Beatles – Love Me Dr

No! Do; The Beatles 50th

It was 50 years ago today, October 5th 1962, when the two biggest British popular culture phenomena of the last century first made their public appearances; initially to quite different levels of acclaim. James Bond in Dr No came out as a full-colour cinematic experience, letting us know that in the post-Imperial Cold War Britain would need alpha-males engaging in dubious shenanigans, whilst the girl-group inspired The Beatles were still resolutely in black and white. Neither of them had quite worked out the formulae by which they would go mega. The Beatles and James Bond would both reach their mature forms in 1964 but, compared to what else was on offer, they represented massive potential. Here’s the confused and wonky Bond opening sequence then, welcoming us to Dr No with an interesting musical melange, starting with a nod to the Sputnik-inspired space-age classic Telstar (Number 1 on October 5th) and ending up with a Jamaican calypso, with some nascent Bond orchestration in between;

Love Me Do with Pete Best; was also a confused and wonky production when they first tried it out for a Decca recording audition. Mike Smith at Decca (not Dick Rowe) was ultimately to reject The Beatles in favour of Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, as Dick Rowe would only let him sign one of them because, in 1962, “guitar groups are on the way out”. Mike Smith picked the Tremeloes who, ironically would only score their first hit record for Decca with a cover of The Beatles version of Twist & Shout. Meanwhile The Beatles at least had a recording to tout around of Love Me Do;  

Songwriters for Ardmore and Beechwood; The failed audition tapes were taken by The Beatles manager Brian Epstein to HMV on Oxford Street (yep the same one) where you could cut masters back in the day. The chap cutting the master heard that The Beatles had promise and suggested that they sign as songwriters with Ardmore & Beechwood with whom he had a contact.  They did so registering Love Me Do, written in 1958 at Paul’s house in Forthlin Road, which gained them a referral to Parlophone Records, where George Martin hung out mostly with a bunch of comedians, releasing 10″ novelty records like The Best of Sellers and hitting the pop charts with tracks like Right Said Fred

This wasnt the great meeting of minds it has been mythologised as ever since. George Martin wasnt much interested, and Brian Epstein, disastrously, had insisted on preparing a repertoire of standards, like Besame Mucho, which didnt best represent the live sound which had made The Beatles popular in Hamburg and Liverpool. Ken Scott the engineer said he spent a lot of time upgrading The Beatles very poor equipment, digging out drums and amplifiers. So, after much disparaging they didn’t play that well at the EMI audition either. Called up to the control room, dressed down for being so amateur, George Martin asked if they had anything to say in return. Famously George said I dont like your tie and after some joshing Martin responded with a joke of a contract as a consolation, which would come back to bite everyone 5 years later Kiss Me a Lot! 

September 11th 1962 saw the final version of Love Me do recorded along with their P.S I Love You. Wanting to release only their own songs they made a deliberately poor version of How Do You Do It, later to be a Number 1 single for Gerry & the Pacemakers, at George Martin’s insistence. The Beatles had sacked the increasingly estranged Pete Best, who didnt hang out with John, Paul & George the way Ringo had in Hamburg and kept his quiff when Astrid Kirchherr created the Beatles haircut there. Martin’s dislike of Best’s drumming resolved that tension. Mind you he didnt much like Ringo either and had Andy White on standby for the September 11th sessions; Ringo shook a tambourine. The Earth wasn’t shaken but they had a minor hit single Love Me Do

Dr No by contrast was an immediate hit – making its costs back in two weeks – not least because it was built on a publishing phenomenon. Like Harry Potter everyone at school was reading the Ian Fleming Bond novels. I had read all the published novels before I saw a Bond film, several before I even knew there was a film; they were fabulously popular. Fleming was regarded as the only British writer who produced novels in a similar best-selling style to American writer Harold Robbins, a gripping mix of plot, sex and factual information about exotica we would never ever experience, like Jamaica where Fleming lived. Dr No the film, looked like a travelogue when being glamourous meant being a part of the jet-set, a priviledged form of overseas travel before mass packaged tours. After 17 years of black & white war films we luxuriated in the sensationally coloured view of this exotic world beyond rationing. Bond seemed to take this unheard of luxury, and girls, for granted

In January 1963 however records stopped being luxury goods. The purchase tax on them was halved to 25%, the lowest purchase tax ever for recorded music, allowing records to become part of the post-war consumer boom in which plebs had “never had it so good“. The Beatles and George Martin invented recorded MerseyBeat with Please Please Me at the very moment singles became affordable. Mind you in October 1962 sexual intercourse still hadn’t been invented, except perhaps for Bond. However after 1961 “between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP” until 22nd March 1963 both the contraceptive pill became publicly available, and the freedom to publish mass market paperbacks with the kind of 50 shades of sexually-charged works of pulp fiction that Fleming churned out. By the time of the second Bond film From Russia With Love in October 1963, popular music was selling more than ever before as Beatlemania boomed in the UK. The Beatles and Bond hadn’t met yet but James had the Number One box-office smash crooning

In 1964 Goldfinger completed Bond’s template & The Beatles conquered the world. The two phenomena would meet. ‘Drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs‘ mocked Sean Connery as he drank champagne with Shirley Eaton. Proving, when she was later painted gold, that drinking champagne with James Bond was more deadly than listening to The Beatles. But they both triumphed in 1964, whilst The Beatles had their global Annus Mirabilis fuelled by their film Hard Days Night, Bond topped the Box Office globally. By Help! in 1965 they had made up, even though Bond never apologises. Help! was actually a Bond spoof, a colour travelogue (“let’s go to the Bahamas“), and George Martin even stole some Bond music for the film intro Help!; 

Mad Men never made this mistake.  They got The Beatles on board despite the problem licensing The Beatles music in the New Millenium, eventually playing Tomorrow Never Knows when they reached 1966. Don Draper made sure he bought daughter Sally some Beatles records for Christmas 1964, and tickets to the legendary Shea Stadium concert on August 15 1965. Don took ear-plugs, probably to avoid Sally’s screams.

You Only Live Twice, filmed in Japan, was actually slated to have had The Beatles in it. Their famous Budokan Hall concert in Tokyo was licensed by Brian Epstein for use in Sean Connery’s fifth film made in 1967. The worlds biggest group were now even bigger than the worlds biggest film franchise. No longer would The Beatles suffer abuse and pay homage to cinematic gold dust they could dab their fingers right in it. However the scene was pulled, the chance for a Bond Beatles Union was missed and a Sumo wrestling bout was used instead of Rock n Roll Music;

All Things Must Pass and all beautiful love affairs come to an end. Just as John, Paul, George and Ringo removed the commas from their relationship and went solo, Sean Connery finally quit as James Bond. But Cubby Broccoli had the franchise, the film rights and the goldfingers to turn more light into money. He signed up the biddable, saintly, Roger Moore, picked one of the best of the original books, found Jane Seymour and produced a cracking update of the franchise. Oh yes and the newly independent Mr James Paul McCartney finally merged the two phenomena 11 years after they had both begun, with the opening title sequence of Live and Let Die;  The name is Beatles, James Beatles…

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