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In search of the Holy Grail of Rock: the 5th Beatle

John, Paul, George and Ringo have become saints, as far as popular music is concerned. During their 8 year recording history, they have performed feats comparable to slaying dragons, converting the faithless and heralding in a new era of rock and roll. But just as the true identity, nature, and location of the Holy Grail has consumed the lives of crusaders and scholars alike, The Beatles have their own much disputed holy icon: the 5th Beatle. As I am not one in any place to declare the true member worthy of the title, I will display the candidates and in turn let you decide. Who do you think is the true 5th Beatle?

Left to right: George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe, and John Lennon in Hamburg, Germany

 

  1. Stu Sutcliffe: Stu was John Lennon’s best friend from art school and a brilliant painter. When John was getting his small skiffle-rock group into shape to be a serious band, he found he needed a bassist. This is where Stu came in. He didn’t play bass or know anything about playing music, but he had just won a fair amount of cash in an art show, and was the only one John knew who could afford a bass. With some major convincing, he was able to get Stu on board, reassuring his friend that he didn’t need to know how to play: bassists just stand in the back anyway. Stu was the bassist when the band started making a name for themselves playing in Hambug, Germany. Towards the end of their stint, it became clear that his playing just wasn’t befitting the band they had become, and he was the first to say it. Paul McCartney, then one of the lead guitar players, took up the bass (which is why if you listen closely, Paul’s bass parts often sound like a frustrated lead guitarist playing bass. This is because it is.)  Stu died from a brain aneurysm in 1962 after leaving the group to return to his painting.

 

Left to right: Paul McCartney, John lennon, Pete Best, and George Harrison

Pete Best:  you’ll recognize a similar vein here… when the band that would become the Beatles started getting serous about rock and roll, they needed a drummer. Not unlike any other young band, they weren’t looking for a drummer as much as a guy who had drums, which were expensive and hard to come by in 1950’s England. They found their man in Pete Best. Pete had a new set of drums, could play them well, and his loving mother owned a small club in Liverpool that they often played at. Pete, like Stu, was on board with the group as they played the club scene in Hamburg, often sharing the stage with a band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes who had a drummer who went by the name of Ringo… As they boys returned to England and began to look into prospects of recording and making it big they ran into a problem: Pete was a great drummer, but didn’t share the same vibrant personalities and humor as the other 3. He was a great drummer, but not a great Beatle. He was much more dark, moody, and introverted. this drove the girls crazy, but at this point, they had been transformed into the clean-cut, charming and humorous nice-boys we know today. Not being able to dump a friend themselves, the Beatles asked their Manager, Brian Epstein, to do the dirty work for them: a decision that really hurt Pete, and that the other Beatles regret.  

Sir George Matin on left, at the mixing board with Sir Paul and Ringo.

Sir George Martin: Sir George Martin was the recording engineer at the small EMI label that agreed to record the Beatles. He knew nothing about rock and roll, and the band knew nothing about recording, so in their mutual discoveries, greatness ensued. George had some very good ideas about how to record things, and either wrote or was very involved in the writing of the orchestral scores that were overdubbed onto many of the Beatles most well-known tracks.

Brian at George Harrison's wedding to model Patty Boyd

Brian Epstein: Brian made the Beatles. He was the owner of a record store in Liverpool who was asked if he had “My Bonnie”, a cut of an American vocalist Tony Sheridan backed by some English band from Germany called the Beatles… he didn’t but was always willing to meet the demands of his clients. He decided to look these “Beatles” up, and found they were playing regular lunch hour shows at a local club. He stopped in, saw a show, and fell in love. He offered the boys his services as a manager, and got them on the train to success. It is of his doing that the Beatles, then with messy hair, bad additudes, and clad in leather, came to have matching “Beatle cuts” and dress in matching suits, putting on the charm they are so famous for. Without Brian, the Beatles would not have been the Beatles we came to know, and very well might not have been heard of at all.

Billy Preston in the studio, 1972. One cool dude.

Billy Preston: Preston was a VERY soulful organ player who got signed to the Beatles record label (Apple) in 1969. Long story short, he was a great guy and the Beatles took to him quick. He sat in on their Let it Be and Abbey Road albums, providing the organ work. He can also be seen and heard during the Beatles last live appearance together: their concert atop the Apple office in 1969, which can be seen on their “Let it Be” movie and subsequently on youtube.

Who do you think is the true 5th Beatle?

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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Brett, Uncategorized

 

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Bieber Buzz Brings Busy Blog Day

We would like to thank everyone for being a good sport yesterday, unfortunately (for some of us) Justin Bieber and Paul McCartney are not collaborating on an early Beatles cover album. This was a little bit of yellow journalism in the spirit of April Fools Day. We hope you enjoyed this and are not too disappointed by the truth.

We have some interesting goings on here that in the next few weeks we hope will take off:

Good Music

We invite all of our readers to submit their favorite songs via comment or on our Facebook page, and we will put it on our list and keep it their forever. You can check out the list of songs, as well as a more detailed description of what the list is all about here.

We Want to Feature Your Music

That’s right. We are looking for fresh and unique content to keep on our site and we would like it to be about your music. You can help us get some awesome stuff to write about as well as photos, videos, and even your songs while we can give your music another outlet for exposure. We can’t promise that you will blow up into the next big thing, but we can certainly help you show your music to people who haven’t heard it yet.

We would like to perform an interview with you, and your group (if applicable) and write as much awesome stuff about you as possible, as well as periodic blog updates to keep people notified of your upcoming shows/music-related-events etc. The idea is that the more exposure we can get for your music, the more traffic we will also generate for ourselves.

We have some big ideas that we are getting pretty fired up about, and we will not reject anyone who is interested in doing this %100 and is also serious about their music. (Those are the only requirements)

If you are interested in doing this please contact us at our Facebook page and we can start collaborating on this.

Thanks for reading,
Selective Listening

Ps. We will still write about all the stuff we usually do, that’s kind of our thing.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in Ben, Uncategorized

 

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Bieber set to release early Beatles cover album

The white smoke is rising, and the new Pope of Pop is being heralded! The recent dispute over the rightful heir of all things catchy and romantic will soon be over, which started with the death of the previous King of Pop. The current royal bloodline started in 1963 as the Beatles replaced Elvis as the pop icon of the world with an endless slew of #1 catchy love song after another. The second was crowned in 1983, as “cute Beatle” Paul McCartney mentored rumored “king of Pop” Michael Jackson and collaborated on music numbers, legitimizing his claim. His reign was unquestionable as he subsequently bought-out the Beatles music, essentially hoarding all and every right and claim to royalty for himself. Elvis died in 1977, McCartney, although still prolific, has failed to re-take the world by storm, Jackson has, too, deceased.

The state of chaos that has erupted has left many worried and confused, and the World of Pop Music has been lost amid a sea of auto-tuned one-hit wonders, lackluster comebacks, dime a dozen Disney acts, and very recently a fall into debauchery, with vying pop queens trying to out slut each other.  There seemed no hope, and such was confirmed as the Black Eye Peas effectively gave a eulogy to pop music at the Super Bowl halftime show. But oh ye of little faith! Recent leaks have announced that the wait is over: Justin Beiber is set to record a collection of the early pop songs that put Sir Paul McCartney on the throne. What makes this a legitimate rise to proper power in place of a coup d’état is that Sir Paul will be PERSONALLY seeing to the projects completion as the producer.

When asked about it, McCartney had this to say, “I think the kid is wonderful, and, you know, he’s really got talent and music could use a figure like him to center itself around, much like the aftereffects of Beatlemania, with all the bands going in the right direction. Pop music, you know, hasn’t changed that much since the early days. I mean, John and I wanted to emulate the teen idols of our day, so we sat down and tried to write catchy tunes that would be commercially successful, so I really don’t see the cause of the uproar over stuff like that by people who look up to The Beatles.”

Although the recoding is being kept secret, leaks and rumors have suggested the track listing will include such classics as “Love me Do”, “Please Please Me”, “She Loves You” and one of the more sweeter pop cuts from their debut album, which only seems fitting as it will be the first public statement by the new official Pope of Pop.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Epic-sounding Collaborations You’ve Probably Never Heard of #1 Elvis meets The Beatles

 There are good things in life: sandwiches, hammocks, fast cars, fire, money, dreams where you are flying, and studying quantum physics when you don’t have to have exams. The puzzling thing is that while many good things get better when enjoyed in conjunction with other good things, there are some that are not (this is true of maple syrup and anything that you can’t eat). Playing music with other people is one of the greatest joys of being a musician, and while it is no surprise that many famous musicians have played and even recorded together, it IS a surprise that some of these duets and jam sessions with major towering figures of popular music have been lost, unheard of by the majority of music listeners, only available in rare bootlegs, or sadder still, never recorded.

 Elvis meets the Beatles: August 27, 1965 is a date that would live in infamy if anyone would know about it. Perhaps it is best that this occasion is all but forgotten save for a paragraph in Beatle biographies… I don’t think music fans can ever really reach the top of Maslow’s pyramid if they all knew this story. The Beatles were on their second U.S. tour, and managed to swing a visit to meet their childhood idol, the man who introduced them single-handedly to rock and roll: Elvis Presley. They met in house in Bel-Air, but this is where the story goes downhill. They 5 of them met, played cards, listened to records, told jokes, and even had a jam session. There survives only one picture from that night, and it isn’t anything worthy of the occasion. Due to copyright issues, the image could not be posted here, but Google can help you out. In the foreground are able see John Lennon, and Elvis can barely be made out in the upper left-hand corner. This is unbelievable, as this was the first and only meeting between THE two names in popular music. You’d think SOME genius would have a camera for a promo shot or something… Sadder still is that none of the conversation nor the music was recorded.

 

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Extreme Feats of Musical Bad-Assery #2 Truly Instant Karma

 “Hey! What did you do today?” When was the last time you really had a mind-blowing answer to that question? Be honest… Sure, some people do some pretty neat things sometimes, and we are all encouraged to make everyday count, but have you had this conversation? “Hey, what did you do today?” “Eh, I wrote, rehearsed, recorded, and released a hit single.” Now, imagine saying that when you have are dealing with a falling out of your best friends, balancing two bands, a large corporation, and are at the head of one of the biggest snowballs in recent cultural history. John Lennon didn’t have to imagine. That was just a day at the office for John, January 27th, 1970 when he recorded “Instant Karma”

While exact records of the day’s timetable don’t exist, Lennon offered this to the press regarding what is one of, if not the, fastest out-out pop singles in history, wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.” What can be for certain is that in less than 24 hours, Lennon had written the piece, gotten a hold of a crew made up no less than master of the organ Billy Preston, George Harrison accompanying Lennon on guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass, and Allen White on drums, rehearsed, and recorded the single. They got it out to the powers that be that night, and it was on shelves in only 10 days.  Soon after, or maybe even between that time, a video was recorded to promote the song and its message. Lennon can be seen sporting a shorter haircut than the Lennon we know and love from the era, and that is believed to be the point: he had cut it off as a publicity stunt tp promote his messages of world and inner peace.

10 days. What stared out as probably a little singing in the shower went to reach #3 on the US charts, #5 in the UK, #2 in Canada, and #1 in France. It is notable that its competition for the top spots was the Beatles’ own “Let it Be” classic, and Simon and Garfunkels’ “Bridge over Troubles Water” among others. What is more incredible, though not at all uncommon for the man, is that beyond being deemed epic and relevant enough to be used in a Nike commercial 20 years down the road, it inspired the title of Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining. The song continues to deliver its philosophical and humanitarian punch to the present, being covered by such acts as U2 and headlining the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Initiative to Save Darfur of 2007.As far as message and impact, it ranks besides such Lennon masterpieces as “Imagine” and “Give Peace a Chance”. Not too shabby for a days work, eh?

Hey Jude

Now it’s not like he just woke up one morning and started pumping out iconic songs in a single shot, as a Beatle, he was very experienced in impacting generations in a single bound. The Beatles most successful single (and a constant on “greatest songs ever” lists), “Hey Jude” was recorded in a single take. Although the overall timing of the song is not as impressive as the instant hit “Instant Karma”, and getting songs right the first time is not unheard of, the song has its own reasons to brag. (now, to be fair, the band recorded 4 takes, but it was the first that was chosen for the final cut)

First of all, it IS one of the best songs in popular music, if not ever. Not only was it done in one attempt, but Ringo Starr (drummer) wasn’t even in the room for the first minute of recording. Their recording set up had the drummer’s box set up right by the bathroom. This said, no one noticed when Ringo slipped out to use the facility, and they started recording. One can imagine his reaction when he was, pardon the pun, caught with his pants down when the song was heard form down the hall. Being Ringo Starr, and by definition one extremely slick cat, he was able to slip back into the room without a sound, and take his seat at the drum seconds before the drum cue, and come in right one time.

Also noteworthy about one of the “Best songs ever recorded” is that in the last 20 seconds of the second minute, someone (John blames Paul) can be barely heard to utter “Fucking hell”, probably stemming from a missed note. The band (again, probably John) insisted the oopsie be left in the final mix, albeit turned down to a level where the general public has yet to catch on. Here are two videos of the song. The first is a simple slideshow video found on Youtube. If you don’t have the song, see if you can spot the oopsie. The second is the official video for the song, included simply because it’s neat, and it’s the Beatles. You gotta respect.

 

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