Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Idols as tangible as knockers

"Idols as tangible as the knockers on their front doors." That's what the narrator says about Beat Groups, honest.

This is a lovely color Pathé News clip of Liverpool from 1965. The narrator talks about the change from "traditional" Liverpool songs (sea shanties, Maggie May and so on) to Merseybeat.  It's a little dishonest as of course The Spinners (the UK folk group, not the American R&B group) were formed in 1958 and were part of the Great Folk Scare, rather than a bunch of Liverpudlian elders doggedly carrying on an ancient tradition. However, although they weren't actually a vestige of genuine people's music, folk was certainly ubiquitous enough at the time. I know, I had to live through it.

However, the newsreel is quite authentic in its portrayal of the mighty wind that blew away the folkie cobwebs as soon as the Beatles appeared on the scene.  You could compare it to one of those movies that starts in black and white and suddenly changes to color when Modernity In All Its Youthful Glory hits the screen. There's a palpable sense of something in the air as soon as the Beatles footage arrives.  It's worth sitting through five agonizing minutes of Johnny Todd He Took A Notion and Maggie May just to feel the skull-peeling effect of the great leap forward as the Spinners fade out and the Beat Groups fade in.

Speaking of whom, there's quite a lot of high quality footage of The Searchers in the studio recording Sugar and Spice a couple of years earlier. The studio arrangement looks very primitive, but when you see the engineer capture the performance on reel-to-reel and then take the reels over to the disk-cutting equipment you see equipment that Jack White would cheerfully kill for.

Not that Jack needs all that equipment any more. Jack's proposed adventure for Record Store Day (on April 19th) is to record direct to acetate at Third Man's performance room, rush the acetate over to United Records Pressing and press vinyl records in time for the fans to take a copy home with them. Quite a brave thing to do, if there really isn't an intermediate tape, unless he's located the bloke pictured above, now with fifty more years of experience in cutting discs....

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