This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beat the Meatles! Part 1


Beatles for Sale

Beatles albums can be categorised into two distinct periods:

1. John, the-scotch-and-coke-swilling-meat-eater

2. John, the pussy-whipped-by-a-Japanese-whackjob-chick-vegan-acid-head

The first period extends from the initial Parlophone release Please Please Me through Revolver, while the second runs from Sergeant Pepper through Abbey Road. (Let it Be, although released later to coincide with the documentary was actually recorded earlier than Abbey Road.

I'm a self confessed John fanboi. The Beatles best songs, IMHO, as well as most of their songs in th eearly period, feature Lennon singing lead with Paul and sometimes George on backing vocals. This is not to dismiss Paul's important greatness one iota, for musically speaking he was both the brilliance and the glue that made the Beatles. His harmonies and melodicity largely were the essence of what turned John's songs into the classics they became.

I'm an unabashed early period Beatles fan. I find the early stuff, especially the non-hit single album filler more interesting musically for the lack of pretension and most definitely better sung, for the strength of the Beatles of course resided in their vocal abilities and song crafting rather than their mediocre (except for an occasional George guitar solo and the always exceptional basslines laid down by McCartney).

For me,  the two best all-time Beatles LPs occurred during  their BC period, Beatles for Sale and Revolver, in that order. Today, I will offer a critical analysis of the former and come back at a later date to take on the latter.

While Revolver is frequently recognised by music critics as one of, if not the best, Beatles LPs, Beatles for Sale is generally considered one of their less fabulous, a hastily thrown together commercial project in 1965, at the height of Beatlemania, mainly to take advantage of the willingly wide open pocketbooks of hysterical Beatlemaniacs. In the US, the album was released as two LPs, with even more filler added, Beatles 65 and Beatles VI, so the boys could double the take in their largest market. Is this a great country or what?

Beatles for Sale opens with the very underrated classic John tune No Reply, one of the earliest of his dark misogynistic story song motifs. He's  a stalker calling from outside his cheating girlfriend's house, waiting as she comes home with the Other Guy and watching for the reaction from inside when he makes the call. Musically, the song has a very simple but unusual structure for a blues-based rock tune, featuring no chorus, a fantastically emotive bridge in the middle of the song that builds into a rushing, pounding crescendo before abruptly returning to repeat the quieter second verse "I tried to telephone they said you were not home. That's a lie...".  This discordant sequence filled first with  intense the passion of the John/Paul harmony before switching back an to calmly accusatory second verse perfectly reflects the stalker's unbalanced, agitated state of mind. The songs coda repeats the title over and over to underscore the psychic pain of the stalker's  inability to make the connection with his unfaithful lover.

Beatles for Sale features six cover versions Rock n Roll Music (Chuck Berry), one of Lennon's best recorded vocals ever, confirms that both the Beatles and the Stones sang Berry better than Berry, Mr. Moonlight (Otis Johnson), another Lennon effort, the rather tame McCartney medley of Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey (Leiber/Stoller and Little Richard tunes) and two Carl Perkins' send ups Honey Don't with Ringo vocals and the excellent Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby with George singing lead through an echo box. 

Besides Rock n Roll Music, the real revelation among the covers is the Beatles' treatment of the Buddy Holly B-side Words of Love. Where Holly sang harmony to his own lead vocal, the Beatles swap leads between John,  Paul and George and add gorgeous three part harmony that remake what was a Holly throwaway into a timelessly classic love song.

I've always been more interested in hearing a band's cover versions rather than their original compositions, simply because this gives you a way of determining where they are at musically in comparison to the original versions. You gain a sense of their stylistic tendencies, influences and their overall musicianship better than with their own penned numbers because the originals must be considered solely in their own right without a comparative frame of reference.

So without further ado, for your listening pleasure and critical consideration, ladeez and gennelmens, donkeytale's selection for all-time best Beatle LP.



What's yours?

22 comments:

socrates said...

This looks interesting. Some may need extra time to fully savour its inherent significance.

My Twitter account was hacked.

socrates said...

Thanks for this. I've got it on now.

I fixed a couple typos and added the screenshot with the video.

I guess my favourites are The White Album and Abbey Road. Sgt. Peppers was brilliant, but it got overplayed. I know The White Album is critiqued for being too all over the place, but song for song (heh like pound for pound for greatest boxers), it has a lot of pure hits.

socrates said...

Paul technically had the better voice, but John clobbered him in the soul department.

socrates said...

At least one of those tunes is lame. click link

socrates said...

Fricken hacked... Numbnuts indeed.

socrates said...

They can't beat us fair and square with supertrolling, so they cheat.

socrates said...

That happened to your Brian Nowhere something dude, no? You aren't a legend only in your own mind... Ugh, picking up vibes of bad tune #2, #1.

socrates said...

We're here live blogging at DFQ2 about Hackgate. I haven't a clue what was done in my name. I read someone was sending dm's through my account.

socrates said...

I didn't fix any misspellicisms. They were where donkeytale missed a letter. Settle down everyone for crying out loud.

socrates said...

This isn't the first time my online identity has been stolen.

socrates said...

Ok, wasn't bad guys was dumbass phishing whatnot. They take control of your twitter then dm others trying to gain control of theirs too and so on and so one and so one. It wasn't fun. I lost some followers. But it's not the end of the world. Twitter isn't as important as it seems, imho.

socrates said...

I hope everyone has enjoyed today's live blogging of HackGate. Good luck and good night. That's the way it was, August 27th, 2012.

thegoodsareodd said...

I must admit I haven't listened to The Beatles in a crow's age.

I like Beatles For Sale mainly for Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey, but I don't think you can beat Little Richard.

Or Muddy Waters (it might be Pinetop Perkins that puts the icing on the cake).

Or Wanda Jackson.

Or Willie Nelson's from Milk Cow Blues. I think Jimmie Vaughan was supposed to play on that one, but we got Susan Tedeschi instead.

Burl Ives did a cover of Kansas City for those of us who like to laugh.

All of those sans Hey Hey Hey Hey.

This is sounding Asperger-ish.

Back to The Beatles...

Oddly enough, while not a huge George Harrison fan, my favorites are probably Here Comes the Sun and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Both of those I think from the LPs socrates listed.

As to your previous post mentioning Pattie Boyd, I'll add my worthless two cents.

Eric Clapton hit it really, really big with the Slowhand LP in 1977-78 (somewhere in there). Clapton's belting out Lay Down Sally and Harrison is singing about some goofy Crackerbox Palace. Sorry socrates, I despise that song.

Here's my sad, sorry theory: She was a popularity whore. Clapton was the captain of the football team and Harrison was nerding it up in the lab.

God, I always hated football players, almost as much as I do Clapton.

thegoodsareodd said...

Those #@$% hackers.

S.M. Elliott said...

What is your problem?! I have always treated you with respect and fairness, have never insulted you in any way, and now you personally attack me over condensation trails?

socrates said...

I spent a considerable amount of time study weather mitigation. The stuff you posted is garbage.

socrates said...

While I like Crackerbox Palace a lot, especially with the video, yeah Patti Boyd wanted to be a player in the social scene. George was a bit out there.

donkeytale said...

Nowhere was on a homemade software. It was pretty excellent, actually, but I don't think he'd gotten around to building in security features. The hacking occurred during the brief period we housed Errin F in a comment thread after he's been banned at DKOS for penning the Meta classic "Delete My Fucking Account Now, Kos" dairy, which ran to 1700+ comments, the record at the time and maybe still or close to it. 2006 I'd venture to guess.

Brian was something of a local band guitar god in Chicago who'd gotten bitter on the scene, and taken a diversion into blogging, where he soon became bitter as well, thanks in no small part to me. I was burned out from two heavy years of carrying the historic troll water at DKOS and Boomans.

Being featured at Nowhere exacerbated nmy addiction. Mea culpa. But we were the best of the early Kos bashers, well before Francis Holland, who admittedly had better schtick which is why I supported his efforts during the MLW period which led to its downfall and the creation of the PFF zeitgeist.

Twitter blows is all I can think to say. If this is the future count me glad to be nearing the end of the line.

White Album...I figured you'd like it best, the frame of reference for most younger Beatles fans are the albums you mention.

I hated Sgt Pepper from the get go, it was too faked for me, a lot of overindulgent hooey masking the fact that there was only one truly good song on the album, A Day in the Life and even that was somewhat ruined by the last note being held for a seeming eternity. In those days we had four track tape decks in our cars, these monstrous cartridges that you'd slip in and changed tracks every three songs, often in mid song. Most of them we bought were pirated by the mob, you's by them for a couple bucks at "swap meets" or flea markets held at various drive-in theatre lots around SoCal back in the day.

Poor quality, you'd hit a bump in the road or go over the railroad tracks too hard and the tape would catch and unravel all over the floor of the car. Fun times.

Soon the 4's evolved to 8 tracks, then cassettes before the invention of CDs. Today its what? You tube for free?

Works.

But vinyl still reules the airwaves. Never been improved upon. Even the skips had an artistic quality, you'd start to anticipate them and work them in as you sang along....

Thus Spaketh the Elderly demented Looser.

Sorry, more mailed in commentary...the white album for me was most notable for the Ringo comnposed and sung organ grinder Dont pass Me By and a strong George set which is probably why you like it. While My Guitar is probably the best tune on the whole album.

Long, Long, Long Time and Savoy Truffle were always two of my fave Geos.

Abbey Road, also overrated but of course the George outings stand out on that one as well.

Something, covered by Sinatra. RIOTOUS!

Like Romney quoting from Marx.

donkeytale said...

OOps forgot to mail the 4 track dilemma with the held piano chord at the end of Day in the Life, it would take an eternity of silence lost in a noisy 65 VW and the ultra crappy sound of the cheap speakers and 4 track deck for the tape to click over to the next track.

Jeesh.

Thanks, boys.

Also forgot to note "Piggies" also a George tune scrawled in blood on the wall at the LoBianco murder scene if I remember correctly by the great artist of the Altamont end of era, Charles Manson...

Son of man, get it?

socrates said...

Yes, hmmm on the old meta days. I missed it in real time but was able to catch up through reading archives.

Also around 2006 you had the Moulitsas schtick emerge through that interview. How he loved the CIA and called it a liberal institution.

I guess he never figured that would become circulated knowledge. Maybe Stu Piddy found it first. But it was Francis Holland who went completely pitbull on Kos.

It helped that he was multilingual and could easily translate Central American papers with knowledge of Moulitsas.

What an ass he is. He came from the El Salvadoran oligarchy, the one that uhm were responsible for hit squads.

I hate fake lefties. They're the worst cause they are supposed to represent we the people. Brad Friedman. That's what I'm talking about. Stealing important issues for some scam.

2006 was a pivotal year for the internet zeitgeist. Astroturf got exposed to absurd levels. Netvocates, The Rendon Group, the Bivings Group, Advantage Consultants, on and on. They're still around as you know and still suck shit. There's also the spy factory junk.

socrates said...

Hhehehahaww on the 8 track stuff. I barely remember that, like Vietnam. But to hear of 4 track tapes, that's riotous.

Frankie had immense talent and was even a very skilled actor for a non-trained one. But his ego was the size of the Grand Canyon. He was probably the inspiration for Bill Murray's lounge lizard schtick. But I digress. It's a digression. It's getting extremely off-topic.

I definitely agree with critics saying the White Album was disjointed. But like I said, tune for tune, separate various tunes from the tune herd, and they were gold.

How can anyone not smile when Savoy Truffle comes on?

Around my times was when the New Wave European came out- Elvis Costello, Squeeze... But then a few years later as I came of age, out popped weed to go with Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, ...

Except for some amazing grunge out of Alice and Chains and others then TOOL, one needs to go nostalgic imho to keep up with things.

Oh man, last year I found out about Minnie Ripperton. What a lady! She was in some hippie band. You might tell me to snap out of it, but I would have been a lot better off living in your era.

Being a supertroll doesn't truly line up with my inner love child soul. But them's the times we've survived into.

Youtube is amazing. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the future for copyright laws and whatnot.

They've been clamping down a bit more of late. But there are even other places one can go for freebies. My mouth is sealed. You can send a townhouse memo for more info. Perhaps the New Deal for this era has simply meant replacing new jobs and conservation with food stamps and free entertainment. The revolution will not be live blogged.

donkeytale said...

Goods are Odd;

Totally agree with you on the Muddy Waters greatness factor, what the Beatles represent is something slightly different and more historical sociological than musically innovative significant.

You might enjoy the banter in the thread to this dairy on pffugeecamp.com

We have musical snobs over there!