Beatlemania…Again!

beatlemania

Ok, ok, I’m on record as stating the Rolling Stones are the world’s greatest rock band.  I think I’ve also said in the past that Led Zeppelin is the world’s greatest rock band.  I don’t know of too many people that can make that statement, stand behind it forever and never change their mind about it.  I normally don’t teeter totter my opinion on very many topics, but the topic of which band is the greatest in rock history has found me wavering and tipping my scales.

One thing you can say about the rock scene is that nothing has happened that can be considered earth shaking for several years now.  I have no idea where music is heading these days.  Pop music is a hodgepodge of nothingness driven by the conservative attitudes of executives and marketers.  Hip hop is a clearly undefined conglomeration of  semi-talented wannabees that can dish out song after song that has no meaning, no social implications and no real purpose.  Country music has turned into a crossover craze and rap is just a complete waste of time.  Any untalented ghetto child or wigger (ie Eminem) can throw a bunch of sludge together, throw it against the wall, and because of its slimy nature, it’ll stick.  And just because you see a band performing the half time show at the Super Bowl doesn’t mean they’re any good.  It just means they are in the top 10 results of a marketing campaign.

The release of the Beatles Rock Band stuff this past week has caused me to rethink my designation of the Stones as the top seeded rock band of all time.  Here is why:  The Beatles can still sell ten million albums, 10 million video games and other band beatlesrockbandparaphernalia to this day.  What have the Stones done for us lately?

A few weeks ago all of the Beatles albums were re-released in a remastered format.  Even Sgt. Peppers was released in both a mono and stereo version and the mono version is considered to be better from a production standpoint than it’s stereo partner!  Even more amazing is the fact that each Beatles album has been repackaged and repriced – the price of the CD itself is pretty steep, but the amazing part is that experts predict people who already own one and even two copies of each CD will buy these repackaged versions AGAIN.  Someone’s gonna make some serious dinero off these reissues!

In my opinion there are two key things that separate bands from being in the pack and those rising above it.  One biggy for me is how a band progresses through its career by changing their music and growing their sound.  Look at the difference between the Beatles first album and their last – every album in between is a progression of each band member’s maturity and experimentation.  When you string all of the albums together it’s like a musical journey, starting out simple and innocent and evolving as the times and the band members changed and became more complicated and inquisitive.  Each album following the previous contains several new layers built on top of the one before it.  So many external forces were at work when the Beatles were doing their thing – the war, social unrest, the emergence of the drug culture, and the realization that rock and roll music could play a huge part in shaping society.  The Beatles took each step with us and we followed them to the point where they didn’t want to lead us anymore.

The other key factor in achieving true rock greatness is the level in which a band’s music can stay relevant over time.  The Doors experienced a huge explosion in sales several years after the band disbanded in the wake of Jim Morrison’s passing in 1971.  It didn’t hurt that Oliver Stone made a movie about them, but their resurgence began before that because of the digital era and remastering.  The Doors music is just as popular now if not more so than it was in 1969.  Just the fact that Harmonix, a Cambridge, MA based video game development company, had enough faith to develop the Beatles Rock Band game shows just how popular the Beatles music remains today.  And what is this video game going to produce?  Not only is it expected to get older people involved in playing video games, but it is also going to create an entirely new wave of young Beatles fans.  It’s the music redefining itself and creating a new army of kids with dollars in their fists, ready to take aim at each new release of each Beatles album for the game and each newly remastered Beatles CD.

A medium that feeds off itself and regenerates its own revenue over and over again.  I would have thought that only aliens could come up with such a perfect plan, but no, it was first the Beatles, then someone sitting in a marketing department somewhere with the vision of cashing in on the success of the one band that really is the best in rock history yesterday and today.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock this year one also has to think of where the Beatles music would stand now if they would have played Woodstock.  The fact that they didn’t and they are still selling and creating and redefining and continuing to be a major force in today’s music scene says only one thing to me; the Beatles are the greatest band in the history of rock and roll.

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