Yellow Submarine Week, It's Only a Northern Song

Posted in The Beatles on April 18th, 2012 by Willie

Most people point to John Lennon as the group’s most rebellious member, but the title really belongs to George.  He had no problem writing songs about telling girls, the media, and his fans to sod off.  Some people say he was preachy, especially when he started incorporating Eastern Mysticism in his songs, but I always saw him as just expressing his individuality, and really, what choice did he have?  John and Paul had left him to be a solo songwriter in the world’s greatest group, so when George built up his songwriting confidence, which really didn’t take that long in the scheme of things, he started speaking his mind, very clearly.  “It’s Only a Northern Song,” shown below in the awesome psychedelic sequence from Yellow Submarine, features George at his most sarcastic and rebellious.  He is writing a letter, in the demented pop song format, to his music publishing company, “Northern Songs,” in regards to the shitty royalties deal he signed when he was 19 years old.  George would actually end up being the lucky Beatle (along with Ringo), for when the general Beatle song publishing contract expired in 1968, he started his own publishing company called “Harrisongs,” allowing him to own a bunch of his later Beatle hits like “Something,” and “Here Comes the Son.”  Ringo started a similar company called “Startling Music,” which allowed him to own his few Beatle songs, while John and Paul reupped their contract, damning them to a lifetime of low royalties and the eventual non-ownership of all their wondrous hits.  However, until 1968, all the Beatles were under the oppressive umbrella of “Northern Songs,” the product of a contract signed before they were famous and before no one could predict the billions of dollars their songs would generate.  Luckily we have “It’s Only a Northern Song,” forever standing as a grim reminder to aspiring musicians everywhere on the verge of signing horrible record publishing deals.  Thank you George.

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Yellow Submarine Week, Eleanor Rigby

Posted in The Beatles on April 14th, 2012 by Willie

When the Yellow Submarine movie came out in 1968, the Beatles were already edging away from the psychedelic movement they helped flower across the world.  In 68, the Beatles were recording the “White Album,” a record more psychedelic in the abstract than the literal.  All and all they were inching back towards their rock and roll roots, so a movie which was basically a celebration of the Beatles psychedelic mastery was already a bit passe in the fast moving world of Beatle progress.  Still, their psychedelic work, which had no real visual outlet as the Beatles had no way of seriously replicating that sort of music live, to say nothing of the fact they had quit touring anyway, was not harmed by being enshrined in a glorious piece of pop art that was Yellow Submarine.  Just because the Beatles had left behind the days of Revolver, didn’t mean the world had.  Songs like “Eleanor Rigby” were still being played countless times by people the world over, transmogrified by its perfection.  As the Beatles, and the world would discover, the shelf life on Beatle music wouldn’t be a mere flash in the pan, but rather the songs would enjoy decades of endless relevance, seemingly increasing in power and myth as the years rolled by.  So, while its easy to imagine that the Beatles were nonplussed when informed that the majority of songs used for the movie would be culled from the Sgt. Pepper era, for the rest of us, its a privilege beyond words to enjoy these wizard like songs embossed forever in a film like Yellow Submarine.  The clip of “Eleanor Rigby” below, couldn’t be better.  It’s a stunning piece of post modern animated pathos, featuring the sad tired, black and white world of Liverpool, colorized by a Paul McCartney song of unlimited creativity.  There are no platitudes capable of summarizing its genius, so just watch it below as we continue to sail through Yellow Submarine week.

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Yellow Submarine Week, Part 1!

Posted in The Beatles on April 12th, 2012 by Willie

Ahh, Yellow Submarine, the movie responsible for injecting coolness in every child that comes across it at just the right age.  I personally believe that any age is the right age for Yellow Submarine, and that is why, naturally, Yellow Submarine Week is commencing today on this very website.  Yellow Submarine is infamous for not featuring the Beatles’ real voices, save for the music and a winning appearance at the end.  The film itself is a gorgeous post-modern piece of glorious pop art, providing music videos for a bunch of psychedelic classics from the Beatles absurdly genius 65-68 era.  For part 1, we have the first ten minutes of the movie which includes one of the greatest voice over openings of all time.  “Once upon a time, or maybe twice, there lie an unearthly paradise called Pepperland.”  The film, which wasn’t written by the Beatles, certainly captured a lot of the brilliant Lennonesque humor and writing style featured in John’s books, writings, and art.  Originally, the Beatles really wanted nothing to do with the movie, thinking it would be terrible, and only agreed to it as a way to satisfy their 4 film contract with MGM.  When it was completed, they were stunned at its quality, and thus agreed to contribute the famous ending, but that bit of fun will be saved for conclusion of our little celebration.  As for now, enjoy the wonderful opening, the Blue Meanies, and Ringo’s rendition of the Paul McCartney classic, “Yellow Submarine.”

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Stu Sutcliffe, Love Me Tender

Posted in Stu Sutcliffe, The Beatles on April 7th, 2012 by Willie

There is a lot of conjecture as to who the fifth Beatle is, or was.  Some think it was George Martin, their famed producer, others Brian Epstein, their cavalier manager.  Others think it was Pete Best, the drummer ousted on the precipice of the Beatles massive fame.  The real answer is the departed Stuart Sutcliffe.  Stu was John Lennon’s best friend in art college and was a massive influence on the man in their short friendship.  Stu died at 21 years old of a brain hemorrhage, also on the eve the of the massive Beatle tidal wave set to cover the planet, but his impact on the Beatles was real.  First, he collaborated on the name “Beatles” with John, probably coining it himself.  Second, he came up with the Beatle hair cut with the help of his girlfriend Astrid.  Lastly, with his skills as an abstract artist, Stu got John thinking about rock and roll as a conceptual art form, expanding John’s view of what the Beatles could really be.  Stu was the original bass player, not as terrible as it is portrayed in Beatle movies and Beatle literature; competent enough to be recruited by other local Hamburg bands during the Beatles stay in Germany.  It is true he left the band to stay in Germany and marry Astrid, but his friendship with the Beatles never ended.  Had he lived, his fame probably would have exploded in one form or another due to his Beatle association and movie star good looks.  It was also known, by those who heard him, that Stu was a more than decent singer, getting plenty of vocal time during the Beatles marathon 6 hour sets when John and Paul’s voices were fading.  Stu’s friendship with John, killer look, and burgeoning talent caused a small rivalry with Paul McCartney.  Paul was jealous of Stu’s place in the Beatles, but also rightfully critical of Stu’s full commitment to the group.  Stu was considered a brilliant artist by his teachers and his peers, and had a bright future painting.  When the pressure from Paul intensified as to where Stu’s priorities were, he resigned the group graciously without putting up much of a fight and wished his friends luck.  But still, his early tragic death created a lot of mystery and what if scenarios had he lived.  What was he really like?  Would he have ever been asked to rejoin the group?  Could he really sing?  The answer to the last question might have been solved with the release of Stu’s rendition of the great Elvis ballad, “Love Me Tender.”  Stu’s family claims that the vocalist on the record is absolutely Stu, recorded in Hamburg as a gift for Astrid, right after the Beatles left.  Critics have other theories, but no one knows for certain.  If it is Stu on this record, it leaves a spooky impression of a voice that might have had a major impact in global culture had he lived…We’ll never know, but check out this ghostly performance and ask yourself, what if…

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Battle of the Bands, Part 5, Stones Surrender to the Beatles in Cleveland, perform "I Saw Her Standing There," as Pennance

Posted in Battle of the Bands, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 29th, 2012 by Willie

As the battle raged for decades, with both bands suffering unspeakable tragedy (Brian Jones, John Lennon), the bloodshed just HAD to end.  And end it did with Mick Jagger’s historic concession in Cleveland, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Mick, clearly disgusted at being forced to admit bitter defeat, inducted the Beatles, minus Paul McCartney (who apparently was too busy to witness  Mick’s humiliation), in a ceremony of drunken revelry, and cheeky good humor.  Watch this hilarious clip below…

My favorite part is seeing Mick’s unabashed, yet good-natured jealousy as he recounts the Beatles story.  That’s actually not something to be underrated, as that jealousy fueled Mick Jagger to heights he probably never dreamed of attaining.  It’s brilliant that Mick agreed to induct the Beatles into the Rock Hall, as he hung out with the Beatles a lot in the 60s.  He was there in the early London club days, the early drug taking days, the Maharishi lectures, the “Day in the Life” recording party, and the “All You Need is Love” performance.  He was an intimate eye-witness to a lot of the behind the scene Beatle madness, and you can tell by this great speech.  He inducts the Beatles, but the only ones to show are George and Ringo.  John, being dead at the time, had Yoko, Sean, and Julian represent his presence, while Paul is mysteriously absent.  George, Ringo, and Yoko, all make subtle bitter jokes about Paul’s lack of being there, and its all actually quite hilarious, especially George.  Sean also has a brilliant line as well…watch!

That was great, and yes, Paul’s presence was missed sorely, but so was John’s…After all, the Beatles would never really ever exist anymore without the four of them, so who cares.  Imagine if he lived though?  I guarantee they would have all come to this ceremony, and rocked the shit out of this joint.  Instead we get Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and Bruce Springsteen taking a shot at “I Saw Her Standing There.”  Even with all that star power, it doesn’t come close to the power the original Beatles could have generated with just the four of them.  Ah well, its still a fun and rollicking performance, with George again being the main cut up, giving the patented Beatle head shaking “wooo!” a move he probably hadn’t pulled in 25 years.  It’s amazing, a perfect end to a glorious war, with the Beatles and the Stones coming together to agree that yes, we are all super gods enshrined in a museum of rock.

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Battle of the Bands, Part 4, Beatles & Stones, For No One vs. She Smiled Sweetly

Posted in Battle of the Bands, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 27th, 2012 by Willie

I love these two songs.  It’s practically a crime to have the two fight for glory, but fight they must.  “For No One,” from Revolver, is one of Paul McCartney’s most brilliant break up songs, and “She Smiled Sweetly,” from Between the Buttons is perhaps Mick and Keith’s most beautiful and mature love song.  Let’s pull the curtain up first on Paul McCartney’s “For No One.”  Whoosh.

A lot of great Beatle footage in there, even though the song is practically a solo Paul effort.  Ok, now onto “She Smiled Sweetly.”

And after watching that, I do believe that she did indeed smile sweetly.  Ok, lets check out the battlefield, count the bloody remains, and see who won this competition of the damned.

BEST DRUMMING:  Charlie Watts.  Ringo is probably the second greatest contributor to “For No One,” but his drumming is purposefully mixed low underneath the driving piano and French horn courtesy of Alan Civil.  Charlie, who hasn’t had a good showing thus far in the Battle of the Bands finally scores over Ringo.  His drumming is upfront, beautiful, and intimate, boldly displaying an unadorned emotionality in every beat.

BEST BASS PLAYING:  Bill Wyman.  Paul’s bass is limited, and kinda gimmicky in its attempt to mimic a classical arrangement.  It works, but I really prefer Bill’s work on “She Smiled Sweetly.”  His bass just vibrates and soars with a fat resonance.  It’s actually rather gorgeous and provides about 50% of the songs somber atmosphere.

BEST RHYTHM PLAYING:  Paul.  There isn’t really any guitar work on these songs, so we’ll compare pianos.  Both are expertly performed, but Paul McCartney’s piano riffs and arrangements are very creative and singular.  “She Smiles Sweetly” has a beautiful and lumbering shuffle, but it’s not what makes the song special.

BEST LEAD PLAYING:  Paul.  Well, Alan Civil to be precise.  The French Horn solo is actually the only solo in either song, and it’s pretty great, creating a sort of mundane English matter of factness.  The feeling it is evokes is one that says, ‘you might have just had your heart destroyed, but life is going on all around you, and nobody cares.’  It was a masterstroke of production common of George Martin and Paul McCartney by 1966.

BEST LEAD SINGING:  Mick.  We are passing the group singing for this contest, as there isn’t really any.  What we have though is Mick’s insanely vulnerable and atmospheric vocal performance, a testament to his range, and evidence of him being one of the world’s greatest rock singers, if not the greatest.  Mick just encapsulates coolness, sadness, beauty, and mystique all at once in this gorgeous love ode.  Paul is equally incredible, but his performance is a bit restrained and distant.  He performs a more emotional and rendition of the song on acoustic guitar in this video, which I’ve highlighted before.

BEST SONGWRITING:  TIE!  Both songs represent the best of mid 60s British chamber pop.  Both songs were written by songwriting masters.  Both songs are performed with the utmost emotionality and genuineness.  Both songs are works of genius.  It’s a tie.

WINNER:  The Rolling Stones!  “She Smiled Sweetly” just takes me to that special place no matter what mood I’m in.  “For No One,” is most effective after a breakup, as its particularly devastating, but when that’s not the case its merely just a great song.  “She Smiled Sweetly,” is the stuff dreams are made of.  Stay tuned tomorrow as we wrap up this Battle of the Bands in a thrilling and unexpected conclusion.  Don’t miss it!

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Battle of the Bands, Part 3, Beatles & Stones, Girl vs. Ruby Tuesday

Posted in Battle of the Bands, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 25th, 2012 by Willie

Welcome back to part 3 of my live reporting at 85th annual “Battle of the Bands!  We have the Rolling Stones and the Beatles continuing their quest to impress the judges with their finest music, and after a short break, the bands are ready to hop back on the stage to meet at loggerheads once again…But before we do, we’d just like to point out today’s sponsor; George Martin’s ridiculously pimped out album cover for his rare LP, “George Martin Instrumentally Salutes: The Beatle Girls.”  Just absorb that image of the dapper producer knee deep in London’s finest ladies.  My God, that’s amazing, and so on that note, lets get back to the show.  First up we have the Rolling Stones with “Ruby Tuesday” from Between the Buttons.

Well, that was just charming and dandy.  Let’s see how the Beatles respond…ahh, I can tell by the first few notes that they are launching into “Girl” from Rubber Soul.

Wonderful, I can tell the judges are going to have a hard time determining the victor here, let’s see the results.

BEST DRUMMING:  Ringo, and it’s not really close.  Mr. Starr lays down a gorgeous shuffling beat, filled with elegant cymbal play, accentuating the slurping post “girl” passages.  The song is incredibly atmospheric and intimate, and I think Ringo’s restrained and careful style has a lot to do with it.  Charlie does a fine job, but the percussion on “Ruby Tuesday” doesn’t envelop me the same way Ringo’s does.  Next!

BEST BASS PLAYING:  Paul, but it’s not fair.  “Ruby Tuesday” doesn’t really feature Bill Wyman’s electric bass so much as it does him hand playing a double bass, which is cool, but boring.  Paul is clearly heard on “Girl,” and as expected, he delivers a subtle and melodic performance, playfully bouncing around the outer edges of the song and giving it an enriching atmosphere.

BEST RHYTHM PLAYING:  John, and again it’s not so fair as “Ruby Tuesday’s” rhythm is mostly piano based.  But even comparing the piano rhythm on “Ruby Tuesday” to the guitar rhythm on “Girl,” the Beatles still come out on top.  What can I say, I’m just lifted away on the gentle cloud of John and George’s beautiful Martin guitars, maybe because its a cloudy cool day.

BEST LEAD PLAYING:  Brian Jones.  I love the Beatles Greek style guitar picking on “Girl,” but Brian Jones plays that lead solo line a frigging recorder!  You know, the thing from elementary school they give to all kids?  He sounds masterly on it, gleefully sharing the spotlight with Mick’s vocals.

BEST GROUP SINGING:  TIE!  It was too close, I was instinctively going to give it to the Beatles for their gorgeous and intricate “tit-tit-tit” backing vocals (yes they are saying tit,) but I can’t deny the charming and often underrated harmonies that Keith and Mick produce. While Keith’s voice doesn’t stick out as much as Mick’s in the mix in the way that John and Paul’s do, he just sounds like the coolest friend ever, and his presence just always makes the affair much happier.

BEST LEAD SINGING:  John.  Mick is amazing as ever singing Ruby Tuesday, but there is something very singular and unique about John’s performance on “Girl.”  I can’t really think of another Beatle or solo John song that comes close to matching the style or the energy of “Girl.”

BEST SONGWRITING:  TIE!  My reasoning for this is that I truly think “Girl” is the better song, but I can’t ignore that “Ruby Tuesday” was a smash hit.  Also, the Stones tie the Beatles in the area because there is legitimate confusion as to who was responsible for “Girl.”  John insists he wrote the whole thing, probably because he was proud of how it turned out, but Paul humbly differs.  In fact, it might not just be the music, but a bunch of the Lennon-esque lyrics might have belonged to Paul as well.  Such details don’t detract from the song, but sort of muddy up the history of a really interesting and important breakthrough Beatle song.

WINNER:  Well, the Beatles win this round 3-1, not counting the ties, and why not?  “Ruby Tuesday” might be catchier and more known by the public at large, but “Girl” has a cool philosophical mystique that is really stunning.  Even though the Beatles seemed to win this contest easily, it was really much closer than that, illustrating yet again the knock down, dragged out fight for glory this contest has become.  Reporting live from Wimbledon, I’m Willie Simpson saying, see you tomorrow for the second to last installment of our battle royale between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

 

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Battle of the Bands, Part 2, Beats & Stones, Day Tripper vs. Satisfaction

Posted in Battle of the Bands, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 23rd, 2012 by Willie

Welcome to part 2 of the epic slug-fest between Britain’s greatest musical exports, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  Part 1 was a close contest, in which we found the Beatles barely squeaking by in a battle as to who could rock “I Wanna Be Your Man,” more proficiently.  That was just kid stuff however, as today we break out the real dynamite.  Today we have the Beatles “Day Tripper,” vs. the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction.”  I’ll just spoil it right now, the Rolling Stones win.  Ok?  Bored yet?  Don’t be!  Well, if you want ok, but lets go through it anyway.  First lets watch the immaculate hit of genius proportions that is “Day Tripper.”

Holy shit, go go girls dancing to Beatles music with the Beatles standing right there!  I’ve never seen the Beatles in that kind of situation before…pretty awesome!  Well, that was highly satisfying…onto the Rolling Stones…

My favorite anecdote from Keith Richard’s autobiography, Life, was recalling how before the 1970s, Mick Jagger just danced, and it was fucking great.  Later on in the 70s and 80s Mick got a coach, which Keith thought was rightfully bullshit.   In this video you see Mick pulling off some righteous footwork, also his pants seem to be glowing.  Amazing.  Onto the RESULTS!

BEST DRUMMING:  TIE!  Actually, its not that exciting, the drums are the last thing I pay attention to when enjoying these two songs.  Both Charlie and Ringo take a back seat to the more interesting stuff going on in these songs, which brings us to….

BEST BASS PLAYING:  TIE!  Dammit…again?  The only thing really going on in bass in these songs mirroring the dynamic riffs that altered the course of rock and roll forever.

BEST RHYTHM PLAYING:  TIE!  WHAT THE FUCK!  The more I keep playing these songs back to back, the more I realize how identical they are in many ways.  In both bands, you have Lennon and Jones just sort of filling out shuffly little chords underneath the riffs with nary a notice.

BEST LEAD GUITAR:  Stones, no question.  At last, somebody scores.  What else can you say, Keith Richards is incredible.  He wrote the riff in his sleep, had it on tape along with his snoring the next day, and rock and roll collectively rocked and rolled another ten thousand light years down the cosmic super highway.  Now, the Day Tripper riff is nothing to sneeze at, in fact I’ve always been curious just how the international jet setting, stadium touring, movie making, TV appearing, center of Beatlemania most famous people in the world being, Beatles, just pulled this riff of diamonds out of their butts, but they had access to magics few can understand.  Still, in many ways “Day Tripper” was written as a response to groundbreaking work in riffage that the Rolling Stones were exploring, and it is a mighty response, but the Stones got there first.

BEST GROUP SINGING:  The Beatles.  What’s cool about “Day Tripper” is that Paul McCartney is singing lead on a John Lennon song for the most part, and that they cram in the best part of “Twist and Shout” into the bridge, somehow making it original again.  It’s fantastic.  “Satisfaction,” on the other hand is mainly just Mick, which brings us to…

BEST LEAD SINGING:  The Rolling Stones.  This is Mick Jagger’s ultimate song.  It stuffs all his dangerous, swarthy, bluesy, teenagey, rebellious, sexually frustrated, radicalness into one glorious package.  “Day Tripper,” as discussed, doesn’t even have a lead singer really.

BEST SONGWRITING:  Ahh…a new category, it would have been pointless to include this in the last post, but the winner here is the Rolling Stones.  Keith came up with the riff and the “I Can’t Get No, Satisfaction” melody, while Mick put his stamp on the lyrics and the rest of the song.  It was a team effort of historic proportions that really illustrated the magic of the Jagger/Richards songwriting duo.  “Day Tripper” has proto-“in your face”-psychedelic lyrics, “a drug song” in John Lennon’s words, and it is a basket of rock and roll fun, but “Satisfaction” is a milestone, while “Day Tripper” is…ummm…also a milestone, but one of many the Beatles churned out.

WINNER:  The Rolling Stones by a score of 3-1.  I didn’t lie when I told you the Stones would win.  I hadn’t worked out the math before I delved into it, but I knew that scientifically there was no way they would lose this contest.  You’ll never guess what battle awaits tomorrow, but if you happen to be a mellotron, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Battle of the Bands, Part 1, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, I Wanna Be Your Man

Posted in Battle of the Bands, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 22nd, 2012 by Willie

I was sitting around my new apartment, feeling kind of directionless and antsy, when a genius idea struck my temple.  Get this, you take bands, and you pit them in some sort of competition, almost like a battle.  Then, after all the notes are sung, and the riffs are all licked, you determine a winner, like a contest.  I call this totally original idea, “The Battle of the Bands!”  I feel like the alliteration of “B’s” give it that extra kick of specialness.  So, for round one, I have two special groups from England.  The first group is your mother’s favorite, the clean cut Rolling Stones.  The second group are the rebellious and sexually suggestive group of teenaged rebels known as the Beatles.  The song to be rocked over is “I Wanna Be Your Man,” a Lennon/McStarkey original.  Legend has it that the Rolling Stones were bored of being London nobodies, and asked their extremely famous buddies, the Beatles to give them a hand.  True to form, the Beatles lent them not a hand, but a MAN!  Hahaha, oh boy, I’m cracklin’ today, so I present  “I Wanna Be Your Man” first sung by the Beatles lead singer, Ringo!  Be careful when you press play, it’s like opening up a can of soda set to explode!

Now it’s time for the Rolling Stones to have their say.  I found an interesting clip from some British documentary on the Rolling Stones early rise, which is full of gravitas and veiled technicolor danger, so dig the opening before the Stones launch into their boozy version…

Now, that you’ve dug a double dose of ridiculous rock and roll raga, it’s time to crown the winners.

BEST DRUMMING:  Ringo.  Charlie Watts is a fantastic drummer, but Ringo puts on a clinic in the Beatle version.  His drumming is crisp, not too splashy, and has a cool mod feel, plus he achieves all this and sings lead at the same time.  Sorry Charlie, maybe next time.

BEST BASS PLAYING:  TIE!  Paul McCartney gives an airplane buzz of stylish riffs and fast paced awesomeness, while Bill Wyman lays down a funky jungle beat.  There is no clear winner hear.

BEST RHYTHM GUITAR:  Keith Richards.  John Lennon has his patented mercy-side shuffle, keeping up with and doubling Paul’s bass lines, but Keith Richards invents some kind of chunky railroad rhythm that is like a cross between Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry.  It’s addictive, strange, and I love it.

BEST LEAD GUITAR:  George Harrison.  While I think the slide guitar gimmick that Brian Jones came up with for the song matches the Stone’s arrangement, I find it kind of annoying.  Meanwhile, George Harrison plays lead rhythm, lead guitar, and a wicked little country solo.  It’s sharp and cool, and its one of things that make George incredible.

BEST GROUP SINGING:  The Beatles.  The Beatles sound like a cool onyx cube of perfection, singing as a group, backing up Ringo.  Their voices sound like a jet engine of power, encapsulating the source of Beatlemania.  The Stones sound like a gang of hooligans, shouting, scratching, and stabbing their way through a seedy London pub.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally awesome, but the Beatles sound like visitors from the future spreading advanced technology with every note they sing.  The Beatles had 4 lead singers.  Ringo, while not technically good, sings on key, with total humanity and no pretension.  George had a beautiful medieval sounding English voice matching his gaunt knightly appearance.  His role as 3rd harmonist also gave the Beatles vocals a rich and distinctly Liverpudlian edge.  Paul McCartney was the Beatles ultimate weapon, like a golden sword.  His voice soars high like Bono and Little Richard combined, but is more versatile, and capable of fantastic mimicry.  He could sing like a psychedelic maniac, a garage rocker, and a mystical angel.  The best thing about Paul McCartney’s voice is when it merges with John Lennon’s, simulating the sonic experience of listening to the birth of the universe.  John Lennon’s voice was perfect for rock and roll; a full throated roar of passion and soul.  It’s also a sort of horizontal hypnotic harmonic noise that fills out your ears perfectly, especially when combined with Paul’s.

BEST LEAD SINGER:  Mick Jagger.  Ringo is an underrated rock and roll singer in many ways, but he is not Mick Jagger, no one is.  Mick basically owns a few patents on the genre when it comes to rock and roll singing.  It’s the voice of teenage rebellion, nasty self righteous punk power, tender country authenticity, and gorgeous tonal soul.  He gives the Rolling Stones a unique singular voice that holds its own against a group like the Beatles, no small feat.

WINNER:  The Beatles by a score of 3-2!  It was close, but the Beatles come out on top.  I think it was a fair victory.  The Beatles version of “I Wanna Be Your Man,” is the more polished finished product, while the Stones version is almost a novelty number.  Don’t get me wrong, by reading this article, you can tell I adore the Stones version, but after all, the Beatles wrote the tune, and the Stones were playing on their turf.  If you liked what you read here, stayed tuned for tomorrow, when I start comparing the Stones and Beatles greatest hits in a week long journey of rock and roll excellence.

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WillieSimpson.com One Year Anniversary! The Beatles, Birthday

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on February 12th, 2012 by Willie

One year ago, as a birthday present to myself, I launched williesimpson.com to a total of 12 viewers, 99% of those viewers being myself, and even I wasn’t impressed.  Yes, the start was slow, but over the course of the year, after presenting a top 100 list of my favorite youtube videos, being nominated for CBS’s best NYC blogger, and updating you fine folks from all over the world with my own homemade music, I’d like to say that the site has really gained its wings, all with practically zero publicity.  Over the past year, I’ve had close to 140,000 page views, from every state in America, and practically every country in the world.  It’s astounding, and a fantastic motivator to keep going.  The site, if you’ve noticed, has been on a bit of a hiatus the last two weeks as I transition for the last leg of my international journey.  For those not aware, I have been spending time in the beautiful Sydney, Australia the last 5 months.  I’m going to spend the next month in Thailand, and will have very limited internet access.  The site will kick into full gear again around late March, when I return to New York City, so stay tuned.  Lastly, I couldn’t have an update without some music, and I couldn’t celebrate an anniversary without the Beatles.  So here is some cobbled together fake live performance of “Birthday,” the Beatles White Album thriller for you all to enjoy.  Again, thanks a lot to everyone, I couldn’t do it without you.

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