Editorial

The Beatles

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Virtually everything written about the Beatles is wrong, and it will take decades of scholarship to figure it all out. I have nothing to back that up, because, just like everyone who wrote about the band 50 years ago, I’m making it all up in order to make myself famous:

Renowned rock historian Mark Lewisohn gave The Guardian access to a tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this week, which seemingly shows The Fab Four at loggerheads. Having finished the recording of ‘Abbey Road‘, it features audio of John LennonPaul McCartneyand George Harrison meeting together at Apple HQ in Savile Row.

The meeting was recorded by Lennon for the benefit of drummer Ringo Starr – who was undergoing hospital tests for an intestinal complaint.

The first major revelation comes when Lennon discusses the prospect of their next album after ‘Abbey Road’ – with plans for a single to be released in time for Christmas. Although their last album recorded together as a band (although ‘Let It Be’ was the last to be released), it was previously considered that Lennon played a major role in the band’s split.

“It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn told The Guardian. “The books have always told us that they knew ‘Abbey Road’ was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but, when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”

There is very little valid rock and roll history material that isn’t unadulterated, self-serving bullshit. Hardly any of it stands up to scrutiny, and almost none of it is of any value. Much of it was poorly written because, and this is an actual fact, virtually everyone was abusing drugs and alcohol.

Think of that whole period of 1964-2000 as a vast wasteland of nonsense in terms of what people say happened. Unless you have dates, facts, figures, receipts, and transcripts, I doubt hardly any of it could be authenticated. That especially goes for everything written about the Beatles that wasn’t actually agreed upon as fact by more than one of the band members. It was not uncommon in those days for one of them to float bullshit in order to serve their own interests, and that was true of virtually every other band that ever existed.

We saw this when they released the Esher Tapes; there was evidence that the Beatles were getting long with one another and having fun when, at the time, they were telling everyone that they were miserable. Well, what’s true? The actual recordings that show one thing, that are preserved historical records in a way, or their half-remembered, likely stoned recollections?

I don’t know how you could read anything written about rock and roll without questioning whose agenda was being served by the material and if it was, in fact, true or not.

Going Blank Again

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There are two interesting pieces on Ride’s second album, Going Blank Again. One is from the latest edition of Uncut, and another is from 2012.

The band’s next album is This is Not a Safe Place, so I think it is fitting to remember what an incredible sophomore album GBA really is. In terms of second records, it’s one of the best there ever was.

Those big moments, though, are defined by the more concise ones around them. The taut ringing of acoustic guitars on “Chrome Waves” or the lean psych-pop of “Making Judy Smile” or the angular riffage of “Time Of Her Time” all let us hear a new side of Ride. It reminded us that Ride may have made pop built firmly for the dreamworld, but the group never forgot the very real rock muscle this sound could generate underneath all that atmosphere. Here, it’s that physicality that comes to the surface and makes Going Blank Again an album that doesn’t have to take up space to be staggering in its sound. Ride didn’t make the mistake of making one huge-sounding album (Nowhere) and trying to top it with more layers, with bigger distortion, with more muddled volume. Instead, Ride peeled things back most of the time on Going Blank Again, so when they did decide to swell into something more atmospheric, those huge moments were earned.

Definitely go for the expanded version of the album and see them playing live. And track down all of the B-sides, too. If there was ever a record that deserved an omnibus or expanded version, this is it.