Beatles Parody Group Rutles Follows Fab Four With Outtakes Release

By Roger Catlin
The Hartford Courant

Oct. 30, 1996 -- The Beatles' nearly yearlong exercise in nostalgia comes to a close Tuesday with the release of the final 'Anthology' album.

To tie in with the hubbub comes the most successful parody of the group, the Rutles.

The notion of spoofing the studio chatter and false starts of 'Anthology' would be a funny one for the semi-fictional band originally created by former Monty Python members Eric Idle and Neil Innes.

But the new 'Archaeology' (Virgin Records) is made up of its own Rutles outtakes, false starts and studio chatter back when they recorded music for their 1978 made-for-TV film 'All You Need Is Cash' (re-released earlier this year on home video). Amid the old, previously unreleased Rutles tracks and new ones, there is Innes' unerring understanding of the Beatles sound.

There's the orchestral overkill of the opening 'Major Happy's Up and Coming Once Upon a Good Time Band' that leads into 'Rendezvous,' a chirpy melody as sung by their flat-noted drummer. As on 'With a Little Help From My Friends,' the other band members harmonize in choruses offering vocal help; the drummer in this instance says flatly he doesn't want any.

Even the casual Beatles fan can enjoy cataloging the various sources for musical phrases in each song. But Innes, a former member of the Bonzo Dog Band, is too talented to merely mock. Instead, he creates credible new tunes using the vocabulary of the Beatles to create a bizarre version of the band.

It's lots of fun, and unlike the band they emulate, still full of possibility.

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