A couple photos of mine were used in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal (both online and in print). There were from a Cloud Cult concert here in Minneapolis and have been among my most requested photos (the band uses them on their site, too).
It was hard to take the latest blaspheme hurled in the Beatles direction with American Idol contestants, by and large, butchering Beatles songs for two straight weeks. Sure there were some standouts such as Brooke White’s rendition of Let It Be, Carly Smithson’s version of Come Together, A Day In the Life and Across the Universe by Michael Johns, and Yesterday by Syesha Mercado but nearly all the other performances were bizarre? What do all those songs have in common? They are good. Hello? Why pick the crappiest Beatles songs to sing? If I Fell, Michelle, I Should Have Know Better, Day Tripper, The Long and Winding Road, She’s a Woman, Back in The U.S.S.R., and Eight Days a Week are all terrible.
I’ve Just Seen A Face (Chikezie) and You Can’t Do That (Amanda Overmyer) are two possible exceptions, as I thought they took poor songs and at least made them interesting.
Almost without variance the judges and the call-in voters like performances more if they like the songs being sung. That is why there are cover bands. That is also why, according to the Guinness Book of Records, “Yesterday” has the most cover versions of any song ever written. The song remains popular today with more than 3000 recorded cover versions.
As I sit in the office today listening to the songs I have heard thousands of time before, I am reminded of how good the Beatles were and how good their music still is. Here are a few achievements, feats, and fact from various Wikipedia entries on the Beatles and their music:
- The Beatles are the best-selling musical group of all time, estimated by EMI to have over one billion discs and tapes sold worldwide.
- The Beatles have notched up the most multi-platinum selling albums for any artist or musical group (thirteen in the U.S. alone).
- The Beatles have a record six diamond-selling albums (10 million copies): Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, Abbey Road, The Beatles: 1962-1966, The Beatles: 1967-1970, and The Beatles 1.
- The Beatles have had more number one albums than any other group (19 in the U.S. and 15 in the United Kingdom).
- The Beatles spent the highest number of weeks at number one in the albums chart (174 in the UK and 132 in the U.S.).
- The most successful first week of sales for a double album (The Beatles Anthology Volume 1, which sold 855,473 copies in the U.S. from 21 November to 28 November 1995).
- The Beatles have the fastest selling CD of all time with 1. It sold over 13 million copies in four weeks.
- The Beatles have had more number one singles than any other musical group (23 in Australia, 23 in The Netherlands, 22 in Canada, 21 in Norway, 20 in the U.S., and 18 in Sweden). Ironically, the Beatles could easily have had even more number ones, because they were often competing with their own singles.
- In terms of charting positions, Lennon and McCartney are the most successful songwriters in history, with 32 number one singles in the U.S. for McCartney, and 26 for Lennon (23 of which were written together). Lennon was responsible for 29 Number One singles in the UK, and McCartney was responsible for 28 (25 of which were written together).
- During the week of 4 April 1964, The Beatles held twelve positions on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five positions, which has never been accomplished by any other artist. The songs were “Can’t Buy Me Love” , “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, and “Please Please Me”. Furthermore, two Beatles tribute records appeared on the chart: “We Love You Beatles” by The Carefrees (at #42), and “A Letter to the Beatles” by The Four Preps (#85).
- The next week, 11 April 1964, the Beatles held fourteen positions on the Billboard Hot 100.
- With their performance at Shea Stadium in 1965, The Beatles set new world records for concert attendance (55,600) and revenue. This was the first time in the history of popular music anyone had played in a proper stadium as opposed to a theatre or concert hall.
- The Beatles broke television ratings records in the U.S. with their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show with over 70 million people viewing.
On Monday night Jena and I took my Dad to see Rain: The Beatles Experience, or less cryptically, a Beatles tribute band. Year’s ago I had the opportunity to see Paul McCartney in concert thinking that was as close as I would ever come to seeing my favorite band live. Turns out Rain is a hell of a lot closer than I thought possible.
Joey Curatolo is amazing as Paul. There was never a moment when he was off, from melodies and more guttural sounds to the banter between songs. Just about the only flaw I could find was that John played guitar left-handed and so it was a little weird seeing him up there playing with a right-handed guitar. Joe Bithorn (aka George) was also great. George Harrison doesn’t get to sings as much but there were still some great songs, with the stand-out being While My Guitar Gently Weeps, in which he is also wonderful during the longest and most difficult guitar solo to appear in a Beatles song. John and Ringo were performed well, but Steve Landes (aka John) and Ralph Castelli (aka Ringo) had perhaps more difficult tasks. John’s vocals changed so much from the early years through to the end that I imagine (no pun intended) it would be hard to be dead-on throughout (though he was mostly on – Come Together being perhaps the weakest in the set). As for Ringo, with only one vocal part, and only drums, it is hard to tell how accurate Castelli’s renditions are – though there was certainly nothing that came to mind.
Due to the no photography policy at the Orpheum for this show, I only had my little point and shoot with no flash. Needless to say the photos I got were not good. Luckily Flickr user hddod has come through with the wonderful photos included in this post of a show in England.
In the interview Butler addresses why he smashed his guitar on Saturday Night Live a couple weeks ago (it was cutting him and he hated it) and speaks about society and religion today (not to mention how much being a kid sucks). He sounds smart and thoughtful and it goes a long way to helping me forget the smashing of the guitar – plus I really love their new album Neon Bible and their show a couple years ago was among the top 2 or 3 concert experiences of my life.
Here is something he told the interviewer at the very end of the interview that strikes a chord with me because it captures a big part of why I am so angry with the way things are going in our country and in me.
When you read Martin Luther King’s speeches about Vietnam, it could be today. Just change the word, and you’re talking about the exact same situation. We’re basically causing spiritual death in our country by doing what we’re doing. At a certain point, you become morally unable to do good in the world, because the country gets so cynical and depressed, there isn’t the force of will to try and change things. I definitely feel that in my generation, this kind of fatigue. And I feel that myself. You’ve got to fight it.
After a bit of a down year for music that you may not have noticed because you were still so happy with the great crop from 2005. The year 2007 is set to be a great year for new stuff. In the first 4 months alone there will be new albums from the following artists.
Of Montreal (Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?)
The Shins (Wincing The Night Away)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Some Loud Thunder)
Apples In Stereo (New Magnetic Wonder)
Bloc Party (A Weekend In The City)
Magic Numbers (Those The Brokes)
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (Living With The Living)
Low (Drums And Guns)
Modest Mouse (We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank)
Arcade Fire (Neon Bible)
Brock doesn’t seem content to have just one star collaborator in new Modest Mouse member Johnny Marr. The Shins’ James Mercer guests on three We Were Dead tracks: “We’ve Got Everything”, “Florida”, and “Missed the Boat”. Other song titles include “Fire It Up”, “Steaming Genius”, “Parting of the Sensories”, and “Spitting Venom”.
Also the Arcade Fire is set to play some shows in New York (not all of them will be in churches either though it would be great to see them in a venue like this), if you are in the area get to the show, they are amazing live. Possibly the only band not named Radiohead that I would travel a half a day to hear. Though it appears that their reputation for live shows is really jacking up the value of their tickets. Also worth seeing in NYC: David Bowie and Daniel Johnston. [Brooklyn Vegan]
I was blown away by the Cloud Cult Show on Friday night at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. Craig Minowa and the band have great energy and everything sounded great. I really think this band is going to blow up – well as much as a band that produces all of its own small independent releasers can blow up. The band mentioned a new CD but I am not sure when it will be out. Hopefully before the end of the year but i am not sure they will be able to swing that with their current tour schedule.
EXTRA: Check out this fan-made music video of the Cloud Cult song, Transistor Radio.
I have this post as a draft for so long that many of these bands aren’t new but that doesn’t diminish what I feel has been quite a musical revival in 2005. Most of the bands listed below have released new albums this year and have helped to provide a fresh soundtrack for my life. Are we really in a musical renaissance or are the internet and music services such as Napster and iTunes changing they way we find new music and specifically how quickly acts get “out there” to music lovers? The idea is certainly worthy of further consideration.
- The Shins
- Bloc Party
- The Killers
- Death Cab for Cutie
- Arcade Fire
- Snow Patrol
- The Faint
- The Ike Reilly Assasination
- Andrew Bird
- M. Ward
- Matt Pond PA
- The Editors
- The Little Machines
- Rainer Maria