Monday, 29 August 2016

It was 50 years ago today

And yes, of course, that is a deliberate reference to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as the Beatles played their last live gig in San Francisco on 29 August 1966.

To mark the occasion we've been listening to the two albums of the period, Rubber Soul and Revolver. The latter album, with its futuristic track Tomorrow Never Knows, heavily influenced by LSD (see post of 12 April) came out 3 weeks before the gig. The 11 song set included Harrisons's If I Needed Someone and Lennon's Nowhere Man from Rubber Soul and nothing from Revolver (Tomorrow Never Knows might have been difficult!) the rest being earlier era songs.

My other half is oblivious (appropriately in terms of The Void) to the merits of Tomorrow Never Knows. "Disjointed" and "cacophony" were among her comments along with "physically sick", though I did have the vinyl deck on very loud at that point. We agreed, though, that Lennon's Girl, with its lascivious sucking in of breath, is a classic and McCartney's Here, There and Everywhere is not just his best love song but one of the best by anybody, anytime. Lennon's In My Life was a very mature, reflective song, on the first of what I call the "middle term" Beatles albums (just these two in that category for me). There are many other great tracks here, as well as a few fillers. After all, Paul Weller ripped off Harrison's Taxman for his number one hit Start! (I say this as a big Weller fan). You've got the sweet sadness of Eleanor Rigby (a genuine McCartney and Lennon combination) and For No One, some gorgeous Harrison guitar runs on Nowhere Man and And Your Bird Can Sing and the whimsical twist in Lennon's lyrics on Norwegian Wood.

When Oasis and Blur were vying to be kings of the Brit pop era, I said to my then teenage sons "come back if they've had 12 hit albums and over 20 hit singles after 7 years".  This produced a yawn as they knew who I was referring to, but I patiently explained that The Beatles were the first ever mega boy band, normal shelf life 3 years, except they turned into the coolest and one of the most creative ever bands, having played the world's first stadium gig (Shea Stadium, 1965) on the way.

What a ride. Glad I was there at the time to have a ticket for the experience.

Candlestick Park 1966 set list:
Shea Stadium:

P.S. I should, of course, have said the Beatles last ever gig for which you could buy a ticket, the last gig arguably being the concert on the roof of the Apple building in January 1969. That would of course have nothing to do with the Steve Jobs electronics company Apple Inc which got its knickers in a huge twist because Apple Corps owned the rights to the name Apple in connection with sale of physical music (CDs, cassettes etc) under a 1991 agreement when they first settled their tiff over the name. The two companies eventually kissed and made up in 2007, leading to the Beatles music being available on iTunes.

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