Nothin' from Nothin'
June 6, 2006 11:40 AM   Subscribe

The "Fifth Beatle" has died... Well, no, not this "Fifth Beatle", or this one (they've both been dead a long time). Certainly not this one. In fact, on some lists, he was The Seventh Beatle. BTW, another "Fifth Beatle" is doing some strange things with the Fab 4's music...
posted by wendell (74 comments total)

 
He was so beautiful...to me.
posted by punkfloyd at 11:45 AM on June 6, 2006


RIP. I grew up loving (and being completely mystified by) "Will It Go Round in Circles."
posted by blucevalo at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2006


That George Martin thing sounds bonkers. D'you think his son heard the Grey Album and thought, 'Hang on a sec...'
posted by jack_mo at 11:56 AM on June 6, 2006


Apu Nahasapeemapetilon died?
Seriously...

.
posted by NoMich at 11:56 AM on June 6, 2006


.
posted by ob at 11:59 AM on June 6, 2006


Very sad - Preston was quite young.

I met him once, when I was about 20: I was sitting at a table with Rick Danko (no, really) on the tour bus of a latter-day reincarnation of The Band (Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Billy Preston, one other dude), and Preston brushed past me to get a Coca-Cola from the fridge. We exchanged pleasantries.

His Afro was majestic.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2006


Clarence will always be the Fifth Beatle. Suck it, haters.
posted by NationalKato at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2006


Of course, I'll always remember Mr. Preston's wonderfully joyous turn as Sergeant Pepper in this extremely strange film.

.
posted by NationalKato at 12:17 PM on June 6, 2006


Always loved the man's keyboards, w/or w/out the Beatles. I'm glad he "went home good" according to the article. Thanks for the music, Billy.
posted by ktoad at 12:23 PM on June 6, 2006


Huh. I never knew there were so many Fifth Beatles!

(and R.I.P. Billy Preston.)
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on June 6, 2006


I always loved that Pete Best put out an album called "Best of the Beatles"
posted by vacapinta at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2006


Huh. I never knew there were so many Fifth Beatles!

There are almost as many Fifth Beatles as there are Al Qaeda second-in-commands. Preston will be missed.

And frankly, I can't wait to hear George Martin's mash-up. The description sounds fantastic.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2006


Man, I was working on my B3 chops when Jimmy Smith died. All this week I was trying to get some Clavinet game for some upcoming work (woodshedding Outa Space) and Billy up and goes.

I'm afraid to learn anything new.
posted by sourwookie at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2006


Sad to hear of Preston, but very happy to hear of this monster mash-up from George Martin. So it all kind of balances out. Except, um, for Billy Preston, I guess.
posted by soyjoy at 12:45 PM on June 6, 2006


Sad news about Billy Preston. He was apparently a good guy but not a Beatle; he just hung out with the Beatles. Stu Sutcliffe was not a Beatle either; he was more a Silver Beatle. Nor was Brian Epstein, merely a manager. I think George Martin has the best claim; he actually helped shape the music, which is what being a Beatle is all about. (Fascinating link to that Vegas article, Wendell; us old-timers can't wait to hear that stuff.)

As far as I remember (from the mists of the paleolithic age, 1964), the first guy who actually called himself the Fifth Beatle was Murray the K. (And he, of course — being merely a disc jockey — was not it, either.)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2006


RIP, Billy. And wendell, I frankly don't think it's very respectful of the man to make an obit post without mentioning his name; I think "fifth Beatle" is about the five thousandth thing you'd come to on the list of Interesting Things to Say About Billy Preston. Plus it makes it hard to search for the post. Try harder next time.
posted by languagehat at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2006


Try harder next time.

???
posted by scody at 1:06 PM on June 6, 2006


I have no evidence of the following anecdote being true, but I choose to believe that it is:

Supposedly one of the many times when John Lennon was asked about George Martin being the Fifth Beatle he replied, "He was the third Beatle!"
posted by nflorin at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2006


nflorin -- I'd never heard that anecdote about George Martin -- but I was about to say the same thing! The Beatles were actually Paul, John and George Martin. The other guys were outstanding backup to this great creative team. Billy Preston was an okay guy, but that Fender Rhodes piano sound on "Get Back" still makes me cringe.
posted by Faze at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2006


His gospel version of My Sweet Lord at the Concert for George brought tears to my eyes. His was an underrated talent.
posted by Jatayu das at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2006


Try harder next time.

???


Not mentioning his name bothered me as well. As he just died, he should be mentioned by name this time most of all. That's how it should have been done. It's an obituary post. Simply inserting Billy Preston, before The "Fifth Beatle" has died... would have been far more reader friendly and respectful.
posted by y2karl at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2006


"but that Fender Rhodes piano sound on "Get Back" still makes me cringe."






You fail at listening to music.
posted by stenseng at 1:28 PM on June 6, 2006


The Beatles were actually Paul, John and George Martin. The other guys were outstanding backup to this great creative team.

I'm sorry, but this is just completely false. George may not have come into his own as a songwriter till a little later in the Beatles' years, and Ringo may certainly not have had the obvious creative genius or ambition of John or Paul, but the Beatles most certainly would not have been basically the same band had they had a different guitarist and different drummer.

George was practically a guitar prodigy -- to this day, Paul is fond of telling the story how George, at something like 13, impressed him and John mightily with his note-perfect rendition of "Raunchy" -- something neither of them had the chops to do. (There's a reason why Paul eventually wound up being the bassist while George stayed lead guitarist.) His skills were crucial in developing their overall sound during the Hamburg stints (and why his being deported for being underage was a problem for the rest of the band), on the road, and from their first days in the studio. And where do you think the sitar on Rubber Soul and Revolver came from? (Hint: not John or Paul.) Honestly, go listen to the guitar solo on "Something" and try to claim that George was backup.

As for Ringo, he was widely considered the best drummer in Liverpool -- every band in town would have killed to have Ringo at the backbeat, precisely because he was so unusually good. John and Paul wooed him away from Rory Storm because they knew they couldn't move forward ("to the toppermost of the poppermost, Johnny!" as they were fond of joking) with just any drummer. His drumming is deceptively simple sounding and un-flashy, but in truth he has an extrarodinarily distinctive and influential style. As jazz drummer Steve Smith says in the wikipedia article: 'Ringo's popularity brought forth a new paradigm in how the public saw drummers. We started to see the drummer as an equal participant in the compositional aspect. One of Ringo's great qualities was that he composed unique, stylistic drum parts for The Beatles songs. His parts are so signature to the songs that you can listen to a Ringo drum part without the rest of the music, and still identify the song.'

But again, don't take my word for it: you can hear it for yourself. It is impossible to listen to some the old Hamburg recordings with Pete Best, then listen to the Beatles doing the exact same songs a scant few months later with Ringo and believe that "any" drummer would've have gotten the job done.

Nope, the Beatles were four equal parts. Four. And John and Paul, no matter how bad their egos got in the end, would have been the first to insist on that point.
posted by scody at 1:41 PM on June 6, 2006 [3 favorites]


"Honestly, go listen to the guitar solo on "Something" and try to claim that George was backup"

OK, this is creepy, but just as I read that, "Something" began to play on my random playlist.

*shudder*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:47 PM on June 6, 2006


none of which should be taken to imply any denigration of George Martin's extraordinary role in the studio, of course -- if anyone should truly get the Fifth Beatle designation, it certainly should be Martin.
posted by scody at 1:47 PM on June 6, 2006


Nice post, Wendell. I don't see why you have to mention his name right off the bat, just cause it's an obit post. It's in the tags. And this isn't the back page of a newspaper.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2006


.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2006


I suggest everyone listen to Let It Be....Naked. With all the Phil Spector fluff culled from the top you can hear a lot more of Billy and his soul influence.

I really dig hearing his R&B licks on The Long And Winding Road once the shlocky orchestra was removed.
posted by sourwookie at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2006


Well said, scody.
posted by NationalKato at 1:51 PM on June 6, 2006


.

(I very much like George Martin's late 90s album, In my Life. If, for no other reason than to play I Am the Walrus and have people guess who's singing. No one ever gets it right.)
posted by bz at 1:53 PM on June 6, 2006


If anybody deserves the '5th' moniker, it's George Martin. He plays on, like, half their tunage.Funny, when he first heard the fabs he said they were crap. Very profitable crap, as it devolved.
posted by Twang at 2:00 PM on June 6, 2006


.
posted by nickyskye at 2:15 PM on June 6, 2006


Respectfully, languagehat and y2karl, bite me.

I took special effort to try to demonstrate here that even an "obit post" doesn't have to be a single-link post. I had already heard about George Martin's project a couple days ago and was fascinated how both Martin's promotion and Preston's passing used that "Fifth Beatle" hook, so I hurriedly researched the other links to try to avoid being scooped by a one-link obit. Maybe with another hour to self-edit it would've come out differently. But if it seemed inappropriate that a post about someone's death should be a kind of "teaser", I remain unapologetic.

Otherwise:

Great comment, scody.

Lelilo, I came thisclose to including Murray the K on the front page but thought that stretching the "Fifth Beatle" meme that far would have gone too far. We all draw the line at different places.

And Billy, in Peace.
posted by wendell at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2006


scody - I am similarly impatient with people who doubt the musical contributions of George Harrison and Ringo Starr, but I don't share your views about his guitar playing (disclaimer: I'm a professional guitarist here in the C of NY). That solo on Ticket to Ride? Taxman? Back in the USSR? Those are all fine examples of the lead guitar playing of Paul McCartney. (And those are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head - see Lewisohn for more details.) I just finished reading Geoff Emerick's book - yet another candidate for fifth Beatle - and he is almost embarassingly dismissive of George's guitar talents, particularly during the recording of Baby's In Black and I'll Follow the Sun. The fact that Paul always played bass live has no bearing whatsoever on what happened in the studio.

Me, I think George is an extremely understated player, but by NO MEANS a prodigy. Remember, his rendition of Raunchy impressed a couple of extremely young and naive sets of ears, even if they did belong to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Raunchy just isn't that difficult to play. I could play it when I was 10.

By far my favorite Beatles guitar moment is "The End", from Abbey Road, when you get to hear all three go at it. They are all three terrific guitar players.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2006


nflorin, the story I heard went like this: its origins come from the White Album sessions, during which Ringo quit the band for about 10 days. During that time, the remaining Beatles recorded Back in the USSR and Dear Prudence, with Paul McCartney on drums (quite effectively, if you ask me. The drumming on Dear Prudence in particular is amazing).

Sometime in the early '70's, when John Lennon was very bitter about the band, he was asked if he thought that Ringo was the best rock drummer in the world. His response - "He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!"

To my ears, he never, EVER played what you'd expect, to his infinite credit.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 3:06 PM on June 6, 2006


Nothin' from nothin' leaves nothin'...
posted by fixedgear at 3:07 PM on June 6, 2006


.
posted by wheelieman at 3:26 PM on June 6, 2006


I took special effort to try to demonstrate here that even an "obit post" doesn't have to be a single-link post.

And in that respect it was an interesting and edifying post. But it seemed a tad too much about you and your cleverness and a tad too little about your subject. His was a name not even writ in water as far as you were concerned. Cute and clever and oblique are all very nice but sometimes people would like to know who died without having to click on the links or thread. Life is short, especially for those of us still on dial up. That was all I was saying.
posted by y2karl at 3:50 PM on June 6, 2006


I'm no musicologist, so I cannot speak definitively about George & Ringo's musical abilities. One thing is for sure, however - had the Beatles a more flashy drummer or lead guitar player, they would have been a far different band, and most likely would not have made the music that we now think of as being one of the crowning achievements of western civilization. (well, I think of their music that way, anyhow)

Imagine the Beatles with Dave Gilmour and Ginger Baker instead of George and Ringo. Doesn't work, does it? George and Ringo had (comparatively) small egos, and I would argue that is exactly what their positions called for.

Billy will be missed. By the looks of things, he was basically everywhere at once during the '70s. Rock and Roll wouldn't have been the same without him.

Rest in peace, 'fro 'bro.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:04 PM on June 6, 2006


He let the bad guy win one too many times, I guess. "Will It Go Round In Circles" is such a fun song to play, and one of the few I've been allowed to sing lead on.
posted by emelenjr at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2006


But it seemed a tad too much about you and your cleverness and a tad too little about your subject.

Consider that retracted and my apologies extended for saying something so stupid. I hate it when people say stuff like that and here I went and did it myself. It's always worthwhile to have ambitions to make a better post that the average bear. It was a good post.

But I wouldn't have made a comment, though, had I not figured it out by listening to NPR. Otherwise I would never have clicked on the link or the thread. Which prompted my comment--I just thought it would have been nice to know who you meant without having to click on the link or thread. More informed choices are offered for the reader that way. That was my original thought. Sorry for the derail.
posted by y2karl at 4:54 PM on June 6, 2006


What y2karl said.
posted by languagehat at 5:03 PM on June 6, 2006


Lelilo, I came thisclose to including Murray the K on the front page

But surely the *real* fifth Beatle was Yoko? ;)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:18 PM on June 6, 2006


RIP Billy Preston. Here's a well deserved, and deeply felt, dot.

.


Oh, and Fingers of Fire - "The End" from Abbey Road just rocks - but don't forget Ringo's constant backbeat in there.
posted by Sk4n at 5:38 PM on June 6, 2006


"and most likely would not have made the music that we now think of as being one of the crowning achievements of western civilization. (well, I think of their music that way, anyhow)"

Jesus Christ, most over-rated band EVER. Crowning achievments of Western Civ? Which one? Rocky Raccoon? Maxwell's Silver Hammer?
And if you're going to have to justify it by reaching for the cultural impact of Beatlemania you've already lost. The Beatles, heard with honest ears from our present date, rank maybe in the top 50 of bands from the '60s, and are only given "massive innovator" status by people who are easily impressed or don't know any better.
Sorry to hear that Preston died, but the George Martin bullshit sounds like another indulgent attempt to make yuppies feel relevent again.
posted by klangklangston at 6:16 PM on June 6, 2006


Wow! Apologies accepted and offered in return for my snippy reply. (I could make an excuse and claim that I was wearing my Mayor MacCheese costume when I said "bite me")

Teaser-y posts are a legitimate bone of contention here. There have been knock-down drag-out fights in MeTa on the issue (and I really don't want to start another... I've gone a long time without getting a 'call out')

I think we should all forget our differences and combine forces to beat up on PeterMcDermott for his Yoko comment.
posted by wendell at 6:18 PM on June 6, 2006


The "apologies accepted" were directed to languagehat and y2karl. All future "bite me"s are directed to klangklangston for his rhetorical turd. He probably can't even name 50 bands from the '60s without getting into the likes of Freddy and the Dreamers and the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Just another indulgent attempt to feel superior to "yuppies".
posted by wendell at 6:27 PM on June 6, 2006


:(

.
posted by nonmerci at 7:47 PM on June 6, 2006


13th Floor Elevators
Hasil Adkins
Ed Askew
Albert Ayler Trio
Albert Ayler Quintet
Allman Brothers Band
Amon Duul
Art Ensemble of Chicago
David Axelrod
Bang
Blue Cheer
Peter Brötzmann Octet
James Brown
The Byrds
Can
Captain Beefheart
Johnny Cash
Ornette Coleman Quartet
Ornette Coleman Double Quartet
Ornette Coleman Trio
Alice Coltrane's band for the monastic trio
John Coltrane Quintet
John Coltrane Africa Brass Band
John Coltrane Ascension Band
Gal Costa
Pharoah Sanders Karma band
McCoy Tyner Real McCoy band
Thelonius Monk Quartet
Thelonius Monk Straight, No Chaser quartet
Thelonius Monk nonet
Cream
Sam Cooke
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Eric Dolphy's first quartet
Eric Dolphy's Iron Man band
Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch quartet
Eric Dolphy Quintet
Aretha Franklin
Isaac Hayes
Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Kinks
Howlin' Wolf
Led Zepplin
White Noise
The Monks
MC5
Charles Mingus Quartet
Charles Mingus Oh, Yeah band
Charles Mingus Big Band
Charles Mingus Black Saint band
Tom Ze
Gilberto Gil
Os Mutantes
Miles Davis Quintet
Elvis Presley
Rolling Stones
Red Krayola
Terry Riley
Temptations
Supremes
The Seeds
Archie Shepp's Juju band
Small Faces
Soft Machine
Silver Apples
Gong
The Stooges
The Sonics
The Kingsmen
Sly and the Family Stone
Son House
The Who
The Godz
Wildman Fischer
Mothers of Invention (whose Freak Out is a million times better than Sgt. Peppers, as measured by science)
Velvet Underground

How am I doin'? Do I need to start looking up Sonny Sharrock and Cecil Taylor personel to divide their bands too? Count 'em for me and lemme know.
posted by klangklangston at 7:47 PM on June 6, 2006


Klang - I think that you need to chill out, smoke a bowl, and listen to the White Album. Seriously. If I didn't already know you to have an extensive musical background, I would probably write you off as a troll. As it is, I'll just assume that you're having a bad day.

And even though I was initially (kinda) joking about The Beatles being one of the crowning achievements of western civ, you have actually made me ask myself the question - would I really put the work of John, Paul, George, and Ringo up there with JS Bach, The Republic, and Much Ado About Nothing?

Maybe I would. Maybe I would. They've brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people, and will most likely continue to do so for decades (and possibly centuries) to come. I know that in my lifetime, I've only seen enthusiasm for their music grow.

I can't believe we're arguing in an obit thread. Should we MeTa?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:16 PM on June 6, 2006


Man, that's too bad.
I got the Concert for Bangladesh DVD this past Christmas and it's amazing. The highlight of the whole film is when Billy Preston plays "That's the Way God Planned It" and towards the end of the song, as it gets really energetic, he just gets overcome and leaves the organ to do this crazy funky chicken dance back and forth across the stage. You can see Harrison and everyone just smiling and it's such a pure fun moment, just a really true moment. I think about that moment a lot and just last week I got the soundtrack and have been listening to it quite a bit, so he's been in my thoughts.
I'm quite sad he's gone.
posted by chococat at 8:22 PM on June 6, 2006


.

Great post wendell, thanks for the laugh klangklangston, and Dr. Wu, I am killingly jealous of you right now.


Everyone in their heart of hearts knows that Lennon was the weakest link in The Beatles.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 PM on June 6, 2006



The Vegas thing is creepy and geeky like so many Beatle obsessives are these days (go check out one of the newsgroups to see)
But Oh well, Vegas is where you can leave cool at the door and have fun. Old people want to have fun and be comfortable and entertained, and thru being cool, lots of them . From my observations. SOmeday ... mee too .

bless Billy P.
Nice smile and all around vibe from way out here.
crank up the piano solo on Get Back / Let It Be
posted by celerystick at 9:11 PM on June 6, 2006


oh .. Jimmy Nichol, the "4 1/2" Beatle
Jimmy Nichol
posted by celerystick at 9:17 PM on June 6, 2006


But klang, I thought Elvis Presley wasn't considered a "band" until after he'd gained all that weight in the '70s... But okay, we can include solo acts, and every combo that featured the top jazz greats of the time and acts with 20+ year careers whose best years were before or after the 60s (compared to the Fab 4 who squeezed it all into a little over half the decade). On that criteria, I'm disappointed you didn't put Billy Preston on that list.

But The Kingsmen?!? The Louie Freakin' Louie Kingsmen?
posted by wendell at 9:30 PM on June 6, 2006


um, i think it's only fair to mention that billy preston also played with the rolling stones from time to time

it's also only fair to point out, klangklangston, that all the hipster revisionism in the world isn't going to change the beatles' place in popular music as the 2nd best rock band of the 60s, no matter how many bands you list ... or how much you say freak out is a better album than sgt pepper ... (it's not)

by the way, how'd you manage to leave the doors, the beach boys, jefferson airplane and the grateful dead off of that list?

some of billy's singles were real great ... 'outa space' and 'will it go round in circles'

But The Kingsmen?!? The Louie Freakin' Louie Kingsmen?

for that one song, they deserve it ... but ONLY for that one song
posted by pyramid termite at 9:42 PM on June 6, 2006


And what about the Bonzo Dog Band? They were better than the Beatles any day. If by better you mean "funnier."
posted by soyjoy at 9:46 PM on June 6, 2006


ps, k ... amon duul ii were much more interesting than amon duul
posted by pyramid termite at 9:51 PM on June 6, 2006


The Beatles are the greatest rock band in history, and the most important musical act of the 20th century.


Talk about the Stones, or the Velvets, or whomever all you like.


They ain't the fuckin' Beatles.


Also, the Stones are the *fourth* greatest rock band ever.


TOP FIVE:

1. Beatles
2. Led Zeppelin
3. The Who
4. The Rolling Stones
5. (tie between the Kinks and AC/DC)
posted by stenseng at 11:19 PM on June 6, 2006


I suspect that the anti-Beatlesing is down to their hideous ubiquity - I know I've heard all of their songs too many fucking times, thanks very much. (Admittedly, I grew up on Merseyside, YMMV).
posted by jack_mo at 3:06 AM on June 7, 2006


this thread is sorely in need of some jonmc
posted by Afroblanco at 7:17 AM on June 7, 2006


You guys should know better than to praise The Beatles around klangklangston.

I know I've heard all of their songs too many fucking times, thanks very much.


All of them, really? The Beatles just had so many great songs compared to the set of Beatles songs that gets played a lot, I feel like sometimes people forget about the other stuff and develop an inaccurate conception of the band's oeuvre.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:22 AM on June 7, 2006


P.S. Geir Hongro
posted by ludwig_van at 7:22 AM on June 7, 2006


"by the way, how'd you manage to leave the doors, the beach boys, jefferson airplane and the grateful dead off of that list?"

I think they're all kinda mediocre. I thought about the Grateful Dead and The Beach Boys, but Pet Sounds is about the second most over-rated album in the history of pop music, and I don't actually listen to the Grateful Dead all that often. I also didn't put down Pink Floyd, though I thought about it, or the Upsetters or the Skatallites. And I forgot a lot of black artists, both Motown and rock and roll that deserve to be rated well during the '60s.

"And what about the Bonzo Dog Band? They were better than the Beatles any day. If by better you mean "funnier.""

I'd take them in a second over the Beatles.

"But okay, we can include solo acts, and every combo that featured the top jazz greats of the time and acts with 20+ year careers whose best years were before or after the 60s (compared to the Fab 4 who squeezed it all into a little over half the decade). On that criteria, I'm disappointed you didn't put Billy Preston on that list."

For Elvis, if you'd prefer for me to say the Sun Studios band with folks like Cowboy Jack Clement, that's fair. For the combos, those were different bands. The sound of John Coltrane with the Africa Brass large ensemble is really different than with his first quartet, or Miles Davis really did have a different feeling with Elvin Jones than with Tony Williams. And if you're going for packing more greatness into the '60s than the Beatles, both Dolphy and Coltrane count without blinking. And aside from Amon Duul (where II really is better) or arguably Can, I don't think many of those artists did their best work after the '60s.

Sure, it's all revisionism. But I didn't grow up then, and really couldn't care less about growing up then. Beatlemania means nothing but empty nostolgia to me. Like I said, as soon as you have to resort to justifying them outside of their music, you've already lost me. And to my ears, the Beatles put out an inordinate amount of crap that they were lauded for simply because they were the biggest band doing it (much like Radiohead). I can respect them for some of their experimentalism, but not for the results. There are enough good songs on the White Album to make a single pretty good LP, or a great EP. But not a double album.

"I suspect that the anti-Beatlesing is down to their hideous ubiquity"

And the effusive fulsome praise that they recieve from all corners. They're just not that good, especially not as a rock band.

"
1. Beatles
2. Led Zeppelin
3. The Who
4. The Rolling Stones
5. (tie between the Kinks and AC/DC)"

Off the cuff, and since we're obviously not limited to the '60s,

1) The Stooges
2) Led Zep
3) The Rolling Stones
4) The Kinks
5) The Who (if it were just about who had the best songs ever, they'd be higher, but they put out an inordinate amout of crap too.)
6) Yardbirds
7) David Bowie
8) Wire
9) The Clash
10) Chuck Berry
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 AM on June 7, 2006


I think they're all kinda mediocre. I thought about the Grateful Dead and The Beach Boys, but Pet Sounds is about the second most over-rated album in the history of pop music

Yeah, so it's not just The Beatles you have bad judgement about.

Like I said, as soon as you have to resort to justifying them outside of their music, you've already lost me.

Good thing one doesn't have to do that at all to explain the greatness of The Beatles. Just because someone mentions their cultural impact as a part of their argument doesn't suddenly mean that the music doesn't stand on its own.

They're just not that good, especially not as a rock band.

They weren't "a rock band." But I really don't know what kind of criteria you're working from or how you conceive of the terms you use. What would make them a "good rock band?" Being more like Led Zeppelin? It's fairly boggling that you bitch about how over-rated The Beatles are and then put Led Zeppelin at number 2 on your list.

There are enough good songs on the White Album to make a single pretty good LP, or a great EP. But not a double album.


Well, at least you got something right.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2006


I love The Clash. Love 'em to bits.
But to rate them higher than The Beatles? Madness!
The Clash made a damn good first record, an amazingly great double record, and I suppose you could cobble together a decent double from GEER, Sandanista! (aka 'How can we get out of this contract?') and Combat Rock.

And the only filler on the White Album is Revolution 9, and Ringo's lullaby thing. Regardless, it's still The Beatles' best record, and one of the top 5 rock albums EVAR!!11+2=13!!1
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:32 AM on June 7, 2006


"What would make them a "good rock band?""

Being more like The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds or Small Faces. Who were more rock bands than pop bands. I think of The Beatles as more of a pop band than a rock band, and was answering a claim above that they were The Greatest Rock Band Ever, for which they'd have to rock, you know, past say '66ish (Helter Skelter excluded). I'd rate them much higher as a pop band than as a rock band.

"Yeah, so it's not just The Beatles you have bad judgement about."

Please. Pet Sounds is overwraught bullshit. It's another album with a couple of undeniably great tracks, then a handful of pastoral crap, and an elaborate backstory that justifies its wankery. And I'm not going to laud Smiley Smile just because everyone who heard it on acid really got a kick out of it.

"Just because someone mentions their cultural impact as a part of their argument doesn't suddenly mean that the music doesn't stand on its own."

No, it doesn't. On the other hand, the vaudville crap and twee mincing that is left is hard to justify without it. Rocky Raccoon is just a stupid song, sorry.

But the problem I have with the Beatles is the same one that I have with the Who— Some of the best songs ever, surrounded by an unacknowledged bunch of crap (especially The Who Sell Out and Tommy). That, combined with the propensity of the fans to buy every iteration of wankery because of the deified touch of the Fab Four that leads to bullshit like the Martin Mashups. The cultural Beatle-philia is a symptom of the white dwarf egoism of baby boomers and the needless mythologizing of their adolescence.
posted by klangklangston at 9:25 AM on June 7, 2006


"But to rate them higher than The Beatles? Madness! "

No, I'd rate Madness below The Specials and The Beat.
And you feel about exactly about the Clash as I feel about The Beatles.
posted by klangklangston at 9:27 AM on June 7, 2006


Being more like The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds or Small Faces. Who were more rock bands than pop bands. I think of The Beatles as more of a pop band than a rock band

Well, then I'm with you all the way. The Beatles were a pop band. But I know that people use those terms pretty loosely.

Please. Pet Sounds is overwraught bullshit.

On the other hand, the vaudville crap and twee mincing that is left is hard to justify without it.


klang, respectfully, what I see as your problem in these discussions is your apparently inability or unwillingness to separate your own aesthetic proclivities from objective statements about what's crap or wrong or worthless. And forgive me if I'm putting words in your mouth, but you seem to be the sort of person who would criticize someone for acting as though their personal sensibilities were somehow universal (i.e. Geir). Also, your lack (AFAIK) of a traditional musical background seems to hinder your ability to make concrete musical arguments.

It's obvious that you're not into a big part of the Beatles/Beach Boys aesthetic, but that doesn't support the type of dismissals you make. I'm not all that into jazz, but I don't come up with a list of reasons why Miles Davis and John Coltrane weren't really that good, and people only listen to them because of XYZ.

Pet Sounds is an amazing record. I think many aspects of its excellence can be rather inaccessible, though. It certainly took a long time for my appreciation of it to grow into love.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:35 AM on June 7, 2006


Apparent, rather.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:36 AM on June 7, 2006


I'd rate them much higher as a pop band than as a rock band.

that's a respectable argument ... although the irony of you condemning the beatles for "vaudeville" while rating the kinks #4 didn't escape me

but i think you misunderstand the beatles phenomenon these days ... their cd "one" sold millions of copies in 2000 ... and that wasn't nostalgia at work ... all the old beatles fans had those songs for years ... it was people who weren't even born when the beatles had broken up that bought that cd
posted by pyramid termite at 11:13 AM on June 7, 2006


And the only filler on the White Album is Revolution 9, and Ringo's lullaby thing

Getting to the end of The White Album and finding Revolution 9 and Goodnight is like getting to the end of an acid trip and realizing that you have to go to sleep at some point because tomorrow's Sunday and you have stuff to do.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:29 AM on June 7, 2006


Do you want me to turn this car around? Play nice or... is there some kind of Godwin Law I can invoke here? Do I need to be the first? Alright then:

Yoko Ono... naked.
posted by hal9k at 2:14 PM on June 7, 2006


.
posted by Duncan at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2006


« Older It's a bird, it's a plane!...  |  A Review of Eyes Wide Shut (In... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments