Are we meant to take The Zimmers seriously?

On Monday, British band The Zimmers released their cover of The Whos My Generation, recorded at world-famous Abbey Road studios.

At first sight it looks like a novelty single; their gimmick is their age. All members are pensioners; lead singer Alf is 90 and the oldest members are over 100. At that age, they are old enough to have disapproved of The Beatles who made the studio so famous, and The Who, whose song they are singing, the first time round. The group arose out of a BBC TV documentary. The Youtube video of the single is a cult hit on YouTube, filmed to look like the Band Aid charity singles by the man behind the Band Aid videos. It also features four members of the band walking across That crossing on Abbey road, but very slowly, and with walking aids. At the end a few of them try to smash their guitars on the floor, but hilariously don't seem to be able to manage.

But then the whole point of the enterprise seems to be that old people are not a joke, not irrelevant, not over-the-hill. So, interspersed in the video are placards with serious messages: I'm bored in old people's homes, I've not left my flat in three years, Don't write me off cos I'm 90, etc. The band, says their website, exposes the disgraceful way we treat our old people in this country and challenges a whole host of preconceptions about the elderly, and their placards and the documentary certainly go a long way to doing so. But they want to be taken seriously musically, too. They've got a European tour booked, and have recorded an album to back-up the single.

I'm confused, therefore, about what my reaction should be. It is funny, but is it meant to be? Their website says that the band have more aggression than Nirvana and more style than The Who, which surely must be tongue-in-cheek, mustn't it? The music is alright, but surely it's novelty-single-alright, not serious-album-alright. I admire what they've put together, and they undoubtedly deserve their popularity and media exposure, but I'm not about to book a ticket to their show. In any case, perhaps they have achieved what they wanted to, because here I am, talking bout their generation.

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