on 21 November 2006
When its all one word it means it a song about the Beatles and by the end of the 60s there were more of them than the nearest rival Elvis.
Really it splits into two with the bulk of these songs appearing in 1964/5 with a revival of sorts with the idea based around the Paul Is Dead rumour.
The first Beatlesong was made in England in 1963 by American bluegrass star Bill Clifton and was followed shortly by Dora Bryan,then an actress of 40 who recorded a song called All I want for Christmas is a Beatle.
Apart from the Vernons Girls and the Carefrees this was an American phenomenon and a CD such as this is long overdue-it could start off a whole series.In fact there is a series called Shabby Road produced on glorified CDRs by a Russian fan-21 in all
As is usual with British reissues theres a fact packed booklet
Though novelty records based on various themes had been around for a while, it was Christmas 1963 that Dora Bryan recorded `All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle' and launched what was to become a minor industry of its own; the Beatle Novelty record. Although this compilation surprisingly doesn't include that particular song, it's jam packed with 22 others that pay tribute to either the group or individuals in a variety of styles; doo-wop, folk, and psychedelia amongst them. (Yes, there are actually 24 songs but we'll come to those other two later.)
Most of what's included here dates from the first onslaught in 1964 with the rest, following a hiatus, coming from the late 60s. Many were one-off records by artists trying to get themselves a break in the music business and none, bar two, didn't get off the runway as far as chart action was concerned. The exceptions were The Carefrees' girl group sound `We Love You Beatles', which scraped into the US Top Forty and The Four Preps `Letter To The Beatles', which hit #85 before being withdrawn after complaints by Brian Epstein - both groups were on the same label, Capitol, and they weren't about to annoy the hottest act on the planet.
Considering the fate the remainder faced it might seem none were worth the time writing let alone recording but each has a charm of its own - Bill Clifton's `Beatle Crazy' notched up sizeable sales in the UK over a period of time but failed to dent the charts - and it's rather ironic that while these records were trying to make fun of the group as a passing fad, the Beatles were grinding all that these novelty songs embodied into the ground with a well heeled Cuban boot. Other than the aforementioned Clifton, it's surprising how many groups thought that by chucking in some, at the time, ubiquitous "yeah yeah yeahs" and a bit of faux screaming would tempt anyone to put their hand in their pocket.
So, to those two remaining tracks, neither of which is a novelty song and so seem out of place here. Godfather of the power chord, for reasons unknown, Link Wray's take 1 instrumental of `Please Please Me' lay hidden for 38 years, which is a shame as it might have done quite well, whilst Harry Nilsson managed to weave 15 Beatle songs into the title song `You Can't Do That', which brought him to the attention of the Beatles. Why Ace thought it worthy to include these two on this CD isn't known (maybe they had their own releases coming out at the same time).
Usually, compilations such as this have brief sleeve notes accompanied with a few photos within the inlay; but not here. Here you get what amounts to a virtual novel. The first ten of twenty-seven pages concerns itself with the promotion of the Fab Four by Capitol before their first arrival in the States; the rest has fairly in-depth text about each artist and song, photos of the record itself; photos of promotional material and Beatle memorabilia. In fact, it's worth buying this simply to read the booklet.
If this CD whets your appetite, be aware that a less than legitimate label, Yellow Fish, currently has 20 CDs worth of Beatle novelty songs in its catalogue. However,if you want to seek out Beatles novelty songs on original vinyl, you better have deep pockets. Happy hunting.