John Gabree

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Beatles, ninety minutes of music on two records, is massively boring, a collection of mediocre compositions given some of the most flaccid performances of recent months. The only tension on the album is between the quartet's snottiness and their indifference to the audience.

A good deal of the new album is taken up with a variety of homages and parodies (and, by and large, parody is a lazy man's art form): mock country-and-western, mock West Indian, mock Beach Boys, mock teeny rock, mock electronic music, mock '30s pop, and especially mock Beatles. Most of it doesn't work and some of it is even offensive: for example, the parody of the Beach Boys is sloppy and unconvincing (although the song itself, Back in the U.S.S.R., is quite funny), and I imagine the blues and c & w copies are insulting to people for whom these are meaningful forms. Even the very best cuts are disappointments. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill finally can't sustain Lennon's cuteness. Happiness Is a Warm Gun is, despite its title, a song about sexual aggression, not peace. The cut I like best is Ringo's Don't Pass Me By, but that may be because his singing is simple and straightforward and the group is playing plain old rock. (p. 84)

John Gabree, "The Beatles' Ninety-Minute Bore, and the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet," in High Fidelity (copyright © by ABC Leisure Magazines, Inc.), March, 1969, pp. 84-5.