In the utterly go-go, trans-media flurry which was mid-sixties pop(ular culture), every television star worth their Nielsens was expected to not only chase spies and rope steers, but compete with those rock ‘n’ rollers of the moment upon the Top Forty to boot. To cite but two examples, Lorne Bonanza Greene and his 1964 chart-topping “Ringo,” not to mention Captain James T. Kirk’s similarly Beatle-busting Transformed Man album. Which contained the possibly definitive version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” I kid you not.
Your assignment for today is to gather one dozen of the world’s most popular entertainers into a medium-sized concert facility, for one evening only. Age, style, size, corporate affiliation and musical pigeonhole is to be strictly of no concern whatsoever. Each act just has to have had a heck of a lot of their songs downloaded, perhaps maybe even sold, over the past calendar year or so.
Then, with a bare minimum of rehearsal or directorial guidelines of any sort – and an equally bare-boned budget to boot – a two-hour concert has to sequenced, scored, choreographed, and executed upon a single stage utilizing all these chosen singers, dancers and accompanists. AND, the entire proceedings have to be filmed live, music and vocals, without re-takes. Finally, the resulting miles of tape then have to be edited, printed, promoted, and distributed for public viewing to theaters.
Oh! And there’s one more catch: This all has to be completed within a mere fourteen days, from show-date to release-date.
“No more Beatles! No more Stones! We just want the The Viletones!” went the cry of true teen angst ‘round my Toronto neighborhood circa the Summer of Hate in 1977. And, memories of my favorite punk-rock combo from a misspent youth notwithstanding, I do find myself feeling very much the same these thirty-three-and-a-third revolutions later, as big Beatles box sets and Rolling Stones re-issues continue to dominate our collective, sonic rear-view.
Of course, I can still thrill to a remastered (mono!) “She Loves You” as much as the next boomer, and glimpsing out-takes of Hendrix backstage with Keith inside that Get Yer Ya-Ya’s anniversary bundle will always raise a grin or two. But surely, surely, there must have been something going on during those scant weeks between 1963 and 1969 when Lennon, McCartney, Jagger and/or Richards compositions weren’t sitting atop the world’s hit parades.