his new legless bride and just go away forever.
Why am I so pissed? It’s because of yesterday’s release of Let it Be…Naked. The name alone is too cheesy…a title that I would expect from someone like Britney or Justin.
The story of this album is well-documented. Let it Be was the last Beatles album, although it was recorded before Abbey Road. The concept behind the album was that after the excesses of Sgt. Pepper and the White Album, the band was going to “Get Back”, so to speak. They were going to record live in the studio without any overdubs.
Unfortunately, they were in bad shape. Lennon had writer’s block for the first time in his life, undoubtedly because of a newly found love for heroin. Harrison, on the other hand, was writing a ton of tunes but was finding it impossible to get them recorded.
And McCartney had decided he was going to be the leader of the band, no matter what anybody else thought. He wanted the band to hit the road, to film concert footage for the accompanying movie at exotic locations such as the Taj Mahal. The other three wanted nothing to do with his ideas or his leadership.
After weeks of filming and recording, the tapes were left to engineer Glyn Johns. He put together a couple of albums ideas that were rejected by the band. Months later, the band (except for McCartney) asked Phil Spector to salvage the project. His version, which added strings and other overdubs, was released in 1970.
McCartney was so pissed by this album, especially the strings added to “The Long and Winding Road”, that it became one of the causes for his lawsuit against the rest of the band. And now with Lennon and Harrison six feet under, he has decided to rewrite history.
Let it Be…Naked is now his version of the sessions. Naked is supposed to represent the fact that the overdubs are gone, but McCartney has also tidied up the album. Extraneous remarks, one of the few charms of the album, are now gone, and most of the tunes are spliced-together different versions. And the sparse new take of “The Long and Winding Road”, whose overdub-free version was already released on Anthology, now stands as one of the hokiest tunes McCartney has ever written, which is saying a lot.
Oh, and initial copies of the thirty minute disc comes with a bonus disc which features a collage of song fragments and studio chatter. Why wasn’t this stuff just added onto the main disc as a bonus track? I know the answer – money.
That’s the other reason this album exists – pure greed. And everybody shares the blame here – particularly the surviving families and the record company. It’s been a couple of years since there was new Beatles product for Christmas – what better than McCartney’s version of the worst Beatles album?
I’m not against having another Beatles album in my collection. But they could have done a better job enhancing the band’s legacy. If Let it Be was to be examined, why not the pre-Spector version put together by Glyn Johns? Why not just expand the original album to include other songs and other versions to tell the true story of the band’s demise? Hell, I already have a eight disc set of outtakes – why not just put out an official box set?
So Paul, just beat it. Or as you said on one of your own songs on this album – “get back to where you once belong”.


Popular Posts