Wednesday, February 24, 2010
BEATLES - YELLOW SUBMARINE
(This is them circa 'Magical Mystery Tour' before you get upset)
'Chart wise' at least this is generally considered as The Beatles 'crappest' album and whilst this isn't the only reason for it's inclusion here this fact certainly helped in my decision to dedicate column inches to a review of it. Why? Because despite them being insanely listenable and directly responsible for the shape of modern music, I am not a Beatles fan. Why? Because they are the Manchester United of the music world? I think that's fair but no, it's because when something becomes so over explored, analysed and revered it looses much of its appeal.
It's like wanting to go on a wilderness walk and finding a paved and signposted route instead. Everybody has been there, so much so that they have built rest areas and McDonalds have a road side franchise every twenty miles on each side. That's not adventure, not even if the scenery is at times remarkable. The Beatles are like a musical slut, everybody has fucked them and it is armed with that knowledge that I embark on this particular journey.
'Yellow Submarine' is a record or two halves in the most literal sense. George Martin's orchestration for the animated film fills the whole of side 2. Side 1 is a combination of old songs, new songs and re-hashes. I would love to know what the 'Fab Four' were thinking when they came up with this. To be honest I doubt they were, between the druks, the in-fighting and the recording of 'The Beatles' (The White one) which was released not two months prior they probably had their hands well and truly full.
So I haven't seen the film since I was about four but the clips and the screen grabs are massively appealing and as a project it seems perfectly in keeping with the ever evolving persona of that Beatles beast.
Musically this album has both one of my favorite Beatles tracks 'Hey Bulldog' and also what can only be described as the final two human bone carved keys to the gates of hell and eternal damnation - 'Yellow Submarine' and 'All Together Now'.
The title track is harmless enough until the sound effects kick in and we have a man talking pinched nose down what sounds like a length of hose with a funnel at the end. it's creepy, it's vile and just as you think it can't possible get any closer to un-concentual ear rape the voice starts a snooty sing-a-long-a-Ringo. If I close my eyes whilst this song is playing I see a combination of the 'Saw' series playing over the top of a three minute edit of 'Caligula'.
...But this is nothing compared to the emotional response that 'All Together Now' conjures. Oh my fucking god, I am being flayed alive by a man dressed in shit smeared mustard spandex, flip-flop footed and pig-masked and he is not going to stop until he feeds me my own flayed and pickled penis. Honestly, if they had used this to illustrate the serial killer in 'Manhunt' instead of Iron Butterfly's 'In a Gada..' it would be the greatest film in the history of man...
Okay so those two veritable rotting carcases of musical death aside, what are we left with? The George Martin score is in offensive if not painfully dull but the other songs are alright and given that the excellent 'Hey Bulldog' is one of them it's enough of a reason to buy and keep this record, as if the sleeve alone wasn't.