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#1
Old 04-20-2007, 02:53 AM
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What made the Beatles so great?

I love the Beatles, and I don't know why!

I love the harmonies, and the sound of their music, but it's like there's something more than that. I like other bands for the same reason, but none of them stay with me days after I hear a song.*

Dopers, help me out! Were they just really catchy bastards? I know it wasn't the hype, because I wasn't even born then, so what could it be? Even their really early pop stuff really resonates with me. Am I just a weirdo, born many years too late?

What is it for you that makes you love the Beatles? I know I can't be the only one.

My apologies if this was just done, but I didn't see it, and I can't search (yet).

(Mods, I think the rules tell me to put it here, since it involves music, but it seems like it could go to IMHO as well. Sorry!)

*Zeppelin is similar, but for another thread.
#2
Old 04-20-2007, 03:11 AM
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I are dumb. I wasn't finished.

I don't think the Beatles were so good because of their technical proficiency, because I can play guitar (technique wise) better than any of them. But heart and soul wise, not a chance.

Were they just naturally musical, and happened to get lucky to be in the same band? Was it just the writing ability of John and Paul?

Anyway, hopefully this thread won't sink to the bottom like a rock. I wanna know what others think was so magical. Or, alternately, why I'm so dumb for still liking the Beatles. Either way.
#3
Old 04-20-2007, 03:22 AM
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Every song was unique and most of them were either crazy and colorful or really beautiful and thoughtful. And there just seemed to be an endless amount of them!

And it didn't hurt that the guys were different themselves. No one, and I mean NO ONE, had long hair until the Beatles let it grow out just a little. You just didn't do that sort of thing.

And they made some wonderfully funny movies.

But I was fifteen years behind everyone in my appreciation of the Beatles. Oh, I was the right age, but my musical tastes were out of sync. Sometime in my late thirties, I got it! Put up posters, cried through the movie Let It Be. It was so strange to be late to the party that way.

Why isn't Let It Be available on DVD?
#4
Old 04-20-2007, 03:24 AM
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Massive genius and vision in terms of creativity and production, expertly marketed to an extremely receptive world.

My humble $.02
#5
Old 04-20-2007, 03:32 AM
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OK...here goes...(anyone on this board familiar with my posts knows how long I can go on about music...)

I love the Beatles because I am a multi-instrumentalist and a lover of unorthodox instrumentation, and a firm believer that there is no such thing as an instrument that doesn't belong in rock and roll. Long before I played bass, guitar or drums (what I primarily play now,) or was interested in rock, I played the bassoon in wind ensemble (in middle school,) and I was good enough at it that I was also allowed to play with the local high school orchestra. I also played bass clarinet (I played in a clarinet choir that won a first-place medal in the regional ensemble competition.) I also played both alto and baritone sax in both jazz band and in advanced concert band. This was all while I was still in middle school. I played sax in the jazz bands in high school too, but by that time I was much more interested in rock.

Because I played all these instruments, I was always listening to non-rock music that featured them. I liked woodwind concertos and small woodwind ensembles, and chamber music, and frequently attended recitals at IU which is considered by many to be the best music school in the country. (OK, maybe part of it was to see all the cute Asian girls.) So I got a good background in instrumentation and small ensembles.

I had always listened to the Beatles growing up, but it wasn't until later that I truly appreciated their music (marijuana might have something to do with it - I'm not one of those people who thinks that pot is some kind of mystical, divine herb, but at the same time I have to credit it with heightening my musical sense, even though I don't do it anymore.) Listening to it knowing everything I do now about music, I'm absolutely blown away by the Beatles' use of instrumentation. They were not afraid to use every instrument in the orchestra, and even some that aren't, like sitars. They (or the people like George Martin who helped them in the studio) obviously had very good backgrounds in traditional English brass band music (Penny Lane, Mother Nature's Son, Good Morning Good Morning) and strings (Strawberry Fields, She's Leaving Home, I Am The Walrus, Eleanor Rigby [I preferred the strings-only version on the Beatles Anthology to the track on Revolver,]) and a lot of other stuff that I won't go into because I don't feel like being up until 6. The point being, they took rock music and incorporated classical and instrumental music into it. That is the key to their originality, for me anyway. The musical experimentation is when they started to really become a dynamic group. Hard Day's Night is a great album, but I'd just as soon listen to the Zombies or the Beach Boys. But Sgt. Peppers, White Album, Abbey Road? This stuff is religion to me. Abbey Road in particular. Not only does it incorporate instrumentation and style from non-rock music, it actually incorporates structure from classical music. The Abbey Road "medley" is a rock symphony - it has different movements, tied together with recurring motifs (the You Never Give Me Your Money melody, for example, reprised later on in the medley by the horn section.)

There's also the bass playing of Paul McCartney, who is number one in my top three bassists of all time (the other two are Phil Lesh and Peter Cetera of Chicago.) As a bass player, it's really striking to me how responsible Paul's melodic and fluid lines are for driving the songs forward. He taught himself how to play his instrument, forcing him to create his own style as if he were singing along with the music - playing the bass as a melodic rather than simply a rhythmic instrument. (Being completely stoned and taking in the transition from You Never Give Me Your Money to Sun King was a religious experience for me. It was then that I noticed that the fade-out of the former song [the 'one-two-three-four-five-six-seven, all good children go to heaven part] was supposed to evoke stepping out of a crowded, noisy party and onto the back porch, and the fade-in of the latter song is supposed to represent walking out into the backyard with the crickets chirping. Then when I heard that amazing guitar-and-bass part at the beginning of Sun King - that was the moment when I realized that Paul McCartney was the best bassist of all time.)

Yeah.
#6
Old 04-20-2007, 03:54 AM
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Their music is colourful, varied and catchy, and I don't wish to downplay the whole talent side of things - I'll just leave that to plenty of others to enthuse about - but part of their huge success was down to timing - they happened at a moment when the time was ripe for landslide popularity; I think there was an intense hunger for something like that at around the time.
#7
Old 04-20-2007, 04:08 AM
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Lennon and McCartney. Togetehr they were the best songwriters ever. And they were obscenely productive. THey never repeated themselves. Each album was built upon the previous and added to their style and range. The band had an unique sound, that grew with the songwriting of the duo. Together all four grew artisticaly and gave the world one of the seminal artistic events of the twentieth century.
#8
Old 04-20-2007, 06:26 AM
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They wrote great songs. Pound for pound, up to the end of '66, the Beach Boys, for example,made much more interesting and intelligent records, and four out of five of them sang better than the Beatles (Mike Love, oddly, is the weak link IMO), and they used better musicians, but ultimately it was the joy and the deceptive simplicity of those amazing songs Lennon & McCartney wrote, the songs that built themselves into our conciousness and that in and of themselves defined not just times but aspirations we'll always have. Bob Dylan comes close for that, but his songs had to be thought about too much. The Beatles' songs just slip inside you and live.

mm

Last edited by mamboman; 04-20-2007 at 06:27 AM.
#9
Old 04-20-2007, 06:30 AM
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I think the blend of Paul and John produced something that was more than the sum of its parts. Paul was self-taught, but at the same time had a profoundly keen instinct for music theory. John was a visionary and an amazing lyricist who could craft musical mysteries. The combination of those two made them appealing both to teeny-boppers and hippies. Their music could be listened to for its pretty melodies as well as for its insightful messages. They made rock much broader than it had ever been, opening all kinds of doors for future rock musicians to go through.

Last edited by Liberal; 04-20-2007 at 06:34 AM. Reason: spellign
#10
Old 04-20-2007, 08:29 AM
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Good Rock n' Roll is dangerous. Someone must be offended by good rock, preferably your parents or some other authority figure.

The Beatles were the band that, through their songcraft, image, cultural impact, use of innovative production, transitioned from being dangerous due to their long hair and teenage energy to being dangerous for their art. The messages, sound and implications of the move to album-based, psychedelic, complex music - that was brilliantly written and hummable - changed everything about how we consider rock music.

Jackie Robinson is, well, "Jackie Robinson" not because he was the first to cross the color line in big American sports, but because he did it as a class act and as someone who was truly excellent as a player and who innovated the game with his on-field aggression and talent.

The Beatles not only challenged pre-conceived notions about rock/pop music as art, but they did it with GREAT songs. You couldn't just write them off as a silly rock band. By the time they were done, rock wasn't silly.
#11
Old 04-20-2007, 08:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveling Riverside Bluesman
I don't think the Beatles were so good because of their technical proficiency, because I can play guitar (technique wise) better than any of them. But heart and soul wise, not a chance.
TRB -
What type of stuff do you play and what kind of gear do you have? There are a few of us guitar type Dopers...
#12
Old 04-20-2007, 09:31 AM
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- three great songwriters
- three good to great singers who were distinct from each other and harmonized beautifully
- fearless experimentation
- a much less crowded market to release their music into
#13
Old 04-20-2007, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveling Riverside Bluesman
I don't think the Beatles were so good because of their technical proficiency, because I can play guitar (technique wise) better than any of them. But heart and soul wise, not a chance.
Add me to this group; I could play circles around any of the Beatles on their chosen instrument, including Ringo.

But just because I could play their songs with my feet, blindfolded, doesn't mean I could have written them in a million years, nor perform them with the same spark.
#14
Old 04-20-2007, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveling Riverside Bluesman
I love the Beatles, and I don't know why!

Dopers, help me out! Were they just really catchy bastards? I know it wasn't the hype, because I wasn't even born then, so what could it be? Even their really early pop stuff really resonates with me. Am I just a weirdo, born many years too late?

Hel-lo!!! The Beatles are the spawn of Satan, as this so eloquently proves:
http://geocities.com/mmiddleton87/


Those catchy little tunes are just Satan's way of getting inside your head to make you his minion. If you listen very, very closely, you'll see it's true:
"Love love me do
you know I love you (Satan)
I'll always be true (to you Satan)..."

I'm telling you, this is bigger than the Da Vinci Code.
#15
Old 04-20-2007, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by OneCentStamp
Add me to this group; I could play circles around any of the Beatles on their chosen instrument, including Ringo.

But just because I could play their songs with my feet, blindfolded, doesn't mean I could have written them in a million years, nor perform them with the same spark.

As with TRB's comment in this area - I fail to see the significance of it. There are countless examples of seminal artists where the players' techniques were adequate at best - Dylan, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Iggy and the Stooges, Black Sabbath without even getting warmed up. AND there are countless examples of artists who are profoundly proficient and have had a seminal impact on rock music - Hendrix, Clapton, Zep, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, again not even getting warmed up.

Musical proficiency in a technical sense is just not a factor as far as I can tell...
#16
Old 04-20-2007, 10:02 AM
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IMHO: John Lennon is the best rock songwriter who's ever lived. Paul McCartney is perhaps second or third. George Harrison is up there in the top 20. (Even one of their simpler albums, like A Hard Days' Night, is practically a master class in rock and roll songwriting.) That fact that they all wound up together in the same band, and that they competed and collaborated in ways that elevated their craft above what they could have achieved working alone, is an amazing circumstance that is not likely to be repeated. And as if that wasn't enough, they're all great singers. They worked with the most innovative producers and engineers of the time. Plus the non-musical factors: They were uncommonly clever and funny. They had a keen understanding of the artistic and social avant-garde. They had four distinct, appealing, and memorable personalities. They were strikingly photogenic.

Basically anything good that a rock band could have going for it, the Beatles had. For every band that's come after, they defined what an ideal rock band should be. I <3 the Beatles!

Last edited by Autumn Almanac; 04-20-2007 at 10:06 AM.
#17
Old 04-20-2007, 10:11 AM
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It comes down to songwriting most of all. Paul, especially, was a hook machine. Even though he couldn't read music and his compositional ability was mostly intuitive, he was a melodic genius on a par with Tchaichovsky. If he had never hooked up with Lennon, he still could have had a major career churning out pop songs.

What John (and to a lesser degree, George) added was fearless experimentation and lyrical maturity. Paul by himself might have become a sort of Paul Anka -- good at writing pop standards, but maybe a little too fluffy and sweet. John added cynicism, humor and edginess which kept them from being the Bee Gees.

I alos think that John and George would not have developed the same way as songwriterswithout Paul's influence and example.

Something has to be said for the production, of course, as well as the fact that their early success gave them almost unlimited freedom to experiment in the studio.
#18
Old 04-20-2007, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamboman
They wrote great songs. Pound for pound, up to the end of '66, the Beach Boys, for example,made much more interesting and intelligent records, and four out of five of them sang better than the Beatles (Mike Love, oddly, is the weak link IMO), and they used better musicians, but ultimately it was the joy and the deceptive simplicity of those amazing songs Lennon & McCartney wrote, the songs that built themselves into our conciousness and that in and of themselves defined not just times but aspirations we'll always have. Bob Dylan comes close for that, but his songs had to be thought about too much. The Beatles' songs just slip inside you and live.

mm
Sure move over for the genius and depth of surf music. beach Boys are not in same class. Beetles were at the right time but talent made it last.
#19
Old 04-20-2007, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by gonzomax
Sure move over for the genius and depth of surf music. beach Boys are not in same class. Beetles were at the right time but talent made it last.
1) The Beach Boys were not surf music any more than the Beatles were a Chuck Berry cover band. Sure, they started as those things, then they both moved on. The Beach Boys just happened to be saddled with a name that pigeonholed them. The Beach Boys were experimental studio and songwriting geniuses.

2) Beach Boys not in the same class? Tell that to Paul McCartney, who has said repeatedly that the Beatles regarded the Beach Boys as their main competition, and that the Beach Boys helped drive them to the heights they achieved: Sgt. Pepper's was their attempt to match Pet Sounds, which was in turn Brian Wilson's attempt to top Revolver.

3) I don't normally pick at this sort of thing, but your argument would feel a lot more solid if you'd spelled "Beatles" correctly. Just sayin'.

Last edited by OneCentStamp; 04-20-2007 at 11:04 AM.
#20
Old 04-20-2007, 11:16 AM
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Aside from all the wonderful qualities of their music mentioned above, they continued to grow and evolve throughout their career. They grew with their audience. Compare to 99% of every other pop group whose last album sounds like their first.

A harder question to answer is the rabid popularity of the Dead or the Stones. Not that I don't like them, just that their success seems all out of proportion.
#21
Old 04-20-2007, 11:29 AM
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What made the Beatles great (IMHO):

- Ringo. You heard me. His lack of technical ability kept the drum part simple, which offset the sophisticated songwriting and basslines. A more proficient drummer would likely have pushed the music over the line of accessibility.

- George Martin. The ideas came, largely, from the band. But Martin is often the one who made it happen. He wrote the Bach trumpet part for Penny Lane. He kept George's synthesizer subtle and simple on Abbey Road. Without George Martin, the Beatles would've just been a really great band your mom liked.

- Experience. By the time they hit the US, John, Paul and George had about ten years of bar band history under their belts. They may have seemed like kids, but they were wise beyond their appearance. They also knew what would sell, and they were relentless marketers.

- Rivalry. Lennon/McCartney didn't write songs. John wrote songs and Paul wrote songs. They were fiercely competitive and envious of the other's strengths. Rivalry drives you to do better work.

So there you have it. The keys to success: imperfection, a mentor, experience and competition.
#22
Old 04-20-2007, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRB
Even their really early pop stuff really resonates with me
I just want to chime in to remind our viewers that it was the early pop stuff that made the Beatles. You had to be there, and to have been familiar with the music at the time. It's common knowledge that it was utterly dismal, but the common knowledge is wrong. There was really good music coming out right up until the Beatles hit. The American folk scene was getting a bit long in the tooth, but there was this new guy Dylan who would reinvent the whole thing. Some great acts like the Beach Boys were already around, and the Motown machine was getting into full swing. And so on.

However, the Beatles had everything. They had the songwriting ability of Dylan, the harmonies of The Everly Brothers and the fire of Little Richard. Plus, they were attractive, witty, and theatrical. And their music was just a bit off-kilter to American ears: Beatles harmonies, for example, are not as predictable as Everly Brothers harmonies.

All in all, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that happened. It was like a bomb went off, but in a good way. There was no way it wasn't going to take over.


By the way, anybody who somehow connects the Beatles' popularity with the Kennedy assassination (and there are a lot of them) is full of shit.
#23
Old 04-20-2007, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initech
What made the Beatles great (IMHO):

- Rivalry. Lennon/McCartney didn't write songs. John wrote songs and Paul wrote songs. They were fiercely competitive and envious of the other's strengths. Rivalry drives you to do better work.
Actually, not true for a significant portion of their time together. Many books I have read describe them sitting in a room or a van traveling between gigs (driven by Mal Evans) face to face and working on songs together. As has also been well documented, this approach broke down in the '65 - '66 timeframe, but they co-wrote many songs together, both literally and by piecing together parts each had written on their own - but doing so very collaboratively.
#24
Old 04-20-2007, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by WordMan
Actually, not true for a significant portion of their time together.
Yes, and it's quite easy to tell. At this point, it's easy to distinguish the compositional tendencies of the two. Starting with "Rubber Soul," where the two really emerge as individuals, and going back, you see some pulling apart in "Beatles VI" ("Eight Days a Week," I would say, is pure Lennon), but earlier than that the two voices merge into something that is clearly almost always collaborative.

Last edited by kelly5078; 04-20-2007 at 11:59 AM.
#25
Old 04-20-2007, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelly5078
Beatles harmonies, for example, are not as predictable as Everly Brothers harmonies.
I'm glad you touched on the harmonies. I feel the technical aspect of their harmonies, coupled with their voices, gave them their sound.

They were fresh, introspective, fearless.
#26
Old 04-20-2007, 12:22 PM
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What Made The Beatles So Great?

I would say it was the trousers.
#27
Old 04-20-2007, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas
A harder question to answer is the rabid popularity of the Dead or the Stones. Not that I don't like them, just that their success seems all out of proportion.
I'll take a stab at the Dead (heh). The Grateful Dead were incredibly successful at making people feel as though they belonged to something, rather than just being fans of a rock band. The only other successful rock band that can even hold a candle to the Dead in this department would be KISS, and even they don't really come close.
#28
Old 04-20-2007, 12:28 PM
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I just finished reading Bob Spitz's monumental The Beatles: The Biography.

It's an amazing book, not least in its weight and the fact that it's one of the fastest reading 900-page books I've ever encountered.

I've been around for all of The Beatles, having waited with 70 million others for their appearance on Ed Sullivan on February 9, 1964. I was a fan at the time and I've read bunches about them since.

Yet this may be the first time I really "got" it. Spitz doesn't get obsessive on the music or song-by-song breakdowns as so many authors do. He focuses on the people. Well, mainly on John and Paul, with Brian Epstein getting more time than George or Ringo. But he spends hundreds of pages covering their rise before 1962. The total immersion in music. The experimentation in songwriting and performing. The curiosity about what others do and how they do it. The instant love of the recording studio and the willingness to absorb everything that George Martin and his assistants had to say. [The book is really John, Paul, George M., and Brian in a lot of ways.]

It's like one of those sports stories, with the kid dribbling a basketball every step he took. Natural ability? Sure. Lots of it. Hard, endless work? More than anybody realizes.

But then there's the amazing stuff. The whole greater than the sum of the parts? They needed a guitar lead and George was hanging around being a pest. They needed a good drummer and got the best one in Liverpool by a phone call. They needed an adult to take care of them and Brian stumbled in to the Cavern Club. They needed the one producer who had as much vision and imagination as they did and when every other company rejected them they found a comedy record producer with classical chops. John and Paul desperately needed each other and they happened to live within a couple of miles of one another and worked miracles until they decided they didn't need each other. They competed against each other and against every other songwriter in the world and that kept driving them to be better and better until they reached their human limits.

The book is harsh on John, in an interesting bit of revisionism. He starts out as a total asshole, develops into a worthless drugged-out asshole, and descends into being the kind of scary crazy paranoid loony drugged-out asshole nobody in the world could stand being around. Every page after Brian's death is a chilling reminder of what can happen when wishes are fulfilled and all restraints are removed.

And in the worst of it at the end, they still made Abbey Road.

When Hoyt Axton wrote "God damn the pusher man" he might have had in mind what The Beatles could have been without the heroin that destroyed John.
#29
Old 04-20-2007, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneCentStamp
I'll take a stab at the Dead (heh). The Grateful Dead were incredibly successful at making people feel as though they belonged to something, rather than just being fans of a rock band. The only other successful rock band that can even hold a candle to the Dead in this department would be KISS, and even they don't really come close.
The Beatles had some of that, too - like the Dead, they were a band that locked into something that was happening culturally. The Dead locked into a much more specific scene, the one that grew out of San Francisco and the acid tests and that whole thing. And they did create a fan community through their relentless touring.
#30
Old 04-20-2007, 12:51 PM
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My wife is a music historian and we've talked about it before. Her take echoes what many people have already said. Basically Lennon and McCartney were both phenomenal songwriters -- the sort of once-in-a-decade towering talents that crop up here and there throughout musical history (Irving Berlin, Gilbert & Sullivan, etc.). And they happened to wind up in the same band -- along with two other damn-fine musicians.
#31
Old 04-20-2007, 12:57 PM
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If you read Anthology, you'll see that writing your own songs was a bit out there for a popular group when they started. It helped that John and Paul were perfectly complementaty song writers. There is also a lot in Anthology about how Paul learned the music hall tradition, from an uncle, I think. Maxwell's Silver Hammer is the epitome of this.

Then there was the harmonies, which I agree were just perfect.

But the real thing that made them great (and I didn't really beome a tremendous fan until Sgt. Pepper") was that they kept pushing the boundaries. Even in the beginning they weren't satisfied with June Moon songs, and by Rubber Soul they had expanded what was possible. I think beyond the Beach Boys, they and Dylan influenced each other a lot. While Dylan played rock before he was a folk singer, the Beatles enabled him to go electric. (That and he had the money for a band, as he says a few times in The Essential Interviews.) John especially felt he could expand his songwriting thanks to Dylan.
BTW, George might have turned into a good songwriter, but it took time and practice. His early stuff was mediocre, and even his best is nothing like John and Paul. He was eventually good, they were geniuses, especially together.

And I agree about Abbey Road. Side 2, especially, where they shed the crap and just played, shows just how good they were even at the end.
#32
Old 04-20-2007, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
BTW, George might have turned into a good songwriter, but it took time and practice. His early stuff was mediocre, and even his best is nothing like John and Paul. He was eventually good, they were geniuses, especially together.
I don't know, man..."Something" and "Here Comes the Sun," in particular, stand up well to anything in the Beatles' catalog. Granted, that's two songs against two dozen classic songs apiece by John and Paul, but clearly he was capable.

Considering what a hard time he had getting his songs recorded (he had to drag Eric Clapton into the studio in order to get the band to take "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" seriously), and how quickly he released a solo record post-Beatles, one wonders how much great George stuff went unnoticed or unrecorded.
#33
Old 04-20-2007, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by OneCentStamp
2) Beach Boys not in the same class? Tell that to Paul McCartney, who has said repeatedly that the Beatles regarded the Beach Boys as their main competition, and that the Beach Boys helped drive them to the heights they achieved: Sgt. Pepper's was their attempt to match Pet Sounds, which was in turn Brian Wilson's attempt to top Revolver.
Brian Wilson wrote Pet Sounds to top Rubber Soul. In the mean time the Beatles wrote Revolver. The Beach Boys wrote great singles throughout the 60s, but the only album in the same league as The Beatles was Pet Sounds, and it was a commercial failure. The Beatles wrote at least one top to bottom critical and commercial success every year from 1963 to 1970. And the occasional hit single not included on the album. The Beach Boys were the main competition in pop singles at the time, but they didn't have the great albums to back them up. The only contemporary in the same class, IMHO, is Dylan.
#34
Old 04-20-2007, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CookingWithGas
Aside from all the wonderful qualities of their music mentioned above, they continued to grow and evolve throughout their career.
To me this is the most important thing about them. Abbey Road is a completely different group almost from Meet the Beatles, and they just so fused with their decade. Plus, they were just all so damned great- even Ringo in his own limited way, and the fact that when they spun off they all (except for Ringo) continued that greatness. If I were to list my top 100 favorite songs there'd be several Beatles tunes {Eleanor Rigby and Being...Mr. Kite top amongst them} AND several of the post Beatle solo songs (Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp by George, God by Lennon, Live & Let Die by Paul, and others by each).
#35
Old 04-20-2007, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdmiralCrunch
Brian Wilson wrote Pet Sounds to top Rubber Soul. In the mean time the Beatles wrote Revolver. The Beach Boys wrote great singles throughout the 60s, but the only album in the same league as The Beatles was Pet Sounds, and it was a commercial failure. The Beatles wrote at least one top to bottom critical and commercial success every year from 1963 to 1970. And the occasional hit single not included on the album. The Beach Boys were the main competition in pop singles at the time, but they didn't have the great albums to back them up. The only contemporary in the same class, IMHO, is Dylan.
I think this brings up another point in that, for all their experimentation and pushing of boundaries, the Beatles always kept it accessible. They never got too smart or avant garde for their audience. They never forgot to stay entertaining. Their songs held up as songs first and foremost, not just as clotheslines for the experiments. If you strip away the orchestral and production tricks the songs still work. They weren't dependent on the production. You can play a simple accoustic and vocal arrangement of "Strawberry Fields" or "A Day in the Life" and the hooks, the melodies, the words, the song structures are all still strong enough to carry the songs.

The only exeriment they did which I think was completely inaccessible and didn't work at all was "Revolution #9" and even that has some oddity value.
#36
Old 04-20-2007, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
Plus, they were just all so damned great- even Ringo in his own limited way, and the fact that when they spun off they all (except for Ringo) continued that greatness.
Slight disagreement here. I agree that Ringo was great in his own limited way. But I disagree that he did not continue in that unique greatness.

Let's start with the premise that he was the weakest and least talented member of the Beatles, because I think that's demonstrably true. Despite all that, Ringo had 2 #1 hits in the U.S. post-Beatles, and drummed on several of Lennon and Harrison's solo albums. There were also a slew of other guest spots on random albums.

Moreover, he branched out into design work and television. He narrated Thomas the Tank Engine and played Mr. Conductor on Shining Time Station. This was a bloody successful show, and Ringo was a big part of its success.

Finally, he founded the All-Starr band (who I would love to see in concert) and put out several decent albums.

I mean, he's Ringo. He was never going to put out the sort of profound material that John went on to do. He was never going to put out catchy pop hooks like Paul. And he was never going to put out quality music like George.

But you want to talk about work with what you got? That's Ringo. He's still great as far as I'm concerned, and the things he's done since the Beatles are at least as fantastic in my book as his simple drumming in the Beatles.
#37
Old 04-20-2007, 02:42 PM
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I think Ringo was crucial to the band both musically and in terms of personality. He was an affable, hugely likeable guy who got along with everybody and was often the glue which kept them together.

Musically he gave them just what they needed. He provided strong, solid, professional drumming, but more importantly, he knew how to get out of the way of what the geniuses were doing. He complimented, he never competed. I think a drummer like Keith Moon might have overloaded the arrangements.
#38
Old 04-20-2007, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I think a drummer like Keith Moon might have overloaded the arrangements.
I would pay a lordly sum of money to hear a John-George-Paul-Keith Moon bootleg.
#39
Old 04-20-2007, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdmiralCrunch
The Beach Boys were the main competition in pop singles at the time, but they didn't have the great albums to back them up. The only contemporary in the same class, IMHO, is Dylan.
I might make an argument for the Kinks, or even possibly the Zombies, but neither had the innovation and consistency the Beatles have. The Beatles have amazingly little filler on any of their albums. It's simply inconceivable for me to understand how four people could turn out album and album of pure pop gold. That said, while I prefer the Beatles as a band, for me, the Beach Boys Pet Sounds barely edges any Beatles album.
#40
Old 04-20-2007, 02:59 PM
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I want to chime in here also to talk about Ringo. When one says the Beatles had three good to great singers (I assume those are John, Paul, and George), Ringo, whose voice admittedly did not lend itself to harmonies, did have some important vocal contributions. I cannot imagine anyone else (not even Joe Cocker) singing "With A Little Help From my Friends." That is practically Ringo's signature tune. And other Ringo-led songs, such as "Octopus' Garden" and "Yellow Submarine" just contributed to the Beatles' sense of fun and zaniness they were recognized for. And of course, post-Beatles, I'm also a sucker for "It Don't Come Easy", "The No-No Song", and most importantly, his tribute to George, "Never Without You". And I have every All-Starr album I can lay my hands on. It's great hearing music from such guests as Peter Frampton or Burton Cummings, stars in their own right.
#41
Old 04-20-2007, 03:19 PM
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They were the breakout group. They were exuberant, charismic- fun!!!
#42
Old 04-20-2007, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneCentStamp
I don't know, man..."Something" and "Here Comes the Sun," in particular, stand up well to anything in the Beatles' catalog. Granted, that's two songs against two dozen classic songs apiece by John and Paul, but clearly he was capable.

Considering what a hard time he had getting his songs recorded (he had to drag Eric Clapton into the studio in order to get the band to take "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" seriously), and how quickly he released a solo record post-Beatles, one wonders how much great George stuff went unnoticed or unrecorded.
I believe in Anthology it's mentioned that there was quite a bit of heat about Lennon and McCartney not letting Harrison's songs on the early albums due to quality. Listening to the ones that did get on, I can't blame them. They liked his Indian inspired stuff much better. Given that there weren't any great songs on All Things Must Pass, (except maybe My Sweet Lord, and we know about that one. ) I can't say he was anywhere close to their level. I'm not fond of Something myself, but Frank Sinatra was, so I'm not disputing its quality.
#43
Old 04-20-2007, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I think this brings up another point in that, for all their experimentation and pushing of boundaries, the Beatles always kept it accessible. They never got too smart or avant garde for their audience. They never forgot to stay entertaining. Their songs held up as songs first and foremost, not just as clotheslines for the experiments. If you strip away the orchestral and production tricks the songs still work. They weren't dependent on the production. You can play a simple accoustic and vocal arrangement of "Strawberry Fields" or "A Day in the Life" and the hooks, the melodies, the words, the song structures are all still strong enough to carry the songs.
They managed to also be innovative, and to bring their audience along, while keeping the music accessible enough not to lose their base. Rubber Soul -> Revolver -> Sgt. Peppers -> the singles on Magical Mystery Tour and I Am The Walrus introduced new ways of using the studio and new instruments. Really an astonishing achievement. I don't know if they drove the environment or adapted to it, but when I remember wandering around the East Village in 1967, in my mind Mr. Kite is always playing in the stores.

The odd thing is that John's description of it from Anthology was that he found a poster, decided it would be a good song, and gave it to George Martin to find the right music for it. That just doesn't sound plausible to me - it is too perfect to be that simple.
#44
Old 04-20-2007, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
Given that there weren't any great songs on All Things Must Pass, (except maybe My Sweet Lord, and we know about that one. )
What about the title track?
#45
Old 04-20-2007, 04:17 PM
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What made the Beatles so great?

Bob Dylan and THC.
#46
Old 04-20-2007, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Who
I would pay a lordly sum of money to hear a John-George-Paul-Keith Moon bootleg.
Hmm. Pete Townsand, the lead guitarist, and Roger Daltry, the vocalist, are alive. Paul McCartney, the bassist, and Ringo Starr, the drummer, are alive.

Pete, Roger, Paul, and Ringo. The Beatles Who?

There's the summer blockbuster tour of 2007.
#47
Old 04-20-2007, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase
Paul McCartney, the bassist, and Ringo Starr, the drummer, are alive.
Paul is alive?
#48
Old 04-20-2007, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
The odd thing is that John's description of it from Anthology was that he found a poster, decided it would be a good song, and gave it to George Martin to find the right music for it. That just doesn't sound plausible to me - it is too perfect to be that simple.
The story is true. Most of the lyrics to the song are lifted directly from a circus poster John bought in 1967.
#49
Old 04-20-2007, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor Who
Finally, he founded the All-Starr band (who I would love to see in concert) and put out several decent albums.

I mean, he's Ringo. He was never going to put out the sort of profound material that John went on to do. He was never going to put out catchy pop hooks like Paul. And he was never going to put out quality music like George.

But you want to talk about work with what you got? That's Ringo. He's still great as far as I'm concerned, and the things he's done since the Beatles are at least as fantastic in my book as his simple drumming in the Beatles.
I heard an anecdote -- and I can't provide a cite for it -- that the Beatles never had to redo a studio take because of Ringo dropping the beat. Nev-er. Imagine being as prolific as Lennon and McCartney, and not being able to put it down on tape, or not being able to capture the golden moments when everything else was right. His Ripkenesque reliability puts him in my Hall of Fame for sure, despite his lack of technical chops.
#50
Old 04-20-2007, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23
What about the title track?
Sorry, I don't have a guru.
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