Friday, October 27, 2006

You become naked

Had it up to here, not just with Radiohead, but with the two albums generally held to be the main influences on OK Computer, namely Bitches Brew by Miles Davis and The Beatles by The Beatles (aka 'The White Album', although if you need me to tell you that, you probably won't be very interested in the rest of the post).

Now, the Miles thing I've never really got. I've always preferred Dizzy Gillespie and Chet Baker as trumpeters; and Bitches Brew is when he just degenerated into wanky jazz-rock-funk bollocks, although John McLaughlin's guitar playing has its moments. But the White Album has been in my all-time Top 10 for years, so I hope I haven't yet exhausted its wonky charms.

I think the problem is that it's so big and diverse and all over the shop that it just gets overwhelming, like a hyperactive St Bernard puppy. Which leads us neatly to today's game: not an original one by any means, but one that's endlessly diverting (for slightly damaged people staring into the abyss of middle age, at least). George Martin has said on more than one occasion that The Beatles would have made a fantastic single album. Your mission, if you accept it, is to trim down the 30-track expanse of vinyl into a neat, 7-a-side effort. Keep in mind the political necessities of the era (rough balance between Lennon and McCartney, and something to keep Harrison happy). Smartarse points will be deducted for including 'Happy Birthday, Mike Love' and similar Rishikesh offcuts. (That's you I'm talking to, Swipe.)

To get the ball rolling, here's my effort:

Side one
Why Don't We Do It In The Road?
Glass Onion
I Will
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
I'm So Tired
Back In The USSR
Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Side two
Revolution #1
Don't Pass Me By
Dear Prudence
Martha My Dear
Long Long Long
Revolution #9

And two postscripts: CiF piece on the Surrealist subtext of Kylie Minogue's underwear, although somebody's added a standfirst that gives away the punchline, thank you very much; and the news that next month Bangkok will be hosting a conference called Slag in Asia.


patroclus said...

I don't know anything about the Beatles, but pants are a bona fide art form in my book.

Says Patroclus, newly-anointed High Priestess of Lowbrow.

Betty said...

No, I just couldn't reduce the White Album to two sides. It's the scope of the thing and the frivolous bits that are the icing on the cake. Well, I said as much in a long, plodding, boring comment on the Art Of Noise blog in their "Beatles - for or against?" post. I couldn't get rid of any of it ... even Ringo singing Good Night.

In fact I seem to have sent a lot of long, plodding, boring comments about music in the past few days. Sorry to anyone who has read them.

dh said...

I'm with Betty. It is what it is. A fragment of time....or several fragments bundled together. An attempt to encapsulate a messy period in their brief career (and get rid of a few bits of tape they had lying around). Nothing can be done with it now.

tom l said...

never was a big fan of that album, even less now that i had to play 'bungalow bill' for my five-year old every day for a month. i would probably at this point reduce it to seven songs: a few paul's (ob-la-di, back in the u.s.s.r, birthday), a few john's (julia, dear prudence, happiness is a warm gun), and the george ...

Annie Rhiannon said...

The Beatles are the most overrated thing since Madonna

Robert Gable said...

Just a drive by commenter here who hasn't heard the White Album in years.

Still, Bitches Brew is by far the best electric jazz album of the time. Although as much as I would like to link two of my favorites, I don't particularly link Radiohead and Bitches Brew, other than both having a rampant creativity.

Annie said...

Ooh! You might like Del and Lord Bargain's post on the Beatles, arguing for and against - In The Dock, it's great.

Tim Footman said...

Patroclus: Maybe you could offer your views on the Beatles' pants?

Betty/Annie: That Art Of Noise thing is excellent, thanks.

DH: Spoilsport.

Tom: That's more like it - turning the White Album into the Magical Mystery Tour double EP...

Annie R: Since Madonna? Terribly post-structuralist of you.

Robert G: Welcome, friend. Radiohead have identified BB as a key influence on OK Computer, a claim that is discussed at length in my forthcoming tome... (bit of an elephant pregnancy, this one).

Spinsterella said...

Pants are art - art is pants.

dh said...

It was just a test Tim. I don't really give a toss about the White Album. I wanted to see your reaction to a negative comment. You took it well.

Jun Okumura said...

Did you realise that "I gain a lass" can be rearranged to spell "Slag in Asia"?

I didn't think so.

First Nations said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
First Nations said...

1. screw the beatles.
2. tim, you nailed the irony of something i've been mulling over ever since i worked in a museum.
rock the fuck on. excellent article tim.

Pisces Iscariot said...

I'm with Annie and first nations on this one:
The Beatles are overrated; screw 'em.
I bought Bitches Brew a few years ago and have only been able to listen all the way through once - hard work!

Molly Bloom said...

I'm sorry Tim, bit I really love The Brew. It's marvellous.

St Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
St Anthony said...

Cut the cursed 'White Album' down to a single album? Much better to trim it down to a one-sided 7" single ... keep 'Yer Blues' and dump the rest - the Beatles fatally derailed rock'n'roll with their piss-poor pastiches and self indulgences. Their legacy? 10cc and E.L.O...
And don't get me started on George Harrison - a multi-millionaire moaning on about paying his taxes. A nasty piece of work. 'Why My Guitar etc., bloody etc.' is the most lachrymose excuse for a song in the history of pop music.
The album is only a fat, overstuffed double because four giant egos couldn't accept that every half excuse for a song they cobbled together didn't need to be released to a grateful public and posterity.
But Miles? What a genius. 'Bitches Brew' and Miles' takes on funk and rock? As Hunter S. Thompson said about Ali, he wasn't only the king in his own backyard, he was the crown prince in everyone else's.

Billy said...

Helter Skelter! Helter Skelter!

Tim Footman said...

All right, I know when I'm beaten. But if George Harrison was "a nasty piece of work" I dunno where that leaves cantankerous junkie racist misogynist Miles Davis, no matter how well he tootled his horn.

And his sunglasses were silly.

St Anthony said...

You're right - no one could ever claim Miles was a nice guy ... not like my main man, Ornette - a lovely bloke and originator of a far more vital jazz/funk cross-pollination thingy.

Tim Footman said...

Now you're talking. Tell you what I love - Ornette's trio in the 60s... like Jeff Buckley on the Moon.

St Anthony said...

Yes, Ornette in the 60s had it all ... not that he was too shabby any other time.
And Miles' dress sense ... recall a wonderful Lester Bangs piece where he remembers someone in the crowd chucking a frisbee at Miles and knocking his S&M studded choker off. Bet that pissed the old curmudgeon off.

Andrew said...

You seem to have attracted comments from a strangely cantankerous, great music hating( because they're too cool for great music) bunch of whingers.