Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A history of the Beatles through their music (part 3) and Flying visit to Tate Modern

The challenge of delivering a history of the Beatles to a bunch of confirmed fans in a series of four off two hour presentations was amply demonstrated last night when the overrun came in at one hour.
Not only have we all got something to say but course leader again threw in a personal reminiscence of when as a busking Saxophone player in the 80's he was invited to play as a session musician on a Malcolm Mclaren produced band at John's old Surrey home and saw a set of ruined Aubrey Beardsley originals (Aubrey is one of the figures on the Peter Blake produced  Iconic Pepper album cover)  as well as numerous John and Yoko initials.
I gotta wear shades
How to summarise the transition from a touring band to the artistic heights conquered during Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's was always going to take some doing!
As well as the song-writing there were the technological advances as extra tracks became available on new (analogue) tape machines, there was ADT, Flanging and compression and the possibilities of long uninterrupted studio sessions. The first Beatles album  (Please Please Me) took a day to record on Sergeant Pepper they had 700 hours of dalliance at EMI's Abbey Road.
As the 'boys' began to despair of  what their live performances could deliver to the screaming fans the idea of using their time instead to create in the studio seemed a no-brainer,  their last live show in 1966 in San Francisco felt like a liberation.

As well as dissatisfying performances they underwent the worries of death threats following a religious backlash in the USA following John's Evening Standard interview where he questioned the strength of Christianity not to mention a run-in with shoe loving  Imelda Marcos.
Sad to say that there were some artists who were de-stabilised by the work of the Beatles (and their own 'chemical' consumptions) at this time notably Beach Boy  Brian Wilson who felt his new work 'Smile' would not match that of the Liverpool mop-tops.
What I also reflected on during the day about the Beatles was that they were not always saying we're the greatest instead letting their work speak for them, to me often over confidence is not a sign of creativity or confidence.

Tate Minimalism

Take it to the bridge
I only had an hour or so at The Tate Modern before my Beatles course but took a look (yet again) at the Rothko room which feels more like a church each time I visit it and some of the Minimalist works - which draw me in more and  more.
Highlights were
Josef Albers Squares 
Jo Baer Stations of the Spectrum
the three boxes by Larry Bell.

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