Radio Quarantine -Meeks – Beatless (2013)

There is still an aging generation of men who will call me a fool or a heretic because of my feelings, or lack thereof, for The Beatles. It was a cultural, evangelical phenomenon when I was younger. It’s still not uncommon to hear these words:

Before The Beatles there was nothing…

The best there ever was or ever will be…

Music writers often wrote of second comings. “Could they be the next Beatles?” I’d argue that there would have to be a first Beatles before there could be a next, meaning only really that nobody could ever be as great as people claimed The Beatles were. It was never a question of denying their talent, or even a fondness for some of their music. It was just that young white kids were never given a choice in the matter. This is your religion. Don’t question the gods! It’s still offputting to me when I hear anyone speak of any band spoken of in such terms. I believe in favorites. I don’t believe in best. I believe in attachments to music that soundtrack special moments in your life. Newness. Novelty. Nostalgia. Etc. Beyond that everything is relative, isn’t it? There is no greatest.

Skepticism. Agnosticism. Heresy. In any event, I grew to almost resenting The Beatles. Silly, but true. They were forced upon our entire generation.

Putting that aspect of it aside, the music itself always struck me as quite good. It just didn’t move me to the same extent it did others. Others whom I still believe latched on the way some people latch on to a religion or church because they want to be part of the phenomenon. They want to be on the inside. Coming back in from the outside though, there are songs I’m always still happy to hear. They bring back pleasant memories too, along with the associations of… well… you know.

What’s always been more interesting to me has been the covers of Beatles songs. The tributes, to me, are often more interesting than the originals. That’s really how I feel about this album of covers by the Yokahama band THE MEEKS. They weren’t even really a band per se, but a side project of another shoegaze band called BROKEN LITTLE SISTER. And the funny thing is, while I really like Memories, Violet & Demons, their one full album, this collection of covers is better, which says something about songwriting, so let’s hand it to Lennon & McCartney there. Shoegaze covers of Beatles songs? Absolutely. It works.

My favorite of the lot is Norwegian Wood, which is a song I never really cared for in the slightest. There are several covers of the song I like a lot, but this one could be my favorite. Notice I didn’t say the best. Just my favorite. That’s all that really matters. It’s my favorite. That doesn’t mean anything to anyone but me. We’ll leave it at that. Beatless is a wonderful record though. There are probably some High Priests of Beatledom who will sneer and scoff, but it’s hard to imagine anyone truly disliking any of this. I can’t even imagine The Beatles themselves not loving it. Not that I would presume to know the gods. Insert wry smile right here.

The funny thing is, hearing this record actually makes me appreciate the originals more. Sure it’s been a long time and all the negative associations are far, far away and long gone, but it’s still about the music.

It’s always about the music.

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