I had a dream the other night (no, please keep reading) where the Beatles were reunited in the 1980s and John Lennon was still alive. It was an incredibly visceral dream with the four guys aged perfectly for the time. They were recording a track in the studio. John was decked out in a red and black leather jacket with his hair pulled back in a pony tail, rocking his classic black circular sunglasses. Paul was dressed in a large Christmas sweater, holding his Hofner bass and looking very nervous. John was also a bundle of nerves, pacing near the microphone with a grey colored Fender. I don’t remember what George and Ringo looked like but they were there as well. Then, the magic happened. They started playing Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day,” harmonizing beautifully, restarting a few times in the process. The dream felt real and the music sounded live. I was thrilled to experience it.
Anyway, as fate would have it, the Beatle company Apple, released a new music video, “Words of Love,” another Buddy Holly cover, just the a few days ago. The song originally appeared on Beatles For Sale, a criminally underrated Beatle record (if there is such a thing) that got a lot of slack for featuring too many covers and carrying a bit of a depressed vibe. The record was released late in 1964 and reflects the exhausted around the world impact that Beatlemania had on the guys. The songs like “I’m a Loser” and “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” had a sense of world-weariness to them but like any Beatle record, the performances and production are immaculate, creating a warm and intimate listening experience.
The “Words of Love” music video is just gorgeous. Mixing in psychedelic animation, a bit of CGI and sparkly magic to priceless clips of the Beatles running around during the height of Beatlemania. I would be incredible if Apple released a video like this for every song in the catalog. A massive task for sure, but, who cares, the music still holds up so breathing new life into the old songs with gorgeous imagery is a wonderful idea. I always wised that Apple should make a sequel to Yellow Submarine, featuring music of the White Album. The Beatles themselves didn’t voice Yellow Submarine when they were all alive in the first place so a new animated movie wouldn’t be so sacrilegious and would be really awesome. That will probably never happen unless I somehow become president of Apple records one day so in the meantime, enjoy the limitless splendor and charm of this wonderful “Words of Love” music video.
The year was 1966. Bobby Fuller was a 23-year-old Texas rocker, riding high off the chart topping success of “I Fought the Law.” He had moved out to California, been experimenting with LSD like the rest of his generation, and then suddenly, he died. How? Why? Nobody is really certain to this day. He was found dead in Hollywood, in his car. Authorities found his body covered in petechial hemorrahages, unsightly red and purple marks caused by exposure to gasoline vapors. Some figured he must have guzzled gasoline, and the cops ruled his death a suicide. Others say it was murder, with speculation ranging from Charles Manson to a nefarious LAPD coverup due to Fuller’s involvement with mafia women. Whatever happened, his tragic death ended an incredibly promising career. Fuller was a remarkable beautiful singer and songwriter with a bright and driving sound of joy. In many ways he seemed like the heir to Buddy Holly’s legacy. Like Buddy, Bobby was also a brash rockabilly Texan. Bobby even got famous off a song Sonny Curtis wrote, the guitar player in the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s band. “I Fought the Law” is just a fantastic piece of pure rock and roll. As catchy and addictive as rock and roll gets, the song has mutated through different rock genres over the years, most famously by the Clash’s punk rock take on it. I like the Bobby Fuller version the best, and the video below is a monument Bobby’s brilliance and talent.
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.
Lets “Pump it Up” with part 72 of my youtube countdown. That’s right, I got Elvis “Declan MacManus” Costello’s 1978 hit “Pump it Up” from This Year’s Model. Now according to wikipedia, “Pump it Up” is a double entendres song about turning up your music’s volume and masturbation. The two seem to go hand and hand…(see what I did there?) Anyway, this is a rocking new wave classic video making Costello really seem like the second coming of Buddy Holly. I’m just getting into Elvis myself, so this seems like a nice taster before I dive full in on all his best records. Hopefully I’ll discover something a little more obscure from this era and I’ll put it right up. Suggestions always welcome.