While demonstrators battled with police in Chicago last week, the Beatles released a new single recording, Revolution, addressed to radical activists the world over. Their message will surprise some, disappoint others, and perhaps move many: cool it. "We all want to change the world," they sing over an exhilarating blast of hard rock. But not through destruction or "minds that hate."
You say you'll change the constitution . . .
Well, you know, you better free your mind instead.
But if you go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao,
You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow.
The other side of the new disk urges activism of a different sort. Hey Jude, sung by Paul McCartney, liltingly exhorts a friend to overcome his fears and commit himself in love.
. . . It's a fool who plays it cool By making his world a little colder.
This goes on for seven minutes and eleven seconds, making it the longest single the Beatles have ever recorded. At the end, a swatch of melody is repeated by an orchestra and chorus for nearly four minutes while the Beatles vamp and shout over it. It is a fadeout that engagingly spoofs the fadeout as a gimmick for ending pop records.
Mediterranean Style. Even beyond the usual hysterical interest attracted by any new Beatles record, the appearance of Revolution and Hey Jude is special. It is part of the first package of releases by the Beatles' new company, Apple Corps Ltd. The firm was organized earlier this year to coordinate the group's multiplying business enterprises, which include films, television, music publishing and electronics. The specific mission assigned to the Apple disk label was not only to record the Beatles, but also to enable them to promote new talent. As John Lennon put it last spring, "We want to give people the kind of freedom that we would've liked when we first started recording."
In the three singles released along with their own last week, the Beatles make a modest start toward that goal. One, produced by Paul McCartney, introduces 18-year-old Mary Hopkin, a Welsh folk singer with a high, clear soprano reminiscent of Folk Singer Joan Baez. Singing Those Were the Days, a sort of Mediterranean-style café song, she gives a gently swaying, lyrical performance. Another record, produced by George Harrison, offers Liverpool Rock Singer Jackie Lomax, 24, in a driving, bluesy delivery of a Harrison song, Sour Milk Sea. Then there is the 113-year-old Black Dyke Mills Band from the Yorkshire town of Queensbury. Producer McCartney decided that their traditional brass sound would be just right for Thingumybob, a theme that he and Lennon wrote for a weekly London TV show.
No Withering. It is too early to tell whether these tunesmiths will become the apple of the public's eye as well as of the Beatles'. Musically, only Mary Hopkin rises above the routine, and her voice still needs shading and seasoning. But of course, as long as Apple features its owner-producers as performers, it is in no danger of withering on the branch. Among its first LP releases this fall, for instance, will be the Beatles' first all-new, non-sound-track album since the epochal Sgt. Pepper.