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Jason Scott
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Most of this is accurate but, as I'm sure you'd concede, incomplete. You've offered what is the conventional history of the band, but I'd argue that their presence in history (both cultural and musical) is more complex than is indicated here or by some of the less-rigorous retrospectives. They (or more accurately George Martin) pioneered many recording techniques, or at least mainstreamed them (things like feedback, backwards looping, use of "exotic" instruments in pop music); their shift from being a live touring band to a "serious" band of recording artists is somewhat unprecedented; their musical heritage is more than just R&B/American rock (i.e., the influence of British music hall styles); their drug use and its relationship to their music is complex (and arguably more significant than Lennon's somewhat half-assed but very entertaining politics). And yes, their harmonies (in the early songs) and general songwriting were, in my opinion, a significant step "forward" in the development of rock/pop as a serious art form. I'd agree they are overrated, but I'd also argue that in some ways they are so overrated they are underrated. BTW, I think Bob Spitz' book about the group is the best general bio/history (and I've read almost all of them), if you really want to get "serious" - he's excellent on their early days. Also, the real "fifth Beatle" was Stu Sutcliffe. And if you had to pick one album, go with "Revolver" or "Rubber Soul" or "Abbey Road."
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2010 on What I know about the Beatles at Colin Marshall
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Sep 16, 2010