|Sebastian: Queen And Beatles ... Revisited||24 May 2003 02:53|
> I would not say Queen were definitely better
that's more a matter of opinion. I love complex things, like Fairy Feller's or some Pink Floyd numbers
> I think they were very creative songwriters
in fact they were. A whole lot of bands like Who grew up with that idea, but Beatles were first. I wonder if Doors and Led Zeppelin had any influence from the fab four, I've never find any but I'm not investigated so deeply on that
> this statement is a bit oversimplifying what Beatles were about I think.
probably. But I think that what's great about Beatles' music is that George Martin could covert anything into a great piece.
> The pop-rock music of those years hadn't required virtuosos.
yes that's right.
> With bow instruments I think he didn't went much further as Brian did with harp.
I disagree, Brian's harp was done chord by chord. Beatles didn't have so much technology, I think he at least had to learn to play the full parts.
> They must have forgotten most of their skills on piano by the late sixties when they started to restart practicing as I guess.
I don't think so. Fred used to go to Ealing College to play piano, also he had an upright on a flat he had with Roger. But of course he must have spent about 3 years without playing at all. But anyway he and Brian had a good level even if they had lost some of it.
> Somehow I can't picture Freddie teaching John to play the piano
you're probably right. But John's teacher could be Freddie's recordings
> The piano accompaniment of Martha My Dear is not far below Brian's level.
I lasted a lot less in learning it than in learning something like Forever, for instance. But 'Martha' is a lot more percussive, Brian didn't have so much precision, I doubt he could do it so accurately, as well as I can't picture Paul playing All Dead or Save Me
> I doubt that Freddie would play the bass more than just trying it out.
I think Fred could do more than that. Brian and Roger weren't actual bass players either.
> Ringo also was told sometimes by others what and how to play.
yes, nice drum arrangement by Paul on 'Ticket To Ride', although the song itself is not my favourite
> That was new for me (the drumming of 'FBI'
either that or he forgot to put the credits to bass players and drummers on that one. If we follow the credits Brian would have played all the instruments on On My Way Up
> I think he was a fine drummer and played what the songs needed - like nearly any
> What Roger's drumming on Brighton Rock and Let Me Entertain You is second to
anything Bohnam played in terms of challenge, in my opinion.
I think Roger's finest drumming is on Brian's pieces, like Dead on Time, Fat Bottomed Girls or Dragon Attack, and a couple of Freddie's, like Hitman or Princes
> The ADITL orchestration were based on Lennon's instruction.
as far as I know, Paul said he had told the orchestra what to play. Although I don't completely trust him. He also gives himself the credit of 'In My Life'. In all the multiple hours I've been searching about them, one of the most interesting things I've found is a nice sketch they make about them, on which Paul says to John something about "why don't you put she's not gonna live instead of she's gonna die" and after thirty years he said to the press "John had no idea about what to do with the song and I finished it for him". Nice one, it made me laugh a lot.
About 'A Day In The Life' I think Paul totally messes it up, John's part was wonderful, Paul's part is just...
I think Beatles' uncomparable success was mainly because they really made a huge change. Like 'The Simpsons', they're not a very creative comedy (a lot of their episodes are just parodies of motion pictures or TV series), and if you look at them objectively, they're not really that good in terms of continuity, deep storyline, etc. But they move the world, and anyway I love them, so I don't care. I can mention similar examples about Star Wars, Pele, Michael Jordan, Elvis, etc
|1.||PD||24 May 2003 10:57|
> a huge change.
I remember those contemporary audio clips about Beatles were people talk about Beatles being completely different from any other bands. Before the campaign it was a reason not to give them airplay. After the campign it was a reason to give them airplay. Queen's debut material too was something different from other bands and their management could not turn it into a positive factor. Of course it was also a case of popular-wise less saleable music.
A Day In The Life: the plan of the game was linking two contrasting sections together. It was intentionally "messed up". Alone the Lennon-penned section would not have worked as effectively. Lennon reportedly got the inspiration from the movie "2001 Space Odyssey".
Fat Bottomed Girls: I have never found the drumming here particularly challanging: it get more busy toward the end, but except some nice drum roll and nice punctuation it's something straightaway. Before the "Roger-Freddie-flat era" Freddie could not play the piano on a regular basis, but I may be wrong. In the Hectics days he could not use his "Mozart-esque" style, it probably originated from his piano lessons. This side of his piano skills must have been untrained until the late Ealing days.
|2.||PD||24 May 2003 10:59|
A recurring element in "Beatles vs. Anyone Else" discussions is when Beatles fans point out how many things have been invented and trends have bee started by Beatles. Fans of any band are more or less biased, and often tend to say exaggerations about the achivements of the band. It definitely applies to both Queen and Beatles. But in context of this two bands IMO it applies more to the Beatles. Below I collect a couple of quotes to demonstrate this, and also comment them. I'm doing this not with the intension to attack Beatles, but until one credits to Ringo John Paul George (not to mention Roger, John, Freddie and Brian) things that should not be credited to them, fair comparison cannot be done.
"Beatles were innovative"
"Beatles wrote catchy pop/rock songs on a grand scale"
"They were the most influental band with the biggest cultural impact"
"Beatles were the most succesfull band"
IMO these phrases can be treated as facts.
Some rather debatable quotes:
"No guitarist in the world has ever been able to deliver such variety
of guitar styles as George Harrison did while in the Beatles."
Not Brian May is the only counter-example for this.
"Sgt. Pepper" drastically changed the face of pop and rock music".
People should interpret this carefully. Consider this: the single charts after 1967 were not flooded by singles like "A Day In The Life", "She Is Leaving Home", "Mr Kite" or "Within You Without You". Also early heavy-metal bands seemed to go on a rather different path from what "Sgt Pepper" was a milestone of. The Sgt. Pepper album had the most significant impact on later progressive rock bands including Queen, of course not exclusivel so. 1The late sixties saw other bands that made equally important steps toward progressive rock by pushing boundaries toward the harmonic formal and "sonic" freedom. By the time Queen debuted there were lots of bands (including the Beatles themself) to be influenced by to creat creative music. In terms of formal freedom "Sgt. Pepper" album was not particularly innovative - except "A Day In The Life". "Sgt Pepper" effectively used and popularized afterwards psychadelic sound effects, part of which you could hear on earlier albums ("Revolver", "Pet Sounds"). The use of pseudo-classical arrangements and songwriting also reached a new level with songs like "She Is Leaving Home".
What the above quote refers is the change that people started look at rock music as an art. But it was not a one-album nor a one-band process. Surely "Sgt. Pepper" was an important step, but crediting one single album and one band for this change is a case of horribly underrating other pioneers. This case occurs quite frequently.
"The music was never the same after them".
This quote in this form applies to any band of the sixties... and fifties, and later decades as well, for minimal extent even today's artists. The question is how much Beatles contributed to this change. Surely a lot. But compared to the sum of all other bands Beatles' share was just small slice, even if this slice was bigger than probably any other band's. Due lack of enough research I'm still unsure about it, but I can see signs that the shift toward more creative and more colorful songwriting before and beside the Beatles, and the birth of the progressive rock and heavy metal seems to be a necessary thing to happen even without the Beatles. Beatles definitely kathalyzed the evolution and speeded it up by ca 1-2 years according to my estimation. This is still a huge achivement perse.
Harmony: by the early sixties some new bands (eg. Shadows) started to use unusual chord progression. The modal chords (most notably the bVII chord) and the double-plagal cadence, progressions with chromatic cross-relations started their way up before Beatles started using them. Beatles definitely popularized unusual chord progressions, and maybe also invented a couple of them (most notably the I > II > IV > I ). They also popularized the using of modulation. Harmonic tricks accumulated in Beatles songs more densely than in the songs of nearly any other songwriters around 1963-65. But if you listen to "Pet Sounds" (Beach Boys, 1966) you'll see that other bands also contributed much to put the harmonic and formal freedom to a new level which leter evolved into progressive rock and influenced Queen too.
Lyrics: the start of "matured" lyricism is credited to Dylan. How much was his approach unprecedented I don't know. Within a couple of years Beatles definitely were inluenced with him and they also popularized it. They also were in the front line of the psychadelic lyricism.
Recording techniques, Beatles firsts:
Beatles's fans are keen on listing "firsts" that demonstrate the greatness of Beatles. The Beatles firsts belong to the most discussed ones, while numerous major non-Beatles firsts are not discussed at all.
What my point is that IMO a big part of these achivements cannot be credited to either John George Ringo or Paul partly because they should be credited to the studio crew or other bands who preceded Beatles regarding that particular first in question. Consider this: whose achivement is the first stereo LP? The atrist whose release it was, or the people who developed it? Can we say that the whole music industry then and now was and still is influenced by the actual artist, because people still releasing stereophonic records?
Many people respect Beatles for (among others of course) recording "Strawberry Fields Forever" on a four track machine. But one should consider two things:
1) the "dirty" job was done by the studio crew.
2) If they would record it on an eight track machine it would have been a bigger achivement (also a less painstaking effort). Beatles started using eight track machine in 1968 (on "... Gently Weeps"). 2-3 years before "Pet Sounds" was already partly recorded with eight track machine and Les Paul experimented with a homemade eight track recorder back in the early fifties.
The recording of Bohemian Rhapsody was a no less remarkable achivement, but again, the dirty work of handling nearly 200 tracks with a 24 track machine should be credited to the producer (Mr. Baker in this case).
The developments of the studio electronic and the new-flanged stereo system enabled and also inspired new approaches in recording technique.
Beatles were in the position work in an state-of-the-art. Their records were better mixed than most of their contemporaries even if the assymettric mixes sound dated to today's ears, they sounded fresh in tose days.
Let's see some Beatles firsts:
Sitar (Norwegian Wood):
Yardbirds (featuring Jimmy Page later guitarist in Led Zeppelin) used it first in pop/rock context. Page went to India before George. More people belive and keep posting about it that it was a Beatles first (Norwegian Wood). It was a "Beatles second" that is still a remarkable achivement perse. As the Beatles were more famous their use of sitar was more influental, and George (on later "indian" songs of his) showed a more accomplished sitar play than Page.
What really was influental it was that the Indian culture became "fashionable" in those days, and Harrison (after Lennon's suggestion) and Page were the pioners to follow this fashion by using and indian instrument. They called it experimentation, but beside this it was also something trendy to do, even if it was unprecedented. If they wouldn't have, others probably would. Note Harrison went much further with building elements of Indian music into his songs, even if his songs for some reason don't work as authentic efforts.
Concept album (Sgt Pepper):
Beatles members themselves denied that "Sgt. Pepper" was a concept album. The songs (with some exceptions) are thematically connected, but for just a limited extent. Many of the songs were written when the Sgt Pepper idea popped up. More songs on the album were segued which also enhanced the cohesion along with the use of a reprise of the title motif. These were real influental Beatles first (one of the most important one from them IMO). On the other hand the idea of a reprise song came from Neil Aspinal to Lennon (according to the "Revolution In The Heads" book). The Beatles's achivement was saying OK for the idea and writing the reprise song.
"Sgt. Pepper" as an album is not more cohesive like Queen II, and the latter is rarely considered to be a concept album.
Fade in (Eight Days A week):
Seems to be a real Beatles first, but ... read the "stereo LP" point above. The real novell thing about this intro in terms of music is the use of pedal point, and the I > II > IV > I progression.
Artificial Double Tracking:
Again: it's a studio achivement. This technique went out of use by the end of the sixties or so. Real double tracking and reverb techniques made it superflous soon enough. Lennon called it "flanger", which created another myth "Beatles used flanger first". What they call flanger is something completly different thing (I may be wrong).
Intentional feedback (I Feel Fine):
In fact it's not exactly what they call feedback today (technically it certainly is). It's closer to be called "sustain". Feedback in rock music is done with harmonics (eg. as in Penny Lane). In "I Feel Fine" the harmonics are created by thumb touching the string instead of feedbeack. This thumb lick can't be something original idea as I remember inventing it for myself probably before I learned the F chord. Other bands - including the Who are said to use feedback on stage prior to "I Feel Fine" (I'm not convinced thoroughly about that, but may be true). Still it was definitely something original to put on record for some extent (especially the cross fade effect used on that that again is an achivement of the studio crew or George Martin himself).
John said the backwards effect was his own accidental discovery whereas George Martin said it was his idea. Considering how Martin always had been with rating his role, his version must be the true one. In this case we have to disagee with many people who tend to credit this achivement to Lennon/McCartney demonstrating how revolutionary they were. Lennon's achivement in this case was having liked the trick and say OK to it.
Frank Zappa did similar things around that time, so this is again something we can consider being in the air, and would have been invented without the Beatles. Beatles popularized it the most effectively due the popularity of the band. Once the technique debuted and became popular among listeners it lost its experimental status, and became a trendy thing to do.
Promotional video - again a thing that is not an achivement of any Beatle, but their management and the director of the film. Interestingly Bohemian Rhapsody is also mentioned in this context bcause it was filmed onto (24mm) video tape. In fact the art of promotional music video cannot be credited to any single artist management or film director as it was a step by step story.
First long hair band:
Beatles just followed the fashion with it, but also popularized it. Ask yourself: would the Beatles have grown their hair if no one else does?
First album with lyrics attached (Sgt Pepper):
Reportedly several folk artists did it years before them.
One of the Queen albums (maybe ANATO) is credited to include sleeve photos of their released catalogue. Whose idea it was we don't know, but it's not really related with musical greatness. BTW some Paul McCartney CD-s have this feature.
The Sgt. Pepper album sleeve is also credited to set a trend of artistic album sleeves. Again: the band cannot be credited for designing that sleeve. Moreover similarly artistic album sleeves were done before that including the Revolver sleeve.
Enough of the firsts. The things that I respect in Beatles for the most are not related with studio techniques or cultural impact.
They earned my deepest respect for the music they penned: the huge range of musical devices they used tastefully and effectively in their songs, the incredibly wide influences that they synthesized in their song, and for some extent the heartfelt lyrics as well. Unfortunately too many people, books and forum posts tend to start praising them for their non-musical achivements.
What about Queen? Are the their achivements overrated/overdiscussed?
Compared to the sixties the seventies was much more creative and colorful but seemingly less innovative. By the time Queen debuted the progressive rock genre produced huge amount of creative music material, and creativity was taken granted. The studios changed their devices to 16-24-32 and more tracked ones within a few years, but after a while it became more and more difficult to achive groundbreaking new sounds. In the sixties people said "wow" for any unusual instrument, but who cared in 1975 that Brian used koto (maybe first in rock music?), or Queen did a-capella canon which is probably another Queen first (in context of rock)?
Beatles worked in an era and enviroment where it was easier to be innovative, on the other hand it was much harder to be sophisticated and creative due the lack of properly influental material. The fact that they still managed to write more or less sophisticated music with their influental basis that was full of straightaway songwriters (with some exceptions), is more respectable achivement than their studio firsts. Of course as it was mentioned we should not underate their influental bands and songwriters. I still plan t o discuss the creativity or non-creativity of that era.
I personally have no doubt that in an enviroment as the combination of Abbey Road, the presence of George Martin and the era itself Queen (and probably a few other bands) could have reproduced the innovative achivements that the Beatles did. There is no proof for this perse, but if you get the picture of Freddie's creative mind (just check out his early composition "Green"!), one tends to belive so.
Of course Beatles' music was not just innovative but very melodious diverse and well arranged. IMO this was their most improtant achivement. Melodious and creative music is timeless while innovative music can be appreciated only in context of its era.
Ringo, Paul John and George as solo artists were not really innovative anymore, just creative, or just melodious, occassionally hard rocking, or whatever. Not because their skill to innovate degraded, but because they could not compete with heavy metal bands and progressive rock bands anymore in terms of hardness and creative complexity and virtuosity. They found their own way to remain succesfull, partly benefitting their long-established fame. Even Ringo scored two No1 hits - equal to Queen!
Back to Queen firsts and achivement:
Their debut in South-America was equally succesfull as Beatles's US debut but since South America is a less focused place of the music market, people hardly talk about Queen holding top 10 on the album chart as much as much they talk about Beatles holding top 5 position of the US single chart in 1964. Both case were a story about good music and hype.
Queen firsts don't abound, and those few are not frequently discussed on general forums.
Next time, I will discuss the musical aspects of the comparison at last.
|3.||Sebastian||24 May 2003 13:02|
I don't mean it should be just John's part. I mean Paul's creation is in my opinion really really really poor for what John did.
> I have never found the drumming here particularly challanging:
not really, but I don't mean it's challenging, I mean, I love the drums on that song.
|4.||Sebastian||08 Jun 2003 18:31|
> Surely "Sgt. Pepper" was an important step, but crediting one single album and one band for this change is a case of horribly underrating other pioneers. This case occurs quite frequently.
I give more the status of "turning point" to the entire Rubber Soul - Abbey Road era. But about Sgt Pepper's, it was in fact a really nice piece of work. But how much of it was really from Beatles? The most lovely piece, She's Leaving Home, was arranged by someone else, the counterpoint melody of 'Mr Kite' is done by G. Martin, as well as the arrangement of '64' and the honky part of 'Lovely Rita'. Paul's arrangement of 'With A Little Help' is amazing, it shows how a song can be damn good without getting into multi-layered stuff or adding dozens of chords. But George's Within You and John's Good Morning are loved only because they're Beatlrs songs. Think about it, if any unknown band released those two songs would they be appreciated? even if it was a more or less famous band like Yardbirds I don't think so
Now, I'm going to discuss some Queen "first", found on some websites:
> "Test" De Lane Lea Studios
I don't know who came up with that (I think it's the 'As It Began' book) but De Lane Lea Studios existed some years before Queen recorded there. Even Smile had sessions at Middlesex.
> Choose their own debut single - usually chosen by the record company
I'm not so sure about it. Possibly they did choose 'Keep Yourself Alive', even before they recorded it, but I don't think bands like The Who were just employees of record companies.
> Make a "pop" video
Apart from 'Paperback', 'Rain', 'Penny Lane' and some others, we find David Bowie's video from Space Oddity, which is about '69, but probably the video was a couple of years later. Anyway, I'm sure it was before 1975
> Have FOUR Albums in the UK Top Twenty (Queen. Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, Night At The Opera)
> Have 50 naked girls riding bicycles
I don't see that as a really important fact. Or else we should say "first band to have fucked 20 women at Mott The Hopple parties" or something like that
> Play stadium dates in South America
Earth Wind And Fire had been there before
> Play three nights in a stadium in the same city - Buenos Aires
> Release the first proper collection of promotional videos commercially (Greatest Flix)
> Get into the Guinness Book Of Records as the Highest Paid Executives
I don't have any idea of that
> Release a video of their performance at the Rock In Rio Festival on video (the ONLY band to do so)
> Play Melbourne, Australia with NO lighting rig - it broke down.
> Be thought of by Russell Mulcahy to write the music for Highlander
> Broadcast a "simulcast" between Channel Four and the Independent Radio Network in the UK
> Play a large stadium date in the Eastern Bloc (Budapest)
> Have their entire album catalogue released simultaneously on Compact Disc
IMHO, all of those things, even if they're true, well.. I don't give a damn
> Have a lead singer record an Operatic album
I think that's in fact a good thing, more a Freddie's achievement, mostly because he's the only major rock artist to have actually composed and arranged classical pieces. Brian too created a couple of classical influenced songs. The Liverpool's Oratorio is mostly written by Carl Davis. I think he had a lot more to do with the songs than Mike Moran on 'Barcelona'.
> Have 10 albums in the Argentinean Top Ten (the ONLY band to do so!)
that's in fact something people tend to forget a lot only because Argentina is not a first world country as the States
> Create a head with five eyes (The Miracle cover!)
who created that was the designer of the cover. Yes it was after ideas by the band but if so we had to credit Paul Simon as creator of 'Let It Be' only because Macca was influenced a little by 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'
> Record God Save The Queen
> Cause the biggest traffic jam in British history in Knebworth, Hertfordshire as people tried to get to their 1986 show
people tend to exageratte things. Maracan Stadium in Rio had only been full three times: last match of 1950 world cup, and the visits of Frank Sinatra and the Pope. The stadium can "only" hold 225.000 people. After that the biggest audience they've had is on a football match between Brazil and Paraguay on 1986, and it was about 190.000. Paul's audience in 1990 consisted of about 140.000 people, but if you enter to a Paul site they said it was 300.000!!
I remember a small revolution that was in Colombia, they took a three-block scenario. Press used to say that 200.000 people were there. Now, think about it, on 300 meters square how many people can be? if they were 1.200 people (4 per m2) they would lose their breathing and a lot of them would have respiratory problems.
> Release a "true" greatest hits album, ALL hits, no 'fillers'
on 'Eagles' GH they're all hits. And that was the first platinum disc ever
> Have a single in the Argentinean charts for over a year (Love Of My Life)
don't know if that's really a first, but if we want to talk about it, on Colombia November Rain was #1 for more than a year.
|5.||PD||09 Jun 2003 22:10|
No filler GH - underrates other artists.
Pop-video - without telling the whole story it's just another overrating point.
Five-eyed point - while it must be true, it's also laughable to include.
Nude girls on bicycle: detto
Stadium - audience. This has always been a favourite thing to exagerrate for nearly any band, especially the non-paying audience, like the Hyde Park concerts, including Queen's.
As for the Murumbi stadium: it was a paying audience, which results in a tad more reliable estimation. As the Macca concert shows one can't rely on that either. I dislike much these exagerrations: it's just a way of falsifying rock history.
4 people per m2 is a fair estimation for a crowd IMO. The extremes (first line) start at 6-8 visitor/m2.
First to chose debut single: highly doubtable, hardly proveable.
|6.||Sebastian||28 Jun 2003 23:23|
I think we should consider more common points.
The "All You Need Is Love Cliche", as I call it (G, D/F#, Em) is at the beginning of 'Save Me' and 'Friends Will Be Friends' verses. 'One Year Of Love' uses the same chord progression but without the descending bass.
I'm thinking about Roger/Beatles connections, but I don't find any, apart from his version of 'Hero', which is more a Roger/Lennon thing
|7.||PD||29 Jun 2003 07:48|
The "All You Need Is Love" cliche appears in the Miracle coda as well. And probably in many songs before the actual AYNIL song.
Roger: one has to concentrate more on Lennon, than Beatles. I cannot say anything specific at the moment.
|8.||Sebastian||29 Jun 2003 14:03|
|9.||PD||30 Jun 2003 17:48|
|10.||Sebastian||02 Aug 2004 20:34|
PAUL 1984: "That was mainly John's, I think. I remember being very conscious of the words 'I'd love to turn you on' and thinking, Well, that's about as risque as we dare get at this point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall' or something. But I mean that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughty in any of that. 'I'd love to turn you on' was the rudest line in the whole thing. But that was one of John's very good ones. I wrote... that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based on some of the ideas I'd been getting from Stockhausen and people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on their highest note and go in their own time... which orchestras are frightened to do. That's not the tradition. But we got 'em to do it."
PAUL 1988: "Then I went around to all the trumpet players and said, 'Look all you've got to do is start at the beginning of the 24 bars and go through all the notes on your instrument from the lowest to the highest-- and the highest has to happen on that 24th bar, that's all. So you can blow 'em all in that first thing and then rest, then play the top one there if you want, or you can steady them out.' And it was interesting because I saw the orchestra's characters. The strings were like sheep-- they all looked at each other: 'Are you going up? I am!' and they'd all go up together, the leader would take them all up. The trumpeters were much wilder."
|11.||Sebastian||15 Nov 2007 17:06|
Hey Denes, I think your text on Beatles firsts and stuff is one of the best you've ever made. If you're not using it as part of your book, can I put it in my website?
|12.||PD||16 Nov 2007 05:44|
I'm too relatively satisfied with my Beatles writings. Feel free to use/refer/quote it in both direct or rephrased form.
|13.||PD||13 Jun 2008 14:59|
A recent discussion on Queen vs Beatles harmonies.
There are some interesting posts among them, but generally I think none of the posters have an insight of the compositional
of the vocal harmonies. For example no one mentions the the crossing lines, the tight harmonies, the contrapuntal harmonies (for both band).
|14.||Sebastian||13 Jun 2008 19:08|
Thanks. I've just posted there ;)