Saturday, 8 October 2016

Kent’s Beatles and Sergeant Pepper

The 50th Anniversary next year of the release of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a key event for Kent.

The album itself marks an astonishing achievement for the Great British Creative Industries in joining together Pop Music and Art for the first time.

But as with this year’s celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary it could be a dashed-off damp squib rather than a psychedelic firework lighting up the world all next year from Liverpool to Los Angeles.

Have you heard of any events yet? I haven’t.

The Kent Beatles you say?

The album cover by Peter Blake symbolising the end of the era of the Fab Four as their incarnation of Sergeant Pepper’s band stands over the grave of the Moptops.

The album being the first to print the lyrics of the songs as works of art in themselves.

And, whisper it quietly, it wasn’t even their best album.

Rubber Soul or Revolver or even Help could be argued to be more cohesive or experimental.

Sergeant Pepper is too long at 13 tracks and too many fillers: Fixing a Hole? And too much of Macca’s music hall ditties: When I’m Sixty-Four?

And just two years later The Beatles ended.

But the full blossoming of Flower Power and psychedelia and hard rock and a pop music was something substantial and far more than showbiz or Tin Pan Alley ephemera.

Macca in a recent The Spectator interview described how the first iteration of the Pepper cover was a municipal flower clock. No doubt badly-done and over-budget if left to the council: we might still be waiting for the album to be released.

But what an album it would have been if it had been trimmed down to say 8 tracks – and this is where Kent comes in – if Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane were included.

Strawberry Fields Forever:

Penny Lane:

Those songs were released as a double A-side in January 1967 and it was felt that only unreleased tracks should be on the album for its release on 1st June.

Both songs formed the first-ever music video filmed at Knole Park near Sevenoaks in Kent – surprising for Northern Songs about their childhoods in Liverpool which is a large part of the Pepper concept album – with avant-garde colour film techniques.

An especially unusual mix as Strawberry Fields Forever was written in Almeria on the location of How I Won The War, and the Advanced Area cricket pitch, inspiring the famous Lennon granny glasses – and apt for Kent given the huge regeneration success of Southern Spain with numerous EU awards and the UAL Group new universities from Almeria, Cordoba, Huelva etc.

The song and Almeria even inspiring the film Living is Easy With Eyes Closed... winner of the Goyas and Academy Award selection.

Kent scored a second goal with Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite on Sgt Pepper inspired by a circus poster found in a Sevenoaks antiques shop during a break in filming by John Lennon.

And Kent scored a hat-trick later in the year with much of The Magical Mystery Tour album and film being shot in Kent especially in West Malling airfield with the famous I Am The Walrus scene.

Just 5 years after their first Abbey Road recordings Sergeant Pepper marked a pinnacle for the Beatles and the dominance of British rock music that has never been relinquished.

And it cemented UK from the Carnaby St era onwards as the heart of cutting-edge Fashion and Art.

And what an album if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, for the Our World first global broadcast, had recorded All You Need is Love a few weeks earlier.

The album sold 5.1M in USA and is still the third highest-selling album and regularly rated the best album ever. Perhaps only ever bettered by Pet Sounds or Exile on Main St.

How foolish if UK and Kent fail to deliver on that success from 1st June the 50th Anniversary next year.

Pepper with the salty tang of the seaside, if you will

While Margate and Ramsgate in their seaside town variety shows regularly hosted Kent's Beatles and Kent's Rolling Stones – again all unremarked.

The Kent Police Brass Band – the Blue Blowers – are tuning up to celebrate Sgt Pepper with the relaunch of the Grade 1 listed Victorian Eastcliff Bandstand – one of the world’s only polished-cement dancefloors.

The uniforms are being tailored to replicate the Pepperland band uniforms (prima donna demands are in hand already for Thai silk not satin, and an extra bottle of whisky and a crate of Heineken rider, and concerns over the tonguing for Lovely Rita Meter Maid given the policeman’s fear of the parking ticket) but there’s one ingredient missing...

...Often overlooked in the success of the Beatles, is the star of the first full Pepper song...

...The one and only Billy Shears...

...The star of A Hard Day’s Night and Help with his magic ring...

...Liverpool’s finest railway man...

..The only British Spaghetti Western star with Blindman...

...The star of the best rock and roll film ever in That’ll Be The Day – produced by ASEAN Trade Minister and the Killing Fields’ David Puttnam...

...Putting the Ludwig into Beethoven and rolling over and telling Tchaikosky the news...

...The hardest working man in British showbusiness – eight days a week...

...A backbeat that you just can’t lose – even in a Yellow Submarine or the Octopus’ garden...

...Drumming up a hurricane and a roaring storm...

Laydeez and Gennelmen,

the one,

the only,

Mistaaaah Ringoooo Starrrrr...

The beat goes on.

Time for Change

Misc points:

* July Updates:

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex Court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc

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