Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beatles

The Beatles remasters released recently have given me pause for thought on the way people born more than 30 decades ago (as I was) listened to music when growing up.

Until last week I'd never bought any Beatles records, apart from a single of A Day In the Life that I got in the 1980s, but having older siblings, radio and a life long absorbtion of pop culture I thought I knew the material pretty well. I didn't.

What I've realised is that most of the music I listened to as a youth was from what are now considered pretty poor sources - TV, AM radio, tinny dansettes and portable cassette players. My experience of Abbey Road, for example, was formed around a poor quality cassette taped by my brother-in-law that had probably lived in a hot car at some stage. It's only now that I'm realising how much you miss only hearing music in that way (but, I hasten to add, the nostalgic value of those sound sources also provide fond memories, I loved sitting on the front lawn as a kid listening to 'Can The Can' on my sister's portable mono tape recorder).

The other problem I have always had with The Beatles is overhearing their music. But, revisiting this material on better equipment, from better source material (the remastered CDs) I'm finding them to be far more interesting and experimental than I had thought (the drum patterns in "Something", for example, came as a surprise, and that's just one of many discoveries I've made) and their psychedelic material in particular I'm getting a lot out of.

Having not been much of a fan of the band some of the songs I also knew better, or only, through cover versions than the originals. 'Flying' from Sgt. Pepper's was closer to The Residents cover version than I had expected - I assumed they had warped it right out of shape, but the original is actually a bit Resident-y.

I'm pleased to make this discovery as I think I'm now seeing what others see in The Beatles, although, having said that, it's far from a blanket cheer for their music. I could happily never heard 'Let It Be' again, and the general fondness for a lot of their sing-songy, dare I say, a bit twee tracks still leaves me bewildered (Ob-La-Di, Yellow Submarine, All Together Now, and most of their early music holds less interest for me). I'm also quite sure I will always prefer Wings to The Beatles, but it's nice to find an avenue in to their work.


David said...

Wings are a lot better than the Beatles. Let's be fair. Wings are a lot better than the Beatles. Anyway, you reckon Abbey Road? really? If I was going to listen to any of these I'd probably take Rubber Soul or White album...? I used to like Revolver a lot when I was a boy... I dunno. Who cares about the Beatles really? Aren't they kind of dull?

Wayne said...

I don't think I said Abbey Road was a favourite. It was just a Beatles album I had access to as a young'un (you know, casette, brother-in law etc...).