“Avant-garde is French for bullshit”

…so said John Winston Ono O’Boogie Lennon, shortly before releasing an album entirely comprising the sound of himself and the missus shouting and shagging.

Famously, Macca beat him to it, as has suddenly somehow become news once again. But in what way was this ever “a myth”? Mark Lewisohn talked about Carnival Of Light 20 years ago in his ace book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. Then there was a load of fuss about its slated inclusion on, and ultimate omission from, the Anthology albums.

There’s never been any doubt about the track being real. Copies of it have turned up on bootlegs. So how come its existence is being made out to be some kind of revelation?

McCartney always did experimental stuff with a shedload more heart and humanity than his co-writer. Compare the last soaring 60 seconds of A Day In The Life with any or indeed all of the dreary, cynical Revolution 9. Silliness always undercut the pomposity; with Lennon it was forever the other way round.

There’s loads of stuff in the Abbey Road archives that merits release ahead of Carnival Of Light. Why, for instance, haven’t any of the Beatles albums ever been digitally remastered and reissued with the obligatory bonus tracks/alternate takes/accompanying DVDs? For that matter, where’s the DVD release of Let It Be? It used to get shown on the BBC every Christmas!

On first reflection the Carnival Of Light nonsense smacks of a bit of self-publicity for Macca’s pet project The Fireman. But look again at that news article: it all stems from an edition of, shudder, Front Row, to be broadcast on Radio 4 tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

Mark Lawson and co at their best, i.e., worst.

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3 Responses to “Avant-garde is French for bullshit”

  1. annoyingmouse says:

    I was sort of confused about that the other day. Why the sudden attention to a track that is well known to anybody who would actually care about it? I don’t imagine most people are going to be up for sitting through it (though I would) and it will inevitably be slagged purely for it being Paul. Fair enough, it probably is just promotion for The Fireman album but people really are quite ignorant when it comes to Paul’s experimental work.

    Of course, of more interest is the fact that Carnival of Light was played at an event that also featured a performance by Unit Delta Plus with the radiophonic workshop’s own Delia Derbyshire& Brian Hodgson. Professional experimental music as opposed to The Beatles over in the shallow end of the pool! (I seem to recall reading a few years ago that Paul approached people from the radiophonic workshop a few years before to ask about a possible electronic backing for Yesterday!)

    Apparently the other month in Mojo there was something about re-masters, supposedly coming next year. Can we presume that Carnival of Light shall be one of the obligatory bonus discs?

  2. I don’t think it has appeared on bootlegs actually. Certainly none I have either heard, or even heard of.

  3. Richard says:

    Right, It’s one of only a few known unreleased Beatles tracks that has never turned up on any bootleg. Hence it’s mythical status.

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