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How an Imaginary Supergroup Offered Extra Than 100,000 Albums

No, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Dylan, and Jagger didn’t document an album collectively

Entrance cowl of “The Masked Marauders” album (Supply: Web Archive)

In November 1969, a rock album known as The Masked Marauders was launched. Its title got here from contractual obligations that precluded figuring out the world-famous musicians. Given the artists, although, the liner notes declared it a “once in a lifetime” and “epoch-making” album. It bought greater than 100,00 copies. The opening minimize, “I Can’t Get No Nookie,” was reportedly known as “clearly obscene” by the chair of the Federal Communications Fee. It seems it was all a hoax.

The primary point out of the album got here in a review in Rolling Stone journal’s subject dated October 18, 1969, however on newsstands earlier than then. Based on reviewer T.M. Christian, The Masked Marauders have been a shocking supergroup: John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and an unnamed drummer. “It can truly be said that this album is more than a way of life; it is life,” Christian wrote.

The evaluate, although, was pretend, concocted by Rolling Stone critic Greil Marcus. Marcus later mentioned he and one other author talked about “how stupid all the then-so-called super session albums were.” In order that they imagined an final supergroup, and Marcus wrote the phony evaluate underneath a reputation taken from Terry Southern’s novel The Magic Christian. After seeing the evaluate, Rolling Stone co-founder and editor Jann Wenner thought it could be a enjoyable spoof.

The evaluate supplied loads of clues that it was satire. It mentioned aspect two of the two-record set, supposedly produced by Al Kooper, opened with “an extremely moving a cappella version of ‘Masters of War,’” by Jagger and McCartney. On aspect three, Dylan sang “Duke of Earl,” Jagger carried out “The Book of Love,” and McCartney contributed “his favorite song, ‘Mammy,’” Christian wrote. “After the listener has recovered from this string of masterpieces,” aspect 4 opened with two songs written for the album, together with Jagger’s “new instant classic, ‘I Can’t Get No Nookie.’” It closed with a gaggle vocal of “Oh Happy Day.”

Shortly after the journal went on sale, Rolling Stone co-founder Ralph Gleason reported it was a hoax. “It was intended as a joke. That’s right, son, a joke,” he wrote in his “On the Town” column within the San Francisco Chronicle. Calling it “simply incredible ANYBODY believed it,” Gleason famous that numerous folks have been taking it critically. He was proper. There was a lot demand for this imaginary album that Rolling Stone’s November 1, 1969, version reported document shops being “swamped with orders.”

The journal additionally started to obtain letters concerning the album. The letters part within the subsequent subject had an editor’s be aware warning readers to not be misled in the event that they noticed an album by that title. The evaluate “was just a laugh. In other words, a fabrication, a hoax, a jest, an indulgence[.]”

Nonetheless, Rolling Stone author Langdon Winner acquired the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band to document the songs on the album. Marcus even contributed lyrics to “I Can’t Get No Nookie.” A couple of songs obtained some radio airplay, which elevated demand for the album. Winner finally satisfied Warner Brothers Data to launch an actual album, though with one document, not two. It was launched on “Deity Records” to match the evaluate. Warner Brothers introduced its “official position” in an in-house memo: “We do not know the names of the people comprising this group and the only thing we know about them is what we read in Rolling Stone.”

Liner notes on again cowl of “The Masked Marauders” (Supply: Web Archive)

The week the album was launched, Rolling Stone ran a full-page story on how its actually unbelievable evaluate turned an imaginary band’s album. “And if people failed to laugh at the Marcus review,” it concluded, “wait ’til they get ahold of the record itself.”

Winner assumed the T.M. Christian pseudonym to jot down the album’s liner notes. They alone ought to have tipped off anybody who learn them. Christian “mushed” a canine sled from the Hudson Bay Air Terminal to Igloo Productions to attend the recording periods. “I Can’t Get No Nookie” was recorded “after an all-night party on the tundra with the local Eskimos.” It was named for “the lovely girlfriend of Nanook of the North.” Thus, any claims it was obscene “are nothing more than a vile ethnic slur cooked up by some demented mind.” Christian known as the music “unmistakably, the sound of the future — the Hudson Bay Sound.”

Regardless of all of the disclaimers and parody, The Masked Marauders bought 65,000 copies in two months. It spent 12 weeks on the Billboard album charts, reaching quantity 114, and in the end bought greater than 100,000 copies. On November 29, 1969, “Cow Pie” hit quantity 123 on the singles charts earlier than disappearing the subsequent week. Many believed they have been listening to the purported artists. That didn’t imply the music was good.

“If these boys did do the album, they’ve slipped. It’s terrible,” mentioned an April 3, 1970, evaluate within the Baltimore Solar. Dylan’s rendition of “Season of the Witch,” the author mentioned, “sounds like Art Carney trying to sound like Bob Dylan doing an imitation of Donovan.” It was, based on the evaluate, the “comedy album of 1969.”

On January 8, 1970, rock critic Robert Christgau known as it the “album of the year” — earlier than including, “I wish I didn’t feel obliged to specify that Marcus intended The Masked Marauders as a parody of rock faddism, especially supergroups and supersessions.” However, he mentioned, the album stood out for having each the world’s worst drum solo and the world’s worst guitar solo.

Taking part in out the hoax, Deity Data introduced the break-up of The Masked Marauders in February 1970. “We don’t need the Marauders,” fictitious label president Solomon Pent-Howes mentioned. “They were nothing until we promoted them and they aren’t really good enough to make it without us.” The top got here in April 1971, when Rolling Stone reported Warner Brothers dropped The Masked Marauders from its catalog, relegating any unsold copies to “the drugstore racks.”

The top turned out as imaginary because the band. In 2003, Rhino Data launched a restricted version known as The Masked Marauders: The Full Deity Recordings, which has subsequent reissues. In a approach, the title continued the hoax. The Masked Marauders is the one Deity Data recording.

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