The term "Beatle-esque" has worked its way into the lexicon of popular music to such a degree that it has become it's own adjective. Maybe not yet to found in Webster's, and much more than "Stonse-y" or "Who-like", it evocates a kind of sound that anyone from six to sixty can instantly recognize.
The legacy and influence of the Beatles to pop music is so deep and wide that it would take a thousand music journalists to write a thousand books just to scratch the surface. When the Beatles hit America with a tidal wave force in 1964, all bets were off in terms of not only what records the kids would be buying, but the sound and style of popular music itself. Almost overnight, the crooners and the pre-packaged teen idols of the late 50's and early 60's became impossibly passe. Artists were expected to write and perform their own material, and while there still remained a large market for gifted songwriters and arrangers like Burt Bachrach and Jimmy Webb who not only stayed behind the scenes, but sometimes eclipsed the notoriety of the singers who performed their work, The Beatles set the trend for groups to forge their own musical identities.
So when a teenaged Tom Hartman from St. Louis heard that guitar chord heard round the world on the Ed Sullivan show, he did what so many other kids did- bought a Rickenbacker guitar, started growing his hair and started a band. Enter the Aerovons. Hartman and his band rose quickly through the ranks of the local bands and by 1967 were one of the hottest acts in the midwest. Armed with a demo tape, and a savvy and aggressive mother/manager, the band raised enough money to travel to London to meet with the head of A&R at EMI, who liking what he heard, signed the Aerovons to a record contract (they could do things like that back then). While in London, the band did all the things that an anglophile pop group would; shopping on carnaby street, going round to all the clubs and getting a tour of Abbey Road studios where they would be recording their album. While there, they were knocked-out to witness The Beatles recording the White Album, and even getting a chance to talk to Harrison and McCartney in the bargain before heading back to the states. Heady times indeed.
As for the Aerovon's sound, there's no mistaking who the main (if only) influence is on Hartman's writing and singing. Check out "World of You", the song that scored them their recording contract
Yup, there's that term "Beatle-esqe" rearing it's mop-topped head again. It's a great song- I really like the string arrangement, the open sweep of the recording and the melancholy vibe to the whole thing, although I don't think McCartney was quaking in his cuban-heeled boots over it. It also could be heard as a Badfinger pastiche more than the musical magic ususally coming out of Abbey Road studio 2 at the time. The difference between emulation and innovation exemplified. Still, good stuff though.
Returning to EMI in early 1969, the Aerovons recorded the rest of the album in earnest concurrent with the Beatles in the next room working on their "Abbey Road" album. They must have had an ear to the door, as the Aerovon's "Say Georgia" is a direct rip-off of "Oh! Darling", but who wouldn't do the same? And while the rest of their album didn't quite match up to the promise of "World of You", it has a level of songwriting and performance that is quite high and sounds great still today. The Aerovons were now primed to make their mark in the charts.
Sadly, it was not to be. Upon returning back to St. Louis, half of the band quit, leaving Hartman to scramble to find a new line up, while trying to come up with new material, all of which led to an ulcer. EMI got cold feet, and pulled the plug on releasing the still untitled album, only to put out the "World of You" single, which didn't make much of a dent in the charts anyway. It seemed that the Aerovons and their "smashing english sound" (as they called it) would forever be shelved until the RPM label finally released the album, aptly titled Resurrection in 2003 where it has since developed a long- deserved following. Come on over, and I'll play it for you.