Year of Release: 1969
When The Beatles career went well and truly nova, cash-in singles like Dora Bryan's "All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle", The Carefree's "We Love You Beatles" and Bill Clifton's "Beatle Crazy" trickled out into the marketplace, all basking in the collective golden halo that surrounded the four moptop's heads. Anything with the word "Beatles" in it seemed to sell at least some units in those days, even if it was rush-recorded and did little more than hold a mirror up to the hysteria of the day and stated "Look!". Mediocre records that simply declared "I'm a fan of The Beatles too!" stood a slight chance of charting, as if the entire music industry had gone into some weird feedback loop and everything began with and returned to them.
By 1969, however, Beatles covers aside - and there were still plenty of those leaking out - records celebrating the existence of The Fabs had pretty much dried up, and we were left with this instead; a single gently poking fun at their silliness. "Apple Pie" had originally been co-written by Portsmouth comedy folkie Jon Isherwood, and issued on the flip of his single "Old Time Movies" in January that year. The single flopped (though was later compiled on a "Circus Days" compilation put out by Strange Things Are Happening) but was given a second lease of life by groovy Carnaby Street store owner and DJ Mike Quinn in September 1969.
The basis for the track's gentle satire is obviously the huge debacle surrounding Apple in the late sixties. Opened up as a boutique-come-talent-funding-facility-come-technological-research-lab-come-record-label-come-hippy-commune-come-whatever-the-hell-was-in-the-Fabs-heads-that-given-day, the business gullibility of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr became grimly apparent now Epstein was no longer around to keep watch. While many clothes and valuable items were stolen from the boutique by anarchic hippies, the Fabs apparently also funded some "interesting" artistic research schemes which went nowhere. The person responsible for most of this work gets highly litigious when they're mentioned anywhere, so for the sake of a quiet and uncomplicated life, let's just say that nobody can really remember whether The Beatles were promised a large quantity of Electric Paint from somebody working for them or not, or a Special Invisible Security Force Field - what we do know is that many rumours have cropped up over the years insisting that they did. And even if those rumours aren't true, they paint a very interesting picture of other's perceptions of the organisation at that time. There's no question that Apple leaked money from seemingly every department and squandered a large part of the fortune The Beatles had built up. Apple had always sounded like a tremendously utopian idea, and unfortunately it's these businesses - in the media, technology, the arts or elsewhere - which tend to hit Earth at a very rapid velocity, whatever the wealth or good intentions of their original owners.
The track "Apple Pie" seems to ponder whether the artist (or more likely Jon Isherwood) should or should not have been signed to Apple Records. "Then I sit and ruminate/ cos Apples give you belly-ache/ so Apple Pie my friend I'll pass you by" sings Quinn against a marching and faintly Starr-ish backing track. It also features a crude impersonation of Paul McCartney saying "Do you want a chip butty?", gentle rib-poking about George's meditation, and turns the vague anti-establishment political concerns of The Beatles into something as cartoonish as Yellow Submarine. At the time, this probably felt very naughty indeed, but by today's standards we can only shrug and say "Well, fair enough. They meant well, but Apple was filled to the brim with bad planning and far too many people cutting slices of pennies and pounds".
In the end, "Apple Pie" acts as a dose of common sense being injected into the tail end of the psychedelic era, but it's not anything like as vicious as it could have been. Isherwood carried on as a comedy performer and remained particularly popular in the Portsmouth area, and Mike Quinn carried on with his fashion business. And The Beatles... well, we all know what happened there.
Sorry for the pops and clicks on these recordings. They have been, shall we say, quite well loved.