The Rutles


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It had to happen -- if the Beatles were going to finally mine their recorded legacy for the world to enjoy, could the Rutles be far behind? Ex-Bonzo Dog Band member Neil Innes, who was the musical genius behind the original Rutles' output, got back with ex-Beach Boy Ricky Fataar and drummer John Halsey, and they finished and released Archaeology in time to take advantage of the prospects for renewed Rutlemania. The results are better than anything that Paul or Ringo has come up with in decades, and also manage to parody the outtake structure of much of the Beatles' Anthology material, complete with flubbed notes and harmonies -- the Rutles' outtakes are as enjoyable and maybe more edifying about humor than some of the Beatles' outtakes are about music. What makes this work even better than the original Rutles album in some ways is that the Rutles don't have to even go through the motions of "finishing" these songs -- they can have fun at the expense of the Beatles' less-than-perfect songs, which are sometimes pretty funny themselves. So "Hey Mister" can ape "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Yer Blues" without shame, right down to the studio screaming at the end, and "Easy Listening" has merciless fun at the expense of Ringo's vocals and Paul's "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," as well as his solo-era pop successes. "Now She's Left You" is a vicious takeoff of "Yesterday" -- and, even better, of "Yesterday" as a concert number. Echoes of Sgt. Pepper's, Magical Mystery Tour, the White Album, and Rubber Soul resound throughout (listen for the repeated "number two, number two, number two" at the end of "We've Arrived"). "Unfinished Words" ("left is right, right is wrong") may be better than "Cheese and Onions" as a parody of John Lennon's writing style, and most of the rest is in that league. The production is excellent, and the sound, strangely enough, has held up better than that of the Beatles' vintage tapes.

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