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The Curse of The Beatles

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:47 pm
by howard male
In this week's Time Out (see the 'Singing in English' section of the forum) Paul Simonon says:

"We took what's become known as rock 'n' roll and we sold it back to the American's. Unfortunately The Beatles, in my opinion anyway, ruined American music. Now Americans have generally never heard of Bo Diddley and aren't really in touch with their heritage."

Sounds reasonable to me. What does anyone else think?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:53 pm
by Dayna
I have been seeing things about this new group for several months online. It's called The Good The Bad And The Queen, isn't it? Unless they decided on soemthing different.
thegoodthebadandthequeen@email.parlophone.co.uk

I don't know what has happened to it. It all seems kind of dead & uninteresting.
I do like Bo Diddly, but maybe it's because I was born in 1965, & heard it all later than most
Do you think The Beatles make some other British groups now feel pressured from trying to compete with or being compared ti them?

Re: The Curse of The Beatles

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:50 am
by Adam Blake
howard male wrote:In this week's Time Out (see the 'Singing in English' section of the forum) Paul Simonon says:

"We took what's become known as rock 'n' roll and we sold it back to the American's. Unfortunately The Beatles, in my opinion anyway, ruined American music. Now Americans have generally never heard of Bo Diddley and aren't really in touch with their heritage."

Sounds reasonable to me. What does anyone else think?


Oh dear...

Dear Paul Simonon,
What a self-serving, self-aggrandizing crock of horseshit.
The Americans didn't need any help from The Beatles to ruin their own music. If you weren't so ignorant you might know something of history and know that in the period immediately before The Beatles RESCUED American music by covering the songs of Chuck Berry, Smokey Robinson, Little Richard, Arthur Alexander et al, the American market was flooded with squeaky-clean, snow white, flaccid and entirely pre-fabricated losers with chunky sweaters and big grins and utterly forgettable songs. Rock'n'roll was dead. Elvis had been emasculated and drafted into the Army. Chuck Berry was in jail. Little Richard had got religion. Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly were dead. Gene Vincent injured. Jerry Lee Lewis was disgraced by his paedo-bigamy scandal. It was all over.

And then... This bunch of scruffs from Liverpool found a way of interpreting the music that they loved and had kept faith with, rendering it in such a way as to inspire an entire generation to pick up where the rockers had left off. I mean, have you ever actually LISTENED to The Beatles' versions of "Money", "Long Tall Sally", "Rock And Roll Music"???
To name but three.

You numbskull.

Can you imagine for one moment what an impact this had?? How many people were moved to pick up guitars and basses and drums and try it for themselves? (Sounds a bit like what happened in 1977, doesn't it? Except the music doesn't stand the test of time as well.) You think its The Beatles fault that Americans are pig-ignorant of their own culture? The Beatles did more than virtually ANYBODY ELSE in the history of the music to wake Americans up to what was on their own doorstep with their endless championing of Motown and the early rockers. In the enormous slipstream that the Beatles success created The Stones were able to go to America and DEMAND that Howlin' Wolf appear with them on prime time national TV. I don't remember The Clash doing anything as cool as that.
By the same token, thanks to the scene that The Beatles opened up, Dusty Springfield was able to convince a major British TV company (I forget which one it was) to bring over the Motown revue and give us all a taste of real Detroit soul. Perhaps that was just after the edition of "Ready Steady Go!" where John Lennon quoted Marvin Gaye as his favourite singer and demanded that one of his records be played at a time when only a handful of mods would have had the faintest idea who he was.

I could go on but I'm too disgusted. Go ahead and re-write history to suit yourself. As if anyone cares what you say anyway.

And as for you, Howard. I'm surprised. Does your love of controversy outweigh all other considerations?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:35 am
by gordonfmoore
I'm rendered (nearly) speechless.

(Superly readable writing style btw, only issue is how could you start the invective with: "Dear... "? :) )

Re: The Curse of The Beatles

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:44 am
by Con Murphy
I hope you are sending your response (or a version thererof) to Time Out, Adam?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:55 am
by howard male
Adam wrote -

And as for you, Howard. I'm surprised. Does your love of controversy outweigh all other considerations?


Of course not, Adam. I was just hoping for exactly the kind of response you have posted - a brilliantly argued demolition of Simonon's flimsy sweeping statement.

I was also hoping to get a discussion going here which went beyond The Ten Best Triangle Players with Athletes Foot kind of thing which has been dominating here of late. Obviously there's nothing wrong with those kind of topics - I'm as magnetically drawn to contribute to them as much as the next anorak. But they're a bit like doing the crossword - satisfying for a while but ultimately only about drawing on the vast reservoir of music trivia that our brains for some reason hold on to, and not about looking at the bigger picture. And it's the bigger picture which I find more interesting.

But now that you've put that grumpy old punk so firmly in his place, all I can add is he's a pretty mediocre painter too.

And please, Adam - do as Con says and send a condensed version of this to Time Out:

letters@timeout.com

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:29 pm
by gordonfmoore
howard male wrote: a discussion going here which went beyond The Ten Best Triangle Players with Athletes Foot kind of thing


drat...

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:10 pm
by Adam Blake
Thank you gentlemen for your support. I'm sorry if I was rude, Howard. But the Beatles are an article of faith for me (they got me into music), and when people make stupid remarks about them (in public) it gets me right where I live. I have done as you suggest and forwarded a slightly amended version of my broadside to Time Out. I doubt whether they'll print it, though. It's too long and anyway, why should they care?

Going on to play devil's advocate, however, I think there IS a case to be made to say that the INFLUENCE the Beatles had in their later days was altogether disastrous for American music and maybe that was the point Simonon was trying to make. It's an argument that Nik Cohn was advancing as far back as 1969: The Beatles may have been grossly self-indulgent but at least they had oodles of talent whereas the people who followed them unfortunately did not. BUT... Even in their drug-addled experimental phase the Fabs could always rock out if the situation demanded it. The trouble is these records are so well known that it's almost impossible to consider them objectively but I put forward "Get Back" as an example. Could any other British act have made such a disciplined and economical pure rock'n'roll record at such a time? Apart from anything else, it's just so well played. And it went on to inspire other great British rock'n'roll records such as Dave Edmunds classic "I Hear You Knocking". So, I know I'm not objective (I love everything they did - and I use that word advisedly) but I think that, on balance, The Beatles were a VERY GOOD THING for Western Culture in general and rock'n'roll in particular.

I welcome a debate on this and I promise to try not to be rude to anyone who takes a differing view!

paul siminon time out interview

PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 2:57 pm
by NickH
'Unfortunately The Beatles, in my opinion anyway, ruined American music, because they displaced a lot of great music.'

Siminon's analysis of British imperialism in the same Time Out article ('We're a nation of pirates, really...And I suppose musically we've been that too') is probably less contentious than his Fab Four comments. It's fair to say, though, that Siminon's former group helped to introduce Bo Diddley and Lee Dorsey to a new audience when they toured the US together in the late 1970s.

On the subject of the Clash, the BBC's news website reported on Friday that original Clash drummer, Terry 'Tory Crimes' Chimes, has a new career as a chiropractor.

Is there a list to be made of musicians who have started new careers as therapists or doctors? I can only think of Sandie Shaw and Hank Wangford at the moment...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6060180.stm

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:08 pm
by howard male
Adam Blake wrote -

I have done as you suggest and forwarded a slightly amended version of my broadside to Time Out. I doubt whether they'll print it, though. It's too long and anyway, why should they care?


Well, they did print it! And I should imagine it's the longest letter ever to appear in Time Out. Though it was beaten to the post as Letter of the Week by someone writing about how they had enjoyed the last few issues of Time Out so much they had renewed their susbscription. Now, I wonder why that was made Letter of the Week over our Adam's masterpiece?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:16 pm
by Tom McPhillips
On the other hand I wonder if you could make the case that The Beatles ruined British music...

In that they were so successful that they set a template for so many aspiring careers - do something Pop and then do the interesting stuff when you're established... Except the interesting stuff never happens...

Is that why there are so many naff British boy bands? And could it be said that the Beatles perpetuated Pop music to the point where Britpop is no longer a world influence but a purely parochial phemomenon...

As they say on radio talk shows here - I'll just put the phone down now, and listen to the ensuing mayhem on the web...

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:39 pm
by Ian M
Well, there is another opinion on this. Unfortunately I am not at home to check the details, but if you saw the music series Dancing in The Street, there was an episode on, I think, the British invasion of America in the early sixties. Now, what took me by surprise, because I hadn't heard this opinion before, was an interview(s) with some black American singers (can't remember who unfortunately). In their opinion the advent of the Beatles in the US had adversely affected their careers. Because the corporate record and entertainment industry so eagerly leapt on the bandwagon of white pop acts that their nascent careers were killed stone dead (so they felt). In other words it was an unintended (on the Beatles' part) consequence of the pop explosion which the Beatles ignited (and despite the Beatles championing of the originals which they covered).
I am no expert on that era, and when I get back next week I can give more details, but maybe Charlie has some knowledge of this. Perhaps it is a more complicated picture than we are aware of, and perhaps we should be careful of self aggrandisement as far as British influence on the USA is concerned.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:11 pm
by howard male
The Beatles have dated. There, I've said it. From their early, twee, hand-holding pop tunes through to their more mature experimental work, it all sounds fusty and stale now - to these ears anyway. And I think that despite Adam's informed and cogent rant, for every positive influence they had - just as with Elvis and all the other wish-they-were-black musicians - there has been an unfortunate downside: the marginalisation of many of the black artists whose music made the Beatles possible, as Ian M has half remembered in the post above.

But let's not hold that against them, because if we hold that against them then the whole of Caucasian pop is also on trial. So then, what do I hold against them? Just the fact they are touted as the biggest band in history. So it's not their fault, it's the multi-snowball effect of media saturation, the fans nostalgic adulation, and one dead charismatic front man.

We come back to the arbitrary criterion which bit by bit lifts one talented pop group up onto a pedestal and makes all the other talented pop groups merely second or third division wannabees. What if Jagger and Richards had copped it in 69, or Bowie had evaporated into thin air from malnutrition in 75? For me both these acts, one contemporary with the Beatles, the other coming to artist maturity soon after, had far more edge, vision, originality, and sonic oomph during their prime than everyone's favourite mop tops.

It's just a shame we can't visit a parallel universe where Mark Chapman's bullet missed, and Bowie fell to Earth from the airborn chair he used to perform Space Oddity from - just to see if The Beatles are still up there in a catagory all of their own.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 5:35 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Dayna wrote
I hope this is not a bad question, but do you think The Beatles have made some other modern British groups feel like they're always competeing with or being compared to The Beatles?


Oasis anyone?

Every act that wants to be huge wants to be the next Beatles or Elvis or U2.. that goes without saying...

I was working on a stage the other day, and one of the guitarists had left an instruction manual for his effects box, which was called a Pod. The unit had presets for the sounds you'd get from the clasic amps - Vox, Fender Twin, Marshall, Mesa Boogie and so on... The predominant emphasis was on the amps from the British invasion bands of the 60's - in fact the guy had his choice set to "British Classic".. and to me it's amazing that that era still has so much influence even in so subtle a way.. and that musicians still regard the sound of that era forty years later as aspirational, and one they still want to emulate.

I don't think you can hold the Beatles responsible for their effect on black artists in the sixties any more than you can hold hip-hop responsible for the fall out on white artists when rap came along...

It's whatever happens next....

PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:13 pm
by Adam Blake
Thanks for being so enthusiastic about this, Howard. I certainly wouldn't have sent it to them without you and Charlie's prompting. It's nice that they printed it but they edited it to f*** - leaving out my favourite bit about John Lennon and Marvin Gaye. Hey-ho...

Yeah, of course The Beatles are dated. Their most recent record is 37 years old (I don't even think about those horrible concoctions "Real Love" and "Free As A Bird"). But a lot of good music is dated. J S Bach springs to mind as an example. Beethoven too (especially the poems).

I stand by my contention that The Beatles in their speed and alcohol phase were the best straight rock'n'roll band this country has ever produced. Purists might cite Johnny Kidd and The Pirates but how many great records did they really make? Not as many as The Fabs. Then, in the midst of a haze of dope and acid, The Beatles found themselves in a completely unprecedented position of fame and influence. It's amazing that they only truly lost it a couple of times on record, and even more amazing the way they used this position to create such genuinely unique music as "A Day In The Life" and "I Am The Walrus" - neither of which sound dated to me at all.

Anyway. We can talk about The Beatles all night but I just wanted to say thanks for goading me on re. Time Out.