Press play. Don’t ask any questions. Wait a few moments. Come back to these words.
So the story goes, a man is drawn into an alternate dimension, a parallel Earth where The Beatles never broke up. He is told in no uncertain terms that he can bring nothing back to our world with him. So what does he do?
Smuggles out a cassette. A tape with a dubbed copy of a Beatles album that we never heard in this world, because they broke up in 1970 and John died before they could sort things out. This is gorgeous SF, Lester Bangs meets Phillip K. Dick, and what’s not to love about this story. There’s a long version of it, but I prefer to send you down the rabbit hole, dear reader.
For most of us, The Beatles were done and gone before we really came of age. I was just three years old in 1970, already in love with music, but busy processing the Rockabilly and Country that my dad was handing me. The Beatles would come later: a revelation. How could they be that good? And how could they be over and done with? We devoured the albums. We had our favorites. We loved them early, or midstream, or late best. And then the delving into solo records. And for me, that was finding out that little sparks were there, but the fire was gone. Paul was breezy and listenable, but too caught in the pocket of the moment. The timeless quality of the work was absent without John to anchor him. John was uneven, often brilliant, too cynical most of the time and bitter to the point of being unseemly. The solo works make it clear that the Lennon/McCartney partnership was more than the sum of the parts.
Whither George and Ringo? Moments of glory, both of them–but few. Their solo output reveals them to be world class sidemen, the sort of artists who can embellish anything they are a part of. But they weren’t leading men. They were the two best sidemen that any band could have asked for. And of all their solo works, not one of them rises to the level of The Beatles together. There are rewarding moments in the solo records, but is largely an exercise in melancholy: one simply wishes that they had stayed together. There is a sense of violation, that they ended too early, leaving too much left undone.
Thus we come to this recording. This is clearly a remix. This is also both a work of brilliance and a masterpiece, a gem that only a post-record industry digital era could produce. It is cause for hope and celebration. Here’s why this is unique.
George Martin did something similar with Love. That album was interesting, but not much fun to listen to. It was a highly polished mush of familiar material, but I felt it ultimately fell apart for lack of structure.
Everyday Chemistry is coming from a similar place. The solo records are broken down into thousands of building blocks. Solos. Vocals. Bass lines. Piano and keys. Strings. Broken up into audio lego blocks. And then reassembled into new song structures. Yes, you can hear Band on the Run and When We Were Fab forming the backbone of Four Boys. But it’s not a mashup of those two songs. It’s something new and compelling. Eerily so.
Let me speak heresy. I can tell you my ears like Saturday Night much better than Cold Turkey.
I could go on, but I will not. I want you to have the thrill of discovering this on your own. This masterpiece of sampling and imagination has done something profound: it creates an audial piece of musical fiction in which The Beatles use the ideas scattered across the solo records we know in a band context, and with the more dance-oriented tastes of the 90s and 2000s duly noted. Once you give this thing a few listens and you process what it is, it’s a jaw on floor moment.
And it’s out there waiting for you, downloadable for free in a few different places. Or just pull it up on Youtube.
Sometimes it feels like our world must be at the bottom of some multidimensional greasetrap. But sometimes, you get a little light. You may well love this as much as anything in the real Beatles catalog, if you can just open up your mind, relax, and let it be.