Showing posts with label Beatles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beatles. Show all posts

Monday, August 7, 2017

THE BEATLES Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the Most Overrated Album of All Time

The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album has been universally acclaimed by critics and fans alike as one of the best albums ever made, if not THE best album ever made. Rolling Stone magazine gave the record top honors on their list of best albums of all time. Clearly the album was a breakthrough at the time it was released, due to the Beatles' use of major advancements in recording technology. But was it really the best album of all time?

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...
Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "probably the most famous album cover in popular musical history"Ashplant Smyth 2001, p. 185. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The main knock on Sgt Pepper is that it is overproduced and underwritten, and contains several other flaws that do not exist on other Beatles records. Yes, I said it. There is something wrong with Sgt Pepper, and it is by far the most overrated album in the Beatles catalog, and possibly the most overrated album of all time. Here are the arguments:

1) Overproduced: The stereo effects are way too exaggerated, with vocals or other sounds panned all the way to the left or right, indicating a wild overuse of the Beatles newfound opportunity to mix a record in multitrack stereo. Albums since then, even Beatles albums subsequently produced, do not make use of such gimmicky stereo panning unless the effect is designed to be extreme. In the case of some of the tunes on Sgt Pepper, the extreme panning serves as a distraction instead of an enhancement.

2) Underwritten: Since Sgt Pepper has some of the Beatles best work, in the form of "With a Little Help From My Friends", "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", and the magical wonder of "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite", it is often overlooked that these remarkable tunes sit right next to some of the Beatles' most mediocre songwriting. Compare the songs on Sgt Pepper to other Beatles records that came before (Revolver, Rubber Soul) or after (the White Album, Abbey Road), and you'll notice that there are several tracks that don't appear as polished as the Beatles' best work.

Take "She's Leaving Home", for example, which paints a melancholy portrait of a girl's troubled life, using a string section in the background to emphasize the drama. It is reasonably effective, but compare it to "Eleanor Rigby", the standout track from Revolver, which accomplished a very similar theme with far superior results, both melodically and lyrically, and in the memorable quality of the string arrangements. If a recording of that caliber had been on Sgt Pepper in place of "She's Leaving Home", it would have improved the album immeasurably.

Next, take a look at "Lovely Rita", "Getting Better", and "Good Morning, Good Morning", the last of which John Lennon himself even dismissed as forgettable filler years later when distancing himself from the idea that Sgt Pepper was a "concept album". These tunes are rarely cited by fans as favorites, are not considered hits or classic Beatles songs, and frankly are a bit silly and lacking in prestige compared to the Beatles best work. There is nothing wrong with having them on a Beatles album, but their presence detracts from the idea that Sgt Pepper is a musical masterpiece.

3) Paul ruined "A Day in the Life": This dreamy album finale, whose primary structure was composed by John Lennon, has an unfortunate middle section written apparently too quickly by Paul McCartney. An honest listener will cringe just slightly when Paul stumbles through the awkward phrasing of the line "went upstairs and had a smoke, then somebody spoke and I went into a dream", which has too many syllables for the melody and lacks the usual careful semantics of Paul's typical songwriting. It's clear that the idea was to present a contrasting "day in the life" to the hazy meanderings of John's verses, but it just doesn't hold up, and sits as a wart on the record - a decent idea poorly executed.

4) They left out the two best songs: As many fans know, the recording sessions that spawned Sgt Pepper were actually started with the recording of two of the Beatles' undeniably finest tracks, "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever", which were released months before Sgt Pepper as a double A-sided single. Sir George Martin has said since that one of his biggest regrets was not holding onto those songs to include them on Sgt Pepper, where they almost certainly would have displaced weaker material like "Lovely Rita" or "She's Leaving Home". If they had been included, both tunes would have also bolstered the "concept" album theme, which is supposed to include childhood memories, explored within a circus atmosphere, as performed by a fictitious band. As it stands, this theme is not served at all by the weaker tunes, and the album does not hold up in hindsight as any kind of a concept album, especially when compared to later rock masterpieces like The Who's Tommy, which maintains, expands, and nurtures its theme all the way through.

As a hardcore Beatles fanatic, I love Sgt Pepper, as I love every Beatles album, but I think it is an accurate statement to say that the album is overrated when it is hailed as the Beatles finest work. Another record like Revolver, Abbey Road, or even Rubber Soul holds up much better on a song-by-song basis, and deserves that honor.



The new remastered albums came out this year (2010 !) , and have received rave reviews, so Beatles fans can now appreciate the music in an improved format vs anything that has been previously released. In fact, the Beatles recently released the stereo box set in the form of a Beatles USB apple, and the reviews of that product include the fact that it has an audio format called 24-bit FLAC which is superior to CDs, so fans and real audiophiles can revisit all the albums in a higher quality audio format, and have the whole Beatles collection on one USB drive.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

THE BEATLES: History and Album Guide

The Beatles are almost universally regarded as the greatest act in the history of post-war popular music, and that claim is hard to deny when one considers their status as the biggest selling musical act in history, their universal critical acclaim, and the never duplicated hysteria that surrounded the band during the height of "Beatlemania" in the Sixties. The cult of the Beatles is alive and well around the world more than 40 years after the band's demise.

English: The Beatles wave to fans after arrivi...
The Beatles wave to fans after arriving at Kennedy Airport.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

The group got its start in Liverpool, in the Fifties, as a John Lennon-led skiffle band called the "Quarryman." Lennon was a rebellious Liverpool youth who had been introduced to rock and roll music from the recordings brought across the Atlantic and into Liverpool by English merchant sailors. It was from these recordings that Lennon and his generation in England were first introduced to the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and other early fathers of the music. Eager to emulate his new heroes and make a name for himself, Lennon recruited some schoolmates to join him in his new band. Members would come and go until the band settled with a lineup of Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best, a drummer.

The band changed their name to the Silver Beetles for a time and then finally settled on "The Beatles." The band acquired an avid local following in Liverpool and became a fixture at the Cavern Club, where they performed inspired sets on a regular basis. While the band was playing clubs in Hamburg, Germany, Sutcliffe fell in love with a German girl and decided to stay behind, leaving the Beatles a four man outfit. Sutcliffe would die of a brain hemorrhage at age 21 in 1962.

The group made its first recording as the backing band for singer Tony Sheridan on the single, "My Bonnie," which received airplay in Liverpool area. The popularity of this record inspired Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein to attend one of the Beatles' Cavern shows, and when Epstein witnessed the wild reaction of the audience, he convinced the group to take him on as their manager. Epstein convinced the band to drop drummer Pete Best from the group in favor of Ringo Starr from a rival Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The final roster of the Beatles was set with Lennon and Harrison on guitar, Paul McCartney on bass, and Ringo Starr on drums. The group would record the moderately successful single, "Love Me Do," before the end of 1962.

Epstein then began to search for a record label to sign his band. After numerous rejections, the band was finally signed by the Parlophone label. The Beatles recorded their first album for the label, "Please Please Me," in 1963. The album was recorded in a single day, apparently to capture as close as possible the immediacy of their live shows. Although Epstein had trouble finding a U.S. label to sign the band, he managed to get the Beatles booked on the Ed Sullivan TV Show in April, 1964. New York disc jockey, Murray the K, hyped the Beatles upcoming TV appearance, setting the stage for the birth of Beatlemania. The Beatles appearance on the Sullivan show was a sensation seen by millions of Americans, and the Beatles become international superstars overnight.

The Beatles thus began an exhausting two years of near constant recording and touring. The early Beatles records were released separately in the U.S. and U.K., sometimes with different titles. For example, "Please, Please Me," the band's first U.K. album was released in the U.S. as "Meet the Beatles." The names of the albums don't matter much as everything this band recorded is essential, and any collection of Beatles music is guaranteed to be of high quality. Titles to look for from the 1964 albums are:" With the Beatles," "Twist and Shout," "A Hard Days Night," "Beatles for Sale," and "Beatles 65." The Beatles' music would soon change from light poppy love songs to darker and more introspective fare as the group attempted to expand its musical horizons.

With the release of the album, "Help" (1965), the Beatles began the process of reinventing themselves. The title track, "Help," "Yesterday," and the very Dylanesque, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," saw the group moving into previously uncharted territory. Their songs were still just as catchy, the harmonies still as sweet, but the material had become darker and more intriguing.

This artistic growth continued on the next album, "Rubber Soul" (1965), and for the next five albums. This string of albums represents the Beatles' best work and some of the best albums of popular music ever recorded. On Rubber Soul, the band begins to experiment musically with the inclusion of sitar on "Norwegian Wood," and several songs such as "Michelle," "If I Needed Someone," and "In My Life" which could easily be classified as "folk rock."

The Beatles' following studio release, "Revolver" (1966), sees the Beatles at the peak of their powers. Revolver is an astonishing collection of songs representing a myriad of styles from the art rock of "Eleanor Rigby" and "Good Day Sunshine" to the hard rock of "Taxman" and full blown psychedelic experimentation in "Tomorrow Never Knows."



The release of Revolver coincided with the band's retirement from live performances. Freed of life on the road, the Beatles would dedicate themselves to experimentation in the recording studio. With the able support of their producer, George Martin, the group would again reach new heights of creativity in the studio with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967). This album's overt experimentation was an attempt by John Lennon and Paul McCartney to outdo the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson who had raised the studio bar with his work on the Beach Boys' classic recording, "Pet Sounds," during the previous year. "Sgt. Pepper," which is often cited as the Beatles' magnum opus, is every bit as thrilling as Revolver with epic songs such as "Lovely Rita," "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," "She's Leaving Home," and 'A Day in the Life."

The Beatles kept rolling with the double album simply titled, "The Beatles" (1968). Its unadorned, solid white cover earned it the nickname, "The White Album," among fans. The album is amazingly eclectic and contains nary a bad tune amid its myriad of tracks. Among the album's classic tunes are, "Blackbird," "Mother Nature's Son," "Revolution," "Back in The USSR," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

In 1969, The Beatles would release their last true studio album, "Abbey Road." Group in-fighting that had lasted for several years was becoming intolerable and Paul McCartney was tiring of holding things together. McCartney would later signal the demise of the band by releasing his first solo album in 1970. Abbey Road was another brilliant effort that contained classic tracks such as "Come Together," "Here Comes the Sun," and most impressively, the medley of short, connected songs that finishes the album.

"Let It Be," which was recorded prior to Abbey Road, would be released in 1970 with the title track, "Let it Be," and Lennon's "Across the Universe" as standout tracks.

Read also the Article on Wikipedia for the Last Information.




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Classic ROCK PERFORMERS Who Have Had A Lasting Influence On Music

Classic rock is a fundamental part of American history. Many of today's leading bands can trace their styles back to the influence of certain musicians. While every song made available to the world has had an impact on the music industry, there are certain performers who will eternally stand at the forefront of music.

From folk rock to psychedelic rock, there have been many groundbreaking sounds and voices. Here are the top ten most influential classic rock bands in history.

A cropped photograph depicts singer Elvis Pres...
Elvis Presley's bust.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Elvis Presley

While Elvis is not traditionally viewed in the classic rock genre, it is impossible to ignore his influence on the world of Rock-n-Roll. As the first to expose mainstream America to something other than traditional family music, he faced a tremendous amount of opposition from the mainstream.

Despite the extreme racism exhibited during the 1950's, Elvis never hesitated to give appropriate credit to his inspirations. Mainly African-American performers influenced Elvis' sound and style. Southern radio disc jockeys originally refused to play Elvis' singles, because they sounded "too Negro" for white stations to air.

It was not just Elvis' sound, but also his performance, that drew controversy. The movement of his hips in a suggestive manner sparked an entire decade of debate.

Despite the firestorm of criticism that surrounded Elvis' reign, his continuing popularity has ensured that Elvis' crown as the King of Rock and Roll would remain valid for decades, even decades after his death.

The Beatles

As the best selling musical act of all-time, it is hard to deny the influence of the Beatles, not only on the musical culture of America, but also on every aspect of human life. The Beatles included John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, and George Harrison.

Their innovative style defined the music of the 1960's -- twice. They began their career in England, and when they came to America, they were already a huge success in the United States. In their early years, they had defined pop music for a new generation.

As the hippy days of the late 1960's began to take hold of America's young people, the Beatles redefined their music again, with another new style of music lauded by the masses. Their very loud stance on drug use and war made them a controversial group, but their popularity never wavered. Although the Beatles retained the loyalty and admiration of their late 1960's audiences until the group broke up, the touring days of the Beatles ended in 1966 when John Lennon proclaimed, "The Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ."

Bob Dylan

Dylan has one of the most easily recognizable voices in the world. Raspy and full of passion, Bob Dylan's sound is distinctive. His songs are amazing and defined a generation obsessed with the themes of social unrest, an anti-war stance, and encouragement for the civil rights movement.

A traditional folk singer, Dylan's works transcended all genres and appealed to countless young Americans. His sincere lyrics spoke to many and made it possible to empathize with his many causes.

English: Jimi Hendrix performs for Dutch telev...
Jimi Hendrix performs for Dutch television show
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jimi Hendrix

As the undisputed master of the electric guitar, Jimi Hendrix is a classic rock foundation. The self-taught guitar player refused to be limited by many of the conventional views of guitar players.

Prior to Jimi Hendrix's development as a guitar player, the electric guitar was considered to merely be a louder version of the acoustic guitar. Hendrix embraced the uniqueness of the electric guitar and showed his appreciation for it to the rest of the world.

Pink Floyd

Easily considered the greatest band of all time, Pink Floyd's unique style and showmanship defined psychedelic rock. Their concept albums were thematic masterpieces that appealed to countless audiences. The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals, and The Wall each still stand out today as great Rock masterpieces.

The Who

Also known for their thematic records, The Who pioneered the idea of rock opera. Most famous for their collaborative efforts with every major musical figure of their time, Tommy The Rock Opera ensured the longevity of the band into the future.

Their success and fame were not limited to their unique approach to concept albums. Their musical skills are still highly regarded in both mainstream circles and in the entertainment industry. Their music is currently being used as the theme song for at least three of the most popular show on TV on the air today.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have easily maintained their position as one of the longest lasting bands in recording history. Like most popular rock bands of the age, they were an England-based band that was more than happy to take on America.

Their grungy unkempt image became so popular; many artists are still attempting to master it. Their unique sound and high quality lyrics have kept them at the top of the charts for almost 40 years.

Cream

Cream, featuring guitarist Eric Clapton, was one of the most technically advanced music groups of their time. Their instrumental techniques became legendary and paved the way for other bands to focus on developing their instrument techniques, in addition to their lyrics.

The Doors

The Doors have always been one of the most controversial bands that had ever existed. Jim Morrison's wild behavior set the tone for the countless musical bad boys that would follow in his footsteps.

The poetic lyrics of The Doors, as well as their outrageous behavior, made them a crowd favorite.

Led Zeppelin

The road to heavy metal was paved by Led Zeppelin. Their first album was pivotal in its inclusion of distorted amplification techniques. Over the years, their experimentation included mixing acoustic and electric sounds, with the addition of synthesized melodies. The success of Led Zeppelin helped establish a strong base for the development of metal music.



Few people of their generation or the current generation realize that like Elvis, Led Zeppelin took most of their inspiration from African-American performers. As a lifelong fan of Led Zeppelin, it is was oddly fascinating to listen to some of the not-so-famous African-American rhythm-and-blues performers of the 1930's, and to be able to hear the Led Zeppelin songs we have loved for years in a whole new way.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, these ten bands had a significant impact on the evolution of Rock-n-Roll music through the generations, but it is more difficult to put them into an ordered list of important groups. Let's just agree that most of us love all ten bands on this list.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

COUNTRY GUITAR Lesson, Blues Guitar Riffs, Metal guitar and the BEATLES Effect

Country Guitar Lesson, Blues Guitar Riff´s, Metal Guitar and the Beatles effect; what has the Beatles got to do with it? I hear you say.

Well firstly the Beatles incorporated and used all the different styles in their music, and in their songs, but not only that, they also changed what was acceptable in music and what was not acceptable.

Paul McCartney´s father was a concert pianist, and when Paul was sat at the piano composing a song, his father would come into the room and say to him “Paul you can’t do that, it´s against the rules of music”, and Paul would say in return “well I don´t care it sounds good to me”, so he did it anyway.

A lot of what the Beatles did at the time was considered unacceptable by the musical academic´s, but it was obviously acceptable to the record buying public. It was not unusual for the Beatles to have more than one record in the top ten in England at the time, and not only that but they often occupied number 1 and number 2 positions as well.

English: Photograph of The Beatles as they arr...
Photograph of The Beatles as they arrive in New York City in 1964  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paul and John were real innovators of music; they used unusual key changes together with unusual chords and complex chord changes, as well as total shifts in tempo, and sometimes two songs were mixed together, for example “A Day In The Life” was two totally different songs, one written by Paul and the other one written by John, but it worked, it has to be heard to be believed.

In the song Hello Goodbye the ending was achieved by playing the song backwards which again works. They introduced guitar feedback although it was by total accident, as George Harrison had left his guitar leaning against his amplifier whilst recording I Feel Fine, they left it on the record as they felt it was unusual and they liked the effect it had. Also in I Feel Fine was a great guitar riff that George played throughout the song which was again unusual.

Although Paul and John overshadowed George and Ringo, this was not intentional; in fact George was a good song writer in his own right, just think of songs like Something (in the way she moves) and Here Comes The Sun, and quite a few other songs including While My Guitar Gently Weeps, on which he had his friend Eric Clapton play lead guitar.

George Harrison was also a perfectionist; he would practice his guitar parts until his fingers bled on occasions. It was also George Harrison that inspired me and many others to learn guitar, and play it in his style of using mainly bar chords.

The Beatles also inspired many other bands and musicians around the world, even T.V. shows were inspired by the Beatles, think of the Monkeys who´s show ran for quite some time. The Beatles were also the first ever British artists to make it big in America, and no other British artist has topped that to this day.

Yes the Beatles were controversial at the time, particularly when John Lennon commented that they were better known than Jesus Christ, which was wildly misinterpreted, and it led to people burning their Beatles records and memorabilia in the streets.


In my opinion the Beatles were a landmark in music, they changed what was acceptable and what was not, and they changed the way that country guitar lessons are now being taught as well as blues guitar riffs, and they led the way forward in metal guitar music.

No other band or artist has been able to influence music, to the degree that the Beatles had, in particular guitar music, and in the way that guitar playing is being taught now. So hopefully you can see what I mean by the Beatles effect!

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, and indeed you may even want to comment upon it, as I know that some people may feel strongly about the Beatles both, in a good way and sometimes in a not so good way; however I will welcome all comments, and also say that the things written here are only my opinion.

Keep on playing,

    “Wolfie” Wolfgang Bloomfield
    "Wolfie" is passionate about his guitar playing, and has a website for people that would like learn how to play guitar, and share in his passion. Why not pick up the FREE! lessons on his site. is-it-easy-to-learn-how-to-play?
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