Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All You Need Is Cash as Beatles Recycle Their Back Catalogue; TV WATCH

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All You Need Is Cash as Beatles Recycle Their Back Catalogue; TV WATCH

Article excerpt


Imagine BBC1

CHOPSTICKS are said to bring on arthritis in the hands of habitual users, but with me they bring out the dreadful poet that lurks within. Just this week, they inspired me to create a series of haikus during a boring lunch for one at a Japanese dump called Defune, commencing with "Chopsticks: the sole reason why the Japanese did not invent custard", and continuing with: "Good name for a satellite channel for zombies: UK Living Dead."

True, I'm no Matsuo Basho, but you must admit that "Make your own Jacuzzi: eat 10 cans of beans before taking a bath" is better than anything ever penned by Yoko Ono, that spiritual Oriental woman who has often claimed to have much in common with starving Third Worlders. "And who can argue with that? After all, they both live off dead Beatles" (that's another original haiku from Matsuo Lewis-Smith, by the way).

"If you twist something again, then people listen again and again," said a producer at Abbey Road on last night's Imagine, thereby unintentionally creating another haiku.

The Beatles' music was certainly being twisted there all right, having been put through the mangle and wrung out like a window cleaner's scrim, to yield every last drop of revenue for Yoko and the rest of the privileged few who still feed off the royalties of songs that were created 40 years ago.

To persuade the public to fork out for the "Love" album, classic material has been remixed (once again) in the Abbey Road studio, and the BBC's cameras were there to watch as drum tracks were unceremoniously moved from one song to another. Not that that matters much, given the way that Ringo used to play percussion. Well, the man has confessed to having had a serious drink problem in the Seventies and Eighties, but back in the Sixties, "In Abbey Road, Ringo Starr moved irregularly from bar to bar" (that's yet another haiku from the master).

Nobody doubts that The Beatles produced much of the pop music that defined the 1960s, but Alan Yentob's hagiographical documentary was merely chronicling the creation of a tragic folie de grandeur. "This is a marriage made in heaven," he declared portentously as he wandered around Las Vegas, where the Cirque du Soleil were rehearsing a show to accompany the remixed album.

But the visual and aural elements seemed as hopelessly mismatched as Paul McCartney and his one-legged ex-paramour, whose divorce settlement will doubtless be enhanced by the proceeds from this misbegotten venture.

If you've always thought that your enjoyment of Back in the USSRwas marred by the absence of two gymnasts trampolining over a red GPO telephone kiosk, then you'll doubtless love the performance when it's eventually franchised to a theatre near you.

But the sight of Brazilian skateboarders and French tumblers allegedly re-enacting the political evolution of the US Civil Rights movement to a revamped version of Lady Madonna was enough to cause the acid in my stomach to start digesting my lower colon. …

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