Whoever Put Together Past Masters Volume Two will Die a Horrible Death
To fully appreciate my burning hatred for the person who ordered the tracks on this CD (yes, I know it's chronological by date of recording; that's no excuse), you must know a few things:
- Past Masters Volume Two is a compendium of Beatles singles uncollected on Beatles albums (at least, uncollected on the UK versions, which are the only ones that matter, and the only ones sold today on CD). Because the Beatles didn't like putting their singles on their albums (they considered it ripping off their fans), the Past Masters discs have a lot of good songs on them.
- A lot of good songs. Tracks 11-14, for example, are as follows:
- The Ballad of John and Yoko
- Old Brown Shoe
- Across the Universe
- Let It Be (a different version from the one on the album of the same name)
- The next track, the final track, track 15, is You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).
- Most people who buy the CD will be Beatles fans. Anyone else can get the hits on the blue and red Best Of collections.
- Let It Be is a really, really good song. Really. Go download it.
So, 9th grade Beatles fan that you are, you slip the disc into the player and listen to it all the way through. Everything builds up wonderfully, like a good mix tape, and by the end of Let It Be you're feeling profound in an "oh, isn't everything just so bittersweetly beautiful?" type of way, a way that (as is evidenced by this sentence) cannot be communicated in plain text. As the last, ultrasatisfying, uberevocative chords of the song fade out, you realize there is one more track to go, and wonder what it will be.
The LCD switches to 15. The accompaniment starts up, piano and nice round percussion, playing a I-iii-IV-V sequence, and it's perfect, just perfect -- this is shaping up to be a feel-good song like California Girls, a perfect album-ender. Now that you've felt profound, watched the grey light stream through the windows, wondered about the mysteries of Life, the Universe and Everything, you can come out of hypnosis and get up off the carpet feeling happy. The perfect yin and yang, that elusive mix of feeling every album should aim for.
Then the vocal comes in. It is indescribably horrific.
YOU KNOW MY NAME!!! it is shrieking. LOOK UP THE NUMBER!!!
It continues, inexorably, segueing into horrific-lounge-singing then horrific-jazz-esque-something then horrific-incatagorizable. This is not the song you are looking for. It is a joke song, you slowly realize, a gimmick. An extraordinarily elegant and well-executed gimmick -- these are, after all, the Beatles -- but a gimmick nonetheless.
There is no resolution. There's no happy profundity. There's only John Lennon making fun of gay cabaret singers in a quavering British voice.
And you can't just stop the CD at 14 -- oh, no. All the buildup, all the expectation that would normally accompany listening, is ruined, just like Mostly Harmless ruined So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, just like Back to the Future was ruined by Back to the Future II. From now on, you can never listen to Past Masters Volume Two front-to-back, like you listen to everything else; you have to cut it into chunks, listen to a single solitary song here and there, sandwiched between other single solitary songs from other albums, to prevent it from feeling like a piece of a narrative.
Someday -- maybe it will be tomorrow, maybe it will be next week, next month, maybe 5 decades in the future -- but someday, somehow, I will hunt down and kill whoever is responsible for this, whatever lowly Apple Records bureaucrat made that track-ordering decision. You can't hide from me. And if you're already dead, then so help me God, I will find your corpse, exhume it in the dead of night, reanimate it, and fucking kill it again. I'll have you hung. And boiled. And drawn and quartered. And when I've finished with that, I'll take all the little pieces, and I will stomp on them.
Seriously. I mean, it's like having Spider-man get hit by a bus on the way to his final confrontation with the Green Goblin.