Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kicking Edgar Allen Poe- The Beatles' Greek Island Adventure

Kicking Edgar Allen Poe, is a combination of mixes of The Beatles' psychedelic period that I made many years ago. I don't have a record of my exact sources for all the tracks- some are the standard studio versions though usually in mono, others are earlier takes or alternates from bootlegs or the Anthology releases. I pulled both mixes out the other day and listened to them for the first time in years and decided to build a stronger mix from a combination of the two. I liked the result and so decided to share it here as part of my annual psychedelic Christmas celebration. A little early I know but when inspiration strikes what can you do but roll with it.

The mix starts with an early take of those newly mustachioed Beatles first single of 1967 "Strawberry Fields" and then continues on thru that fabled year taking in the many highs along the way including the last bit of 1968's "going to India dreaminess" before professional grouch Bob Dylan and his John Wesley Harding came and kicked the counterculture in the collective crotch of their velvet trousers thereby rendering even the best of the forward thinking, experimental, lysergic fueled fantasy pop uncool and making way, albeit unintentionally, for a return to a largely reactionary and suspect American traditionalism that has given us such questionable fruits as the election of Richard Nixon, Greil Marcus's career and the whole alt. country genre. Our mix then ends, as well it must, with "A Day In The Life". I read the news today, oh boy, for real! 

Kicking Edgar Allen Poe, was chosen as the title for the mix not just cause it's a great line but because it ties in (admittedly) loosely with my imaginings of the Beatles planned 1967 escape to live on their own Greek Island for the rest of their technicolor lives (read Poe as a synonym for doom/gloom and society's descent into madness and "kicking" as  drug slang for withdrawal/getting off of something). 

The Beatles plan to buy a Greek Island on which they would live and record with their family and friends is not only a true story but also one of those great 60's POP what ifs?. What might have happened if they had followed thru with their plan? Could Zimmerman and his hairy Confederate loving Canadian backing band have been cut off at the pass? Just how far and far out would the Beatles have taken their music and lifestyles. Would they have become messianic? A trifle too satanic? (sorry, been listening to Let It Bleed a lot lately). As Prince might say, dig if you will the picture. 

Maybe flakey ol' Tim Leary's casting of the fab four as a new breed of mutants- "prototypes of evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with a mysterious power to create a new human species, a young race of laughing freemen” might have actually manifested itself on that little Greek isle. This dear readers is where the intersection of the music and your imagination really takes off! Strap yourself in and have fun! Listen to the future shock of hip-hop in Ringo's drums.

Derek Taylor described John's plan for the island as follows- "The four Beatles would have their network at the centre of the compound: a dome of glass and iron tracery not unlike the old Crystal Palace over the mutual creative/play area, from which arbours and avenues would lead off like spokes from a wheel to four vast and incredibly beautiful separate living units. In the outer grounds, the houses of the inner clique: Neil (Aspinall), Mal (Evans), Terry (Doran) and Derek, complete with partners, families and friends..." 
The Crystal Palace

At the very least this sounds like the starting point for an incredibly fun and colorful psychedelic sci-fi film (consider this mix the soundtrack) or the makings for a mind-blowing piece of historical fiction- if somebody with some real prose skills took the premise and let their imaginations run riot. I'd suggest Robert Irwin as the man for the job, but unfortunately I think he's stopped writing novels, which is a shame cause his books were always damn fine work, usually in the historical fiction vein, not to digress but I strongly recommend that fans of this period of the 1960's check out his psychedelic occult novel Satan Wants Me 

Track-listing and pictures of the Beatles in Greece follow.

1. Strawberry Fields Forever 
2. Penny Lane
3. Good Morning (demo)
4. Good Morning, Good Morning
5. Only A Northern Song
6. Lovely Rita
7. Lucy In The Sky Diamonds
8. Getting Better
9. Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite
10. Within You, Without You (instrumental)
11. Wonder What The Magicians Are Cooking Up Now?
12. Magical Mystery Tour
13. Baby You're A Rich Man
14. All You Need Is Love
15. It's All Too Much
16. Your Mother Should Know
17. I Am The Walrus
18. Flying (alternate take)
19. Blue Jay Way
20. Across The Universe
21. Hey Bulldog
22.The Inner Light
23. Sgt. Pepper Reprise
24. A Day In the Life

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