30 March 2011
One Hit Wonders #18 - Trash - Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight
Year of Release: 1969
Over the years, I've witnessed many entertaining arguments amongst Beatles fans on areas which seem peculiarly divisive. Is Paul McCartney's solo material chock full of under-rated gems, or largely filled with prim, twee pieces of insignificant pop? Is the early material unsurpassed sixties beat, or cheap, plastic, sanitised silliness compared to their later works? And... is "Abbey Road" one of their finest albums, with the McCartney-dominated song cycle at the end being one of their strongest pieces of work, or ultimately an inconclusive patchwork quilt of half-baked ideas?
I firmly sit in the former camp where "Abbey Road" is concerned, and perhaps part of the reason for that (which I accept is an unfair reason) is the fact that the song cycle sounds fresher than the rest of their output. Whilst the Beatles hits and their better album tracks get regular plays on nostalgia radio and have become part of the background hum to everyday life, the last side of "Abbey Road" remains relatively under-exposed, one of the few areas of Beatles-hood which is largely refined to my own living room. That it also contains some supreme, over-in-a-flash instances of hook-laden pop obviously helps no end too. It's easy to take the best Beatles work for granted, but Side Two of "Abbey Road" still excites me even on a bad day.
If you were going to isolate an aspect of the song cycle and issue it as a single, "Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight" would be the obvious pairing. The Beatles clearly had no interest in doing so, but Trash - one of their Apple signings - were encouraged to exploit the potential of the tunes by the enterprising employee Richard Dilello. According to the brilliant book documenting his time working for the label "Longest Cocktail Party", McCartney had already urged him not to waste any more studio money and time on the band, and he sneaked them in through the studio back door to record this. When everyone's favourite thumbs aloft Scouser found about it, he apparently lost his temper. However, when Lennon heard the track he gave it the green light, saying it was a good imitation (which hardly seems like flattery). Dilello chose to observe Lennon's approval over Macca's, and out the record came.
Lennon was arguably incorrect, incidentally. Like most cash-in Beatles covers, this eliminates a great deal of the care and attention the original was shown and sounds rather flat in places. It's far better than the Orange Bicycle's John Peel-produced attempt at manipulating the song cycle for commercial gain, but in the end you're forced to conclude that it probably deserved its final number 35 resting place despite being issued ahead of "Abbey Road". You can hear a snippet of the track over on YouTube, but due to its inclusion on the recent "Come and Get It: The Best Of Apple Records" album, I won't be offering it up for download. Instead, you can hear the rather more prog-rock orientated B-side "Trash Can" below, which proves that had Trash been given the chance to carry on into the seventies they might have had more joy.
Back in the real world, of course, Trash - who actually consisted of ex-members of The Pathfinders and The Poets - split up when this single failed to become a hit and Apple Records fell into general disarray.
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