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Virtual Trouser gets rutted

By culture editor DJ NRG Raver

Posted January 18, 2013
the rutles or is it the beatles?
The Pre-Fab Four: McQuickly, Wom, Nasty and O'Hara. (Check bottom for credit)

Back in 1962, who would have thought that four lads from Rutland, England's smallest county, would set the world alight? Ladies and gentlemen, the Rutles...

Welcome again to Virtual Trouser, the print/online YouTube-inspired manifestation of Poznan's mythical alternative music night Naked Trouser.

And to mark the recent 50th anniversary of their first release, we take a look at the fantastic career of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful rock band in history, the legendary Pre-Fab Four, the Rutles.

Formed in Liverpool in 1959 by Ron Nasty (guitar) and Dirk McQuickly (bass), the duo soon added guitarist Stig O'Hara and drummer Barry Wom (real name Barrington Womble) to complete the classic Rutles line-up.

With their trademark tight suits and mop-top haircuts, the band soon gained a following playing up-beat R'n'R at local clubs like the Cavern and at the Rat Keller on Hamburg's Reeperbahn.

Guided by their manager Leggy Mountbatten, the Rutles signed to Parlourphone and immediately began their amazing run of chart success.

By December 1963 they were a phenomenon, with 19 out of the Top 20 singles in the UK, including Number One, Hold My Hand, I Must Be In Love, With a Girl Like You and Between Us.

In 1964, Rutlemania went worldwide, with the band conquering the States thanks to thousands of screaming girls and an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The band then released their first film A Hard Day's Rut followed by Ouch! in 1965.

Their subsequent sell-out gig at New York's Che Stadium was so big that the audience could neither see nor hear them.

They played for 20 minutes then left in a helicopter.

tea drinking hippies from rutland
Bloody hippies: The Rutles in '69. (Check bottom for credit)

The 1966 'bigger than Rod (Stewart)' controversy coincided with a change in style, marked by more complex and challenging material (such as Doubleback Alley) and less-frequent trips to the hairdresser's as the band began experimenting with tea drinking (to which they had been introduced by Bob Dylan).

All this culminated in their 1967 masterpiece, Sgt Rutter's Only Darts Club Band, with its 'psychedelicatessan' sound, as exemplified by tracks such as Good Times Roll and Nevertheless.

Inspired by the Surrey mystic Arthur Sultan, the Rutles then released a string of hippy classics, such as Love Life, Piggy in the Middle (from the film Tragical History Tour), Another Day, Cheese and Onions and Let's Be Natural.

By 1970, however, the caffeine had taken its toll and when their final album Let It Rot was recorded, relationships were so bad that the four would sing together but not speak.

A rooftop performance of Get Up and Go proved to be the final iconic view of the band before they split up forever.

Fortunately for subsequent generations of besotted fans, the full story of the Rutles can be seen in the 1978 documentary All You Need is Cash, whilst the 2002 follow-up Can't Buy Me Lunch looks at the band's lasting legacy.

Meanwhile, anyone with a sense of humour should check out Rutles-soundalikes the Beatles, who jokingly parodied the Pre-Fab Four with such pastiches as Twist and Shout, Penny Lane, I Am the Walrus and Get Back.

Absolutely hilarious.

Yellow submarines indeed!

And on the subject of yellow submarines, well, yellow submarine sandwiches, anyway, here, embedded from RUT4's YouTube channel, is the psychedelic masterpiece that is and always will be Cheese and Onions. Do I have to spell it out?

The original version of this article first appeared in Point Blank Poznan. Cheers, Steg. I just found a couple of old chicken wings down the back of the sofa. You can have one if you like.

See also Virtual Trouser lynches the landlord, posted 13/7/12.

Picture credits

Top and thumb: The Rutles immortalised in wax by Ronnie Liew.

Bottom: The Rutles during their tea phase by Marior1998.

For licensing information click the above links.

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