Friday, 20 January 2012

Strawberry Fields Whatever

I'm not a huge Beatles fan, by any means, but as a kid starting to learn about music, I was fascinated by their transition from cheery moptops to hollow eyed dope fiends and the desolate sounding psychedelic records they made whilst under the influence. At the time, I associated hallucogenic drugs with madness and darkness and all those newspaper taxis and fish and finger pies presented a world that unsettled me - perhaps not a bad trip, but certainly a very bad dream.

From 1965 to 1967, the Fab Four had their very own American syndicated cartoon. Produced by the King Brothers, it was pure cash in trash, and the group had virtually nothing to do with it other than lending their music and likenesses - but obviously not their voices which, as presented here, are fundamentally wrong in every respect. Each show was  loosely and crassly based around a Beatles song, and also featured a 'sing-a-long' where random images acompanied a tune as the lyrics ran across the screen.

Despite the group's real life evolution over the show's two year run, the cartoon Beatles remained resolutely stuck in 1964/65 - mop topped, sharp suited and with the individual roles they had created when they still cared about stuff like that - John the acerbic leader, Paul the boyish charmer, George the deep one / mystic (he is given what sounds like an Indian accent) and Ringo the loveable lackwit.

When faced with the disparity between their mass market, cheapo product and the increasingly sophisticated image and odder and odder music of its inspiration, King Brothers did what any production company would do - they went quietly mental...

I've always thought that there was something dead at the centre of 'Strawberry Fields Forever', anyway - a sort of blank, burned out horror and, somehow, this garish, childish, baffling cartoon seems the perfect accompaniment.

As cartoon John says in the show in his stupid half toff, half cockney voice: 'it's all in the mind, you know'. Nothing is real. 


  1. Wow, haven't seen one of these for maybe 30 years (and back then when I did it always seemed to be the "Ticket To Ride" episode it seemed).

    Astonishingly odd and astonishingly shit at the same time. Thanks for sharing, I'd ask you to post more but how exactly do you follow that?

  2. Oh, there'll be more, believe ,me.

  3. I had no idea! Hope you don't mind have put a link to this in my blog as it's very "But is it Canon" material...
    As always fascinating...