Man, 1967 was a busy year for The Beatles. Only a few short months after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came the ill-advised television special Magical Mystery Tour. If you’ve ever seen the film, it’s a poorly contrived mess; a huge departure from the fun of A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. Fortunately, the new songs that accompanied the film were still pretty damn great, and so we can still hold our head high with Magical Mystery Tour the album, even if the second side is filled with previously released singles. Continue reading “The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (1967)”
Retired from touring in 1966 and given the freedom to explore other avenues of creativity, The Beatles regrouped and went into full-on experimental mode, crafting a vaguely conceptual album about a fictitious band with which they could embrace new technologies and make music unfettered (to a point) and untethered (to a point) from the musical zeitgeist their previous work created. Thus was born Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the only album to ever inspire a film starring Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. If that’s not a legacy, I don’t know what is. Continue reading “The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)”
Coming through the other side of Rubber Soul things got progressively more, well…progressive for The Beatles. Moving further into different instrumentation and more complex arrangements, Revolver stands as one of the definitive statements in rock and roll history. Continue reading “The Beatles: Revolver (1966)”
This is where it starts. When I think about The Beatles, I think about Rubber Soul. I think about the sudden jump in production experiments, the way albums stopped being collections of songs and started becoming albums. The jump from your frolicking boys on Help! to the grown, curious men on Rubber Soul is perhaps the biggest creative leap in the band’s discography. The main thing on everyone’s mind is still women, but I don’t know if a better batch of songs have ever been crafted about the subject, at least as it pertains to the pursuit of said subject from a young, curious man’s perspective. Continue reading “The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)”
Is it cool to dump on The Beatles? Is it an age thing, or just a Metal Twitter™ thing? If you were to leave out the context of their music, their place in the evolution of pop and rock both as a sound as well as a cultural zeitgeist…if you were to just sit back and listen to the music how can you not fall into the melodies, the harmonies, the seeming simplicity of the hooks? I have a firm policy of “love what you love” when it comes to music: who am I to judge you when I listen to a number of bands in corpsepaint and fishnets? But if you stand and tell me the exquisite combination of John, Paul, George and Ringo (yes, Ringo) are overrated, quaint, or just plain suck, then sadly a part of me judges you.
You, my friend, need some Help! Continue reading “The Beatles: Help! (1965)”
Can anything else be said about Pet Sounds? Is there someone out there who doesn’t immediately fall into the devastating harmonies and melodies Brian Wilson devised for the Beach Boys to execute on? If there is I can’t convince you, and it’s questionable if I even want to know you. It is timeless, it is endless, and it never fails to lift my spirits and engage my ear and mind on a number of levels. Not bad for an album over 50 years old. Continue reading “The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)”
There are live albums, and then there are live albums. Some of simply documents of a band or artist at a point in time; others are a snapshot of a comet, a fragile glimpse of the celestial heavens that will never come again. Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club. James Brown’s Live at the Apollo. Hell, I’m more than happy to throw in Iron Maiden’s Live After Death…”Scream for me Long Beach!” indeed. When it comes to blues, you can take your pick of classic live documents, but one that has always stood out as a a testament to the form is Live at the Regal, the 1964 recording of the great, the singular, B.B. King. Continue reading “B.B. King: Live at the Regal (1965)”