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The Beatles’ legacy. Should Paul just let it be?

With all of this talk about The Beatles releasing the long-lost, long-rumored track “Carnival of Light”, the question about their legacy comes up.  There are two camps.  Preserve it in a bottle, and live with the tracks that we have.  Those tracks conjure up memories and emotions well enough that they are imprinted on our fabric as people.

There is another camp of Beatle fans that want it all.  They want the outtakes, they want Paul McCartney farting into a microphone.  The more Beatle stuff that’s out there, the better.  For better or worse.  Back in the 1990’s the Anthology set brought a lot of old skeletons out officially.  To me, it was nice to hear the studio noodling for better or worse.  It gave the Fabs a new angle, and a new interest for many people.  I’d rather have a track that may not be them at their best then no new music at all.


I don’t think there’s anything they can do, with John sadly gone, that will totally tarnish their legacy with the release of a new track.  It’s not like Carnival of Light was re-recorded recently with two members of the Beatles playing over tapes.  It is a track, no matter how off the wall, with our four beloved Beatles playing to their madness.  It’s about time the public has heard it again.

  • What are your thoughts surrounding the flurry of activity/rumor about Carnival of Light.  Please let us know in the comments below.

Here’s what we’ve read.

For one whose place in history is not so much secure as gloriously, unquestionably assured, Paul McCartney behaves as though there is some doubt. He is, lest we forget, not just any old ex-Beatle, but the Beatle. At least since John departed.

That insecurity is why he decided to rewrite history by bowdlerising Let It Be when he removed Phil Spector’s production-rescue job, the one thing that made the album listenable. And it’s surely why he engineered that silly hullaballoo about having some Beatles songs credited to McCartney/Lennon rather than Lennon/McCartney.

And, as if he were Gary Lightbody rather than Paul McCartney, he so desperately wants to be taken seriously. Hence the Fireman, the Liverpool Oratorio and that time he played celery with Super Furry Animals. Now, he’s picked over the Beatles’ carcass again and unearthed Carnival of Light, apparently an improvised 14-minute, vaguely avant-garde jam session recorded during the Penny Lane sessions. And he wants to release it. If he couldn’t let Let It Be be – and in fairness, for all the pointless carnage he wrought, he’d always hated Spector’s contribution – couldn’t he at least show some decorum here?

If Carnival of Light sees the light of day, is it going to enhance the Beatles’ standing? That’s the very same Beatles who changed the world and whose influence and reputation remains undimmed. Of course it isn’t. Is it going to make us think slightly less of them? In all probability, yes, and I’m inclined to trust the judgment of Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Yoko Ono, who vetoed its inclusion on Anthology and who (with Olivia Harrison standing in for George) will hopefully do their duty again this time. Carnival of Light may be the greatest 14 minutes in Beatledom and some people (ie me) are going to look pretty foolish if that’s the case. Even so, I’d bet my sub-prime mortgage that it isn’t and that phrase “14-minute jam session” strikes fear into the hearts of stouter men than myself. It’s a soundcheck-esque rehearsal at best. At worst, it’s Phish.

McCartney says it’s the Beatles going “off-piste”, or in other words, messing about. Frankly, I’d much rather hear them on-piste, crafting moments of genius such as Penny Lane. If Carnival of Light wasn’t good enough to be released nearly 40 years ago (or on Anthology) then it’s not now.

We’ve got the Beatles’ body of work. It changed everything. Isn’t that enough?

Source: UK Guardian


18 Responses

  1. If it’s good they should release it. If it broadens the horizon of what The Beatles was about. I would consider it a post-Beatles bonus, like the three antologies, BBC sessions and the LOVE album. And Let It Be… Naked. It won’t harm the original 1962-70 releases. I think it about time to release a really great Beatles live-antholgy too. And The Let It Be DVD. And the remasters. There are missing links i the legacy and everything moves soooo slowly in the Beatles camp. Why?

  2. I think it’ll be great. I mean; why do we bother in listening every bootleg and every piece of sound they’ve ever made? I think it’s about that! We (beatlefans) are not trying to discover the lost masterpiece, the great hidden song, we dont think this is going to be like Strawberry fields or Hey Jude… this is just a piece of sound the fabs made one day, probably having a lot of fun, during a great time… and that’s enough for us!!! Go Paul! we want to hear the carnival of light at least!!!!

  3. Phil Spector “rescued” Let It Be? Spector tarted up what was excellent rock and roll. As Ringo says on the liner notes to Let It Be… Naked, it reminds everyone that the Beatles were, behind and under and at the core of all that over-production, a damned good little rock and roll band.

    Further on Spector’s tasteless shoving of all mixing board controls to MAX, even Harrison states, on the liner notes to the CD release of All Things Must Pass, that it sounds like flattened crap as is and he was sorely tempted to re-mix it so it wasn’t just a “wall of sound” wail. There are so many details obscured, so many excellent musical moments and choices obscured.

    Given all this, the Guardian’s nonsensical extension of its logic to over-think “Carnival of Light” reveals an underlying hostility to McCartney more than any musical insight on their critic’s part. McCartney’s sound bite clearly explains that they wandered around the studio randomly playing what ever instrument they encountered, and calling out things; it’s conceptual, and a nod to Stockhausen — not a storming of his gates.

    In other words, Paul likes it, finds it kinda fun, and hopes Beatle fans would also enjoy it. That’s it. No big deal. He wants to show the Beatles were into some experimental stuff, and in a different continuum might have developed Carnival of Light more. Who knows?

    It’s a fillip, not a grand gesture. Everyone should just relax. If released, it will neither enhance nor diminish the Beatles’ legacy. Get real, people.

  4. Nothing bad can come out of realising Carnival of Light.
    The Beatles are the Beatles. Sure it might not be the new #1 song, but why not let the fans hear it?

  5. Here’s my dream EP:

    1) Now and Then
    2) Carnival of LIght
    3) Helter Skelter (27 minute version)
    4) All For Love

    Let that close out the book. Release that to stores on the same day the catalog becomes available on iTunes.

  6. Here is my take:

    Paul has been getting very good reviews regarding the Fireman. So he’s probably thinking “Hey, I’m getting some avant garde street cred with this.” Thus, here comes his avant garde Beatles experiment after all these years. It will be another ego-influenced disappointment. Give me some more demos like “I’m In Love” and “If I Fell” or the marathon “Helter Skelter” instead of this psychedelic mish mash.

  7. If it’s psychedelic mish mash as far out as “Interstellar Overdrive” from “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” album by Pink Floyd, I’ll be more than happy. I love the psychedelic era. : )
    “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
    “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”.
    “Forever Changes” by Love.
    “The United States of America” by The United States of America.
    The Soft Machine “Vol. 1” And “Vol. 2”.
    “Freak Out” by Frank Zappa.
    “Smiley Smile” by The Beach Boys.
    “Strange Days” by The Doors.
    “Are You Experienced” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
    “Their Satanic Majesties Request” by The Rolling Stones.
    “Disraeli Gears” by Cream.
    “The Banana Album” by The Velvet Underground & Nico.
    “In Search of the Lost Chord” by The Moody Blues.
    We are talking some of my favorite albums of all time here. 1967/68. What a creative time in pop and rock history. Please release “Carnival of Light”! : )

  8. And “Magical Mystery Tour” by The Beatles of course. “Sgt pepper” is psychedelic light compared to that album. It’s much more way out. Not an album in Britain maybe, but in The States it was and I grew up listening to the album version in the 70’s and not the EP. So to me it as a Beatles album. Whatever. It’s one of the great psychedelic albums. A better psych-album than “Pepper”. : )

  9. I don’t mind hearing an interesting artifact at all. Anyone who wants to stick to the “official” tunes is welcome to…

  10. Hello everybody; i don’t care why Paul wants to release it, I JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO THE CARNIVAL OF LIGHT. OK?

  11. “Carnival Of Light” should be released. Should have seen the light of day on Anthology… I wonder why George was so opposed?

    By the way, in reply to an earlier post, Phil Spector took in some cases poorly performed material and polished it up to presentable quality. Listen to “The Long And Winding Road” without Spector’s orchestration and you are treated to an awful Lennon bass track. Let It Be…Naked is no better than a rehearsal tape. Let it be.

  12. There’s obviously more Beatle fans that want to hear it, then those who don’t.
    So why deprive us from another musical masterpiece?
    And if you don’t want to hear it, just don’t listen to it, and let the others enjoy it.

    (I just wanted to add that to my earlier comment 😛 )

  13. Being such an obsure piece of music, and music that won’t be appreciated by many–I’d suggest that if Paul wants it released, issue it as part of a limited edition bonus CD of rarities when the remixed/remasters are issued next year. That way it sees the light of day but only for a limited amount of time will you be able to purchase that version if inclined to.

    Beatle Bob

    (Bootleg reviewer on Bootlegzone, 910, Beatleglist, etc)

  14. Carnival of Light isn’t music, it’s something beyond “You know my name” so I doubt I will ever throw it on but since it’s the Beatles I want it but I’m not dying for it.

    I’m dying for Let It Be the entire rooftop concert on DVD, Shea Concert on DVD, Japan 1966 on DVD and the entire catalog remastered. Those I want now.

  15. This is not about the advent of World War III. This is about releasing a single pop music recording. Could the Guardian critic take his self-righteous indignation down three or four notches?

    p.s. Anyone who thinks Phil Spector’s production for Let It Be was “the one thing that made the album listenable” should be be writing about a subject other than music.

  16. To comment on an earlier post; Let it Be Naked is a much beeter representation of a follow up to the White Album than the Spectorized Let it Be. Don’t get me wrong both albums are listenable. I am thinking Carnival of Light is was made public already. So it should be out again. More people are aware and ready for itt and the Rave is just larger. It’s Probably a continuous ‘Flying’ sounding 12-Bar Original thing with those CHI Chi Cafe stuff that’s in Revolution 9…’Mary Jane’ feel with that warm Sgt Pepper album feel.

  17. —————————————————————————
    Allyn Gibson, on November 17th, 2008 at 9:16 pm Said:

    Here’s my dream EP:

    1) Now and Then
    2) Carnival of LIght
    3) Helter Skelter (27 minute version)
    4) All For Love

    Let that close out the book. Release that to stores on the same day the catalog becomes available on iTunes.

    It wouldn’t be an EP, look at the lenght, almost 49 minutes: it could be a great LP.

  18. This is something my Dad brought back from London in late /67-early ’68. It was transferred to cd in 1998.
    He was told it was the Beatles ‘Carnival of Light’, but I’ll let the experts decided.

    See what you think.

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