Monthly Archives: October 2010

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll

Book Review: How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘n’ Roll

An Alternative History of American Popular Music

Book review for How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll

HTBDR&R is an exhaustively researched history of popular music, analyzed in excruciating detail from its rural African-American songbook, through jazz, swing, and R&B, all the way up to relatively modern times.

Unfortunately for readers, it’s also an exhausting read (as 75 pages of footnotes attests to), appearing in the form of a thesis written for undergraduates to wade through, quote from, and pretend to agree with before racing home and crankin’ up ‘She Loves You’ on their laptops and ipod docks, dancing their bespectacled tushies around dorm rooms until the last of the Red Bull wears off. Afterwards they remove the elbow padded tweed jackets and enter the land of golden slumbers where Blue Meanies sing duets with bands named after wolves and bears. I digress.

The book never quite lives up the potential of its fantastic title, which the publisher warned us before mailing out a copy, “is meant to attract attention, debate and controversy.”

Nor does the promise ever realize the heights touched upon in the brilliant opening remarks by the author,

The idea of a steady progression from ragtime to rap is tempting to a historian because it shows a clear live of development over an extended period of time. And if one accepts that continuum, then the Whiteman orchestra and the beatles played very similar roles: not as innovators but as rear guarding holding actions, attempting to maintain older, European standards as the streamlining force of rhythm rolled over them. Within the small world of music nuts, there have always been some who regard the beatles in just this way. In their view, rock is rooted in African-American music, and it’s evolution was from blues and R&B through Little Richard, Ruth Brown, and Rat Charles toward James Brown and Aretha Franklin, and on to Parliament/Funkadelic and Grandmaster Flash.

By the time the beatles hit, still playing the rhythms of Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, that style was already archaic and their contributions were to resegregate the pop charts by distracting white kids from the innovations of the soul masters, to diffuse rock’s energy with effetely sentimental ballads like “Yesterday” – paving the way for Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Elton John, and Billy Joel – and then to drape it in a robe of arty mystification, opening the way for the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In other words, rather than being a high point of rock, the beatles destroyed rock‘n’roll, turning it from a vibrant black (or integrated) dance music into a vehicle for white pap and pretension.

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The Beatles Suck For Sale

Believe it or not, Beatles for sale is still for sale

The Beatles Suck

The Beatles For Sale, aka: beatles IV, aka: beatles ’65, found the FF at their burnt out, resentful and cynical best at what might be called ‘the ass end of beatlemania.’ Herded back into the studio with a diamond encrusted cattle prod a mere six days after finishing A Hard Days Night, and reeling from being reamed repeatedly by beatlemart, this Jerry-rigged collection of c-side material is a good example of what can happen when a band is transformed into an ATM machine.

Composed primarily of filler and cover songs, even the FF themselves were somewhat shocked at how low they had sunk. If only they could have known this was merely the beginning! McCartney describe his song “What You’re Doing” as “a bit of filler…. Maybe it’s a better recording than it is a song…” and Lennon later admitted, “Eight Days A Week was never a good song. We struggled to record it and struggled to make it into a song. It was his (Paul’s) initial effort, but I think we both worked on it. I’m not sure. But it was lousy anyway.” Once again, we can’t help but agree with the bespectacled one.

This album is also groundbreaking for containing one of the worst cover songs ever recorded, the nausea inducing Mr. Moonlight. As a whole, this slipshod concoction was so awful that Paul McCartney himself decided not to stamp his feet and hold his breath until the songwriting credits were changed from “Lennon/McCartney” to “McCartney/Lennon” the way he has on other albums.

We realize it’s hard to categorize any specific album by the moptops as bad when faced with the horrific results the rest of their putrescent output has generated. For this reason we’d like to invite beatle fans use this record as inspiration to avoid the entire beatle catalog.

Please think of yourself, good people.

Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.

-Ferris Beuller