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.