Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Believe It Or Not, This Band Came From Liverpool

Culture year was great, wasn't it? We had the Beatles, erm, the Phil, the Everyman, erm the Beatles, the Playhouse, erm, the Beatles........oh, yes, Macca's gig at Anfield, you know, the one which was meant to be at the Salthouse Dock with the dock drained of water & the fish humanely stunned by the city council before they realised it wasn't feasible, a conclusion arrived at via a six-figure "feasibility" study.

Well, now the council have realised that we don't celebrate the Beatles enough in Liverpool. After all, you have to admit that a casual stroll around the city centre wouldn't even indicate that they came from here. Would it? (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2009/10/13/council-plans-beatle-trail-through-liverpool-92534-24914002/ ).

Marc Waddington's article is typically sketchy with the word "could" being used in such a way as to mean "will" to the casual peruser, a tried & tested trick on Oldham Hall Street. It also goes over Beatle history in Liverpool (just in case anyone is still in the dark about the group's local origins).

Waddington's piece breathlessly gasps:

"Councillors will discuss the possibility of teaming up with record label Apple and Peter Blake, the artist responsible for the front cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

You can imagine the reaction in Apple's offices as they receive yet another cringe-inducing approach from the council, can't you? A sigh, a few comments to the effect that these people need to start living in the twenty-first century & a patronising reply which trots out the old cliches about the 60s.

The gimmick, sorry, idea will take the form of a motion at the city council tomorrow, proposed by deputy council leader Flo Clucas. Yes, the same Flo Clucas who remarked back in 2005 that the demolition of Ringo Starr's birthplace in Madryn Street, alongside that of the other houses in the neighbourhood down in the Dingle, was justified because he spent only the first few years of his life there. Besides, the Lib Dems wanted to indulge in a little social cleansing to preserve their ruinous grip on the city.

But back to today & the Bread & Circus tactic beloved by Bradley, Storey, Clucas & co. is wheeled out with Waddington's piece acting as the cheerleader:

"It is hoped the project would be completed by next May, the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' final album, Let It Be.

"In the run-up to the Capital of Culture year, some were keen to stress that Liverpool had more offer than just The Beatles.

"But Cllr Clucas said she believed there was more to be made of Liverpool's Beatle history.

"She added: 'From my point of view, The Beatles are big business, whatever you think about their music - which I happen to love.

" 'Look at the classic performers like Elvis Presley, and Graceland, his home in Memphis - their home towns exploit it to the full.' "

There's so much to get my teeth into here, it's a veritable feast. Firstly, the thought that anyone would want to make a meal of the band's worst album 40 years after it apologetically slipped out is bizarre; oh, & it wasn't the group's "final album", Abbey Road was recorded later.

Moreover, those of us who stressed that there was more to the city's culture than the Fabs were either ignored or derided throughout last year. As for Cllr Clucas' contention that the Beatles are "big business", it's telling that she puts this consideration ahead of their musical legacy. The Elvis Presley parallel is one which makes discerning observers here wince; the Matthew Street festival is bad enough, a mawkish, backward-looking nostalgia fest, it's well on the way to aping the Graceland "experience" & homage to the original Burger King.

Do such caveats & reservations permeate the thinking of the intellectuals who put together what passes for the editorial in the Oldham Echo? Put it this way, there's more chance of McCartney having a pint with Pete Best, Mark Chapman & Heather Mills in The Grapes (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/views/our-view/2009/10/13/why-liverpool-should-keep-flying-the-flag-for-the-beatles-100252-24912534/ ):

"IT'S a debate which Liverpool has with itself all the time - do we make too much or too little of The Beatles?"

And, of course, the Oldham Echo has never been reluctant to reflect such a debate in its pages. Has it?

The, erm, editorial goes on to trumpet: "We're not just talking about a good thing, but the biggest and best thing and biggest and best band to have ever come out of Liverpool."

Hang on, are we suddenly talking about Professor Chucklebutty & his Diddymen? Oh, sorry, my mistake:

"Critics may continue to carp and complain that Liverpool is living in the past. They may say we should now 'Let It Be'. "

See what they've done there? Clever, eh? Like I said, they're all intellectuals in the Oldham Echo editorial department.


Liverpool Preservation Trust said...

Strawberry Fools Forever.

Paddy said...

Penny Kiley wrote an excellent piece on Liverpool media's wretched love of nostalgia on Liverpool Confidential a while ago.