Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Beatles Have Left the Building--Will All of Their Fans Please Head Towards the Exits?

With only two of The Fab Four barely standing, pondering the legacy of their artistic impact becomes less and less interesting with each passing day. All that's left to ponder are the reactions of all the other bands when faced with such a pervasive cultural icon.

In the case of the Ace Records comp Beatlemaniacs, you get to hear abundant examples of supreme nobodies attempting to touch the hemlines of Somebodies. Sonny Curtis spells it out deliberately: A Beatle I Want to Be. Others, such as The Fondettes cooing The Beatles Are In Town are much more keen to gaze from afar, enraptured over the fabulousness of the subject at hand (although one wonders why sisters this soulful would be hot under the collar over these honky Brits).

I, however, much prefer the Third Reich and Roll-ness of The Better Beatles, yippee pranksters from out Omaha way who committed a hilarious fuck you to their lesser namesake on a one-off 7-inch single back in 1980. Thankfully, their entire slapped-together oeuvre (along with a heaping of outtakes) is now being offered digitally. Their bizarro version of Eleanor Rigby rips the pathos out of McCartney's hack dime-store-novel setting and recasts it as a hobbled sea chantey. Lady Madonna becomes a nonsensical New Wave stomp, while Penny Lane emerges as some sort of bastard child born betwixt A Flock of Seagulls and Flipper.

Why, you might ask, should I care so much about musicians creating music as a reaction to other musician's music? Because, I reply, emotional scars on blatant display: someone has named their band after me and it's made me feel empathy for what John, Paul, George and Ringo must have felt upon hearing the imitators posted above.

By the way, I'm going to be in LA for the next few days. If anyone knows whether or not Amoeba Records has guard dogs on duty during closing hours, call my beeper. I plan on figuring out a way to spend the night there somehow...

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