I was clearing out the loft the other week and stumbled upon some old vinyl from my childhood, which included my small, but perfectly formed, collection of Pinky & Perky albums. Looking through the track listings I discovered that, as well as committing to vinyl such heavyweight numbers as ‘Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf’, ‘Nelly The Elephant’ and ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’, the little swines had also recorded a wealth of Fab Four songs which, like the songs listed above, were obviously considered the perfect blend of musical content and subject matter to appeal to their target audience – three year old children.
(If you’re in any doubt as to just how successful Pinky & Perky have been over the years in appealing to their target audience; I used to know a guy in Nashville – ironically a massive Fab Four fan – who bought himself a big house with a swimming pool from the proceeds of having just one of his songs recorded by the piglets!)
In fact, so intrigued was I by the sheer volume of Fab Four songs recorded by Pinky & Perky in my own modest collection of just four LPs and a couple of EPs, that I decided to do a bit of research into the piglets’ more recent repertoire to see if their artistic discernment had developed any over the ensuing decades. Sadly not. Talk about discovering a winning formula and sticking to it.
Just as in their heyday, the sixties and seventies, when Pinky & Perky’s advisers chose to ignore the songs of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, the Stones, Neil Young and the like, in favour of material made popular by artists the calibre of Cliff Richard, the Beverley Sisters, Donny Osmond, Perry Como and, of course, the Fab Four, (with whom they were so enamoured they even had them as guests on their TV show), once again, during the eighties and nineties the piglets’ people chose to shun songs from acclaimed songwriters such as Nick Cave, Kurt Cobain and Morrissey in favour of material made popular by the likes of Take That, Right Said Fred and Jason Donovan.
I’m sure this above information will prove absolutely indispensable when you reach that point during the ‘the talk’ with Fab Four fans when they try to justify the Beatles’ mass appeal by hitting you with that old chestnut: ‘great art should appeal on all levels’.
Although I haven’t had a chance to actually put this into practice as yet, I’m certain that, in order to quell the ‘great art should appeal on all levels’ misconception rapidly, all you will need to do is give the fan you’re dealing with a brief overview of Pinky & Perky’s unrepentant passion for peddling paltry pop songs and the average age of their intended target audience. Then follow this information by asking the Fab Four fan if they feel that a typical Pinky & Perky aficionado would appreciate Shakespeare’s King Lear, Caravaggio’s Conversion of St. Paul or Tolstoy’s War & Peace (particularly in Russian) to the same extent as the pigs body of work – to which the fan will have to reluctantly mumble the word ‘no’. Once you have established with the fan that the works of Shakespeare, Caravaggio and Tolstoy are not as popular with three year old children as two ten inch puppets singing songs about Octopus’s gardens, yellow submarines and the like, you can complete this simple exercise by enquiring if, with hindsight, the fool before you is still convinced that their ‘great art should appeal on all levels’ assertion is a suitable gauge with which to judge what is and is not great art.