As you may have noticed, if you’re like a Dolby Disaster aficionado with a bobblehead of Jim Breuer (my spiritual guru) on your dresser, I usually don’t pay attention to these anniversary reissues and didn’t prescribe any fanfare unto the Sgt. Pepper’s expedition of last year, also helmed by George Martin’s son Giles.
Well, 1968 is sort of a different animal from the prior year, which is classified as and qualifies comparatively as the “Summer of Love.” Why? Well, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy both got assassinated, each in that same year. It was like a ceremonial execution of America’s primary leaders.
You will kindly note, then, that The Rolling Stones bequeathed us Beggars Banquet and “Sympathy for the Devil” in the wake of such unsavory proceedings. And the Beatles gave us… “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” a total gag about barfing on a plane and fantasizing about Georgia girls (the Russian Georgia of course… which one did you think they meant)?
And yes, apropos of this we have, per Wikipedia, my fact checking cuz (this time at least), “New Left commentators condemned The Beatles for its failure to offer a political agenda.” This is most ironic, of course, in that conversely, according to the same article, “the words (of ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’) were interpreted by Christian evangelist David Noebel as further proof of the Beatles’ compliance in a Communist plot to brainwash American youth.” Here’s to reviving the Red Scare in the late ’60s! Woo-hoo!
Well, now, let’s frame this against the wise words of Kamasi Washington, in a recent Rolling Stone interview. Washington was addressing questions pertaining to 2017 American politics and what sort of influences said matters wielded on his music, to which he said, rather plainly but eloquently, that “’Someone like Donald Trump can’t control the way I show love to my brother.’” So, although this is still certainly a very opaque statement, what with Washington being a black American and for that reason in an oppressed, cautious position before the public eye, as it were, we can see how in certain prominent cases the impetus to create political music is thwarted by other, more basic, primal, or at very least artistic, things, and that sometimes this “showing love” by way of the pure expression is the right way to go, semantics be da**ed. And with the obvious exception of “Piggies,” which the way I understand it could just as easily pertain to Britain as to America, this is what the Beatles did – just laid their burden down and had some fun creating an album, most of which was actually recorded in India, as I just read. But they did position “Back in the U.S.S.R.” as the lead song and it is a great track. So respect is paid and I can’t think of any other project on which they chafe America like this, their tongue-in-cheek disposition perhaps indicating their knowledge that to think they could really make a difference with music would be naïve, but to completely ignore the situation would be wrong too. Wikipedia lists “Back in the U.S.S.R.” as a parody of Chuck Berry’s song “Back in the U.S.A.” but I don’t believe that for a second. In fact, that Berry song is already a mimicry of “Johnny B. Goode,” hence giving it less clout to spawn such a reaction in another, after all.
Anyway, here are what I noticed to be the previously unheard tracks which surface on this “Super Deluxe Edition” from this year, ranked from last to first, accompanied by a Spotify playlist of them and one juxtaposing them against the end of the entire album. Admittedly, this has nothing to do with the introductory diatribe I offer in this post. Yeah whatever.
Another interesting pencil note is that “Nature Boy” is basically the skeleton of what would eventually become the John Lennon solo song “Jealous Guy,” which I was surprised to not see addressed in any of the blurbs.
11 “Sour Milk Sea”
9 “Step inside Love – Studio Jam”
8 “Los Paranoias – Studio Jam”
7 “St. Louis Blues – Studio Jam”
6 “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care”
5 “Child of Nature”
4 “Blue Moon – Studio Jam”
3 “Not Guilty”
2 “What’s the New Mary Jane”
1 “The Inner Light – Take 6”