woensdag 14 februari 2018

The Analogues plays "The White Album". Carré, Amsterdam Monday 12 February 2018

Photo: Wo.
My fourth The Analogues show in about two years. Five if I count its showcase in the 'De Wereld Draait Door' studio. The band tackled the most ambitious The Beatles album, the four sides of what the world has come to call "The White Album". It was never my favourite compared to the two super albums it is lodged in between. So is it time for a reappraisal?

The White Album and I will go back to around 1980 I suppose. Before that there was only "the blue one", '1967-1970'. I remember hearing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' for the first time and being stunned by the strength of the song. With the exception of 'Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da', a, for The Beatles minor hit early in 1969, the album was a mystery to me. And I simply did not really like it, and 'Revolution #9' had to do a lot with that.

The album does play a special role in my student years. When I needed a bigger cupboard in my 3 by 4 meters dorm room, for clothes, plates and stuff, I asked my parents to look out for one. They let me know they found one and my brother would bring it while moving himself. To my astonishment a three layered living room piece was delivered that had to be carried up seven flights as it didn't fit into the elevator. And it fitted against one of the long walls. Dark coloured, huge and ugly. But my stuff fitted in there, including all my albums. On the four top doors I taped the four mini posters of The Beatles from the album. How popular the band was at the time (not), showed that my dorm mates quipped that they laid buried behind the doors.

Fast forward to 2018. The Analogues come on stage and start 'Back In The U.S.S.R.'. The strength of the song and the band's performance suck me into the show only to really let go after the second encore 'All You Need Is Love'. I notice a change in the line up. Despite sitting nearly beneath the roof of Carré I would say Felix Maginn, ex-Supersub and (ex?) Moke, was standing on stage. Later it turned that Jan van der Meij had to leave the band due to hearing problems. This sound very serious. Hopefully for him things will turn out alright.
Photo : Wo. Screen of 128 White Albums

In his book '1966' Jon Savage writes somewhere that there were The Beatles and that everybody in London was waiting for what the band would do next and follow at a faster or slower pace while others were left behind for ever. In 1968 things were the same. Where all bands were still dabbing in psychedelia The Beatles (and to its credit The Rolling Stones, as 'Jumping Jack Flash' is the blueprint for the next 50 years of its career) took a sharp turn in another direction. Strictly looking on 'Sgt. Pepper's' anything went also, but somewhere in between there is a lot of psychedelia in singles and 'Magical Mystery Tour'.

'The Beatles' is simply a totally different album. So many layers can be found on it, but a lot of the extras were done away with. The songs are so divers and several among the best the band has done. George Harrison showed himself a mature songwriter, John Lennon dug deeper than ever, Paul simply did everything he felt like, from 30s jazz to the invention of heavy metal and Ringo Starr wrote his first song and gets a country fiddle into The Beatles repertoire. The album is full with musical jokes, mystery pieces that do not seem to belong to anything and short snippets of songs that come from and go nowhere. Foremost by far the most songs were so much down to basics. Direct, empty. So when the extras do come in, they are a surprise. Adding something really special. 'The Beatles' is The Beatles.

All that The Analogues played, except the piggy sounds in 'Piggies'. And the little Spanish guitar at the end of 'Wild Honey Pie' (what is it doing there?) was a tape, I think. If one of The Analogues members was able to play that, he would have wanted the lights on alright. The music allows for small jokes and the musicians make them with obvious pleasure. The three recorder notes in 'Glass Onion', the high piano notes in 'Ob-La-Di'. (Even that horrendous song sounded nice in this context.) A harp in 'Good Night' is rolled on stage for just a few notes.

Again I notice that in my lifetime there really only has been one band. There is no other that comes close in quality, in singing, in harmonies, in arranging, in diversity and what not. The Beatles is simply the best pop music had and has to offer. Oh yes, I like loads of other bands, that I play a lot more than I do The Beatles in the past decades. It just took The Analogues to make me remember just how good I think The Beatles are. If a band comes close it is Pink Floyd in the 70s. Both are a part of my DNA.

Photo Wo.
A singer called Wouter Bakker replaced Van der Meij in the high Paul songs (and one John, I think). He sang the three really big rock songs on 'The Beatles' fabulously. And the biggest challenge? That musical collage I always skip? (Thanks to this show I was reminded how good 'Savoy Truffle' is. Great swing with all the horns in it.) As was correctly stated, The Analogues re-enact the studio songs of The Beatles the band never played live itself. 'Revolution #9' was never played in any form. It is a collage of existing sounds. So they put a tape recorder on stage with a self-created collage by bassplayer Bart van Poppel and a movie on the screen. Even then 8 minutes plus were long, but doable. During the whole show on the collage made of photographs of 128 'The Beatles' albums in current states, animations were shown accompanying the music. The Analogues shows keep growing.

In the encore Vox amps everywhere and a Ludwig drumkit. We went 1963-1964 for three songs, starting with the first song of the first album. A song that already showed what this band was capable of as composers. There's nothing much standard about the rock and roll song 'I Saw Here Standing There'. Such a great song.

'The Beatles' is a much more elementary album where studio musicians were concerned, yet someone is needed to play that one horn note somewhere. In the lullaby 'Good Night' all could get on stage and in the grand finale 'All You Need Is Love'. Leaving me just in awe of the power of the music of The Beatles and of The Analogues who have pulled this off again.

'The Beatles' is fabulous album by a band on the top of its creative game. It only has one flaw, besides 'Revolution '9' of course, there are that other two albums: the one that preceded it and the one following it. All in the course of a few years, 1967, 1968 and 1969. In between many hits were released not to be put on albums, 'Magical Mystery Tour' and 'Let It Be' were recorded as well. So everything is by comparison, even 'The Beatles'. There's no doubt where this album belongs: near the top of every list of albums from the 60s and far beyond.

Stepping into the car coincidentally 'I Go Wild' was on a mix MP3 disk. No matter how much I love The Stones, I just knew: there is no comparison. Like in 1966 and 1968 there is only one band on the top of the pantheon. The rest is just satellites.

Let me end with a thought that just entered my head. What if The Analogues were to go and make that album The Beatles could have made had they not stopped being a band? Just imagine the hits on that album!?


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