Thursday, March 5, 2009
RA #1 Flashback
This is the first in a series of occasional reviews of past Rotten Apple videos.
The first voice you hear in the Rotten Apple series is that of Joel Glazier, the author of the article "Paul Is Dead...Miss Him, Miss Him," that appeared in the January 1979 issue of the fanzine “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Glazier shared his expertise as a guest on “The Beatle Years” radio show hosted by former Lennon Publicist Elliot Mintz in 1993. In the audio clip Glazier is explaining how to place a mirror over the words “Lonely Hearts” on the Sgt. Pepper bass drum to reveal the secret message “1 ONE 1 X HE ^ DIE.”
Several still pictures, some of which came from the “Paul Is Dead” sequence of the film “Braverman’s Condensed Cream of Beatles” accompany Glazier’s explanation. Braverman had used an out of context picture of Paul in a swimming pool and an old World War II photograph to "illustrate" the "Paul Is Dead" phenomenon. This technique of using unrelated images to help tell a story would be borrowed by Iamaphoney on many occasions.
Glazier's speech is followed by a bit of the promo film for "Strawberry Fields Forever." After a few familiar bars, the audio is reversed. Unlike most backwards audio, you don't need to have the creativity of Sunssol or the "Sleepy Red Moose" guy to hear understandable words in this clip. "We'll sing it, man. We'll be reverse." Admittedly, the sentences don't make a ton of sense, and the word "reverse" in particular sounds as if it was spoken by a toddler. But you don't have to be crazy to interpret it as an invitation to listen to Beatles music backwards.
Then other visual and audio clues are presented in a somewhat random manner until we see some John and Yoko footage and hear John debunking the "I buried Paul" claim. His "cranberry sauce" story is then contradicted by Apple executive Allen Klein's "On that particular take, his guitar buried Paul's sound" excuse. That sound bite and the one that follows came from a television show produced in 1969 by RKO. The program centered on a mock trial featuring lawyer F. Lee Bailey interviewing some of the principle characters in the "Paul Is Dead" rumor story.
One of those characters was Paul McCartney's close friend Peter Asher. Peter, the brother of Paul's ex-girlfriend and member of pop duo Peter and Gordon is heard admitting "It sounds like John is saying 'I buried Paul.'" While this is happening, we see video footage of Beatles Road Manager and "Castle Keep" Neil Aspinall moving his lips. This of course, can only be classified as misleading, deceptive and blatantly dishonest, because I'm sure it caused some people watching to think that it was Aspinall speaking. What was the name of the person who made this video containing such a unapologetic misrepresentation? Oh yeah, Iamaphoney. That's cool.
The next image we see is the overhead shot from the Magical Mystery Tour book rotated 90 degrees. Glazier suggested in the "Strawberry Fields" article that the rotated picture resembled a human skull. The sound is the "I Buried Paul" ending of the song "Strawberry Fields Forever" as it was heard on the WNEW-News Closeup with Christopher Glenn from November of 1969. The video concluded with another quick backwards clip of "Blue Jay Way" interpreted as "Paul is bloody."
The description of the video states: "I`m preparing the world for the revelation" and "We'll sing it, man. We'll be reverse." Although appropriate, it may be apocryphal. I'm not sure that Iamaphoney was using this "revelation" language this early on in the series. Say what you want about his questionable manner of fudging evidence, it is a tribute to his artistry that many are still around two years later, still curious about what he intends to do next. It is also a tribute to the mystical quality of the Beatles music that has fired the imagination of the world for decades. The link below is an unsolicited ad with the hope that they will allow me to continue to use that wonderfully ironic picture of a beheaded guy wearing a backwards "Paul Is Dead" tee shirt.