Friday, November 5, 2010

"The Beatles' dream"

The Independent on the "strange, short blossoming" of Apple Corps.

To the music business at large, an industry not best known for altruism, this was the hippie ideal gone truly mad. If Dick James, the head of Northern Songs, the company that published the Lennon and McCartney catalogue of music, had needed any encouragement in his plan to sever his links with The Beatles following the death of manager Brian Epstein a year earlier, this had to be it. Within months the songs had been sold to Lew Grade at ATV.

As it turned out the cynics were quickly proved at least partly right. Staffed by many of the group's old friends from Liverpool, few of whom had any real business acumen, Apple quickly became a financial whirlpool as money was sucked away to places unknown. Perhaps the group's first venture outside music, a fashion boutique in nearby Baker Street, should have been a warning, quickly turning into a Beatle-takeaway as, in the absence of much in the way of security, customers simply helped themselves to the designs and walked out without paying.

. . .

But it wasn't all a naive failure. Apple, as a small, short-lived record company, wasn't without its successes. For decades all Apple records have been highly valued as collectibles, and from October 25 The Beatles' early work as producers and unheralded backing musicians for other artists will finally be made available for digital download.

There will be some surprises. Who knew that both Paul McCartney and George Harrison played on the original recording of James Taylor's "Carolina in my Mind", or that Harry Nilsson was originally under the impression that McCartney had written his eventual Grammy Award-winning hit "Without You", and not Beatles protégés Badfinger? Or that Apple released a Modern Jazz Quartet album, and that it was at Ringo Starr's insistence that John Tavener's The Whale was recorded for the label?

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