Four decades on, Hamburg says it has had enough of the Beatles

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Hamburg has banned The Beatles. Belatedly, almost four decades after the German port took in the bunch of teenage wannabes and nurtured their raw talent in its red light area nightclubs, it has decided enough is enough.

Messrs McCartney, Harrison and Starr are said to be puzzled and secretly a little thrilled that in their mid fifties they are considered too shocking for any city, let alone one as earthy as Hamburg.

The surviving Beatles were informed yesterday that the Hamburg city council has vetoed the playing of tracks from the group's new Anthology 3 album or shots from the accompanying Anthology video in its shopping malls or any public places.

The album is being played in shopping malls across Germany, in cities including Berlin, Nuremburg and Frankfurt.

But Hamburg, the Continental city most closely associated with the group, has ordered a shutdown of the Beatles sound. When EMI, the Beatles' record company, was informed of the decision, it thought it was a joke and carried on with the public relays of the music. Then in a scene reminiscent of the pomp and pomposity of the mayor and corporation of Hanover in The Pied Piper, the city council of Hamburg invoked the might of its ancient bye-laws.

The corporation informed EMI there was an old city regulation which "prohibited flickering light in public places." This meant that playing of the Beatles video must cease immediately. Though no light flickers from the album, public plays of that have also been banned.

The Beatles' spokesman Geoff Baker said last night: "Perhaps they were concerned there would be riots at the check out counters. It does seem bizarre that the group who put this city on the map for much of the world and who reminisce about Hamburg in their new video now find that video banned by Hamburg city council. It's amusing and a little shocking that The Beatles are not considered suitable for public display in the city that once paid them to perform twice nightly."