Naked and Famous
The Fab Four are either some of the greatest musical magicians, rock popularisers and myth making merchandisers, generational messiahs, or one of the most talented and rosily remembered boy bands of all time. Probably all of this and more - and less. The post Abbey Road legacy has not burned so bright though. A big part of the business inheritance of the Beatles has been to scam cash from any source possible. Bearded Blue Meanies on the prowl.The Big News across the post-apocalyptic universe of corporate sound this week is the long awaited digital debut of Let it Be...Naked. The rotting core of Apple Corps has a long and deeply uncool bullying relationship with Apple, with the iConic pomme being shaken down for cash on a regular basis.The fact this is news at all only serves to demonstrate the bare cupboards and sad stables of the majors. Other than jazz and live performances, the vaults have been picked as bare as a barbeque set upon by a troop of bonged out baboons.The Beatles people have form when it comes to tech. As soon as the Apple brand appeared on the first personal computer, hippie cash vampires tried to bum out and burn the new revolution.The Apple II had a speaker in it, and could made musical noises in sequence when programmed right. The idea anyone would mistake an Apple Computer for some Wings related merchandise is a farce, but the moneymen sought to squeeze some juice out of the idea. Steve and Steve slung them $80,000, promising never to get into the "music business" (as in record label and promoter) so the Corps carried on down the cocaine autobahn.A few years later Apple introduced the Apple IIgs, an Amiga-like, Mac-lite underpowered expensive thing that could run clapped out Apple II software too.Deviously, the designers had given it the most powerful wavetable synth chip of the era, from Ensoniq, which offered 32 channels of possibility. A bit nervous, Apple limited the default output to mono without a cheap 3rd party adapter, but hoped a new generation of home studio dreamers and youngsters would think it a groovy bit of kit.Of course the Corps went completely ape, laying an uncool massive lawsuit on Apple - forcing it to never upgrade the IIgs and cancel advanced MIDI and other audio features on future Macs. This held back musical tech innovation for a generation.Even this was not enough to call off the hogs, as in 1991 an Apple engineer included a sampled chime at the Mac startup - a clearly musical move. Another suit, another over generous settlement and Apple's only comeback was to name the chime "Sosumi". When the dread iBore Music Store appeared, so did the lawyers and after a few years the Corps were chopped up by a US judge for their greed and sent to make a deal, opening the way for letting the majors get Naked and Let Apple Be.The troubled history of Let It Be is well known, but worth remembering.Long off the road and with blood and spit staining the walls of the White Album, Macca and Friends decided it was time to Get Back to an earlier, purer, happier time. Playing in the same room together, avoiding studio wiz bangery, ad nauseum.Any Quantum Fizzisist can tell you time travel in any direction is a dangerous and disruptive illusion. Chances are you can go just a little way Back, but in the process end up in a messed up pointless parallel continuum. And even this involves light speed travel and well placed wormholes, not just an ego stuffed rooftop and a load of hair.So it was not a project that went well. A film was conceived with a soundtrack, all kinds of things before it they just ended up jamming along in the studio, playing hundreds of takes. The Four Flew away from the reams of reels, and recorded their actual last record Abbey Road. Glyn Johns was given the hard heartbreak of making a coherent LP out of it, and put together Get Back. Sadly, not only was it time to get Abbey Road down into the shops, but there was now a Get Back TV Special Sell out thing to consider and it all became a bit of a commercial clusterfuck. Johns was ordered to have another crack at it, taking into account the running order of the TV show, only to have his efforts rejected. Murderous mad as a shaken bag of bees but underrated Phil Spector was appointed to make something of it all. He did add a few overdubs and strings here and there, but despite the band's abandonment of the material Phil was reasonably respectful of what he was working with. Which was an overcooked and under ripe curate's egg salad far from the Beatles at their Best. Critics did not hold back, and Macca developed an allergy to strings well after the fact. John was a lot fairer:"He was given the shittiest load of badly-recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it."33 sad years later, Macca decided to crack open the cardboard coffin of polished offcuts and have another fiddle. A stack of salvage was subject to another round of interference.Plenty of artists do this for all sorts of reasons ranging from an unscratchable old itch to attention getting to just more money, but it seldom is an honest thing.He bid for Phil to be blown out of the frame, bum notes digitally jived, rejected takes to replace the original track order, and all other manner of the post prod jiggery pokery Schizoid Spector had been accused of in the first place. A new digital debut for what rightly should have been called something totally different dawned...Naked. But even Macca can't make Quantum reality go away. With only two Beatles still breathing and a long road since they recorded the thing, the idea of stripping down something in an unreachable, unknowable past is an obscene arrogance.The very change from performance to production assembly that worried Paul back in 69, and that the real Let it Be, clothed properly in its own time, reflected, has only continued to evolve and dominate. To try and cure studio gloss glop with just more of the damn stuff reflects the kind of homepathetic dislogic one might associate with Linda and her frozen protein products rather than healthy genius. But they did it, it sold, and now you can buy it in an even higher profit margin form than before as you pay for its dorky delivery down a damned wire.Reheated scraps from a Golden Age clearly are more satisfying than most of the less ambitious product of today. Even if it is a wack wax music museum, a depressing undead echo of a more hopeful, rich age.Of course a real groover revives a funkier reality every time the needle makes contact with wax, or their fingers fiddle through our heaping fresh new in racks. And here's a preview of Saturday's haul of wonders:Roy Ayers, Iggy, Captain Beefheart, The seeds, Electric Prunes, MC5, General Prince Adekunle, Cure, Soft Machine, Al Johnson, Frankie Knuckles, Dillinger, Dr Dre, Ian Matthews, Hawkwind, Breakwater.. As per usual, a nice eclectic selection mixed up from 3 or 4 different collections that were bought in March.Want the proof like the police? Check our pictures on the facebook page around 4pm today. See you there.