Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please put your hands together and give a big round of applause for 09-09-09! Yes that exclusive date on the calendar has finally arrived, and no P.R. megacorp could have drummed-up a stronger strapline. Whichever way you look at it, 09-09-09 simply rolls off the tongue, it’s got traction, it’s the whole ball of wax. Mind you, I can’t remember anyone making hay out of 08-08-08 or even 07-07-07 for that matter. A missed opportunity of course was the year of 1961. That was the only chance in our lifetime where the numerals read the same when they were turned upside down. It’s a sobering thought that such a date will not come around again until 6009. It was though in 1961 that the Beatles began to feature some of their own songs on stage, including ‘The One After 909′. Maybe the lads had a crystal ball, because 09-09-09 has been impregnated into the public conscious over the past few months in a bid to herald the arrival of “The Beatles: Rock Band Video Game”.
Following the success of RedOctane’s “Guitar Heroes” (a format that has done wonders for rusting Heavy Metal outfits), the B.R.B. video is destined to elevate wannabes into potential “Pop Idol” candidates. The process of depicting John, Paul, George and Ringo in a subliminal form is nothing new of course. Beginning in 1965 a Beatles cartoon series aired on ABC-TV in the States, and around the same time Madame Tussauds unveiled its very own Beatle waxworks – although the less said about that the better. It is a little known fact that up until 1967 no one had ever used the term ‘Band’ in conjunction with a beat group before. In their efforts to stay one jump ahead, the Fab Four took out a series of full page ads in the music press to promote their latest work as being by The Beatles – “A Band”. Once again, the ‘rock music’ lexicon was in need of adjustment.
On June 1st 1987 I was invited to Abbey Road to be present at the CD launch of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I shall never forget the experience, not just because of the aural improvements that had been made since the album’s vinyl release (cue: ‘twenty years ago today’) but because of the reaction of those present. At the time I was producing in London as well as broadcasting on the BBC, so naturally I imagined that I might be joined by a few fellow deejays and some industry faces. It turned out that everyone present hailed from Fleet Street. As the music unfolded in its new set of digital clothes I began grooving away. When I looked around, to my astonishment I couldn’t see a single finger twitching or a foot tapping to the pulse of ‘Rita’, ‘64′ or ‘Mr. Kite’. Sure, there were plenty of notebooks being scribbled in, but there was no sign of any passion or any muscle moving to the beat of the Beatles. Those blasé pencil pushers were clearly devoid of any soul.
Newly-mastered yet again, the groups’ abiding legacy now sounds as fresh as a daisy. I make no bones about it. Right there is an indirect reference to the finest Beatle soundalike ever recorded – ‘Fresh As A Daisy’ by Emitt Rhodes. Full credit to Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia Harrison for the time and effort they’ve given to getting this crucial project right. Let’s be honest, the industry has come a long way since the days when names were mis-spelt and lyrics were misheard. Who remembers when photos were printed the wrong way around, thus making southpaws out of John, George and Ringo, and Paul seemingly playing a right-handed bass. Whilst the gravy train is rolling, let us spare a thought for the manufacturers of Beatle wigs. If a certain Rod Blagojevich has his way, Beatle haircuts could soon be back in style. The mop-haired former Governor of Illinois who was impeached back in January, is currently in New York promoting his 259-page memoir. The tome likens his demise to a Shakespearean tragedy so, altogether now, “Yeah, yeah, yeah verily”.