Jan 27, 2008

the BETTER BEATLES "Mercy Beat' CD

Beatles fans are freaks. Actually, strike that. It's Beatles FANATICS that are the freaks. You know the types. There the one's that'll start a conversation about Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band extolling it's "innovative ideas" "changing the face of rock music" with all the sincerity in the world. The thing is once you stumbled into their little conversation a few times you realize they a spinning a tangled web of a hungry spider hoping you'll be a stuck and passive fly.
Something as simple as "Ehhh, There's a couple okay songs on and I understand it's 'innovations' but..." is more than enough to send them into a blind fit of obsessiveness interupting you before you can finish the sentence with something like "THERE ARE NO BUTS! It's the MOST IMPORTANT RECORD OF ALL TIME!" then bring up examples of "if it wasn't for Sgt Pepper" then mention a bunch of wimpy ass non-rock & roll "rock bands" the album influenced.
Another thing those types are known for is getting all bent when someone covers a Beatles song but tweak the arrangement somehow or another. Back in my record store days I recall a time where some female jazz-pop singer CD we were playing had a cover of, I think, "I've Just Seen A Face" was on it. It started playing and out of some corner of the store an angry voice starts spouting "WHAT IS THIS?! TOTAL DISRESPECT!!" I look up as the voice gets louder and see this stout premature balding guy in a polo shirt and Dockers walking towards me.
"WHAT IS THIS? I WILL NEVER SHOP IN HERE AGAIN! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF FOR PROMOTING THIS? AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A MUSIC FAN?!"
Whoah! I was stunned for a minute wondering what the guy's deal was. In an attempt to divert his attention of me reaching for the security call button I asked "What's the problem, sir?"
"THIS MUSIC YOU ARE PLAYING! BEATLES SONGS ARE PERFECT IN THEIR ARRANGEMENT! WHY WOULD ANYBODY THINK THEY COULD EVEN CONSIDER CHANGING THEM?!?! THE TEMPO IS ALL WRONG! THEY INSTRUMENTATION IS WRONG! IT'S JUST PLAN WRONG! TAKE THIS OFF OR I'LL NEVER SET FOOT IN THIS STORE AGAIN."
I didn't and he left. A week later though he was back in the store. They always come back. There were only 2 record stores (well CD stores more or less by this time if you want to get technical about it) within a 25 mile radius. I was hunting for the CD that made him flip out the week prior but it must've already shuffled off into an employee's collection by then. Damn! Now if only I had the Better Beatles back then. It most likely would've given the guy an aneurysm.
Ten tracks recorded in '82 with only a single of "Penny Lane/I'm Down" released at the time (which caught the ears of John Peel who played it on his BBC program at the time and even requested a 2nd copy when his was stolen) this Omaha, Nebraska based band take on the Fab Four's tune probably sent a bunch of those type of serious Beatle geeks in a completely raging tizzy. The name itself reeking of sarcastic arrogance at the least and tongue in cheek at the most would be alone enough to get them pissing and whining. And if that didn't do the trick enough to send them over the edge-the now Lennon & McCartney standards-the light that is shined on them here would do the trick. A Korg MS-20 Monophonic is the lead instrument gurgling and blurting sounds that if once attempted to sound anything close to something on the original records gave up after the first run-through and instead opted for sounding something from a C-60 Gary Numan has tucked away in the back of a closet with the writing "Tubeway Army: First Practice Recording" on it. Simple one or two note bass lines keep the rhythm with a sparse and martial drumbeat. The vocals are disinterested and mono-tone like a chronically depressed female Michael Mooney who'd rather be napping than delivering the words. The 80's in the midwest was that of Styx and Journey on the radio and alienation from "the norm" could be caused by something as simple as having short hair and a one inch button bearing the name of a band that wasn't Styx and Journey on your jacket. The 10 songs on the disc show that the Better Beatles didn't fit in anywhere not only in their town but the world at large. The interview with the band conducted by Jay Hinman included on the disc's sleeve confirms that they were very comfortable with making Beatles freaks feel uncomfortable.
http://www.hookorcrook.com/

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