December 19, 2007

Beatlemania Reviewed

Quartet Continues to Agitate the Faithful

NY Times
February 10, 1964, Monday

The cyclical turnover in teen-age trauma received recognition last night in the businesslike appearance of the Beatles on the "Ed Sullivan Show" over the Columbia Broadcasting System. The boys hardly did for daughter what Elvis Presley did for older sister or Frank Sinatra for mother.

The Liverpool quartet, borrowing the square hairdo used every morning on televisions by Captain Kangaroo, was composed of conservative conformists. In furthering Britain's comeback as an international influence, they followed established procedure for encouraging self-determination in underdeveloped areas.

The pretext of a connection with the world of music, a matter left to separate consideration below, was perfunctorily sustained by the Beatles. But in the quick intelligence beneath their bangs, there appeared to be a bemused awareness that they might qualify as the world's highest paid recreation directors.

In their sophisticated understanding that the life of a fad depends on the performance of the audience and not on the stage, the Beatles were decidedly effective. In their two sets of numbers, they allowed the healing effect of group therapy to run its course under the discipline of Mr. Sullivan, the chaperon of the year.

Televised Beatlemania appeared to be a fine mass placebo, and thanks undoubtedly are due Britain for a recess in winter's routine. Last night's sedate anticlimax speaks well for continuing British-American understanding. The British always were much more strict with children.

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