Are the Beatles overrated ?

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boswell
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Big Bad Bill wrote:]Could it be that the Beatles brought pop music to the masses whereas it had previously been the domain of the youngsters. Mum's and Dad's like the Beatles as well!

My other half's auntie wrote a letter to George Harrison saying that she was their biggest fan, back in the 60s. His mother sent back a nice reply and a piece of cloth torn from one of George's coats. She still has both somewhere.
Pop music already appealled to the masses hence the phrase Pop music, Mums and Dads disliking or liking their kids music has probably always been at a similar level since music began.
Remember the science stuff about how our opinions are moulded by a certain age and few people try new things as they grow older.
My Ex (who was older then me) and was a record buyer during the Beatles/Stones heyday had constant battle with her father because he thought they were drug addicts and poor musicians just like my mate today who's 44 and thinks all rock/metal is shit after about 1989!
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Breeder
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I guess there is a different opinion about definition of words "popular music" between you people thus the little flame war under the table...
You ought to define the term before you massacre it down
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Instrumentalrockrocks
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Big Bad Bill wrote:
Instrumentalrockrocks wrote:I used the words "pretty much".
I didn't say they invented it on their own. I said they pretty much invented it.
Like Eddie invented two handed tapping? Could it be that the Beatles brought pop music to the masses whereas it had previously been the domain of the youngsters.
It Could be my Dutch origin preventing me from using the right words in english...
but that is pretty much what I meant to say! :)


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atlantakat
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I guess since many hold the Beatles as the most influential music group of the 20th century, sure, it's possible to say they are "overrated."

But that's only because the superlatives that get heaped upon the Beatles are almost as endless as their contributions to pop music will always be timeless.

No other group of modern musicians impacted popular music or culture more than the Beatles. The quality, breadth and depth of the Beatles catalog is staggering. And to think that all their recordings were made in essentially a seven year span -- Those seven years represent a sustained and prolific level of artistic output that will likely never be repeated.

And the journey the Beatles took during those seven years completely transformed pop music from parodying the blues, R&B and country music that preceded to an era of breathtaking experimentation and growth: From Love Me Do to Revolution Number 9, from Please Please Me to I am the Walrus.

The Beatles copied the book as a very accomplished and hard working cover band and made the musical conventions of the time their own with their early albums, then they re-wrote the book with Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper and then they threw the book away with the White Album and Abbey Road.

While none of the Beatles were "virtuoso" instrumentalists, two of them were virtuoso song writers with fantastic singing voices (and by the end of their run, George Harrison was producing material just as strong as John and Paul).

Nor should anyone underestimate the Beatles craft on their instruments. Paul was a leading bass player back in the day, comfortable too on the guitar and the piano. John was a very good rhythm guitarist and decent pianist while George played very concise and musical leads as well as dabbling with the sitar and the earliest forms of synthesizers. Often overlooked, Ringo was more than the "lovable" Beatle: he influenced many drummers, Phil Collins being a leading example.

As for production and sound, some of the Beatles catalog does sound thin and top end attenuated when compared to modern recordings. Of course anything mixed for AM radio in the 60s and 70s sounds terrible on modern equipment (I can't listen to late 70s Billy Joel because of the harsh mix designed to push the vocals through AM car stereos.)

But no group got more out of the 4 track recording technology available back then. Unfortunately, the mid-80s CD releases were not well mastered either. If and when EMI does the rest of the catalog correctly (compare how lush the recent "Love" soundtrack sounds) the production genius will come through once more. George Martin, as the "fifth" Beatle, led a production team that made many of the greatest albums that followed the Beatles in the 70s -- Led Zep and Floyd among them.

Admittedly, some of the songs on the White Album are not up to the Beatles gold standards. Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine contain several filler songs. But consider Rolling Stones list of the top 100 albums of all time -- there is a reason that the Beatles dominate the Top 10 spots on that list.

Music as we know it today would not be the same without the Beatles. No other group, in my opinion, ever recored more than one album as groundbreaking as either Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, the White Album or Abbey Road. The band that created five of them in seven years, plus singles like Hey Jude (and even ignoring entirely their formative output or the slightly weaker later albums like Let It Be etc.) cannot be overrated.

At least that's what I think.....
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That was a very well worded reply, considering this is the internet.
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Instrumentalrockrocks
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atlantakat wrote:I guess since many hold the Beatles as the most influential music group of the 20th century, sure, it's possible to say they are "overrated."

But that's only because the superlatives that get heaped upon the Beatles are almost as endless as their contributions to pop music will always be timeless.

No other group of modern musicians impacted popular music or culture more than the Beatles. The quality, breadth and depth of the Beatles catalog is staggering. And to think that all their recordings were made in essentially a seven year span -- Those seven years represent a sustained and prolific level of artistic output that will likely never be repeated.

And the journey the Beatles took during those seven years completely transformed pop music from parodying the blues, R&B and country music that preceded to an era of breathtaking experimentation and growth: From Love Me Do to Revolution Number 9, from Please Please Me to I am the Walrus.

The Beatles copied the book as a very accomplished and hard working cover band and made the musical conventions of the time their own with their early albums, then they re-wrote the book with Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper and then they threw the book away with the White Album and Abbey Road.

While none of the Beatles were "virtuoso" instrumentalists, two of them were virtuoso song writers with fantastic singing voices (and by the end of their run, George Harrison was producing material just as strong as John and Paul).

Nor should anyone underestimate the Beatles craft on their instruments. Paul was a leading bass player back in the day, comfortable too on the guitar and the piano. John was a very good rhythm guitarist and decent pianist while George played very concise and musical leads as well as dabbling with the sitar and the earliest forms of synthesizers. Often overlooked, Ringo was more than the "lovable" Beatle: he influenced many drummers, Phil Collins being a leading example.

As for production and sound, some of the Beatles catalog does sound thin and top end attenuated when compared to modern recordings. Of course anything mixed for AM radio in the 60s and 70s sounds terrible on modern equipment (I can't listen to late 70s Billy Joel because of the harsh mix designed to push the vocals through AM car stereos.)

But no group got more out of the 4 track recording technology available back then. Unfortunately, the mid-80s CD releases were not well mastered either. If and when EMI does the rest of the catalog correctly (compare how lush the recent "Love" soundtrack sounds) the production genius will come through once more. George Martin, as the "fifth" Beatle, led a production team that made many of the greatest albums that followed the Beatles in the 70s -- Led Zep and Floyd among them.

Admittedly, some of the songs on the White Album are not up to the Beatles gold standards. Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine contain several filler songs. But consider Rolling Stones list of the top 100 albums of all time -- there is a reason that the Beatles dominate the Top 10 spots on that list.

Music as we know it today would not be the same without the Beatles. No other group, in my opinion, ever recored more than one album as groundbreaking as either Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, the White Album or Abbey Road. The band that created five of them in seven years, plus singles like Hey Jude (and even ignoring entirely their formative output or the slightly weaker later albums like Let It Be etc.) cannot be overrated.

At least that's what I think.....
That is just about what I wanted to say :)


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Big Bad Bill
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atlantakat wrote: No other group of modern musicians impacted popular music or culture more than the Beatles. The quality, breadth and depth of the Beatles catalog is staggering. And to think that all their recordings were made in essentially a seven year span -- Those seven years represent a sustained and prolific level of artistic output that will likely never be repeated.
I'm afraid this is a purely subjective opinion and so can be overturned by anyone saying the exact opposite! In other words is not objective 'proof' if such a thing is possible with a debate of this kind-which it probably isn't.

Perhaps only time will tell. In 200 years time will people still be listening to the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix or Steve Vai...?
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Instrumentalrockrocks
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Big Bad Bill wrote:
atlantakat wrote:
Perhaps only time will tell. In 200 years time will people still be listening to the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix or Steve Vai...?[/color]
Hendrix, and especially The Stones and The Beatles will do fine I guess...

mr. Vai?
Don't know... Altough he has a lot of fans, the music isn't really populair and it is also not "easy" to listen so to speak...


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atlantakat
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BBB:

I agree wholeheartedly that musical taste is a matter of personal preference and subjective opinion.

Many folks don't care for the Beatles. Like the person who posted the initial query, someone who does like the Beatles is expressing a subjective view that the Beatles are overrated -- i.e. their personal opinion of the band is lower than the perceived general popular opinion of the band.

And, for that person, they are entirely correct, the Beatles are overrated! Heck, there are even crazy folks out there that do not dig Steve Vai. There is no accounting for personal taste!

But I did try in my post to suggest to provide some objective measures that transcend my personal views (which are nonetheless implied in my post). As Monty Python ably demonstrated long ago, saying "No they are not" does not really offer an alternative argument, it merely contradicts the statement. The Rolling Stone Top 100 album list of All Time (4 out of the top 10 albums and 5 out of the top 15) plus the number 1 spot on the list of the 500 Greatest Artists of all time seems like an objective way to compare the Beatles with other bands.

We could measure popularity and impact in a number of different ways: album sales, number of times songs are covered, references in the popular press, citations in music and scholarly journals, radio airplay, etc. But the real question distills to who we do we offer up for comparison to the Beatles as to cultural impact, breadth of work and prolific output in a short period of time? I can certainly think of individuals like Dylan and Presley to compare with John and Paul as individual artists. But as a group? The Stones? The Who? While those bands win the longevity contest, have their greatest works had as big an impact on music or culture as the Beatles? If not the Beatles, who is it?

And as for "will it stand the test of time", it will be almost impossible for a music group to ever eclipse the Beatles because of how the music industry and popular culture have changed since the 60s. The Beatles were a monolith that cast a shadow over the entire industry. The Beatles caused utter hysteria just by stepping off an airplane. When they spoke, it was front page news in the mainstream press. Their TV appearances remain some of the most watched moments in American television. When a new Beatles single came out, it was cause for celebration. When a new album came out, it was a cultural event. When John said the Beatles were more important to young people than Jesus, he caused riots her in the States and people burned their records here in the American South.

It's hard to imagine a pop group having that kind of influence today. The market now is fractured and specialized. Record companies are passe. Maintstream radio is dead. We all listen to exactly what we want to listen to on our iPods, having downloaded only the songs we want -- not whole albums.

But it's 40 years on and I heard "Yesterday" in a supermarket over the weekend and I'll probably hear "Something" or "Here Comes the Sun" today on the elevator -- maybe in 200 years we will hear "Die to Live" in the elevator. That would be cool, but I won't hold my breath!

I read a Paul Gilbert quote recenly along the lines of : "I have three gods, No. 1 The Beatles; No. 2 Classic Van Halen; and No. 3......No wait, I only have two gods!" Another musician-songwriter lamented it was so hard to write a great pop song because the Beatles had already written 95% of them.

Elvis Costello wrote a nice tribute to the Beatles on the Rolling Stone Top 500 list on RS' website. I commend it as a good personal account of the impact of the Beatles and why they are not, in his view, overrated but the greatest of all time. (Plus, he said many of the things I put in my initial post, so he's inherently correct! But I swear I wrote my post before reading his tribute)!

Thanks for letting me dig into this topic. Its a good trip down memory lane for me.

Now, when can we get the Sound Theories DVD?
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atlantakat wrote:maybe in 200 years we will hear "Die to Live" in the elevator. That would be cool, but I won't hold my breath!
If it's 200 years from now, I wouldn't be worrying about holding my breath......
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Thanks BigBadBill ..... that youtube clip was superb , although I couldn't find Part 4 :evil: .

Goodall is far more knowledgable than me about the origins of music , and the use of chords , cadence , etc etc .

I still don't care for the Beatles' songs , on the whole I wish they would add some kick ass lead guitar on there , with a little Sheehan style bass . :lol: But I've got a better understanding of why many consider them so influential .

I suppose a lot of the problem is that I started to listen to music as a child in the 70's , and by the time I'm an adult in the 80's , the revolutionary sound of the Beatles seems very lame , because the artists that followed had "run with the baton" . I guess if I'd been around in the 50's and bored rigid by standard rock n roll , I would have a better understanding of how different the Beatles were .

It's a little like Eddie Van Halen ............ kids now just shrug off his talent , but I was there in 1978 ( ? ) , and heard the "THUD" that echoed around the world as guitarists' jaws hit the ground , the first time they heard "Eruption" . So I hold EVH in the highest esteem because I was there , I know what he did , whereas a kid today will say " EVH , he's not as technically proficient as Paul Gilbert or Steve Vai . "
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yeahh, George Harrison's sweep picking left a lot to be desired.
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nickcat0 wrote:I still don't care for the Beatles' songs , on the whole I wish they would add some kick ass lead guitar on there , with a little Sheehan style bass . :lol: But I've got a better understanding of why many consider them so influential .
Ha ha! Well that would be cool!
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Guitaruss wrote:yeahh, George Harrison's sweep picking left a lot to be desired.
:lol: :lol: :lol: I heard Harrison taught Steve how to sweep and that's why Steve can't play barre chords-he was too busy sweeping!
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Saw a teenage girl walking down the street wearing a "The Beatles" hoody yesterday. Made me think of this thread.
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