A quaint artifact. I hope that doesn’t sound too sneering; there just isn’t another Beatles record that dates itself quite the way this musty Summer o’ Love souvenir does. Dippy we’re-all-one sentiments, a salute to “the beautiful people,” ornate production, a highly era-appropriate sleeve... it’s all here, buddy.
Still soaking everything in horns and violins in the wake of Sgt. Pepper – though there is a little guitar solo on here – the band shoots for Timeless Statement with the truly lightweight anthem-to-order “All You Need is Love.” It’s easy to roll eyes at the dimwitted “profundities” contained in the lyrics, but I will concede that if you’re trying to get a Big Message across, sure, easy-to-remember simplicity, musically and lyrically, is the smart route. Just like when Paul McCartney wrote the chart-topping classic “Freedom” in late 2001 and healed the wounds of a nation!
“Baby You’re a Rich Man,” while no masterpiece itself, is at least a whole buncha fun with its chugging rhythm, “With a Little Help From My Friends”-style Q & A lyrics, and an atypical falsetto vocal from John (who actually sings lead on both sides of this record). It also boasts one of the most ridiculous throwaway lines in Beatle history (“You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside the zoo / What a thing to do!”), but it’s silly enough to bring on a laugh every once in a while, so I’m happy to let it slide. And am I remembering correctly that the Fat Boys, of all groups, put out a “Rich Man” cover about 20 years ago? Strange.
Scared and confused by the image and title accompanying this entry? Me too! That’s the Mexican release, which includes the same music as the U.S. single, just in a far uglier sleeve; basically looks like a cheap black-and-white photocopy of the American version. This one was affordable, though, so I bought it right up.