Friday, April 06, 2012

The difference between Fab and fabricated

Can you hear that? That's the sound of shuddering at the idea of James McCartney, Sean Lennon, Dhani Harrison and Jason Starkey forming a band.

Not that they would be bad - quite the opposite. However...

Talk of The Beatles being 'reformed' by their offspring - arguably the head-on collision between a Hollywood remake and a tribute band - was sparked earlier this week when James McCartney, the 34-year-old son of Sir Paul, suggested - and I stress, suggested - in a BBC interview that a Beatles reboot might be fun.

McCartney Jr may have ill-advisedly answered a question by saying that he, plus the younger Lennon and Harrison, might be up for it, with either of Ringo Starr's drumming sons Zak or Jason yet to be canvassed. It was only a suggestion but it nonetheless struck a chord of terror.

Surely a band trading off the coincidence that each of its members' fathers were in the greatest pop band in recording history is a recipe for disaster? I'm sure they've been friends since childhood, but that wouldn't give forming a band any more legitimacy.

Talent obviously runs through the respective McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr/Starkey bloodlines: James McCartney is currently promoting his own, emerging solo career while sister Stella has become one of the world's leading fashion designers (other half-siblings Heather and Mary keep low profiles). Julian and Sean Lennon have both enjoyed varying degrees of music success, though the former hadn't been heard of much since early hits in the 1980s before re-emerging last year with a new album. Ringo'a sons Zak and Jason became professional drummers, but only Zak has enjoyed any degree of prominence, touring as drummer for The Who and playing for both Paul Weller and Oasis.

And then there's Dhani Harrison - who looks and sounds uncannily like George - and who made his professional debut as a guitarist on his late father's final album, Brainwashed. Since then his career has been developing relatively modestly, with guest appearances and collaborations here and there, including the formation of Fistful of Mercy with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur a couple of years ago.

Harrison has also been involved in the band thenewno2, from which a cryptic tweet appeared this week which many suspected was from The Quiet One's son himself, nixing the whole idea. That hasn't prevented a media frenzy at the idea of a Fab Second Coming, with some wag already naming them the 'Mop Tots'.

"If they want to play together privately to entertain themselves and their friends, that would be terrific," offered Beatles biographer Ray Connolly in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, who then helpfully pointed out the size of the shadows are probably perfectly aware of standing in: "Forged by the accidental cross-seeding of extraordinary talents in a post-war environment of social change, [The Beatles'] grip on the world’s imagination cannot be replicated. All the elements that came together then and helped create them and their myth cannot recur."

The familiar-looking cheekbones of Coco Sumner
We should be now well used to musical offspring making a go of it themselves, being well inside the second age of rock and pop.

Bob Dylan's son Jakob was one of the first of his generation of showbusiness kids to embark upon a prominent music career of their own, with others like Ziggy Marley, Rufus and Martha Wainright, Dweezil Zappa and more recently Coco Sumner joining the family firm. 

Comparable, in terms of parental reputation, to this story, Lisa Marie Presley has made several attempts at a music career, with her 2003 debut album To Whom It May Concern even reaching No.5 in the Billboard album chart (and who has been working with the omnipresent T-Bone Burnett on a new record due this year).

Others, however, have steered well clear: Duncan 'Zowie Bowie' Jones adopted his father's real surname and took up film directing (what would David Jones do...?), various members of the Jagger brood have found their way into fashion, while many more have simply found something altogether less laden with expectation to forge careers upon.

But what if McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starkey did give it a go, and Beatles: The Next Generation became reality? A charity project, may be (and hats off, too - no better way to leverage the ancestral arms). As long as we didn't end up with a Beatle-version of S Club Juniors, the "franchised" S Club 7 spinoff. Because we would not be talking about a Toytown pop group, but scions of a band to which few will ever hold a candle. Trying to compete with that legacy for any band, let alone The Beatles' children, would, I'm afraid, only end in tears.

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