EXHUMED: The Better Beatles Mercy Beat

posted Wednesday Jan 16th, 2008

One of the oddest records to emerge from the early 80s American DIY musical phenomenon has got to be the 7" single by Omaha, Nebraska's Better Beatles. Their bizarre versions of "Penny Lane" and "I'm Down" seem to have come crawling out of the Twilight Zone of recorded music's endless possibilities during the golden age of home recording. In this most recent installment of our EXHUMED series of necessary reissues, we are disgustingly delighted to shed light on the fully-extended document of The Better Beatles complete output on Hook or Crook Records, now available in full-length format from the original recording sessions that produced their lone 7" back in 1981, and has left everyone scratching their heads in disbelief ever since.

With one of the most myopic band 'visions' ever done without a joke at the center of it, The Better Beatles had the balls to disassemble the lofty songwriting of the seemingly untouchable Beatles, albeit in one of the most atonal and melodically regressive ways conceivable, not counting the Residents. Aside from the genuinely disinterested female vocal delivery and almost No-Wave deadpan lyrics recited over the mind-numbing non-Beatles synthesizer and drum backtrack, their music is an entirely different beast that's destined to either immediately draw you in, or alienate you altogether. Personally, I've never been a huge fan of the 'Fab Four' any more than the casual song here or there that hasn't been played to death on classic rock radio, but the Better Beatles' take on the formula works surprisingly well, and still seems interesting even twenty seven years after its ungodly conception. For a band that only really existed for about 12 weeks, the future of the Better Beatles wasn't really expected to be long or even slightly bright, and with a limited amount of potential song material, it all culminated like a quick blast of good times with no real careerist-type expectations to get in the way of the fun. The music itself rubs up against the obnoxiously circus-soaked sound of Geza X, combined with subdued minimal noises from a more sedated Atari 2600 video game selection. The extra session tracks like "Hello Goodbye" are so deranged and head-turning, that it's unmistakably unique, and most definitely worth your time to check out. Pick up a copy of the LP or CD right HERE, and try to pass this off at your next gathering of Baby Boomer alumnus for a real shock to the system, and to firmly wedge another extension in the generation gap.