>Album Review: "A New World Record" by Electric Light Orchestra

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Let’s face it – I can be a dick about music sometimes. No, really! I can be close-minded, insular, and outright mean about music that I haven’t even bothered to listen to, and most of the time I hate bands more on principle than on actual musical quality. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’ll slag off some band everybody likes based on my own half-baked conceptions of them, only to actually listen to them and shove my foot in my gaping mouth once I find out how much I enjoy their music. It’s… an affliction.

Case in point, ELO. Before hearing New World Record I viewed ELO as a bunch of stodgy, cocaine-fueled Beatles wannabes who shat out a trail of bloated concept albums in the late 70’s with big gay spaceships on the covers (y’know, before I bothered to listen to anything they’d ever recorded). And of course, I was completely wrong! Well, maybe not completely; yes, Jeff Lynne’s got a major Beatle-bone, and yes ELO was kinda bloated in terms of sound, and yes they had no problem slapping big gay Close Encounters spaceships on their album covers despite hardly ever writing songs about outer space. But New World Record is, for me, one big heaping slab of grade-A pop enjoyment.

Although I have to admit, I’m a little… embarrassed to admit that I enjoy NWR so much. Why? Well, it’s so goddamned Seventies. The production is wa-HAY over the top – strings, opera singers, synths, layers of guitar, processed vocals, you name it. More than one track on here sounds like the Bee Gees in full-on Studio 54 mode, so much so that visions of Peter Frampton in that shitty Sgt. Pepper’s movie might start dancing in your head. But no need to worry – ELO’s datedness comes off as more charming than anything else, and their whole “classical meets rock!” schtick is about a thousand times more fun than, say, Emerson Lake and Palmer’s take on it (Tarkus anybody?). Take the opening track here, “Tightrope,” for example: it starts off with layer upon layer of minor-key string flourishes, building up to a ridiculous crescendo that anticipates a high-falootin’ prog-rock epic but instead leads into a zippity Beatlesesque pop tune complete with hand-claps and “WHOOO!” backup chants. It’s a wonderful way to kick the album into gear, and it makes things clear to the listener that this is a pop album, not a prog album.

I guess that’s the mantra of New World Record: melody over art. “Tightrope” may be awash with strings, but they’re secondary to Jeff Lynne’s uppity melody, giving the song a dramatic push rather than overwhelming it with pretentiousness. The only song here that succumbs to silly prog cliches is “Mission (A World Record),” but even that’s got a pretty melody despite Jeff Lynne singing about space travel in a goofy wobbly voice (I guess those big gay spaceships DID mean something). The other songs here are arguably some of the finest pop creations of the mid-70’s, despite wearing their influences on their sleeves; “So Fine” reminds me of George Harrison circa All Things Must Pass, “Telephone Line” sounds like a lost Magical Mystery Tour ballad, and “Shangri-La” steals its title from a Kinks song (and sounds pretty Beatlesesque anyway). But they’re all great songs on their own merit.

Now, while the pretty tracks here really are pretty, I’ve got kind of a soft spot for the more rockin’ tunes, if you can call them “rockin'”; I mean, this IS ELO, so even the more hard-edged numbers are a tad fruity. But man, I’ll be damned if I don’t love both “Do Ya,” a cover of an old Move chestnut Lynne wrote some years before, and “Rockaria!,” a borderline ridiculous amalgam of classical/opera flourishes and Chuck Berry jukebox rock. Both songs have the benefit of what I call Jeff Lynne’s “cartoon” voice – hyped up, shouty, ridiculous and absolutely hilarious, he completely abandons his sweet Paul McCartney vocalisms from “Telephone Line” in favor of cartoony camp. You can also tell that the guy has a decent sense of humor; on paper, “Rockaria!” sounds like the dumbest song ever recorded, with lyrics like “She’s sweet on Wagner / I think she’d die for Beethoven / She loves the way Puccini lays down a tune!” But man, it’s so over-the-top that you can’t help but get swept up in it. Not unlike classic Queen from the same era, ELO showcases the most ridiculous (and expensive-sounding) production techniques of the mid-70’s and has a blast with the grand theater of it all.

Really, New World Record took me totally by surprise, and I regret judging ELO so quickly. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but there’s not that much to feel guilty about – there’s some seriously wonderful melody happening in this record, nothing that anybody should be ashamed of (okay so I feel a little guilty about “Rockaria!”, but you can’t blame me for that). Maybe I shouldn’t be TOO shocked; Jeff Lynne did produce and co-write most of Full Moon Fever, although I gave more credit to Tom Petty back then ‘cuz I didn’t know who the hell Jeff Lynne was – silly me! Oh well, no time to wallow in past grievances. I think I’ll put on “Rockaria!” one more time. Lord knows I need more songs about an orchestra playing Chuck Berry’s Greatest Tunes.

Now time to look back and count how many times I used the descriptor “Beatlesesque” in this review.

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>Album Review: "All Shook Down" by the Replacements

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Nearly every review I have read of All Shook Down describes it as a slow, run-down, depressing affair. Y’see, this was the Replacements’ last album after a decade of trying to attain mainstream acceptance and failing time and time again; naturally, they were all tired, pissed off at one another, and incapable of recapturing the fury of their early ragged-punk days. That bitterness ran rampant throughout the recording of All Shook Down, to the point that it pretty much became a Paul Westerberg solo album as the actual Replacements only appeared on a few tracks here-and-there, supplanted by studio musicians otherwise. And worse, it doesn’t sound like classic Replacements at all – it’s mellow, laid-back, and doesn’t really rock at all. Looks like the great Replacements dream is over, folks.

And how could it not be?? Look at that album cover – what shaggy-lookin’ dogs! And look at the song titles! Besides the title track, you’ve got “Bent Out Of Shape,” “Sadly Beautiful,” “Someone Take The Wheel,” “Torture,” and of course the last track on the album, “The Last.” Not convinced yet, eh? How ’bout some lyrics? “Someone take the wheel / ‘cuz I don’t know where we’re going.” “Standing in the shadows / forever on the brink / turn it up so I don’t have to think.” “The plan was to sweep the world off its feet / So you sweep the garage for the neighbors to see.” “Old habits are hard to break / and I don’t know how much I can take.”

Jeez. What a fucking downer.

…well, not quite. I have to admit that I don’t hear this album as the major buzzkill a lot of people have labeled it. While the lyrics are hardly bubbling with optimism, the music is sweet, melodic, and well-crafted, showing off Westerberg’s songwriting abilities in a much more conventional pop-rock setting. To be honest, I only hear three songs here that sound genuinely “out of it”: the title track, which Paul practically mutters his way through; “Sadly Beautiful,” a pretty ballad that nevertheless sounds completely heartbroken; and “Bent Out Of Shape,” a totally forced hard-rocker that doesn’t jive with the rest of the album (there’s another rocker here, “My Little Problem,” that’s a whole lot more fun). But practically everything else here is guaranteed to please the pop lover buried within: “Merry-Go-Round,” “One Wink At A Time,” “Nobody,” “When It Began,” “Attitude,” and “Happy Town” are all toe-tapping little ditties that I can’t get enough of. Hell, even “The Last,” Westerberg’s bittersweet farewell to his life as an alt-rock hero, has a lovely lounge-feel to it that doesn’t sound a whit downtrodden.

Why does it sound so happy? Well, like I mentioned before, this was pretty much Paul Westerberg’s first solo album, with the Replacements’ name tacked on due to troubles with their label. Hearing these songs, it seems Westerberg didn’t feel obligated to write songs that sounded like the Replacements anymore and could finally show off his “mature” side without risking his band looking like a bunch of ninnies. All Shook Down, to me, is the sound of Westerberg reveling in his newfound freedom and delivering a bunch of sweet, well-written songs without having to worry about whether or not he’d finally “break” into heavy MTV rotation. At this point in his career, he knew the Replacements were never gonna make it big; despite all their obvious talent, the radio-polished Pleased To Meet Me and Don’t Tell A Soul weren’t exactly flying off the shelves, and the band just didn’t care anymore. Maybe that sad, muted defeat is what makes All Shook Down such a downer – the fact that one of the finest bands of the ’80s would never be heard beyond college radio. The music might be happy, but not what it implies.

I haven’t heard Paul Westerberg’s solo stuff. I’ve been told through the grapevine that it’s kinda hit-or-miss, but if it’s anywhere near as good as All Shook Down I imagine that I’d enjoy it on some level. I love the Replacements, from the ragged-idiocy of their early years to their bastards-of-young voice-of-a-generation mid-80’s peak, but I’ll be damned if I don’t gravitate to this album almost as much as Sorry Ma or even Tim. It’s nothing earth shattering, but it’s a comforting little gem of an album, and one of the best displays of Paul Westerberg’s songwriting ability money can buy.

>A Few Words on Britpop

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hoo my lord

During my freshmen year of college, I was knee-deep in Britpop. Why, exactly, I don’t remember. Maybe it was the era – the classification of Britpop as a reactionary “movement” in Britain – that fascinated me. Everywhere I read, I heard of this “Britpop” as a return to glory for British rock in the mid-90’s, a glorious time when a new generation of Brits cast off the shackles of nihilist American grunge and became the heirs to the Kinks’ and the Small Faces’ throne. British “Greatest Album of All Time” polls by the NME and Q magazine backed up this notion: in between Beatles and Stones albums I would often see Blur, Oasis, and Stone Roses albums thrown into the mix, oftentimes out-ranking the likes of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s.

So to me, an 18-year-old New Englander, this was surprising. For one thing, these mid-90’s revivalists of great British pop made little to no impact in America, save for Oasis’s “Wonderwall” hitting the charts for a while. But HOW? The Britpop era, it seemed, was practically as big and artistically viable as the 60’s British Invasion! Top-tier bands like Blur and Oasis were constantly in a race to deliver the best album of the 1990s, maybe EVER, culminating in the classic “Battle of Britpop” in ’95! This convergence of Zeitgeist-hype and artistic ability hadn’t been seen in years! Why did we foolish Yanks never pick up on this? WERE WE TOO BUSY LISTENING TO THE STONE TEMPLE PILOTS?!

Well… unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Being young and naive at the time (all those two years ago) I did not realize the power of the hype machine that was (and still is) the British music press. Seriously, give those motherfuckers a few chimpanzees with loud guitars and a “brash attitude” and they’ll make them out to be the Saviors of Rock ‘n Roll (they’re still doing it today – Arctic Monkeys, anybody?). But back then I didn’t care about the hype – I just wanted to hear the music and decide for myself.

I started with Blur’s Parklife, considered one of Britpop’s biggest albums. The band’s over-the-top British cockneyism appealed to me, and I started to grab more albums from that peak ’94-’95 period: Oasis’s Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, Pulp’s Different Class, Blur’s The Great Escape, etc. Having wet my toes in the genre, I decided to expand my horizons a bit and check out some so-called “pioneers” of Britpop (The Jam, The Stone Roses, The Smiths, The La’s, Primal Scream) as well as bands riding the last wave of the movement in the late ’90s (The Verve, Radiohead, The Beta Band). At the time, I enjoyed almost all of it, but certain bands – namely The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, The Smiths, and especially Blur – really stood out.

Looking back, though, I can’t drudge up the same enthusiasm I once had for good ‘ol Britpop. I still like Blur, and I genuinely enjoy them a lot more than “loud guitars automatically make our music the best”-Oasis, but I can’t help but think that their excessive Britishness sounds more like a gimmick to me than the bands that inspired them (the Kinks come to mind). As much as I would like to believe it, these guys were not the Beatles or the Stones or even the fucking Dave Clark 5 – they were just a bunch of pretty talented guys who were told they were the best. In retrospect, the bands that sound really good to me now are the ones less beholden to that soul-crushing “Greatest Band Ever” hype – namely, the Stone Roses (whose debut album is just glorious and doesn’t sound a whit like Britpop), the La’s (who sounded like Oasis without the ball-breaking egos), and Supergrass (single-handedly more enjoyable than Blur and Oasis combined). Britpop also inadvertently introduced me to XTC, who’ve become one of my all-time favorite bands (and who were taking a long sabbatical during the Britpop’s peak years). As much as I hate to admit it, all that wonderful “Cool Britannia” stuff seems kinda silly and dated to me now.

At the same time, though, it’s easy to see why Britpop enchanted me so. In the 2000’s, a time where rock music is becoming more and more tepid and mellow with each passing year thanks to the likes of Coldplay and Keane, listening to this big, exciting 90’s pop was a thrilling prospect. It’s a prospect that will always sound exciting to me – and one that, someday, I hope some new bands will actually be able to deliver on. ’cause fuck knows the Artic Monkeys haven’t done it.

Although I kinda like that “Ruby” song. Who’s that? The Kaiser Chiefs? Hmm.

Sean’s Recommended Britpop Listening (aka Stuff I Still Kinda Like):

Songs:

Blur – “Parklife,” “Advert,” “Chemical World,” “Girls & Boys,” “Popscene”
Oasis – “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” “Some Might Say,” “She’s Electric”
Pulp – “Common People”
Stone Roses – “She Bangs The Drums,” “Elephant Stone,” “Song For My Sugar Spun Sister”
Supergrass – “Alright,” “Caught By The Fuzz,” “Time,” “Sofa Of My Lethargy”
La’s – “I Can’t Sleep,” “There She Goes,” “Feelin'”
Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”
Primal Scream – “Come Together,” “Loaded”

Albums:

Blur – Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife
Supergrass – I Should Coco
Stone Roses – self-titled
La’s – self-titled
Primal Scream – Screamadelica

>One-Listen Review: "New Morning" by Bob Dylan

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This man wants to give you a kiss.


Track 1 – “If Not For You”

George Harrison did this, so I kinda-sorta know this song. But the Dylan arrangement is nice. His voice is very melodic here, which I guess was par the course for him after that Nashville Skyline business.

Comparison: George’s version was his usual weepy-slide-guitar sweet version. This one’s kinda loungy, more laid-back, and… well, it’s cute. Very cute. I never thought I could call a Dylan song “cute” (except for maybe “Quinn The Eskimo”) but here it is. I mean, christ, there’s a glockenspiel!! Proof that Bob Dylan was the original Belle and Sebastian.

Track 2 – “Day of the Locusts”
It’s a Bob Seger song. No, really. Was Bob Seger listening to this shit? It sounds right up his alley. Probably based his entire career off this song.

There’s a lot of organ here. Nice Dylan vocal – a little more sneer than the last song. I like this! It’s a really warm, pleasant piece of work. Put it on if you wanna feel good.

Track 3 – “Time Passes Slowly”
“Time passes slowly, up here in the mountains.” Bob Dylan is a mountain man.

Piano, piano, piano. The whole thing is kinda jagged. Song just kinda… ambles along. It’s OK.

Track 4 – “Went To See The Gypsy”
I decided to follow the lyrics to this one as best I could. So Bob goes to see a gypsy dude. Umm, then he leaves the gypsy guy to make a phone call (?) and runs into some girl who says, “Go back and see the gypsy.” So he does, but the gypsy’s gone, and so’s the girl.

Am I supposed to follow this? Probably not.

Anyway, this is another piano-bluesy thing. Is Bob on piano? I have no idea. I’m not looking up the fucking personnel for this shit. I don’t like Bob Dylan enough.

Track 5: “Winterlude”
Waltzy little oh-come-a-darlin’ sing-along. Y’know, 3/4 time and all that.

“Winterlude, winterlude, my little apple!” “Let’s go down to the chapel!” Oh Bob. Let’s go a-courtin’.

Track 6: “If Dogs Run Free”
Err, umm, what? What the shit?

It’s like… slow piano-based jazzy stuff. With Bob speak-singing the whole time. And it’s not like, y’know, normal Dylan funny-asshole speak-singing like in “One Of Us Must Know”. It’s like lounge-jazz, soft-spoken, “cool” speak-singing that just sounds silly coming out of Dylan. Worse you’ve got some lady jazz-scatting behind him. “BEBOPADOOPOWBOWOWOWOW!!” Ugh.

“True love can make a blade of grass stand up straight and tall.” Imagine Bob Dylan whispering this into your ear as if he were trying to distract you at a crowded party while slipping some roofie powder into your margarita.

At the end he says “GO BABY” and that lady starts scatting all over the place. No, no! Don’t keep scatting!!

This is dumb, Bob. DUMB.

Track 7: “New Morning”
Hey now this is more like it! Country-blues shufflin’!! And there’s no piano somehow!! (There is a “Like a Rolling Stone” organ, but I like that).

This one’s like “Meet Me In The Morning”, only much more uppity. Reminds me of the Kinks’ “Muswell Hillbillies,” but that was recorded later and drew from the same influences Bob did (and was recorded by the devil Britons, who have nothing to do with us pure Americans). There’s even a little fiddle hidden away in the bridge! Try and find it!!

It’s slower, but it’s warm and sweet. Wipes that “If Dogs Run Free” scatty B.S. right out of my mouth. Ah, the promise of a new day.

Track 8: “Sing on the Window”
Reminds me of Randy Newman. Oh, and Bob Seger.

Starts off with just Bob and his pianny. Then settles into a rootsy groove with lady backup singin’. It’s gentle. And it almost sounds like there’s a mellotron (??) a couple minutes in. Neat!

Favorite line: “Had a bunch of kids call me ‘Pa’ – that must be what it’s all about.” Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to good-ol’ domestic Bobby Dyls.

Seriously, didn’t he do Blonde on Blonde like 4 years before this? Jesus.

Track 9: “One More Weekend”
Hell yes he made Blonde on Blonde!! Now we’ve got some fucking BLUES motherfucker. Blues up your ASS.

It’s Blonde on Blonde blues all over again, but it also reminds me of Love and Theft‘s bluesiest songs. By the way, can I state for the record that I like Love and Theft BETTER than Blonde on Blonde?? Is that sacrelige? Man, I’d take me “Lonesome Day Blues” over that “Pledging My Time” shit any day. White man’s blues just sounds a thousand times more convincing coming out of a 60-year-old’s smoke-ravaged larynx.

Track 10: “The Man In Me”
THE BIG LEBOWSKI!! REMEMBER DONNY BOWLING? REMEMBER JEFF BRIDGES FLYING THROUGH THE FUCKING AIR??

Seriously that movie was great. And this song reminds me of that movie. It’s the only song I knew before I heard this album. It’s good!

Funny thought – I didn’t even catch that this was Dylan the first time I heard it. Just sounded like a guy with a Dylan-esque voice. I think maybe it was those female backing singers. They’re all over this album! I dunno what the deal is!! Did Bob pick them up from a vacation in Maui or something!!!?

Track 11: “Three Angels”
Speak-singing again. Goddamnit Bob stop doing this you aren’t Bill Shatner.

“Three angels up above the street. Each one playing a horn. Dressed in green robes with wings that stick out. They’ve been there since Christmas morn.” That’s it, people: everybody should have seen his conversion to Christianity coming. It’s all in this song! It’s like a hymn or some shit.

At least the music’s pleasant. But Bob. Seriously. Just sing like a normal motherfucking human being. If I wanted to hear you ramble about stupid crap I’d rent Renaldo and Clara.

Track 12: “Father of Night”
Joe Cocker! Bob Seger again! It’s all here people!!

I thought maybe this would be a good-timin’ song when it started, but it’s actually kind of dark. The backing lady-vocals (AGAIN) sound kinda creepy, and Bob just rattles of a list of fathers of… things. It’s a weird way to end the album – and it’s only 1:30 long! Jeez, Bob, give us a nice one to leave with.

OVERALL:
Not bad. It’s a down-home album – almost as if Dylan tried to do The Basement Tapes again all by himself. “If Dogs Run Free” and “Three Angels” can go fuck a cat up a tree, but most of the other songs are perfectly pleasant Dylan nuggets: “If Not For You,” “Day of the Locusts,” “New Morning,” “One More Weekend,” all great boppin’ Dylan good-timers. Most of them point to the sweeter, more direct music Dylan would make with Blood On The Tracks but without all the broken-heartedness. There’s lots of organ, lot’s of female vocal accompaniment, lots of PIANO HONKY TONK.

I haven’t heard Self-Portrait or Planet Waves, which surround this album. Do either sound like this? I have no clue. He sounds very happy here. Probably happy to be out of the spotlight for once. Self-Portrait did its job, I guess.

I wouldn’t call this an absolute classic, and it’s one that I’m sure will remain love-hate for a lot of Dylan fans. Most will probably like it. Those guys who dropped Dylan like a bad habit after he ripped his balls off on his motorcycle (true story) might not like it. Neither will the folkies. But Bob Seger fans – make a line to pick up your copy of New Morning!!

>Greatest Beatles Covers: Raffi Plays "Octopus’s Garden"!

>The Beatles are the most popular band in, like, the world. As such lots of people have covered their songs, or recorded their own little tributes to them. While these “tributes” are usually very nice and respectful (like “Love” or that shitty “Across the Universe” shit) some of them are weird or scary or gross or make no goddamned sense. They are sometimes recorded by people who you wouldn’t expect to record Beatles tributes – bands who, on the surface, seem to have little to nothing in common with the Beatles (or bands who really shouldn’t have anything to do with them). And of course, they are a lot of fun to listen to, if your tastes are perverted enough.

Here are some I feel I need to discuss here.


The Replacements – Mr. Whirly

It starts off with an out of tune guitar rendition of the mellotron riff in “Strawberry Fields Forever,” then blasts into some weird hardcore-punk song about doin’ the twist and shakin’ like this. So y’know, at first it doesn’t sound like a Beatles tribute at all, it just sounds like the band threw in a cute little dig for all the pop music fans out there. But THEN, 40 seconds in – for SOME reason – the song becomes a sloppy version of “Oh! Darlin'” with Paul Westerberg singing weird, alternate lyrics:

“Mr. Whirly, please don’t call me
I’ve been drinking alone
Whirly, please don’t follow me home!”

Then the song becomes that weird punk song again. Umm, ok.

I guess this isn’t too surprising – the Replacements have always had an odd fascination with the Beatles, something you wouldn’t expect from an underground 80’s punk band. Their fan-favorite album is called Let It Be, after all, and I’ve heard that they once covered “Let It Be” live and substituted the lyrics with another song of theirs, “Fuck School.” Heh.

Oh, and rather than credit the song to “Lennon/McCartney,” the credits just read “mostly stolen.” Now that’s class, folks.


The Dukes of Stratosphear – The Mole From The Ministry

So the Dukes of Stratosphear were just XTC pretending to be a 60’s psychedelic rock band, and they did it really well (buy their albums plz). While most of the Dukes’ songs were clever re-workings of 60’s psych-rock cliches, “Mole From The Ministry” took things a step further – by completely ripping off “I Am The Walrus”. The chorus has almost the exact same backing track, although the melody and lyrics are much simpler, avoiding the dickish faux-Dylan wordplay John Lennon so famously shat out in the original.

To drive things home a bit more, check out the video XTC recorded for the song.

NOTICE ANYTHING FAMILIAR??????!?


Laibach – Let It Be

OK, it’s an insane Slovenian industrial version of the Beatles’ entire “Let It Be” album. I mean, Jesus Christ.

Now to be honest, I do not know this album well. I don’t have access to it. I only know of its existence ‘cuz my friend Luke has it, and he’s played it for me, and it’s fuckin’ loopy. For a little background, Laibach are a Wagnerian electro-industrial band who dress in psuedo-fascist uniforms and write songs that sound like Nazi chants. Now imagine a band like that doing “Two Of Us” and you’ll realize why you need to go out and find this album right now if you care about the Beatles at all.

I did manage to find their cover of Across The Universe on Youtube, though. It doesn’t really sound very heavy or anything, but it is creepy. Listen to how they pronounce those words, man. SLOVAKIA.

Jesus just look at that album cover, why do people do this

The Beastie Boys – Sound of Science

OK so let’s ignore the creepy Beatles tribz for a second and focus on a TOTALLY FUCKING AMAZING Beatles mix, masterminded by some of the greatest rappers ever (along with those crafty Dust Brothers) and found on the classic album Paul’s Boutique. The song starts off slow, sampling a barely audible oboe from “When I’m 64”, segueing into a weird mid-song jumble with someone shouting “ROPE-A-DOPE” over the crowd noise from the beginning of “Sgt. Pepper’s”. But then – glory of glories – it consolidates into the back-beat of the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise with the guitar riff from “The End” pasted on top, with the Beasties trading off their usual witty one-liners. It sounds awesome, you can dance to it, and it might be the best Beatles rap sampling ever done, ever (that includes you, Grey Album).

Unfortunately you could never get away with this kind of sampling nowadays without EMI shoving the fork of the law up your spaghetti. Honestly, how the Beasties got away with this – and how the album is still released commercially with all the Beatles samples intact – is bewildering to me. But thank God for it.

Ok… ugh. Enough cool stuff. One more. Here’s where it gets weird.

The Residents – The Beatles play The Residents and The Residents play The Beatles

ugh album art

In case you didn’t know, the Residents are an avant-garde “rock” band that have been recording weird, insane shit since the early 70’s. Their first album was called “Meet The Residents”, which featured the exact same album cover as “Meet The Beatles” only with silly drawings all over it. So, yeah, like everyone else in the world they have a weird fascination with the Beatles.

A few years later they released this single. Hoboy. The A-Side is a full-on Beatles collage, somehow managing to make a mix of well-cherished Beatles nuggets sound demonic and frightening. It’s a healthy mix – there’s a little of Lennon’s “Mother”, “Mr. Moonlight,” a constantly repeating “Tell Me What You See,” an insanely looping riff of “Tell Me Why”, a slow creepy vocal from “Blue Jay Way,” and a bunch of other assorted songs starting and stopping so damn quickly you’d think someone was messing with the knobs on Fucked-Up Residents Radio. Besides the unconventional song choices though, there’s a few clips here that you would only expect to hear from the Residents – most notably, Paul McCartney’s weird chant of “Please everybody, if we haven’t done everything we could have done, we’ve tried,” a mantra which sounds eerily tired and dejected to me, especially surrounded by of all these classic Beatles songs. There’s also a smattering of unsettling stage prattle near the end (“This is Johnny Rhythm sayin’ goodnight to y’all, and god-blessya!”) and a slow, eerie fadeout. The whole thing is just… not right, at all.

And the B-side is the Residents’ cover of “Flying.” You know “Flying”, right? That cute but kinda weird instrumental that Ringo has a credit on? Yeah, that’s why they chose it, apparently, ‘cuz every Beatle is credited on it. But the Residents’ version – ugh man. It starts off with a bunch of creepy, disaffected voices humming the song a-capella with only a tiny, repeating drum beat behind them. Of course, it’s not long before frightening synths and evil laughing voices start to creep into the mix. And then – oh lord.

What happens is the song starts to sound kinda nice. For a little bit. Then we hear some creepy Residents voice echoing that now-classic McCartney chant “IF WE HAVEN’T DONE EVERYTHING WE COULD’VE DONE, WE’VE TRIED! HAHAHAHAHA!!” Then, for some reason, the voice skips as if the CD’s busted, and the song morphs into the Macy’s Day Parade Live from the Ninth Circle of Hell. The laughter heightens, with the “Flying” melody vaguely discernible in a now totally mutated form, and before you know it a chorus of awful circus-y voices are spelling out “F-L-Y-I-N… G!!” in a horrifying chant, over and over.

My LORD.

If you find this single anywhere, buy it. No, fuck that, you’ll never find it – just ask me for it. It’s on my computer. I don’t know how I got it, but I found it, and I want you to hear it. Message me, IM me (I need friends) and I’ll send it to you. I guarantee you you’ll never hear anything like it, ever, in your life.

To be honest though, I bet John Lennon would get a kick out of this if he were still alive. Hell, the Beatles were a bunch of fucked-up acid tabbers themselves. Watch that video for a little while and it’s not long before those limeys start to sound like the Residents themselves – and they recorded this crap on CHRISTMAS singles! For their FAN CLUB!! Jesus Christ! If I were an excited 14-year-old 60’s teenybopper, this shit would scare the ever-loving hell out of me.

But seriously, IM me.