The plot of A Song from Dead Lips revolves around the murder of a young woman who turns out to be one of the “Apple Scruffs”, a group of hardcore fans who were hanging around the group that year.
1968 was a troubling year for The Beatles. At the same time as London’s students were rioting against the Vietnam war in Grosvenor Square, The Beatles were in India, trying to connect with their inner selves in Rishikesh with their guru, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
With the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ aura of invincibility started to crack. The Apple Boutique in Baker Street closed within a few months of opening. John Lennon had ditched his wife Cynthia for a strange Japanese artist called Yoko Ono.
With his discovery of heroin, his songs were becoming increasingly introspective, increasingly about what writer Ian MacDonald called “the revolution in the head”, not the revolution on the streets.
In an era in which bands still knocked out records in a couple of weeks, it was to take six months to record their next album. Between May and October 1968, The Beatles laid down would become known unofficially as The White Album.
When John Lennon recorded Revolution 1 for their The White Album he encapsulated the band’s unease about events that year outside of EMI’s studios. Which revolution were they part of? Where they part of the revolution at all? Where they “in” or “out”?
The sleeve to their previous album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had been designed by Peter Blake. It was brash, exuberant and colourful. The Beatles‘ sleeve was also designed by a great British pop artist, Richard Hamilton. But in contrast to the exuberant colourful sleeve of Sergeant Pepper’s, this was a plain white square. A baffling blankness.
In an era in which fans attempted to decode every lyric, every glance, every piece obscure symbolism, seeking some instruction from the heroes of the cultural vanguard, The Beatles was a strange, sometimes incoherent statement. The gods were no longer so sure of themselves.