A lavishly produced and erudite magazine (Anthem Publishing) LONG LIVE VINYL announced in August, 2020 that “after more than 40 print editions, we pause the monthly printing press, and its website becomes the biggest and best resource for vinyl fans, collectors, shoppers and listeners.”
I was leafing through some old copies and found the WHITE ALBUM edition of December, 2018, only to be reminded that the 50th anniversaries of both THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES “Beggar’s Banquet” occurred that year. LONG LIVE VINYL simply couldn’t resist reviewing the two albums side-by-side and quite rightly so! In the very same issue John Earls wrote fascinating articles entitled “Beggars & Kings” looking at the “fraught history” of the two groups, especially as SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND had “triumphed” over “THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES’ REQUEST” psychedelic battle.
In my book “Within You, Without You”, I also make reference to The Stones’ attempt to respond to SGT.PEPPER, but the widely held view that it was “a failure” needs some qualification. It is true that, in the response to ‘All You Need is Love’, ‘Sing This All Together’, The Stones were trying to be more like The Beatles than themselves (as in ‘On With the Show’), with mellotron flute samples being used on this and also on concluding track ‘2,000 Light Years from Home’. My view is that THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES’ REQUEST (The title was a parody on the phrase ‘Her Brittanic Majesty’ on British passports, as the group was travel restricted following the infamous drugs bust, which The Times newspaper described as “breaking a butterfly on a wheel.”) was a decent enough psychedelic rock album, but that Jagger and Richards needed to get back to the strong song-writing (like ‘She’s A Rainbow’) as they indeed did on BEGGAR’S BANQUET.
The reviews of THE BEATLES and BEGGAR’S BANQUET are pretty much what you expect, but following my previous reservations about the recent “Beatles” single I do have one or two things to say about it. The opening statement that “most people agree it (THE BEATLES) is too long at 30 songs” so how best to improve it: “Make it longer, of course.” Again, I do not fully agree, especially with the statement: “Can anyone really justify ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’?” I could think of other candidates if any trimming were needed, and consider this song to fit The White Album perfectly in the fine tradition of songs with special appeal to children like ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘All Together Now’.
Otherwise, the analysis is good, although Giles Martin’s remixes do not, in my opinion, significantly improve a classic album that I grew up with and got to know every word and every nuance of, now to be told that it could have been better through modern technology – I am sorry, but it was of its time, and has stood the test of time, without need for second generation restoration.
I certainly agree with John Earls about £90 for a 4 LP, two of them the bootlegged Escher Demos (which do sound good and is the only one of these sets that I have invested in), and £125 for a CD/ Blu-Ray Super Deluxe Box with an additional 53 songs (seriously?) I am just glad I am not an obsessive collector wanting everything, other wise I would likely be broke! “The Beatles” was perfectly good in its original form; even ‘Revolution 9’ has its place. I feel the same about “Sgt. Pepper’s”: it was perfect as it was, although I understand the needs of Beatles obsessives to hear everything.