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Reworking Classic Rock and Roll

The best gigs I have been to are the ones I can't remember. Joe Cocker in San Francisco, The Stones in Paris, Stevie Wonder in London. I can't recall a thing, but I know I had a great time.

Now I CAN remember an old fashioned showbiz party just a few weeks ago in London's West End, with the two guys from Abba, back on stage at the Prince of Wales Theatre, helping celebrate the tenth anniversary of the stage show "Mama Mia". I asked Benny if he would ever consider an Abba reunion and he looked at me as though I had forgotten the words to Waterloo and said "absolutely not". Which is a relief, given the welter of bands who cannot stand the sight of each other, now trying to go back on the road.
The intensity of having a couple of hits and then the pressure of touring and living cheek by jowl together, has always been murderous.

And when making the music stops being a joy and becomes a job, seeing those same faces day after day and more importantly night after night, is enough to drive the meekest to dark thoughts. But there's the mortgage to pay, the ex wives to keep happy and all the wreckage of rock stardom to sort out.

I recall The Eagles saying that hell would freeze over before they went back on tour. Which they did. Motley Crue are out there somewhere hustling tickets, The Police resolved their issues with the bonus of a multi-million dollar cheque, as have The Happy Mondays and now Spandau Ballet.

Talking of Spandau Ballet, when I last bumped into one of them, he was very specific about what he would like to do to a former band member. But now their audience will have a great time, waving candles at the old songs and shouting "right on" when Tony Hadley belts out "Gold", but it doesn't mean anything.

Old bands are like old gigs -- great memories and good to recall over a pint of warm beer.

And it gets even worse for REAL fans. Now comes news that engineers at Abbey Road studios here are working on The Beatles' back catalogue. They're digitally remastering the old analogue recordings to improve the sound and iron out the obvious flaws.

The obvious flaws? What they are really doing is changing what the four Beatles and Sir George Martin, who is by the way a perfectionist, intended when those records were first released. Their eager little youthful faces will light up with joy when everything is digitally "perfect" as they would say, and they will present a vacuum, a nothing, because it won't be what was intended.

I'm all for nostalgia, but Rock and Roll is always flawed and should always be a revolution, for the moment and never ever have its flaws, "ironed out".
By Simon Bates

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