When I picked up The Pete Best Band's Live at the Adelphi, the hipster at the cash register smirked behind his foggy glasses. Having once been a record clerk myself, I knew what the clerk was thinking: "This sad sack must be one of those Beatlesheads, actually buying a record by that schlub who was kicked out of the band in 1962 and has been cashing in on the Beatles ever since. Besides, the Beatles are so obvious. Now, Mersey Mort and the Tea Cakes, that was a British Invasion band."
As we all know, record shop clerks in vintage horn-rims command the same esteem once carried by holy men and tribal elders, but there are a few things wrong with this guy's thesis. For one, I'm not necessarily a Beatleshead (I do have tiny copies of the Rubber Soul cover grafted to the insides of my corneas, but that's beside the point). Second, while Pete Best was jettisoned for Ringo in 1962--and the man is not above cashing in on his past, if the seminar-style booking packages offered on his Web site (petebest.com) are any indication--he's no more schlubbish than one-time Rolling Stone Brian Jones (who is dead and presumably not booking memory-lane seminar/performances).
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Rather, Best is the living evidence of the ripping early sound of the Beatles, and after a long career of flirting with nostalgia, he's wisely settled into the job of keeping that sound alive. Behind the drums, he's punchy, a little splashy and every bit Ringo's equal. His band stomps through early Beatles songs and early Beatles covers (Chuck Berry, Otis Blackwell, the Ronettes) and generally kicks ass. Admittedly, Mersey Mort and the Tea Cakes, at every stage of their career, were a better band than the Beatles, but hey, they weren't the Best.