Looking at the song listing for The Beatles: Rock Band mega-karaoke game I note first the strange omission of the Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane single, but more importantly second, that with a bit of extra-track downloading, you can pretty much recreate in your living room the entire second half of Abbey Road – a sequence of songs which remains, to this day, the vertiginous peak of popular music.
This information increases the risk of my investing in the game a few hundred quid of what Theo Paphitis would leeringly call “my chill-a-deren’s in-a-heritance”. That said, a small voice from my past does whisper: “But why do you need a computer game for this? You and a university flatmate once played side two of Abbey Road four times in succession at maximum volume, howling, gurning, playing invisible drums, guitars, violins and bassoons throughout, after which you had a protracted and unprecedentedly pointless debate about which is the best ‘moment’ (he putting the case for the instrumental freak-out that joins Carry That Weight to The End; you arguing for the line “And so I quit the police department” , an unexpected third verse which hits you just when you’re geared up for the chorus in She Came In Through The Bathroom Window). Rock Band, surely, is just a game for people for whom air guitar is too great an imaginative leap?”
That’s one way of looking at it, sure, but then again I have played Guitar Hero and it was a blast. Round at a friend’s house for dinner, and in a reverse of the traditional way of things, the WAGs remained at table to discuss affairs of state while the gents (HABs?) went next door to do needlework or, much the same thing, muck about on the Playstation. Talk about a duck to water, I was rockin’ that thing from the off, and the fun was greatly enhanced by the fact that the only chap who couldn’t get the hang of the rhythmical button-bashing was a banker from Wales and self-proclaimed ‘pretty darn good’ amateur rock guitarist. “But I can play this in real life!” he protested, as the electronic crowd booed his hopeless stabbings at Smoke on the Water. Meanwhile the host and I were pulling Hendrix shapes and doing Quo-style synchronised axe-swinging. By the time the Welsh banker had murdered Ziggy Stardust, and then insisted that the Manic Street Preachers has asked him to join them but that he’d rejected them, the rest of us were on the carpet literally weeping with mirth.
The tipping point for the fate of my chil-a-deren’s in-a-heritance, I think, will come if they ever bring out Pixies: Rock Band. You and your musically-frustrated mates thrashing through the middle part of Trompe Le Monde would probably be something like heaven. It’s important for tone-deaf bankers and middle-managers to have these little glimpses of glory. And the six tracks from Sad Punk through to Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons is a sequence of songs which remains, to this day, the vertiginous peak of popular music.