The Rutles Archaeology

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The Rutles Archaeology
Studio album by The Rutles
Released 29 October 1996
Recorded 1978, 1996
Genre Comedy
Label EMI
Virgin Records (US)
Producer Neil Innes
The Rutles chronology
The Rutles
(1978)
The Rutles Archaeology
(1996)
UK Reissue cover
The cover to the 2007 UK CD reissue.
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [1]

The Rutles Archaeology is an album by the comedy band The Rutles. Like their previous release, the album contains pastiches of Beatles' songs.

Three of the four musicians who had created the soundtrack for the 1978 film — Neil Innes, John Halsey, and Ricky Fataar — reunited in 1996 and recorded a second album, Archaeology, an affectionate send-up of The Beatles Anthology albums (although its original cover design rather parodied that of The Beatles' Past Masters singles compilation). The fourth 'real' Rutle, Ollie Halsall, died in Spain in 1992. Eric Idle was invited to participate, but declined.

Like the Anthology project that it lampooned, it featured tracks ostensibly from all periods of the Rutles' career, sequenced to reflect the fictional band's chronology. Several of the songs were actually older Innes songs that were dusted off and given the "Rutles" treatment. The reunion was blessed by George Harrison, who encouraged The Pre-Fab Four to proceed. (When approached, he told Innes, 'Sure. It's all part of the "soup"...', an encounter that Innes related in interviews in 1996.)

The reunion was triggered by Innes's appearance at the Los Angeles festival "Monty Python: Lust For Glory!", celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Monty Python troupe produced by Martin Lewis for the American Cinematheque. Innes performed two sold-out gigs at Los Angeles's Troubadour Club under the name "Ron Nasty & The New Rutles", using a local Beatles tribute band.

Following the success of the shows, Lewis and Innes collaborated on the project that became Archaeology.

Track listing[edit]

Below is a track listing, citing the original Beatles song(s) and other sources thought to be part of the inspiration for each individual track (where applicable).

Track Song Running
time
Sources + Notes
1 "Major Happy's Up-And-Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band" 2:19 "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
2 "Rendezvous" 2:06 "With a Little Help from My Friends" with backing vocals reminiscent of "Good Day Sunshine"
3 "Questionnaire" 2:41 An old Innes composition, either from the stage show Neil Innes is Joe Public or from the stage show More Jam Tomorrow.[2] Musically a composite of "The Fool On The Hill" "Imagine" and "I Am the Walrus" with pointed lyrics referring to Lennon's assassination and American gun-ownership laws.
4 "We've Arrived! (And To Prove It We're Here)" 2:09 Rutles versions of "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Flying" with a "Revolution 9" reference in the ending. (taped 1978 rehearsal featuring Halsall)
5 "Lonely-Phobia" 2:35 Acoustic ballads from A Hard Day's Night-era, especially "Things We Said Today" and "I'll Be Back".
6 "Unfinished Words" 2:08 A play on the anecdote about "Yesterday" and its 'scrambled eggs' dummy lyrics, setting numerous lyrical references to Martin Lewis's 'fake Beatles outtakes' hoax set to a tune resembling "Nowhere Man".
7 "Hey Mister!" 3:18 Broadly similar to "I Me Mine" and "Yer Blues", references "Helter Skelter" at the ending, and features "hey!" calls reminiscent of "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill".
8 "Easy Listening" 2:09 An old Innes composition, either from the stage show Neil Innes is Joe Public or from the stage show More Jam Tomorrow,[3] rearranged as a pastiche of "Octopus's Garden", with some suggestions of "Don't Pass Me By" and "Act Naturally", and a lyrical reference to "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
9 "Now She's Left You" 2:03 A pastiche of "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" written for the original film but unused. In 1981 a doo-wop arrangement of this song was featured on Innes's TV series The Innes Book Of Records (taped 1978 rehearsal featuring Halsall)
10 "The Knicker Elastic King" 2:39 A 1981 composition of Innes's, rearranged in the style of "Getting Better". The horn solo ostensibly comprises Eric Spear's theme from Coronation Street, referencing Wings's cover of the theme from Crossroads. The spoken middle-eight homages the Yellow Submarine film and Ringo Starr's children's TV narration.
11 "I Love You" 2:18 Elements of "It's Only Love" and "And I Love Her"
12 "Eine Kleine Middle Klasse Musik" 4:24 A 1992 Innes composition rearranged in the style of "Come Together", with a Rhodes riff borrowed from "Maybe I'm Amazed".
13 "Joe Public" 4:03 A 1985 Innes song from the stage show Neil Innes is Joe Public,[4] rearranged in the style of "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Rain", with Fataar singing lead.
14 "Shangri-La" 7:43 A 1977 Innes song newly infused with a great many Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles references and a new "Hey Jude"-style coda. "A Day in the Life" forms the backbone of the song, which variously transforms into "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" amongst others, features a chorus suggested by "All You Need Is Love" and "Magical Mystery Tour", and contains a horn riff taken directly from "For No One"; The intro quotes Oasis's "Whatever", in reference to EMI's successful plagiarism lawsuit against that song's melodic similarity to Innes's 1973 single "How Sweet To Be An Idiot".
15 "Don't Know Why" 3:44 Written a year in advance of the album for the TV show Rory Bremner: Who Else, directly pastiching "Free as a Bird", and referencing Innes's then-current hardships relating to the original Rutles project, including his losing of the ATV lawsuit and his fractious relationship with Eric Idle.
16 "Back In '64" 3:14 An answer song to "When I'm Sixty-Four", written from a 1996 perspective, with a solo reminiscent of the Moog lines in "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". The "zum zum zum zum" backing vocals reference those of Innes's 1977 song "Crystal Balls".

All songs were credited solely to Innes; all lead vocals by Innes except for Fataar on tracks 5 and 13, and Halsey on tracks 2 and 8.

The Japanese release of Archaeology includes 4 bonus tracks: "Lullaby", "Baby S'il Vous Plait", "It's Looking Good" (rehearsal), and "My Little Ukulele". "Baby S'il Vous Plait" and "It's Looking Good" were also issued (along with the LP version of "Joe Public") on a UK CD single and 10" of "Shangri-La."

"Baby S'il Vous Plait" was a 'cod' Franglais version of an earlier Rutles song "Baby Let Me Be", from the 1978 soundtrack. The song was recorded as a pastiche of the Beatles' two German-language recordings of "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand", with suitably poor translation and even poorer foreign accents. "My Little Ukelele" was a George Formby-esque novelty number, melding McCartney's many experiments with old-time composition ("Honey Pie", "When I'm 64" etc.) with Harrison's fondness for Formby and the ukelele. "Lullaby" was a brief musical gag from Innes's own live act re-recorded as though it were Ron Nasty amusing the studio staff.

On February 19, 2007, EMI Gold (UK) released a budget reissue of Archaeology with new cover artwork and five bonus tracks: The aforementioned "Lullaby," "My Little Ukelele," and "Baby S'il Vous Plait" surfaced again, and two previously unreleased numbers — "Under My Skin" and "Rut-A-Lot" (the latter a medley of Rutles songs performed live by Innes, presented as a jab at Idle's recently successful Spamalot) — made their first appearances. "Under My Skin" is a cover of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin", performed with some mock half-forgotten lyrics to suggest the Beatles' Star Club era.

Alternate versions and re-issues[edit]

"Archaeology" / Virgin Records America / Vinyl L.P. / U.K. only release / 7243-8-42200-1-3-VUSLP 119

(Same material as: "Archaeology"/ Virgin Records America/ C.D. / U.K./U.S.Release / 7243-8-42200-2-0)

Side 1: "Major Happy's Up & Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band","Rendezvous","Questionnaire","We've Arrived ( And To Prove It We're Here!)","Lonely-phobia", "Unfinished Words","Hey Mister!","Easy Listening","Now She's Left You","The Knicker Elastic King"

Side 2: "I Love You","Eine Kliene Middle Klasse Music","Joe Public","Shangri-La","Don't Know Why","Back In 64"

  • Vinyl album contains same 16 tracks as CD release.
  • Vinyl contains inner sleeve with two Rutles photos and album credits, but no lyrics.
  • CD contains booklet with photos and lyrics.
  • Label photo of The Rutles asleep is a parody of the Elton John album Sleeping with the Past
  • "We've Arrived" and "Now She's Left You" are the last Rutles tracks to contain performances by Ollie Halsall.

"Archaeology"/ Virgin Records / C.D. / Japanese Version / VJCP-25277

  • Contains same 16 tracks as U.K. / U.S. release
  • Contains four bonus tracks: "Lullaby","Baby S'il Vous Plait","It's Looking Good (Demo)","My Little Ukelele"
  • Contains same booklet as U.K./U.S. release
  • Contains supplemental lyric sheets in English and Japanese for all 20 tracks.

"Archaeology" / EMI Gold / 2007 / C.D. / U.K. only release / 0946-3-85349-2-1

  • Contains original 16 tracks + "Lullaby","Baby S'il Vous Plait","My Little Ukelele" and the previously un-released "Under My Skin" and "Rut-A-Lot".
  • Contains different booklet and artwork, with a condensed history of the Rutles.
  • Contains no lyrics.

"Shangri-La" single releases (1996)[edit]

10" Vinyl Single: "Shangri-La" /Virgin Records America / 7243-8-93929-0-6 VUSA117

Side A. "Shangri-La"

Side B. "Joe Public","Baby S'il Vous Plait","It's Looking Good ( Demo )"

  • Neil Innes provides silly liner notes for "Baby S'il Vous Plait" & "It's Looking Good ( Demo )"
  • Same material also released as a C.D. Single (7243-8-93929-2-0-VUSCD117)
  • "Shangri-La" was also released as a single song promotional C.D. (70876-11582-29-DPRO-11582) This version is titled "Shangri-La (Edit)" and runs at 4 minutes, 20 seconds, fading the song out much earlier. An alternate, re-edited, shortened version created for the promo video exists which has never been released on any single or DJ promo.

See also[edit]

References[edit]