"You don't know how lucky you are!"
- PAPERBACK WRITER / RAIN
- PENNY LANE / STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
- THE BEATLES (WHITE ALBUM)
- LADY MADONNA / THE INNER LIGHT
- HEY JUDE / REVOLUTION
- YELLOW SUBMARINE
Ok, the time has come for a serious introduction to... EH?
The Beatles? Who need this kind of stuff? You don't know nothing about the Beatles?
Where do you live? Of course some reviewers have tried to be original and find
all the flaws and faults of this band. Tried, not managed, if you listen to
me. Once I loved the Fab Four, I adore them and I worship them (for any example,
check out my reviews of "Revolver" or "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields" ); lately,
my album collection increased a lot, I tried a lot of other genres (mainly prog
and jazz), other bands less famous than The Beatles and, surprise surprise,
I don't love the Beatles anymore. Either, often I haven't any kind of respect
for them, would you believe? Now I'm coming to agree they are the most overrated
band in the rock history (and this very weird for me: I like the Rolling Stones
more than the Beatles) and I think some of their output is barely listenable
and offensive, offensive towards all people who plays Music, with the capitol
"M". But let's explain these things in a better way, starting from the late
What's rock 'n' roll? A precise definition would be embarrasing; it's enough to say that it's a fusion between some Occidental musical features, like the melody, the arrangements and the vocal armonies, with the african rhytms. This fusion was the basis of the success of rock 'n' roll in Europe; and one of the first appearances of rock 'n' roll in Europe was the Merseybeat, the musical movement in which the Beatles grew. What's Merseybeat? Sloppy rock 'n' roll, with the rhythmic section reduced and made more smooth and with a lot of vocal melodies. Am I too harsh towrds this style? No, because in this way a new genre was created, a genre (quite limited) that would open the road to the true rock 'n' roll, a genre that managed to made the rock known among people different from the violent youth. And this is a merit of Merseybeat, but I think the genre is worth by itself, since it was quite innovative, mainly for the fusion (and the contrast) of delicate vocal armonies with a steady beat. But dreadfully it was constituted for the most by commercial music: how do I dare to say this? I hope you are not deaf: listent to Jerry And The Peacemakers, Beatles With Tony Sheridan (there are some bootlegs with a discrete quality from their liveperformances in Amburgo), The Hollies, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly; the triumph of "sounding the same"! Ok, there are some little differences, but they are only nuances, the substance of the music was the same for all these bands: finding a catchy melody to which a "ye-ye" girl could dance, catchy choruses... in summa : to appeal the audience with melodies. Nothing bad or wrong 'til this point. The fact is that this movement lasted for some years, at least three or four, without any substantial innovations. In the beginning of this period, The Beatles were very important because they were bold enough to pioneer a new genre, finding all his possible nuances (thanks to the fact Lennon/Mc Cartney were very prolific). They were quite original in the beginning, but their first three albums are all the same (and all shitty, if you listen to me); what they add to music with those albums? They prove that young people could write rock-songs? Ok, maybe they proved this, but there is nothing original, since they wrote the exact same thing Chuck Berry or Budie Holly wrote. To make a comparison, in 1962 Duan Eddy used violins, in 1963 Sandy Bull used the "oud" (an arabic flute) in a composition of TWENTY minutes (he used the "oud" and a sitar in a raga, Beatles used sitar and flute in trite pop-songs, I hope you understand the differences). Beatles were only one of the band of the Merseybeat, there was a lot of band neither better neither worse, simply they were lucky enough to find Epstein, an intelligent manager and businessman. American rock was influenced not by Beatles, but by the so called "British invasion", of which the Beatles are the most famous (note, not the best, simply the most famous). Of course, some of the early singles really qualify (like "She Loves You"), mainly for the fusion of Merseybeat with twist, that makes the songs faster and happy (...and childish!). In this period, thanks to a massive campaign of publicity, the "Beatlesmania" exploded. I inssist on the point that, even if all their early singles qualify, there are a lot of other good bands, with nothing less than the Beatles (the Kinks for instance). But, until this point their succes is quite deserved and I found their singing style (a mix between the violent style of Little Richard and the smoothness of The Drifters) very involving. Before analizing their golden period (1965-1969), it would be useful to analize what was happening in the world and in music in that period.
Dylan, since his early albums, tried and managed to prove that young musicians could be intelligent, Yarbirds were founding the hard-rock, Kinks the garage-rock, there were the first contamination with classical and avantgarde music; the world was busy with the revolts of the students, of the pacifists, the protest against Vietnam war, against the establishment, the growth of the hippie movement... all these events happened and you can't find any sign of them in any Beatles album. Just an example: 1965 was the year of the hippies of San Francisco, with their LSD, love for Indian guru, mysticism. But The Beatles ignored them totally, they recorded "Help" and "Rubber Soul", a happy pop album. I said this to destroy the myth that the Beatles were the mirror of their generation... were they bold to compose "My Generation"? The fact the didn't imitate what's happening in that period wasn't a bad feature, either, it could be a sign of originality; but it' s also a sign that they didn't invent ANYTHING!!! I'll insist on this point until I die! They pionereed rock 'n' roll, and were a bit original. Then they borrowed a lot from Beach Boys' vocal harmonies, tons from Dylan lyrics, the feedback in "I Feel Fine" is clearly inspired by Yarbirds, they didn't invent psychedelia, they didn't explore the avantgarde, they didn't invented feedback (some rumors say so), they weren't the first who used instruments different from guitars (like horns, violins and so on) and when they used them, they used them in an unoriginal way (like the sitar on "Norwegian Wood", it's just a filler for the sound and it's used in a trite composition). And again, there is nothig bad or wrong, the fact Beatles weren't savage experimentators isn't a fault, it's just a sign they aren't big as it's said. But it's also a sign that they never went further than the three minutes pop song, all the additional instruments are only masks, if you throw away them, here you are the three minutes pop song based on melody. And, again, it isn't bad, there were a good pop band, but don't call them and original and diverse band, they dreadfully remain a Merseybeat band, with a bluesy background; ok, maybe they aren't so limited, they tried also other genres, but when? After 1967, specifically in 1968, when the recording companies noticed, with some years of delay, that there were other genres than pop and rock, so the recording companies discovered the underground and the blues. You see, they arrived late in everything they did, and again it isn't bad or wrong, it's just a sign of how wrong is call them influential: how can you have influence on a thing that's already happened? Of course, in certain ways, Beatles were influential because they showed to the establishment that there was another kind of music, the underground and the psychedelia. But in order to make this, they had to make the estabilishment accept these genres and, in order of doing this, they made these genres sloppy. Fans will say that they find the right balance between experimentation and tradition; aaaah, this is the effect of "Beatlesmania". When another band not so famous is on the edge between tradition and experimentalism, we say they aren't bold, they can't find the right way, then, when Fab Four do the same exact thing, we say the Beatles are geniuses. When a band can't choose between tradition and experimentation and put both of these things, we call it mediocrity, when Beatles do it, we call it "Golden Middle". WHY???. Howewer the Fab Four weren't untalented, and the fact they followed the fashions of the epoch is a good thing, since in this way they are a perfect mirror of that time; but this is more interesting from a social point of view than from a musical one, isn't it? All these features are reflected on the albums: Sgt. Pepper isn't experimental, "The Beatles" is a good pop album, that shows all the band's limited creativity, "Let It Be" is a triumph of manneristic arrangements and songs... (for more precise informations, read my reviews).
Ok, I admit I wanted to be very provocative, but I hope you have reflected a bit about the guys. The Beatles are overrated, no doubt about this, but they are still rather good. The good side of the Beatles is mainly their humor, the "take it easy" phylosophy, but also their ability of transform their ambitions, their dreams in music, or better in musical ideas. I want to stop here, since I've found that the speech is enormous, and I haven't time neither will. Howewer I'll recommend all readers to sent me their comments, their doubts about my intro, to ask me some clarifications and precisations about what I wrote, and I'll be happy to answer to everyone. The real purpose of this introduction is not to bash and put down the Beatles, but to try to make you reflect with more attention and depth about these guys. And now:
I wanna know your ideas!
Whoa! One of my favourite bands of all time, and I don't know a single person who doesn't like them! I don't need to talk much, I just say tell them to listen to "Eleanor Rigby", "Tommorow Never Knows", "Within You Without You", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", and when they do, they don't disagree.
[Federico's note: if you pardon me, I'll break your comment
in parts, and then I'll comment on them]
Hey man, admit it, you have just got burned out from The Beatles. Like me, you have listened for your whole life to them and then you found other music that was different from the beatles and now you like it. Its like eating apples all day and then finding an orange, of course at first you are going to love the orange and say that you hate the apple. [It' s a cool and appropriate comparison, it's exactly what I did. But my purpose is not saying the apple sucks, only that: "Ok, apples are good, but look around please, a lot of other fruits are much more tasteful than apples!". And I chose to do so in the most provocative way I know, that's all. I can't stand seeing a lot of other good fruits wasted!] You can not honestly say the are the best band in history? Granted most high profile bands in history don't deserve their recognition like almost all of today's music people (I refuse from calling them "musicians") like Britney, Eminem, and others. That is just because there is nothing in the underground or less known to come in and say "YOU ARE FINISHED." like Nirvana did. The Beatles did the same thing, when they came with "I wanna hold your hand" they were shocked because they never heard anything like it. You say that they copy off people like the Beach Boys or others, but who doesn't? [Nobody of course. The question is how do they work on these influence. I don't want to deny the fact that Beatles are a good pop band. I'm only tired of fans who, speaking of their favourite band, give it merits it hasn't, like musicianship, technical skills or, as in this case, originality.] Every artist has to take their influences and turn them into their own sound. There is no other way like the Ramones or the Beach Boys all had elements that they took out of their influences but evolved on them until it was their own. I hate to tell you, but the Rolling Stones are nothing but hacks. "Sticky Fingers" is the only thing that keeps their legend alive. They copied the Beatles throughout the 60s and then they had producers come in and make a new sound for them. [I used to think as you in the past. Now I changed my mind. They copied Beatles? Yes, they did so in a very offensive way, expecially in 65/67. But their first album is really fierce and original, none could play like them at the epoch. And then, is "Beggars Banquet" ripped off from Beatles? Or "Let It Bleed"? Of course the band has a substantial lack of ideas for the rest of their career, but the "classic" period, 1968-1972, absolutely rules, and defined the "rootsy-rock" genre, with a lot of elements that furthermore... hey, this is the BEATLES page! Look at the Stones page, written when I hated them and tell me what you think!] That reminds me of artists today they have like 10 producers per album and they think they are "diverse" artists when, to me, it is just pathetic to see. The Rolling Stones did the same thing. You could find something wrong about every single band ever to play. [Yes, and since I'm a reviewer, I have the duty of pointing out all the qualities and the defects. Since a lot of people speaks about Fab Four's merits, I thought I would speak about their flaws.] I guarentee there are songs in your favorite artist albums that are copied from other people. Sure the Beatles are overrated, they are treated like freakin Gods which they are the only ones that really should come close. I would like to see you name one artist that have even come close to the Beatles output.[ Who, Kinks, Rolling Stones, Doors, Yes, Klaatu are really close to the Beatles. IMHO Zappa, King Crimson, Traffic, Hendrix, Gentle Giant, Bob Dylan are also better! BTW, Klaatu released some pop albums that had nothing less than some Beatles album. Check out their Sir Army Suit.] They were only together for 6 YEARS!! Alot of high profile artists sometimes take 4 YEARS to put out ONE album. If the Beatles were given that amount of time, wow... I have started listening to other artists like the genius Stevie Wonder and Joni MItchell and others that are really really good and I like them. But when I compare their songs to the Beatles they just dont compare in diversity. [It's really hard for me to notice all that diversity. Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mistery Tour sound the same, the first four albums sound the same, and so Let It Be, the quintessential super-conventional pop album full of cliches and commonplaces. Abbey Road doens't add anything in term of new sounds to their catalogue, even if is an excellent album. In the White Album I feel only nuances, not really different genres as other bands tried] You said that their songs are just based on melody, but what song isn't? well at least a good one should be. [This is where I vehemently disagree! First of all good songs aren't all based on melody! Is jazz based on melody? Is dissonance a bad thing for its definition? Beatles songs are ALWAYS based on chords, a simple melody, the drums that keeps the beat, and a lot of additional instruments that for the most of the time, only fill the sound, hiding the true musical substance: a plane pop song. If you prefer: a great and excellent pop song. At times, they aren't always perfect, and the same formula has bored me; for me they are much more formulaic than Stones] I know they are overrated but that is from just the obsessive fans that spend every waking moment thinking of them. Name a group that has such a diverse sounding songs from "Love Me Do" to "A Day in the Life." [You ask, you have: The Mother Of Invention, King Crimson, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Jethro Tull... is it enough?] Hacks like Madonna put out the same crap for 20 years, and then they think she is some genius because she changes her clothes? If you wanna rip on someone who is overrated there she is! But honestly the Beatles were one of the very few artists that the music industry came to them, not them going to the industy. See ya [In conclusion, in order to clear the situation, here's what I think of the Beatles according to Starostin's general rating system:
LISTENABILITY: 5/5 They didn't release a single bad tune and they have a strong sense of melody. You won't argue here!
RESONANCE: 2/5 For me nothing, only a couple of songs. The early period sucks on this ground, and apart for some confessional Lennon songs, they haven't so much to say to me. Sorry!
ORIGINALITY: 2/5 They pionereed rock. Ok, but then they didn't invent anything, they were always late on everything. And their innovations were more in the social ground than in the more strictly musical one.
ADEQUACY: 4/5 Pretty adequate.
DIVERSITY: 1/5 Read above.
GENERAL RATING : 2,8. * * * three stars on the rating scale, which is very good, very few bands can get here.]
These are the singles for "Revolver" and this single was released on 10 June 1966. These days it's available on the compilation "Past Master Volume II".As often happened side A is by Paul and B by John."Paperback Writer" by Paul is a funny song, made more precious by sophisticated and interlaced falsetto choruses and with a menacing electric riff ; it' s a quite rare case the Beatles came out with an original and such catchy riff, at least in their golden age ( actually I remember only "Ehy Bulldog" ).The lyrics are, usually for Paul, a story, with multiple characters in which the author identifies himself with a character of his story : original and intelligent, a cool "mis en abim".On the other hand "Rain" was written by John : it starts their psychedelic period and features the first use of tapes overdubbed on contrary. The lyrics are fascinating and perhaps linked to the LSD experience ; the song is about the description of the concrete world seen without thickness and inconsistent in comparison with the world of the mind ( you see, the verse "...when it rains and shines it' s just a state of mind..." ).The music is hypnotic and rely on the new technique of tapes overdubs ; in the coda there is Lennon singing on contrary "sharethsmowthsmeaness".Revolutionary and well refined as usual, this single starts the best period of the Fab Four.
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One of the first serious and "art" album of rock history ; maybe their best, maybe not, but on a thing you can' t disagree : this album starts the golden age of Fab Four. What can I say about this album without reprising the same trite adjectives like great, intelligent, original, revolutionary...The quality of songwriting was improved, but for me the album is remarkable mostly for its lyrics ; the music grows in complexity and the Beatles improve their musical horizons adding other additional instruments, ( sitar piano and strings in first line ) and experimenting new ways to use the usual ones or the studio tricks ( like the additional tapes overdubs or the wall of sounds, created with an incredibly wise use of all studio' s potential ).The way they incorporated these additional instruments are fantastic : often you may think, listening with attention to only one of them, it' s doing something totally different from the main melody but in their entirety all these instruments work perfectly together ; and all of the additional instruments are not truly "additional" : like in "Eleanor Rigby", they often carry the main melody, they aren’t' t simply filler for the sound. Some people says here the "acid-period" begins ; well, the drugs have a quiet important part in the life of most of the '60 musicians, but this is not an acid album, like the ones of Jefferson Airplane in which they sing about acid : Beatles didn’t' t sing about acid, maybe they use it to expand their sensations but they never speak clearly about acid or make the acid an active subject of their songs. The time is come for me of analyzing the fantastic song of this album. Harrison contributes with three songs and they are all very good ; "Taxman" is a funny rocking song, with satiric lyrics against some ministers and taxes and, for the music, apart for the typically Harrison-esque solo, it reminds to me the "Batman' s theme" : very catchy. The other two Harrison songs are the Indian inspired "Love You To", based mainly on an interesting sitar riff and made more precious with philosophical lyrics, and "I Want To Tell You", a song that according to Harrison is about "...about how hard is to say some things or concepts..." but for me is quiet non-sense, but the music is really ok, especially the vocal parts ( the most trained and smooth voice among the Fab Four' s ones is the Harrison' s one ).Another gem here is the fantastic "Eleanor Rigby" a song with a simple but charming music ( it' s made only with strings and voices ) : the strings, you see, aren’t' t fillers but carry the main melody and constitute most of the surrealistic atmosphere of the song ; the lyrics are mainly narrative, among Paul' s best, and full of strange and powerful pictures as the non-sense "...wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door..." : an example of art-rock at its best. It seems that McCartney took the name of "Mc Kenzie" from the telephone book and the "Rigby" one from a signboard of a inn in Bristol. The album goes on showing the laziest side of Lennon in "I' M Only Sleeping" : we have an rarefied atmosphere, a simple but efficient and autobiographic writing style......the song is not a masterpiece but it' s surely solid and it will have a sort of remake in 1980 with the words of "Watching The Wheels" on "Double Fantasy".The Paul' s ballad "Here, There And Everywhere" is one of the best song here : the lyrics are delicate, introspective and, for the first time in a love song, without the commonplaces of this kind of songs ; my favourite love song of all times and the only one I really need. The song was dedicated to Jane Asher and was written in John' s house at Weybridge ; Paul said that he took inspiration for this song from Beach Boys' "Pet Sound" ( especially for the song "God Only Knows" ).Then we have "Yellow Submarine", sung by Ringo, written by Paul with the collaboration of John and Donovan ( the latter wrote the verse "...sky of blue and sea of green..." ) ; it' s a song for children ( and it is NOT an acid song, please ) and the title comes from the name of a Greek cake called with a word that translated in English means submarine ; the music is funny ( especially for Ringo' s vocals and the lyrics are a sort of novel ).Don' t you think the thing are getting serious? If so, dig "She Said, She Said", a song among Lennon best ; the lyrics, a strange mix of non-sense, a sort of "duel" between a dull boy and a "foxy lady", an introspective and dark self-analysis are something very special, original, influential and good ; and as for lyrics, also the music is fantastic : extremely good guitar works, inventive bass lines, the usually solid Ringo and the scaring voice of John makes the song outstanding. The inspiration for this song was given to Lennon by the actor Peter Fonda ( the one of "Easy Rider" ) during an acid party in the august 1965 at Los Angeles : he said to Lennon : "...I know what it' s like to be dead..." ; then the song spent a long period before was recorded as we actually know it, and one of the intermediate phases contains the verse "...it' s making me feel that my trousers are torn...".Paul called his song "Good Day Sunshine" a "summer joyful song" ; well the song is quiet lightweight for my tastes but the lyrics are full of picture of joy and relax, the music is light and very enjoyable.....I can receive very pleasure from this song. The low moment of the album is "And Your Bird Can Sing" : unmemorable lyrics and a plane music, even if quiet catchy for me. The other Paul' s ballad on this album is "For No One" : here the music is less interesting than in "Here,There And Everywhere" but the lyrics are depressed, sad and tearful : instead of telling a story they present pictures taken from the quotidianity of the characters in order to show all the elements that represent the lack of love and interest among the two people. Excellent song."Doctor Robert" has a fantastic music ( I especially the part in which they slowly sing "...well, well, well he'll make youuuuuuuu, Doctor Robert..." and the lyrics are full of double senses ( infact in the tournees the musicians buy the drugs from a "pills doctor" ).I just skip the excellent jazzing "Got To Get You Into My Life" ( with a remarkable work on drums courtesy of Ringo and usual good musical ideas by Paul ) to speak of the true masterpiece here : "Tomorrow Never Knows", written by Lennon. I don' t want to seem trite or generic but this is the time in which I must really to say that the music is revolutionary, original and extremely well arranged. The title came out from a linguistic trick by Ringo ; the main source of inspiration is "The Mongolic Book Of Deads" passed through the filter of the "Psychedelic Experience" by T. Leary, R. Alpert and R. Metzner, one of the most influential book of the counter-culture of the '60 : in fact the first two verses are directly taken from this book, from the instruction to avoid panic in the LSD trips. Lennon wanted to create the effect of a chorus of Tibetan monks singing "from the highest mountain" to use his own words ; this is way they created the first example ( if not the first, it' s surely among the first -and the best too- ) of wall of sounds : they created a continually noisemaking musical background with sitars, feedback, tapes overdubs on which they played the usual instruments but highly distorted ; the effect is something relaxing, scary and terrifying ( with the use of some filters on the voices and thanks to the brainstorming and continually pulsating wall of sound ) : an immortal masterpiece. What can I add?
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The best single of all rock story, say what you want, but this time I can safely permit myself to be a fanatic and an hardcore fan : the arrangements, the songwriting, the lyrics, the originality are at the highest peaks and other few times were topped by the Fab Four ( maybe only with "A Day In The Life" or "The Fool On The Hill" ).Only a brief introduction ; these songs were intended as the singles of "Sgt Pepper..." and released on February 17 in 1967 ; today they are available on the album "Magical Mystery Tour".This single was also called "the double A-sides one", the cause should goes without saying. This 45 shows the different approaches to the music by the two authors ; "Penny Lane" was written by Paul : here you can see the taste for the musical invention, the joy of creating music, and an immaculate music with a extremely well cared use of other instruments ( like horns ) always ready to underline a particular musical passage or riff. The song proceeds with a calculated speed, wise use of piano interlaced with some choruses ( quiet diverse for speed and tonality -little nuances- ), the music is funny, joyful but also with a bit of melancholy, a sort of nostalgic but pleasant recall of the past. In fact Paul wrote it when it was in course a project about the childhood of the Beatles : Penny Lane is the name of a quarter ( and of a street too ) of Liverpool where Paul lived from 1955 to 1963.Paul describes ( there are narrative lyrics ) the life of Penny Lane when he was a child : the sign of the commercial house "Strange & Strange" ( the verse "...very strange..." ), the girl who sells flowers, a typically British habit...There are also two double senses about sex : the obvious one about the fireman and another, understandable out of Liverpool : "finger pie" an obscene term about the female sex. Also John lived near Penny Lane ( for more precision at 9 of Newcastle Road ) and this place was put into the first try for "In My Life"."Strawberry Fields Forever" was written by John ; and differently form Paul, he is more introspective, more interested in the description of state of mind than of a story, there is more attention to the lyrics and the music is built in order to follow the meanings of the words. This song has a lot of meanings : it' s a song about the quest for universal peace, the quest for a better place to live, a sort of self-analysis ( about his own potential and limits : John explained that the verse "...none I think is in my tree..." is about, to use his words " none seemed to be advanced as me, so I have to be a genius or a mad" ), a link between the real world and the world created by the LSD-induced dreams, the incapacity to live in mediocrity...and many more, that' s for sure. The music is relaxed, sometimes psychedelic ( especially for the coda, with a lots of tapes overdubbed and the strings increasing in a compulsive and obsessing playing ), slow, smooth thank to the strings and the delicate voice ( I think there are some filters on John' s voice )...as result the atmosphere is hazy, religious, something like John was a prophet introducing us into this strange but peaceful place, in a sort of initiation. What can I add about the music? Surely experimental, it shows the full potential of Martin of arranger, of the studio' s tricks ( most of them discovered by Beatles themselves )....well, you don' t need I describe it to you it' s so famous! Instead, let' s speak about the subject ; Strawberry Field was the name of an orphanage in Salvation Army street, with a big garden ; John was used to go there for some parties when he lived with his aunt Mimi at 251 of Menlove Street. I hope to have explained why this single deserves a rating of 5 stars, if not...
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The Beatles are often overrated : there is a lot of people who think they ARE the music. Once I was used to be one of them, now I have recently calmed down : now I think the Beatles are overrated by people, because, for the most, people love them knowing only the radio hits, so their love is a bit superficial ; but when people got more seriously into their catalogue, they found that the worshipping is deserved. So they are overrated but excellent....often, not always...as in this case. This album is unique in the Beatles' story : it' s usually overrated, but not excellent for me. No, for me this time they don' t deserve the glory ( before flaming me, look at the overall rating : a 13 is a 13, very few people can reach it ).
Why? Because here they have lost the direction : they put aside the psychadelia ( after two albums and half ), and now they don' t know where they want to go ( as can be understood by looking at the cover : the white is the colour obtained by fusing all the other colours, so this can be seen as a sing of the fact that this album is one of their most diverse ), so they tried all the genres, but don' t get me wrong, I don' t mean they had a lack of inspiration, simply they don' t know where they had to use their great musical talent. Here you can find all the genre you want : blues ( "Yer Blues" ), hard rock ( "Helter Skelter" ), rock' n' roll ( "Back In The USSR", "Birthday" ), one of the first examples of reggae played by white people ( "Ob-la-dì, Ob-la-dà" ), savage experimentation ( "Revolution 9" ), electronic music ( "Wild Honey Pie" ), a mix of genres like swing, doo-wop, beat, music of the '30/'40 ( in songs like "Martha My Dear" and "Piggies" ), country ( "Rocky Racoon" ), pop ( "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Sexy Sadie", "Long, Long, Long" )....and many other! Someone claims the superiority of this album, basing his opinions on this : "Look at how many genres they can master!".For me this argumentation is wrong, not only because diverse doesn’t' t mean good, but because if the purpose of this album was to show the Beatles can' t be beaten whatever they play, this album would be a failed one ; in fact for me the Beatles demonstrated they can handle these genres, but they can' t master them!"Helter Skelter" failed in imitating the Who' s chords, because the drums isn't enough powerful and obsessive, the song calms down a bit after the first lines ; the experimentation isn't so savage, there were other bands much more experimental than Beatles ; "Yer Blues" is a bit generic ( ok, I know it' s a parody of all the commercial blues of the epoch : I appreciate the idea, but I don' t see why I have to enjoy a music if it' s generic ; "Back In The USSR", instead, is a parody, but the music is fresher, involving, one of the best rock' n' roll they ever did, inferior only to "Lady Madonna" ).At this point, someone will say they managed to master these genres the same, because they managed to make them in their style...true but not always ; they managed to create their rock' n' roll, with tasteful influences from Beach Boys, in "Back In The USSR", but they didn’t' t manage to create their own country, as proved in the sloppy "Rocky Racoon" ( maybe I don' t like country, maybe I' mm too subjective here, but this song really gets on my poor nerves! The only thing Beatles should had learned from Rolling Stones is how to play the country ).However I don' t want to insist on this point, because the diversity of this album is surely impressive, and the parodies are for the most, intelligent and tasteful. Maybe it' s only me, I' m very pretentious towards these guys.
However, what pulled me to "put down" ( only as a Beatles' album can be ) is that the Fab Fours worked as four soloists, and the result is that the quality-filter was abandoned ; I know that Martin would had wanted to throw away some songs, in order to have a single album, but they refused because all of them wanted all of their songs released. This is a critical point, because it would be very hard to choose what song you have to throw away. Of course the childish "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill", with stupid lyrics and unmemorable music ; "Revolution 9" and "Wild Honey Pie", some failed and unlistenable electronically "songs" ( "Wild Honey Pie" is funny, and short, so in the long distance we can save it, but "Revolution 9" is worth listening to only if you are under the effects of LSD or of a great dose of alcohol! ).Why can I throw away?"Why Don't We Do It In The Road?", a stupid and repetitive repetition of the same verse ; also "Don' T Pass Me By" is stupid, but the wall of sound is enough weird, with all those brasses, and the song is pure fun, with the simple lyrics and the simpler music ( what can you expect from Ringo? ).These songs are surely to throw away, but in this way we still have 25 songs, too much for a single album ; other minor could be "I' M So Tired" a remake of "I' M Only Sleeping" ( the mood is the same ), but with a more interesting music ( more mature ), a delicate vocal part and nice chorus : a smooth and relaxing song, after all, I don' t dare to throw it away."Everybody' S Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey" is only a showcase for a catchy riff, but the percussions are cool, the vocal part is sung in a convincing way ( the lyrics are about the fact that when John and Yoko fell into love, the world seems to much "paranoic" to Lennon -at least this is what he declared in an interview- )."Sexy Sadie" is an attack towards Baba-Maher-Something ( an "illuminated" who had to guide the Beatles on the difficult road of the pureness ; a way so hard and difficult that he tried, to have a bit of relax, to seduce the sister of Mia Farrow, in India with the Fab Fours ) has a good piano part and a good arrangement : it' s pure pop song but it has some scary organ feedbacks."Savoy Truffle" is a so-so song, but George' s voice is delicate and very strained, so it' s hard ( but possible ) throwing away this song."Long, Long, Long" is a bit obvious, tasteful but obvious, I can safely live without. The fact is that at that time the Beatles were very mature songwriter, so even if a song isn't that special, they know what they have to do to make it interesting ( like cool choruses, intelligent piano parts, funny or original lyrics, like in "Savoy Truffle", where the lyrics are the names of some kind of chocolates ; until you don' t realize this, the song is a tasteful non-sense ).We can throw away "Revolution 1", that is slower than in the single version, and so the riff is less underlined and for this kind of unpretentious proto-hard-rock, the riff is the only thing on which the song has to rely ( I particularly hate the lyrics, they are a sing of the childish political vision of the world of Lennon ).Now we can throw "Rocky Racoon" ( feel free to forget this part : I hate this song very much, I don' t like country very much, I know the piano is cool, but the melody is for me unmemorable and the vocals SUCK!!! Sorry ) and the satiric "Piggies" ( nothing very bad also here, it' s just inferior to the other songs ).So we arrived that we have 18, still too much. Ok, throw away the generic "Yer Blues", the sloppy "Helter Skelter" and "Ob-La-Dì, Ob-La-Dà" that is a jolly, so we eventually arrive to 15.......but how much talent we throw away. No, this must be a double album, throwing away some songs would make the quality lower ; take it as it comes : a very tasteful double album with some ( good ) fillers ( an in this case "filler" means "a non-outstanding song in comparison with the rest of the Beatles catalogue" ).Ok?
And now the highlights! The delicate and introspective "Dear Prudence", with its simple but resonant lyrics ; the relaxing "Mother Nature' S Son", a song inspired by the meditations made in India, based on delicate acoustic arpeggio and smooth singing by Paul. And how can I skip mentioning one of the first example of reggae played by white people, the happy "Ob-La-Dì, Ob-La-Dà", with its ringing piano and the sing-along-inducing choruses. The best song here is for sure "While My Guitar Gently weeps" : the lyrics mean nothing ( but some non-senses are good ), but the wise interlacement of guitars is really charming, and we have also Clapton as guest guitarist ; another remarkable feature is the drums, one time piercing and one time delicate. An excellent song. The other challenger for the best song is "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", full of sexual metaphor ( " want to put my finger on your trigger" eh, eh, ), but with a smooth vocal intro, in contrast with the themes and the mood of the rest of the song : the song starts slow, become heavier, then a bit funny with all those "bang bang" choruses. This is schizophrenic!!!. Another remarkable song is the confessional "Julia", dedicated by John to his dead mother : in this song the music is in the background compared with the passionate and tear-inducing vocals....the music is not that great, just some acoustic chords put one after another, but the lyrics belong to the most confessional Lennon and so they are very well written and interesting.
However, if you are looking for diversity, this is the album for you and you won' t be disappointed. It has so many faces that if I listen to it ten times, I'll find ten different meaning of the song. This time I've only tried to analyze mainly the music,....another time I'll .....who knows?
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This single was released on 15 March 1968, now available on "Past Masters Volume II"."Lady Madonna" is a rock' n' roll song written by Paul : a fast and steady beat courtesy of Ringo made more precious this piano driven song. The piano is fantastic, fast, brilliant, carrying the main melody and often underlining the main explosive riff ; a very tasteful and not intrusive use of horns ( very pleasant the part in which they "sing along" the main musical theme. And also the bass line is extremely good or, at least, surely inventive. Maybe their best rock song ( why Joel, I think you should like this Beatles, don' t you? ).If the music is a sort of return to the beginning of the Beatles ( after all, ..."it' s only rock' n' roll"! ), the lyrics surely reflect the most recent period influence, especially for the fact that they use images to carry a narration. There are also the typically Beatle-esque cryptic and mysterious verse and in the title there is a sort of religious reminiscence ; Paul said that the song has nothing to deal with religion, but it' s about how surprising was to him the way in which women manage to resolve the family matters or better "...to make ends meet...".Side B is surprisingly by George ; it' s the first time one of his song became a single. It belongs to his "indian" period : the music is not so convincing ( as was with the tasteful riff of "Love You To" ), but thanks to the philosophical and mystical lyrics the song is quiet solid, with some surprising groovy parts. The music was recorded at the EMI of Bombay where George was because the session for the soundtrack of "Wonderwall" with Indian musicians. For the lyrics George relied very much on the 46th chapter of "Tao Te Ching", a poetic, philosophical book of III cent. a. C. in which it' s expressed the way of Tao ; the only changes George did were to repeat the first seven line another time introducing "our" instead of "my" in order to give a more universal message.
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This is the single of "The Beatles" better known as White Album ; it was released on 30 August 1968, now it' s available as usual on "Past Master Volume II"."Ehi Jude" was written by Paul ; it doesn't convince me too much : surely, as in all Paul' s song the melody is enough strong and the composition & the way the instruments are interlaced is fantastic, but hmmm...the song is surely overlong, and most of the coda with those repetitive choruses "...nah, nah, nah..." in a typically McCartney-ish style is a bit obnoxious. Here we can see the usual love of composing music, especially in the first part in which Paul was able to create a tasteful piano line ( he was a piano-lover ) and sing with one of his best voices, warm and peaceful. The lyrics are quiet linear apart for the non-sense represented by "...the movement you need is on your shoulder..." ; John was used to consider the verses "...go out and get her..." as a mark of the sadness Paul felt for the fact he lost his friend John because of Yoko ( maybe the most hatred woman in rock history, poor Yoko! ).Side B is by John ; "Revolution" is a rocking song, with an intro characterized by an heavily distorted electric riff, then the song calms quiet down, and proceeds with a pumping bass and the distorted guitar part running all over the entire song ; John' s singing is strong, a sort of rehearsal for his future "Gimmie Some Truth" ( I mean the final parts of this song that will be recorded for his solo album "Imagine" ).Differently from the album version, the single version is faster and relies on a more steady beat ; there are other differences with the album version :
a) In the album version ( recorded before this ) the verse is "..you can count me out in" because John didn't choose a position. In the single the "in" was cutted.
b) In the album the verse "...we all want to change your head..." became "...our head..."
the first tapes of "Revolution" includes a long coda of which the last six minute are a sort of chaotic improvisation that would be the basis for "Revolution 9"."Revolution" is also the first political song in Beatles' catalogue ; John said about the verse about Mao "I should never had put it into".
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I don't know... for me you're not so objective with this record : you say that "Hey Jude" have beautiful music, great voice etc. but has a "you-don't-know-what" that push you to give it a three. I think that the coda (that you dislike so much) is the best part of the song : it's a crescendo of music's power that it's incredibly amazing and involving. And, the repetitive choruses and the long final are not a "typically McCartney-ish style" as you can see in Lennon's songs like "All You Need Is Love" and, for example, I want you (she's so heavy).And what about "Revolution" : "I've got nothing to say but it' s ok", and so, why don' t you give this single a four, at least?!?[Author' s note : err..., I forgot a star! Sorry. However "I've got nothing to say but it' s ok" represents my attitude towards "Revolution".
This single is 5 stars for sure, I cant think of many bands that have two songs as good as these in there whole career let alone on one single. Hey Jude isn’t "obnoxious", its brilliant and is one of the best songs ever. The coda is what makes the song. Revolution is also brilliant, I love the hard rock feel that the song has. A definite 5.
Well, before flaming me for the low record rating, remember that "Yellow Submarine" the soundtrack of the cartoon and Beatles did' t work so much on it ; so writing only three new song isn't the best way to deserve an high record rating. There isn't so much to say about this album. It starts with "Yellow Submarine", the same take of "Revolver", and here there is nothing to add. The second song is an outtake taken from Sgt Pepper' s session : the song is called "Only A Northern Song" by Harrison ; musically speaking it belongs to their psychedelic period, with tons of additional instruments, with a strong musical contribution from the organ. George sings in a smooth way, spitting out some delicate and pathetic lyrics about...a song ( with some malicious lyrics against the Northern Song Company )."All Together Now" is a song played for fun : it' s a sort of nursery rhyme, written by Paul ; the music, repetitive and very simple ( it relies mainly on an acoustic guitar ), has its charm ( especially for the vocal parts "...pom pom pom pompom po pom..." ).Not a very resonant song as "Strawberry Fields", but the music is full of joy and the song result, as most of the Paul' s production, very catchy. My favourite pick here is surely the rocking "Hey Buldog" ; the lyrics are full of non-sense, in a typically Lennon style, and all these tricks with words are funny and intelligent ( Lewis Carrol is a constant presence in these moments ).There is also a story about the lyrics : Paul, in the recording studio, read "measured out in you" instead of "measured out in miles" and his mistake had been included in the final tapes. The music is fantastic, it was a rare thing Beatles come out with an exciting and catchy riff in their golden period and maybe this is the only example ; it' s a powerful and tasteful rocking song, with the piano and guitars exchanging their roles in playing the main riff, with some nuances of psychadelia...very good song. The same can' t be said of "It' S All Too Much" : the song, that begins with a powerful feedback and John saying "For your mother!", has an interesting melody in the first moments, with a very cool vocal part ( I like George' s voice very much ), but the coda is really overlong and it hasn't the charm of the one of "Hey Jude" ( I don' t like so much that coda, but I realize it' s very good, at least compared with this one ) ; but I admit the organ parts are well arranged and fit very well with the song. A good song after all, what can you expect from Fab Four? The last song is "All You Need Is Love", directly from "Magical Mystery Tour" ; nothing to add here. Then we have some instrumentals composed by the fifth Beatle, their arranger George Martin ; they sound like a sort of strange mix of symphonic and ambient music. To better appreciate them, it' s better to listen to this music looking at the movie ; but also without the film, some parts of this soundtrack are really good, like, for instance, "Yellow Submarine In Pepperland".
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