Graham Reid | | 3 min read
So here we are in 2033, the 70th anniversary of the release of the Beatles' debut album Please Please Me and celebrating the event with the remixed and remastered edition of the album by Giles Martin (son of George Martin, peace be upon him) and his producer-daughter Gillian.
This is the final installment in the remix/remaster/reissue/re-sell series of the complete Beatles' catalogue which began with the expanded Sgt Pepper back in 2017.
The release arrives as a four LP, three CD and in the new DSTN format (Digital Sonic Transfer Neurology, sound waves sent directly into the brain).
And as before, the original album comes with outtakes, studio banter, coughing and, because the group were nervous, numerous false starts, shouting, arguments and tea breaks.
In fact, the tea breaks when the band go to the canteen are among the more interesting tracks as various engineers, producer George Martin and others in the studio talk of how “bloody blimmin' hopeless” the group is.
George Martin saying at one point, “I wash my hands of these clowns. I don't mind that they didn't like my tie but I don't bloody like their music, if you can call it that”.
The fractious mood permeates the outtakes where we hear for the first time why Lennon's voice was so raw on the original album's closing track Twist and Shout.
In the previous two hours he had tried the song 17 times, got in a shouting match with Harrison (some critics noting it anticipates Lennon's primal scream phase) and finally gets it right after sculling half a bottle of whiskey . . . after which he takes a swing at McCartney and says some unpublishable things about Gerry Marsden, Brian Epstein, Bob Wooler and anyone else he can think of.
It sounds like he is carried out crying after Mal Evans fells him with punch.
What makes this final release fascinating however is the new nano-technology invented by Gillian Martin in conjunction with Peter Jackson's Wet'n'Weta Studio.
With the Special Edition And Especially Expensive Set comes a selection of microchips which allow listeners to recalibrate digital imagery and holograms of the Beatles into different genders, races, languages and culturally sensitive iterations (the process known as GFRSM-L Avatars).
For example, it is now possible to have the band as a transgender musicians from Uzbekistan or women from Tierra del Fuego.
The coding allows for he, she, it, NOTA (none of the above) or AOTA (all of the above) options to be explored and have the group of choice perform as life-size hologram projections.
In a run-through at Abbey Road Studios' Experimental Partners workshop (ARSE Partners), media representative were treated to the gay Inuit iteration singing Ask Me Why in Korean and Love Me Do by four sumo wrestlers.
Although the Martins and the Apple marketing executives and accountants hailed this as “a more accessible Beatles for the new era”, many were divided about the project.
Already various members of the LGBGTQIA2S+/NOTA/AOTA communities have expressed outrage that their particular identity has not been included, or that it has been but without their consultation.
It is believed that around 200 separate groups are planning a mass protest in London's Piccadilly Circus on New Year's Eve.
Other criticism has come from within the music world itself.
“Much as I liked it,” said David Frickenheck of Rolling Stone, “I actually couldn't see the point.
“However it was kind of fun to see Ringo as a nine-year old black person of no-fixed gender singing Boys in what I took to be Haitian. Or maybe it was some language from Papua New Guinea?”
Ngugi Mystik-Nassau Braithwaite says the possibilities of the new technology allows consumers to "free this group from its toxic masculinity and rid us of the notion of the patriarchy as it is exemplified by a boys club of four young males which excluded women and appropriated music by what they called 'girl groups' like the Supremes, the Donays and the Temptations.
"These were groups of creative, unique women and the Beatles' hegemony robbed them of their rightful place in the pantheon. Now we can recreate the Beatles as women, as they should have been all along."
Dick Schwang, music critic for the on-line drag magazine Boyz'N'Oil said “the possibilities are endless with this wonderful technology. I'm looking forward to creating four cute Pauls as Italian hairdressers in kilts.
“That's what the Beatles mean these days, they are infinitely malleable and flexible. We're more into the image than anything else. I mean I didn't listen to it, but their music is pretty meaningless actually, don't you think?”
As the champagne corks popped and the Martins, Apple and music writers expressed relief that the complete Beatles catalogue had now finally come to an end, the room was suddenly silenced when Gillian Martin's four year old son said, “This is cool. I can't wait to see all the other Beatle albums now with GFRSM-L Avatars”.
At which point the Please Please Me album started playing again with, by coincidence, the opening track: “One two three faww . . .”
Looks like another long and winding road ahead for Beatle completists.
For other articles along these lines, but more humorous, check out Absurd Elsewhere here.