This is not a photo of the Beatles. My brother demanded I take annoying snaps from way up in the gods all night. Breathe a sigh of relief, ask for I will not be subjecting you to them all.
The Bootleg Beatles show was a fun, if expensive, night out. The tribute band have been performing together since 1980, so it was no surprise that their recreations of different phases from the Beatles’ career were pretty satisfying: the costumes, in particular, were amazing, as were the multimedia backdrops during the songs. A certain self-awareness added to the entertainment, too: at one point a solo “John Lennon” performed the first verse of Wonderwall. “Tribute bands, eh?” he said, before launching into a singalong “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.”
Their voices weren’t the strongest, but as Dom noted it hardly mattered: all they had to do was encourage a willing audience to sing along at the difficult bits.
So, did it make me nostalgic for an era when the music getting into the charts seemed more worthy than another X Factor winner at Christmas number one? Hell no. X Factor is fantastic entertainment, and we’re all going out to buy fourteen copies apiece of Malcolm Middleton‘s single on Monday, aren’t we? Sorry, Rhydian.
I wonder, and I should stress that I am being facetious here, what it must have been like to live in a world where mass-selling and critically-acclaimed were one and the same? Artists like the Beatles and the Stones sold by the bucketload, yet their influence is still recognised today. Were there no indie snobs in the 60s? How did people gauge their superiority then, before mp3 blogs turned us all into arseholes?
I’ve been reading a smaple chapter I was kindly sent from Carl Wilson’s forthcoming (over here, at least – the book was released in the US this week) contribution to the 33 1/3 series. These wonderful little books are self-contained treatises on noteable albums, ranging from critical analysis to (in my favourite of the series, Colin Meloy of the Decemberists on the Replacements’ Let It Be) pure personal reflection on that album’s meaning in the context of a boy coming of age in smalltown Montana.
Carl Wilson’s approach, in Let’s Talk About Love, is different. Rather than gush over some indie darling or critical giant, he has instead chosen to present a look at big ideas of taste and how we define ourselves in terms of our likes and dislikes. All presented as relating to a multi-million selling album by an artist reviled by us “musos” who sit in judgement, seeing ourselves as the guardians of culture and somehow above the popular. What I’ve read so far is smart, funny and self-deprecating, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the book.
Sample chapters were available by emailing letstalkaboutceline @ yahoo.com – I don’t know whether that’s still the case now the book is out, but you can always try.
Elsewhere, my contribution to Fresh Cherries From Yakima’s list season has been posted. And Okkervil River, who I so criminally neglected in that list, are giving away a free Christmas/covers mixtape at their website.
PS Have just found out that a longtime favourite author, Terry Pratchett, has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. He seems pretty philosophical. All the best, mate.