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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, December 03, 2008
    A different sort of fever
     
    I'm approaching the end of European Capital of Culture year with a feverish dose of flu, which is a blessing because it's given me the opportunity to shiver on the sofa with The Beatles 'White Album' in my ears. Like a lot of locals I tend to forget, or underappreciate, the Liverpool-Beatles culture connection but it's still very strong, as attested by the many, many visitors taking coughing, spluttering Magical Mystery Tour buses through Allerton a few times daily.

    Also tend to forget, or underappreciate, the brilliance of the music. Mostly through taking it for granted, not really listening to it much, making assumptions that I 'know' it.

    In an refreshingly enthusiastic review in this week's New Statesman, one without a hint of metropolitan media snobbery, Antonia Quirke can't stop herself marvelling at the artistry of the late-Beatles, and the way that even in 1968 they were still evidently thrilling themselves with their inventiveness:
    ...the kick you get listening to "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" comes from actually being able to - can't you? - hear the band thinking: "Look! Aren't we brilliant, jamming away like this! We once did 'Yellow Submarine' in an evening, remember? Maybe this doesn't ever have to end after all!"
    They are brilliant. Back In The U.S.S.R. followed by Dear Prudence - and that's just the opening; the awesome While My Guitar Gently Weeps and the raw, proto-metal Helter Skelter... as a collection this can't be bettered, surely. And that can't just be my delirium. THEY SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY... IT'S MY BIRTHDAY TOO YEAH...

    No wonder we're European Capital of Culture, with this pedigree. Besides the typically Liverpudlian tall tales like those of Bungalow Bill, and the recalcitrant Piggies (kicking against the suits a decade before Pink Floyd's Animals), there's the jolly Scouse singalongs Glass Onion (with its Cast Iron Shore reference) and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. And near the end, seguing between Cry Baby Cry and the stoner classic Revolution 9, is McCartney singing "Can you take me back where I came from / Can you take me back?" Glad I took them back today. Left me in a different sort of fever.