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For the Beatles: notes on their achievement

  • Tim Riley
Extract

Rosie and the Originals released their only 45 rpm single in early 1960. ‘Angel Baby’, the A side, reached number five in America, but it never even saw the light of day on the British charts. The song is dismissable, a one-hit wonder from singer Rosie Hamlin that didn't deserve a follow-up. But the B side is something else entirely: for one thing, one of the Originals is hogging the mike, Rosie is nowhere to be heard – a mystery that the label doesn't explain. The record is much as Lennon describes: after a revved-up guitar intro, the drums vanish and leave everyone else playing straight off the top of their heads. The listener eavesdrops on a sloppy rhythm and blues concoction, with jealous lyrics sung to unrehearsed riffing – it's so sloppy, so incoherently diffuse that it's more laughable than it is danceable. To say ‘Give Me Love’ sounds spontaneous doesn't begin to suggest its strangeness; the musicians themselves don't seem to know where the next downbeat is going to land. The listener has trouble making sense of the music, but then again, so do the musicians. Far from backing up Rosie's wilful début, it sounds as though someone left the tape machine running during an early morning musical reverie – sounds that were completely random became crystallised on tape. It unveiled the would-be Originals as crudely inspired amateurs, who weren't even able to sustain their facade as a group from one side of a 45 rpm single to the other.

Copyright
References
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Davies, H. 1978. The Beatles: The Biography. (New York, revised edn)
Dundy, E. 1985. Elvis and Gladys (New York)
Lewisohn, . 1986. The Beatles Live! (London)
Marcus, G. 1975. Mystery Train (New York, Dutton)
Marcus, G. 1980. ‘The Beatles’ in Miller, J. (ed.) The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll (New York, Random House)
Riley, T. 1988. Tell Me Why: A Beatles Companion (New York: Knopf, London: Bodley Head)
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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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