London researchers say Beatles not revolutionary

By |2015-05-09T18:06:57-07:00May 7, 2015|1964, Beatlemania, Beatles Criticism, Mark Lewisohn, pre-Beatles|

NANCY CARR * A study just issued by researchers at Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London asserts that the Beatles' success in mid-60s America was anything but revolutionary. According to Professor Armand Leroi, the paper's senior author, “They were good looking boys with great haircuts and British accents but as far as their music was concerned they weren’t anything new.” "Yeah-huh," as those of us raised in Texas sardonically respond to transparently idiotic statements (at least when we're trying to be polite). The researchers decided that the Beatles weren't up to anything new because chord progressions, lyrics, and beats in [...]

George Starostin on “McLemore Avenue”

By |2015-04-21T13:36:47-07:00April 21, 2015|Abbey Road, Beatle-inspired, Beatles Criticism, Beatles tributes, Covers|

We got the front . . . .   NANCY CARR * My favorite music reviewer, the indefatigable George Starostin, has just published this review of Booker T. and the M.G.'s McLemore Avenue. He calls it "the first authentic case of musical cosplay in pop/rock history," and I have to concur, though I enjoy the results more than he does. I certainly agree with Starostin's assessment of Abbey Road as exerting an "otherworldly" power: . . . and the back! "It is cozy for me to know that, of all Beatles albums, it was Abbey Road that struck [...]

Robert Christgau on “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”

By |2015-04-15T11:17:49-07:00March 10, 2015|Beatles Criticism, books, JL/POB, John Lennon, Robert Christgau|

John and Yoko with (l-r) unidentified, Neil Aspinall, Ringo, and Maureen at John's 31st birthday party in Syracuse, NY, where Robert Christgau met them. DEVIN McKINNEY  •  Robert Christgau’s new memoir, Going Into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man, contains a passage on the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album that struck me as resonant, and more than relevant to recent discussions on this board. As I sought at length to explain in my review of the book, posted at Critics at Large, Christgau is often a wise man and often merely a wise guy, and a [...]

Charles Taylor on A Hard Day’s Night

By |2014-08-12T09:54:34-07:00August 10, 2014|1964, AHDN, Beatles Criticism, Swinging London|

Some boys have trouble expressing affection. Charles Taylor has written a marvelous appreciation of "A Hard Day's Night" for the Los Angeles Review of Books. He just gets so much right here, and it's stuff that I've felt myself but never read anywhere else. Here's the opener to get you started: HOW WOULD YOU REACT if there appeared in front of you a flesh-and-blood vision of everything you ever dreamed life could be? What if you could, at the same time, be your distinctive self and an irreplaceable part of a greater whole? What if that greater whole showed you [...]

The Beatles and History

By |2014-02-24T11:05:11-08:00February 21, 2014|1964, Beatles Criticism, Beatles on the Web|

MIKE GERBER • Devin's excellent post on James Marcus' graceful, slightly Slate-only-smarter Letting Go of The Beatles spurred some thoughts, which were too long to put in a comment. I wrote this in haste and I can feel the dullness of my tools (doing a lot more business-stuff than writing-stuff these days), but I paste them below. It was fifty years ago today… Beginning in May 1964 and ending that November, the BBC broadcast a 26-part documentary called The Great War. Produced with the cooperation of the Imperial War Museum and its analogues around the world, it is a fascinating examination of that [...]

I’m So Tired: Responsive Notes on the Phenomenon of Beatle Fatigue

By |2014-02-22T06:34:28-08:00February 21, 2014|Beatles Criticism, Beatles on the Web|

There's no fatigue like Beatle fatigue. DEVIN McKINNEY  •  Beatle Ed points me to this most interesting, warmhearted, clear-eyed essay by James Marcus, “Letting Go of the Beatles,” posted yesterday at the Harper’s site. Even we, the besotted, must accept the validity, as we cough the exhaust fumes of the recent 50th-anniversary ballyhoo (which Hey Dullblog did its share to amplify or perpetuate), of a certain feeling of fed-upness with all things Fab. So Marcus’s piece gets me, and probably a lot of other Beatleheads of considerable duration, thinking. To delve into all the points where he and I are [...]

“Understanding Fuddy-Duddy Beatle Haters”

By |2014-02-13T07:47:04-08:00February 12, 2014|1964, Beatles Criticism, William F. Buckley|

Buckley: not merely awful Scott Galupo over at The American Conservative has posted an article sure to raise the ire of normally oh-so-placid HD readers: "Understanding Fuddy-Duddy Beatle Haters." The occasion is, of course, the 50th anniversary silliness...and, perhaps, a sneaky attempt to rehabilitate William F. Buckley. To quote Jeffery Lebowski, "This aggression shall not stand, man." "The crowned heads of anti-music" If you read what Buckley wrote in The Boston Globe in September 1964, you can be forgiven for thinking, "Surely he wasn't on cocaine?" It's that over-the-top. An estimable critic writing for National Review [Buckley's magazine], after seeing [...]

Michael Tomasky on the Beatles as the “sound of freedom”

By |2014-02-06T15:47:52-08:00February 6, 2014|Beatles Criticism, books, Michael Tomasky|

Michael Tomasky, former editor of The American Prospect and The Guardian America, is getting into the Beatles’ 50th anniversary racket. His ebook, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles and America, Then and Now, has just been released; in it, he puts forward the idea that the Fabs were "the sound of freedom," catalysts for (and participants in) the vast cultural opening that occurred in the West from 1964 onward. His overview addresses everything from race relations to Ringo's revolutionary use of the hi-hat. A longtime political columnist, Tomasky writes a thrice-weekly column for The Daily Beast and contributes on a regular basis to [...]

“Revolution No. 9” as one of the top 5 Beatles songs? Get real.

By |2014-02-06T06:53:30-08:00January 28, 2014|Beatles Criticism, Beatles lists, Reviews, The White Album, Tim Riley, Uncategorized|

NANCY CARR * Quick—what’s the most untypical song the Beatles released, and the one I’d bet 99% of Beatles fans listen to least? Well, that’s the one that Tim Riley, the author of Tell Me Why and a well-reviewed Lennon biography, calls the fifth best Beatles song in an article in this recently released magazine special. All together now: “Number 9, Number 9, Number 9 . . .” Of course any list of “The Top Five Beatles Songs” is, at this point in the 21st century, going to have to include a startling pick if it’s going to get any attention at [...]

Buckley on hating the Beatles

By |2014-07-23T11:58:38-07:00August 22, 2012|1964, Beatles Criticism, Uncategorized, William F. Buckley|

NANCY CARR * William F. Buckley really hated the Beatles’ music. I’d known this in a general way, but hadn’t read his diatribes against them before encountering them in The Beatles Book, a 1968 anthology of critical writing about the band edited by Edward E. Davis. (Finding books like this makes me feel justified in spending what is probably way too much time in used bookstores.) Buckley’s 1964 National Review article on the Beatles was entitled “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, They Stink.” He piles on the adjectives in an effort to convey his absolute loathing of their sound: “Let me say it, as evidence [...]

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