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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Chuck Berry, Run, Run, Rudolph

Posted in Chuck Berry, Youtube Favs on December 21st, 2011 by Willie

“All I Want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll Electric Guitar…” I wonder how many Fenders and Gibsons this line sold.  1958’s “Run, Run, Rudolph,” is basically Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” rewritten as a Christmas song, but when you’ve written the 4 greatest possible rock and roll songs or so, what does it matter if you copy yourself?  Actually, Chuck didn’t even write the words for this song.  Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie own that distinction, giving Chuck a beautiful snow covered Christmas wonderland for him to sled around on his guitar.  Anyway, this song is extremely joyful and fun, and the thing is, you only hear it around Christmas making it easy to forget.  So, lets not forget it this Christmas, and soak up all the jolly spirit it has to offer.

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George Harrison, All Those Years Ago

Posted in George Harrison, The Beatles on December 12th, 2011 by Willie

If you’ve read this site enough, you know that I like making declarations, so here is a strong one.  “All Those Years Ago,” is required listening for Beatles fans and one of the best George Harrison songs ever.  It was written by George Harrison as a song for Ringo Starr to sing, but Ringo thought the vocal melody was too high for him.  So, it went to the scrap heap.  Then John Lennon was murdered on the streets of New York City, stunning the world.  I’m sure right away, Beatles fans the world over expected a musical tribute of some sort from Paul, George, and Ringo.  Rumors of a reunion must have been strong, despite the concept being horribly illogical with John’s passing.  On a certain level, the pressure must have been high on these guys to do something, which was of course, cruelly unfair.  If your best friend died, would anyone expect you to make a commercial pop song?  A song that would be judged by music critics?  Well, the guys did respond, they are artists after all.  Paul made “Here, Today,” a touching ballad.  George took his stalled Ringo project, changed the lyrics, and made it a John Lennon tribute.  In many ways, it would be the closet thing people got to a Beatles reunion until the “Anthology” in the mid 9os.  Ringo was on drums, George was singing lead, Paul was on bass and sang backup with his wife Linda.  Famed Beatle producer George Martin contributed to the track’s production along with Geoff Emerick, the famous Beatle studio engineer.  The song is a nostalgic wonder, mixing elements of Chuck Berry guitar riffage, Bob Dylan lyricism, and sweet Beatle vocal backing magic, all classic marks of George’s songwriting.  The lyrics tell the story of George’s love for John, and his agreement with John’s life philosophies.  It also includes attacks on John’s critics, my personal favorite part.  It accomplishes a lot of ideas both musically and lyrically, but leaves you wanting more.  That’s probably the point because the biggest crime in John’s death, outside the destruction of his family, was how this was a man taken too soon.  John was nowhere near finished as an artist and as a leader of peace loving people around the world.  George knew that more then anyone, and created a song that I, and many others, can’t help but replay over and over.  Enjoy.

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Jimi Hendrix, Johnny B. Goode

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, Youtube Favs on November 10th, 2011 by Willie

And here it is, the ultimate rock and roll guitar song played by the ultimate guitar rock god.  We have Jimi Hendrix, taking the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode,” to a place no one thought imaginable.  His guitar sounds like a galloping steed from Hell, riding headlong into a firestorm, conquering everything in its path.  I mean, what are we listening to here really?  It’s kind of like that scene from “Back to the Future,” where Marty McFly takes you through the history of rock and roll with the song.  The one difference being that Jimi just plays the song at the end of the history.  He takes the song to the limit of rock and roll, almost breaking it forever.  It’s remarkably spellbinding and should be studied by musicologists.  So, until then, it’ll just be up to us try our best and take in what’s presented below, enjoy.

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Jimi Hendrix, Hear My Train A Comin'

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, Youtube Favs on November 10th, 2011 by Willie

You’d suspect on a site like mine, there would be no shortage of Jimi Hendrix material to peruse through, but alas, this is the first one I’ve got.  It’s not for lack of love for the man, as in fact, I possess great quantities of the emotion for the guy.  I sit firmly in the camp of considering him the greatest rock and roll guitarist ever, a controversial position I know, (wink) and one that requires a bit of elucidation.  When Chuck Berry laid down his signature riff for Johnny B. Goode, he showed the world how electric guitar was all that was really needed for rock and roll.  No offense to Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard’s patented piano lead attack, but the sound and image of the electric guitar would define the genre of music, truly giving the style its rock more than anything else.  Jimi proved this thesis by taking the electric guitar to its logical end point through his experimental rocking.  It’s not like Jimi was technically the best guitar player ever, he was simply the most innovative, and the most in tune with its possibilities.  His insights transformed him into something the world had never seen before, a sort of improvisational Mozart, creating manic symphonies on the spot, all with just one instrument.  Now, with all that said about Jimi changing the world of music with his electric guitar, I present to you quiet acoustic Jimi on 12 string acoustic…Hah!  Don’t worry, electric monster Jimi is coming tomorrow, but no proper introduction of the man would be complete without a thorough discussion on his pioneering efforts in the field of electricity.  This performance of his original, “Hear My Train A Comin,'” is an awesome stunning and intimate look at the man just playing his guitar in a white room, singing the blues.  It’s among the best moments in music history, and luckily its here for all of us to enjoy, so please do.

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My Top 100 Youtube Favorites, a Retrospective, Part 4

Posted in Youtube Favs on June 30th, 2011 by Willie

Sex sells!  I want to thank this “Drunken Angel” above and Tal Wilkenfeld from yesterday for drawing a few extra clicks to my humble little site.  Before anyone accuses me of perversion or lechery or something, I’d like to defend myself a bit by saying this is one of the better lists of rock and roll you are gonna find on the internet.  So, in that spirit, lets close it out right now with clips 24-1 and put this beautiful list to bed once and for all.

#24.  Bob Marley, One Love/People Get Ready – It’s Bob’s version of “All You Need is Love,” and its basically just as good.  Whatever melody making power the Beatles had, Bob had too.

#23.  Bob Dylan, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll – I wish I had more Dylan on my list, but I couldn’t find too many choice clips of him playing my favorite Dylan songs.  This is an exception, one of the greatest Dylan videos you are gonna find on ole youtube. Read more »

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Chuck Berry, Johnny B. Goode, and Maybellene

Posted in Chuck Berry, Youtube Favs on March 22nd, 2011 by Willie

Part 21 of my youtube countdown continues with a special Two for Tuesday!  A few weeks ago we saw Chuck Berry rip up “Roll Over Beethoven” on a French TV show in 1958.  It was one of the most iconic moments of all time, and guess what, we’re going back to that very same show for more Berry goodness.  The first vid is Johnny B. Goode, performed with a modified intro solo and sung in a higher key.  Its rollicking.  Next is Maybellene, Chuck’s first hit.  In this performance, Chuck is giving you all his amazing dance moves, PLUS his absolutely killer guitar play.  To me it just looks like he turns his guitar into a piece of rubber, bending it to his demonic rock desires.  It’s just something about the mad look in Chuck’s eyes that makes me feel like that Devil is involved somewhere in making this little moment of awesomeness…Well, anyway, enjoy folks!

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Motorhead, Let it Rock!

Posted in Motorhead, Youtube Favs on March 4th, 2011 by Willie

Part 15 of my youtube favorites continues with Motorhead covering Chuck Berry’s Let it Rock on the old David Letterman show.  Now, you’ve probably never heard of Let it Rock.  It’s one of Chuck’s lesser known tunes.  It’s basically Johnny B Goode with different lyrics and no choruses.  But the lyrics are amazing, featuring an incredible intro, “In the heat of the day, down in Mobile, Alabama, working on the railroad with a steel driving hammer…”  AMAZING, and Motorhead knew this.  I love this hard thrashing performance that basically proves the Marty McFly maxim; play any Chuck Berry song hard, and thou shalt rule the universe.  Also great to see Paul Shaffer as a temporary member of Motorhead, just legendary.



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The Rolling Stones, Respectable

Posted in The Rolling Stones, Youtube Favs on February 27th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to part 10 of my youtube favorites countdown where we take a look at the rollicking 1978 single, “Respectable,” by the Rolling Stones.  Its appropriate that we take a look at this awesome song right after diving into Chuck Berry’s world.  This s0ng is basically a master course on what happens when you combine elements of Mr. Berry and classic punk.  I love this video because of its raw simplicity.  Its the Rolling Stones, looking cool, playing their balls off, in a dirty white room which they eventually tear apart.  Its basically what they were born to do and its fabulous.

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Chuck Berry, Roll Over Beethoven

Posted in Chuck Berry, Youtube Favs on February 25th, 2011 by Willie

Part 9 of my youtube favorites countdown rocks on with Chuck Berry’s legendary 1956 ultra-classic, Roll Over Beethoven.  This clip is like none you’ve ever seen of Chuck.  Here he was on a French TV show in 1958 in his utter prime.  He’s young, happy, and capable of bending his guitar into a piece of rubber.  Check him out around the 1:40 mark where he gives probably the greatest duck walk in rock and roll history.  A stone cold iconic moment miraculously captured for all time.  I love this performance.  He just destroys the track, gives us a bunch of guitar solos which basically invent and end the need for just about 75% of rock and roll.  Also, his speech addressing the French audience at the beginning is so funny and borderline revolutionary the way he asks Beethoven, on behalf of the audience, “to forgive us, roll over, and listen to a little of THIS.”  ROCK AND ROLL!

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