A Hard Rate's Night: The Beatles Rate - #46: We Are Number One, HEY! | Page 5 | The Popjustice Forum

A Hard Rate's Night: The Beatles Rate - #46: We Are Number One, HEY!

Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by Ironheade, May 10, 2021.

  1. Ana Raquel likes this.
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  4. TAGGING ROUND!

    I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello... to tell everyone you have FOUR WEEKS TO VOTE!

    @br0dy
    @ohnoitisnathan
    @HarryEzra
    @Conan
    @iheartpoptarts

    That'll be all for now I think. And as ever, if you know anyone who might be interested in this, tag 'em in here.
     
  5. Thanks for the mention, but I'm not really a fan of the Beatles so I will sit out on this one. Good luck!
     
    Ironheade likes this.
  6. Got the songlist printouts for my Mom and I ready for the car ride tomorrow. If it's ever an option for anyone to do for a rate, I highly recommend it! It's a blast!

    My Dad said he didn't want to 'score' the songs, but he's driving anyway. No doubt he'll enjoy this car drive more than most though because he's the 'OLDIES 100.9' listener of the family, (Maine's biggest oldies radio station) and loves The Beatles of course. It will be a different situation for him instead of my usual basic bop marathon I subject him to. (He likes alot of that too though, he's not too picky)
     
  7. Sorry guys, but expect the next set of four "not in the rate" reveals to not come for a little bit, there's a lot going on at the moment.

    But in the meantime, if you want anything shorter - explainers, potential discussions that you'd be interested in, whatever - I'm open.
     
  8. Been a bit of a delay, but it's incoming now!

    Featuring: our dive into the depths of John's soul, with a pretty little Paul ballad for light relief. An unfortunate reflection of how too many ignorant critics have treated the Beatles' career (*cough* Rolling Stone in the 70's *cough*), but anyhow.

    ***

    THE TWENTY BEST BEATLES SONGS (THAT AREN'T IN THE RATE (AS SELECTED BY ME))
    Part Two




    At number twelve...




    BECAUSE
    From Abbey Road




    And now we finally turn to Abbey Road – previously I characterised it as my second-favourite Beatles album, and it's a close-run contest with Revolver at that. While in historical terms it has often been cast as the Beatles knowing they were at the end of their rope, burnt out from the collapse of Get Back, and wishing for one final disciplined and cohesive record before going their separate ways, that is not quite true – but it's coherent enough that you can believe it, a small miracle considering how much they could barely stand each other at this point. The sound is clearer and brighter than anything before it, the melodies like drops of sunlight rendered as sound, the unsuccessful genre experiments and comedy tracks shucked in favour of simple pop joys and arrangements both grand and light-handed. (Yes, I'm the only person in the world who likes “Maxwell's Silver Hammer”, apparently. I make no apologies for it.) The second side, in particular, is perhaps the most entertaining side of any Beatles record with its famous medley. But today it is one of two fully-formed songs on that side that I wish to highlight – coincidentally, “Because” happens to be the last song committed to tape for the record (though overdubs awaited for a few others), and the second to last that the Beatles ever recorded, with only “I Me Mine”, destined instead for what became Let It Be, following it. And what a way to go out!

    The arrangement is a striking bit of miniaturised chamber classical, containing no percussion at all (unusual for them in a song not based around acoustic guitars), and driven by George Martin's electric harpsichord, doubled by a wavering electric guitar arpeggio strained through a Leslie speaker cabinet and held down by a few delicate bass plucks. John, the song's main composer, recalled it as being inspired by hearing Yoko Ono playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on the piano, and asking if she could play the arpeggios of its first movement backwards. While the chord structure of “Because” is not quite a backwards Moonlight Sonata (per Dominic Pedler's analysis), the two share a common key and an emphasis on distinctive flattened II chords, and it's as close as the Beatles ever got, per a lot of classical musicologists, to formal perfection. The arpeggios might be rhythmically static and not progress much, but it's all the better to focus the attention on those beautiful vocal harmonies. A Moog synthesizer enters as a third layer of musical harmony for the song's coda, surprisingly comfortable and warm amidst the more organic instrumentation with its gentle recorder-like tones. The Beatles cannot claim to be pioneers in the synthesizer as they were in so many other things – the Monkees had beaten them to featuring a Moog on a pop record by a year – but to divest it from the eerie futuristic evocations for which it fit so naturally, given the primitive state of synth technology, was no mean feat.

    Over it, John, Paul and George sing in constant three-part harmony, making “Because” the only track in the Beatles catalogue where all three sing lead throughout the entire thing, triple-tracked to create a nine-part choir. This is the very technique that Brian Wilson used for a lot of the Beach Boys' harmonies, and the result is a thing of beauty to rival anything he ever conceived. The Beatles' voices might be rougher and heartier than Wilson and company's angelic sighs and soarings, but the intricate blend has a delicacy surprising after the frequent raggedness of the White Album. It is perfect for the lyrics, reflecting what Jonathan Gould calls some of “the gentlest, most poetically accessible wordplay John Lennon ever wrote”. (No wonder it is one of the Beatles songs he seemed to like most in the few years immediately after the breakup: “no imagery, no obscure references”, he said, and it is all the better for it.)

    And in terms of musical narratology, “Because” is a triumph. For all its joyous baroque pop melodies and lyrics about love, sunshine, octopi and... er, toejam football... Abbey Road is, in large part, the sound of a once mighty band realising that they have nothing more to say to or with each other, making their goodbyes and walking off down separate roads. It's always been, for me, an album cast in melancholia because of that, bittersweet but looking back at what the Beatles had once accomplished with a big smile and a well-earned sense of pride. And as the song ends on an unresolved diminished D chord, not returning to its home key, the hanging harmony sets up “You Never Give Me Your Money” perfectly. In musical storytelling terms, “Because” represents the Beatles determined to end their days as a functional band properly, one last tight-as-a-jigsaw song before the final glorious explosion of individualist song fragments. Their longtime recording engineer Geoff Emerick said that the song had taken hours of rehearsal, and five hours of all-business recording together, to get right – because, he said, “they knew they were doing something special”. He was right.



    At number eleven...



    HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE
    From Revolver




    For all that Revolver stands up in the canon as a deeply strange piece of work, featuring the Beatles diving into some of their darkest and most nightmarish territory yet (and possibly ever), its light is certainly not dimmed in comparison to their other work when it comes to simple pop joys. And no song exemplifies that better than “Here, There and Everywhere”, perhaps the prettiest ballad Paul ever wrote. For this, we can partially thank those great cross-Atlantic compatriots and sometime rivals, the Beach Boys – though the Beatles were more directly influenced by the avant-garde and experimental tape music than were their American cousins, the Beach Boys' perfection of the simple pop form by way of their startlingly inventive compositions was perhaps just as avant-garde in its own way, and everyone who wanted to write innovative or “progressive” pop songs after Pet Sounds would have to answer to it, directly or indirectly. Paul's cited “God Only Knows” specifically as the inspiration for this one, having recently attended a listening party for Pet Sounds ahead of its UK release in June 1966. (He would later, in multiple interviews, call it his favourite record of all time - “no one is educated musically 'till they've heard that album”, he declared once.) How much direct influence the two had on each other can be debated – personally, I put it more down to both wanting to experiment with what could be done in the studio at the same time, than to influence as such – but on “Here, There and Everywhere”, their mutual admiration shines like a star.

    Returning to the matter of John's indolence, as discussed in “I'm Only Sleeping”, Paul wrote “Here, There and Everywhere” while waiting for John to wake up, with his slothful compatriot helping him to finish it – in particular, helping him to arrange the harmonies of the intro. If any particular direct influence from the Beach Boys exists in the song, it is here, capturing beautifully Brian Wilson's brand of “oooohs”, what the great man himself described as “a big full sound... that opens up the heart”, and it is so here. Ah, it's like being wrapped in a big fluffy blanket – some less charitable observers, Ian MacDonald for one, have described the effect as syrupy or cloying, but I have to disagree. For all that Paul sings his lead with what MacDonald calls “the virtue of a Victorian tenor”, his gentle willowy falsetto and the harmonies of the band members serene in their purity, the lyric is a humble one, ultimately. Paul needs his partner in order that he can be a better person, and the tone is almost submissive and desperate as he wishes that he “need never care”. Even as a simple devotional love song, this fits in very well with the themes of spiritual transcendence running throughout Revolver, the woman (Jane Asher, as was the subject of many of Paul's ballads) almost taking on the qualities of a spirit who merges with her partner, “watching their eyes and hoping that I'm always there”. Just goes to show: there's always something new to be wrung out of a simple theme.

    And the same goes for the music. “Here, There and Everywhere” seems a proposition as simple as the Beatles' earlier ballads at first, all gentle guitar plucks and a demure percussive layer from Ringo. Yet even here Revolver is given over to sonic experimentation, with George wringing more fine guitar effect work out of his Leslie cabinet, his line first taking on a twinkling mandolin-like quality, then to a more insistent and nagging electrified tone. The musical arrangement too, reflects almost formal perfection even as it vacillates between three keys but never quite settles on one. There's simply too much for me to put in this one short write-up, so I direct you to Alan W. Pollack's Notes (here) so you can see just how clever the chord sequences on this one are. The lyrics are cleverly done too, opening each verse with one word of the title and threading them throughout the song, yet holding off on a full mention of the title until right at the end. It's almost like something from a Great American Songbook tune, witty and deft yet at the same time instantly, comfortingly familiar. No wonder it has the tone of an instant standard, reflected by its adoption by many a crooner. (Paul, too, mentioned that he liked the old-fashioned idea of opening the song with a preamble, and this fits in well with Brian's similar affection for the Tin Pan Alley era.) A small masterpiece of soft rock, “Here, There and Everywhere” stands as one of the great pop ballads of its era, with all the richness and depth of a fine wine, and if anyone ever tries to claim Paul as the cheesy balladeer of the Beatles, aiming only at getting the mums and grannies weeping in their seats? The transcendental nature of this one should prove 'em wrong.



    At number ten...



    SEXY SADIE
    From The Beatles




    Quoth Wikipedia: “The song has been considered an early example of a diss track.” Their impact.

    The target of the diss in “Sexy Sadie”, disguised in order to avoid the threat of a lawsuit, is the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatles' guru when they decamped to India to study Transcendental Meditation. Though this was one of their most productive songwriting periods, it was marred by internal and external conflict: Paul and Ringo both left early, which sparked tensions with John and George, who felt that they lacked the discipline needed to achieve “higher consciousness”; the remaining two became concerned about the Maharishi's seeming worldliness, and his embrace of luxury and celebrity guru status, with John in particular becoming disillusioned over these feet of clay. But the last straw were allegations that the Maharishi had made inappropriate sexual advances towards fellow student Mia Farrow, and possibly other female students, which caused John and George to abruptly depart for the UK in April 1968, John writing “Sexy Sadie” on the way home and angrily denouncing him as a fraud when he got back. Some observers, however, have cast doubts on this story: Farrow herself is ambiguous on what really happened, but some of the Beatles' fellow students have said they don't believe the events described add up, and Cynthia Lennon and others have claimed that John just used the turmoil that erupted as an excuse to get home and see Yoko Ono. Furthermore, some have cast doubt due to the source of the allegations - “Magic” Alex Mardas, sometime Apple Electronics “wizard” and full-time con man, who has been tarred as being a toxic influence on John in the Beatles' later years, and accused of spreading rumours out of personal jealousy that he would be supplanted as John's LSD-driven “guru”. Paul and George would both issue public apologies to the Maharishi in the 90's. (When asked later in life if he had been upset about the Beatles' comments about him, the Maharishi replied: “I could never be upset with angels.”) In the end... hell, don't ask me what the truth is, because I have no idea.

    Regardless of what the Maharishi did or didn't do, the fact remains, “Sexy Sadie” is a delight, a brutally funny and acerbic slice of pop goodness in the midst of the White Album's out-of-whack bad-trip odyssey. The primary piano figure, played here by Paul, almost seems to be setting up another one of his elegant pseudo-baroque ballads, but the tonal quality of it soon reveals itself as something straight out of John's pen, dripping in ironic chromatic harmonies and filtered through echo to make it sound warped and slightly off-colour, yet very distinct and intriguing all the same. (This is the main distinguishing factor of the two's melodies: Paul uses wide intervals with a big melodic range, while John's tend to be dissonant, sedentary, and sometimes even approaching monotone.) The chord structure shifts evasively throughout the song, at one point settling in the middle section on the same sequence as “Here, There and Everywhere”, as easily as its protagonist dupes those who dare to follow him (or, uh, her) with temptations of the same kind of spiritual love as proffered in that much prettier number. Again, we see a fine example of the Beatles' musical humour, and John's especial gift in reflecting the lyric in the particulars of its instrumental arrangement. George's lead guitar work over the fade is a fine piece too, utilising the Leslie speaker to add colour to his long sustained phrases, as an organ makes for an ironic bit of mock-spirituality as the Maharishi's bloviating is punctured.

    As much of Paul's greatest work came from head-over-heels romanticism or pastoralism, so too were John's masterpieces often the product of bitterness and spite – there can be few artists who have harnessed troubling and difficult emotions to more productive ends. You can hear the joy he takes in taunting, “You'll get yours yet, however big you think you are!”, yet there is regret and a wish that things could have turned out better in lines like “the world was waiting for a lover”, and “we gave her everything we owned just to sit at her table”. The hurt is palpable, John not quite able to accept that the man he once saw as an idol, the bearer of the keys to spiritual enlightenment, was merely a very fallible human being, and hiding behind a wall of sneering anger and snide humour in an attempt to deflect these emotions as unworthy of his own attention. But he ultimately cannot, and it is that which gives “Sexy Sadie” an emotional resonance that belies its unruffled exterior. And the other Beatles provide fabulous reinforcement through the song's X factor – the parodic doo-wop backing vocals, full of taunting “ooooohs” and echoes of John's denouncements in the lead, at one moment imitating the cries of a baby. The overall air is one of scolding the Maharishi as if he were a naughty child, and there's something I just love about that – a diss track where the subject is barely even worthy of attention, so a mocking kiddie sing-along will do! “Sexy Sadie” is the sound of John unburdening all his anger in one fell swoop, purging and moving on, a fine musical reflection of it even as he could not do the same in his own personal relationships. And as a signpost to the almost uncomfortably candid recollections that would make for his most satisfying solo work, it is second to none.



    At number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine...



    I WANT YOU (SHE'S SO HEAVY)
    From Abbey Road




    Ooh, I know this one's going to be a divisive one. But it's so repetitive! It has barely any lyrics anyway! And does it really need to be that long? Those are opinions I've seen in many a Beatles discussion, with a fair few people I've seen even calling the song one of their worst, and to them I say: fantastic (I'm a Swans lover after all!), who cares, and yes. “I Want You” captures many of John's obsessions as a songwriter – all-consuming lust, mental torment, and addiction – and puts them on display in their most thrilling, naked form, and the result, like many songs on the all-encompassing final summation that is Abbey Road, captures the grandest possible vision of one of the Beatles' artistic facets, in this case their heavy, trippy freakouts that took them as far from pop music as they ever got. “Helter Skelter” gets all the credit for the heavy side of the Beatles that they began to explore on the White Album, but “I Want You” is the one that really deserves it – progressive rock and doom metal before those really began to coalesce, one of the masterpieces of British heavy blues.

    John had been the first Beatle to release pop/rock music under his (and Yoko's) own name outside of the group, which ought to have been a bad sign for their future possibilities of cohesiveness, yet this was music that could never have borne a Beatles banner, too self-conscious and introspective for that, and laden with John's primal screams as he plumbs the depths of his addictions and personality flaws. It is for this reason that John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band remains the best Beatles solo disc ever produced, brutal and gripping and sickly compelling as a man puts it all on display, seeming to care little for artistic adornment in his need to let it all hang out. If ever that impulse made it to the Beatles, it is in “I Want You”. John sounds like a man possessed here as he roars out his lust for Yoko, abandoning any poetic impulse and laying it right on the line, as his repeated “I want you so bad it's driving me mad!” (moaned in such a fashion you can almost see his shaking wrists) and bellowed “she's so... HEAVYYYYY!” take the form of mantras. But for all that “I Want You” comes off as an act of release for John, it was beloved of the other Beatles – so much so that Paul apparently took lead vocals on some unreleased takes. You can hear the rhythm section loving to cut loose here, Paul's aggressive bass playing providing as much of a hook as the famous central arpeggio before dancing giddily away into a series of freeform slides in the final section. Meanwhile, Ringo does some of his best work here, with a light-footed Latinate blues groove in the vein of Santana (overdubbed with some congas for full effect), a prime example of how his economical but ruthlessly on-beat playing and perfect sense of when not to overplay his hand worked as the Beatles' ultimate secret weapon.

    And of course that arpeggio is a classic, twisting and winding throughout most of the song as Billy Preston's organ fills stab and nip at its edges, and John and George lock into the grinding D minor arpeggio, the chord sequence going through a sequence of plunging ascents and descents that never quite let it settle, while the song wanders from its 6/8 intro through 4/4 verses and into the final 12/8 repetitions of the “She's So Heavy” theme. If ever any song showed the power of repetition and the drone, it is “I Want You”, its central theme sounding fuller and more dressed every time, yet so unrelenting and grinding in its dissonance and lean on blue notes that John's obsession and co-dependence takes on the form of a massive, horrid engine churning away without thought or reason. The final minutes of the song make for some of the most terrifying and viscerally thrilling in the entire canon of the Beatles; the Moog synthesizer makes a reappearance, set to white noise so as to simulate a wind machine, making the band sound like they're playing in the midst of a hurricane, yet the arpeggios show them with their feet firmly planted in the ground and unable to be swayed by the emotional tumult that paints itself upon the sky. And it all ends with that iconic abrupt cut – the result of John literally asking Geoff Emerick to cut the tape with scissors, bringing the first side of Abbey Road to a striking close, aborting the descent into John's primal-screaming madness before it's to late, the bejeweled magnificence of “Here Comes the Sun” awaiting on the flip to lift the band out of the depths. If any band could plumb the depths of both light and dark more effectively on the same album... well, I don't know of it.​
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021


  9. When I was a kid this was a hit in Austria. I only learned that it was a Beatles cover when I looked it up before submitting it to PJ Retro ... ouch.

    And then - maybe when he died - George Harrison was in the news and I stumbled over The Traveling Wilburys and I immediately loved them:



    So I am in and I am rooting for George, the overlooked genius! Don't you do his songs dirty!
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2021
  10. Not for me! I completely agree with everything you wrote about I Want You - an amazing song that stands out in their discography, an example for the versatility of the material they'd produce as a band which they'd never match again in their solo careers.
    But all of the songs you selected for spotlights deserve the attention. Personally, I hope that For No One might be one of the eight songs left on your list!
     
    Ironheade and Aester like this.
  11. "Here, There and Everywhere" would have been an 11 contender for me had it been included. I never knew the "God Only Knows" connection, but I can definitely hear it now. God bless Brian Wilson for writing such a beautiful song and inspiring Paul to follow suit!

    I have the same hope!
     
  12. So I've been considering some potential topics for essays in this, or "thinkpieces" if you like. Some of these will come out in the writeups, but I believe I have one now, written somewhat on the spur of the moment.

    So, enjoy!

    ***

    What Would You Say If I Sang Out of Tune?
    Being For the Benefit of Ringo Starr


    [​IMG]

    So we've had people in this thread exhorting us not to forget George's stellar contributions, even as he was overshadowed and pushed about by the Lennon-McCartney axis, and that's true. I suspect, however, that poor old Ringo will not be afforded the same luxuries. If you look at popular opinion, doubtless Ringo would be seen as the fifth wheel, the one people like to pick on, and unquestionably a junior partner in the Beatles. He's a drummer, first of all, so never a “frontman”, and his drumming skills are not of the kind that impress non-musicians. He composed a grand total of two songs during the band's existence, one a grating pseudo-country throwaway, the other a light-hearted children's number which may or may not have had heavy involvement from George Harrison anyway. Then there's his often questionable singing ability, which was basically on par with the average fan singing along with the record, and which he was often reluctant to do (the higher notes in the chorus of “With a Little Help from My Friends”, which should be a walk in the park for any trained baritone, were by his own recollection tricky for him to nail). Well, let me be the one to stand up for Ringo, then, and take you through every facet of why he mattered. The Beatles, after all, were not a duo or a trio, but a quartet, and he had his own important part to play in their career – there are better drummers, of course, but no better drummer for the Beatles.

    (Firstly, the infamous "he's not even the best drummer in the Beatles" quote is not John, as it was often attributed to. It was popularised by comedian Jasper Carrott, after John was already dead. Let's not tear him down further, eh?)

    In part, Ringo was also a victim of the changing times, as the relentless pace of evolution in rock and pop of the 60's made its way to the percussion section, and idioms from jazz and world musics began to creep in as instrumental virtuosity became more and more a key feature of the acid-rock era. By the time the Beatles' personal issues were starting to rip them apart, the glory days of the “hot” drummer had begun: Mitch Mitchell's exhilerating about-to-fall-apart-at-any-moment splatter-painting, Keith Moon literally demolishing his kit as he tried to play the whole thing at once, John Bonham making every bass kick sound like a bomb going off, Ginger Baker's octopus-limbed polyrhythmic pounding that marked some of Western pop music's first overtures to Africa. As these men and their like expanded the vocabulary of what it meant to be a rock drummer by orders of magnitude, the no-fuss approach of Ringo and the earlier 60's “pocket” drummers was starting to look too minimalistic to be taken seriously... that is, if you're not a musician yourself. I take nothing away from the “hot” drummers, who well deserve every bit of their sterling reputations. But a big part of why they enjoy such fame as drumming gods among the general public, while Ringo does not, is that they have a lot of the more flashy and overtly impressive moments, extended solos and suchlike, that he never did, and in fact actively disdained. Style over substance... I do hate that fallacy so much. (Ringo's one recorded drum solo, on “The End”, was by all accounts a sort of “fine, fine, I'll do it, happy now?” affair. Paul also recalled taking a liking to him early on because he didn't want to take a long solo in the middle of their sets!)

    Mick Fleetwood said once, “God knows, if the drums are not right, then the song is not survivable,” and I agree. Luckily, when it comes to Ringo, the drums were always right. I can't recall one moment, in all my years of listening to the Beatles, where I thought that a drum part just wasn't correct for the song, or was actively getting in the way. Ringo's early-period work contains some of the finest demonstrations of simple but effective pop/rock drumming out there, in the same vein as Charlie Watts or Hal Blaine – the notes they aren't playing are the most important part, but the prime attraction is their economy and ability to compose unique, stylistic drum parts for each song rather than leaning on formulaic beats. “She Loves You”, for example, opens with one of the most iconic drum fills in all of pop music, Ringo leaning out across his toms and slamming on the snare to give that final necessary spark of energy to his bandmates' “YEAH YEAH YEAH!”, before veering away under a layer of sizzling ride cymbals. And while “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is the epitome of the simple, no-frills yet ruthlessly effective drumming style he is best known for, even a trick as simple as the way he eases off on the hi-hat during “and when I touch you...” shapes the song's melodic contours in a big way. Then there's his most famous drumming moment from the early days: “Ticket to Ride”, in which his loud crack-and-thump floor tom and snare turnaround serves as prominent a hook as that sourly chiming Indian riff. A lot of the early Beatlemania hits could be reduced to only the drum track, and you'd still be able to recognise them.

    He has his unique traits, too, which Ringo attributes to being a lefty who never played on a left-handed kit (according to George Martin, “he couldn't do a roll to save his life” because of it). Leading his fills with his left hand across a right-handed kit gives them a unique tonality that's hard to replicate in covers, slightly out of whack but all the more charming for it. You can also take note of what I call the “window wash” on his cymbals, where instead of simply hitting them, he sweeps his stick across the surface (in the “Day Tripper” video I linked in the opening post's playlist, you can see this clearly) – I've always liked the looseness it gives to the Beatles' rhythms, even as they are never sloppy or off-time. And he was one of the first drummers to primarily use a matched grip for his sticks rather than traditional grip, as he sought to get more power out of his drum sound. He was always playing with his drum setup and tone in that way, altering it for every song the Beatles recorded – compare “Ticket to Ride” to any other contemporaneous song, for instance, and the drums come through a lot thicker and louder.

    Ringo also had plenty to contribute as the Beatles grew more experimental, always willing to alter the tone of his drums as needed, or experiment with primitive forms of tape looping and sampling. Where would “Tomorrow Never Knows”, for example, be without his thunderous tribal patterns passed through Geoff Emerick's dense web of tape filters? “Rain”, by his own choice his finest moment of drumming with the Beatles, is made all the more memorable thanks to his splattering fills and rolls that never allow it to sit still. The fills on “A Day in the Life”, as pointed out by Phil Collins, are more complex than they sound, wandering about in a haze yet never slipping off the beat as they might threaten to. And he could handle odd time signatures with aplomb, always tasteful and never showing off. Most striking is his consistency: in his exhaustive Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn attributes only a dozen takes, in their whole career, as breaking down because Ringo made a mistake. The man had a perfect internal sense of timing, and even for drummers, that's rarer than you'd think. Whatever the main three composers wanted him to do, he could do it reliably, providing a rock-solid base for them to mess around over the top of.

    By the time of Abbey Road, Ringo was doing his bit to keep up with the “hot” drummers, referring to his playing during this period as “tom-tom madness”, inspired by the resonance of the new kit with calfskin heads he had acquired. Throughout the whole album, he really pushes his own abilities, not only in the strange time signatures used a lot of the time (the bridge of “Here Comes the Sun”, for example, is 11/8 + 4/4 + 7/8), but in what he does to step into the limelight as a lead musician. On “Come Together”, he provides the main hook of the song with his too-cool-to-care swish across the toms and hi-hat, which is harder to replicate perfectly than it sounds, before giving John Lennon's rather monotonous vocal melody the lift it needs on the verses – quite impressive for just pounding on the floor tom, one heavy beat then one soft one, but it's all about the feel. The bridge of “Something” is really elevated by his stellar tom work, which George Martin always saw as his greatest strength. And “I Want You (She's So Heavy)”, as I've said in its writeup, is underappreciated when it comes to Ringo's finest moments, but it proves that he can handle a tricksy Latin-inflected groove, that has to alternate between time signatures at the drop of a hat, and light and airy intermittent beats and heavy hard rock wallop equally quickly.

    And then there's the personality factor. After the hometown fans had gotten over losing Pete Best, Ringo's affable nature made him beloved of the fans, and that was why, even though he was never too confident in his singing abilities, the rest of the band persuaded him to take his one vocal spot per album. George, in particular, was always there to encourage him to come out of his shell – it's hard not to think that they might have felt some kinship in feeling pushed about by John and Paul. After a rough start, I think he did settle alright into the role, with a great deal of charm compensating for technical limitations and a good sense from the others (responsible for arranging or choosing his material) as to what would suit his persona best. Ringo was recognised, during the filming of A Hard Day's Night, as the one of the Beatles who possessed genuine acting talent, and his pitch-perfect portrayal of the sad clown, descendant of Harpo Marx, provides the already brilliant film with its greatest touch of pathos. And when the Beatles used to actually come up with little comedy routines for the benefit of the press, Ringo always played a key role as the unflappable foil to John's biting sarcasm. Though the original, rather boy-bandish press personas faded eventually, personas were still a key part of the group in the latter days: Paul the driven and ever-passionate romantic with one eye on the past, John the brooding bohemian living on the fringes, George the unflappable mystic ever looking for the keys to enlightenment. And Ringo? Next to these three untouchable demigods of rock, Ringo was the one fans wanted to have a beer with. It's no wonder that all three other members would regularly have Ringo play on their solo albums (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band contains some particularly fine work from him), and would write songs for his own in turn, so used were they to his style of drumming... and, well, just because they liked him and wanted him around. Also, yeah, “It Don't Come Easy” and “Photograph” are cracking tunes.

    I leave you with this quote from John's final interview with Playboy.

    Couldn't have said it better myself! And as Ringo himself says, peace and love.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. That is an amazing essay, and I really have nothing else to add. I do have a huge chip on my shoulder in regard to Ringo being underestimated as a drummer. He is a fantastic drummer, for reasons you have laid out better than I would be able to. Just have a listen to Paul's perfectly good but straightfoward drumming on Back In The USSR. Now imagine all Beatles drum tracks being like that. A lot would be lost.
     
    pop3blow2, Filippa, Aester and 2 others like this.
  14. I think my 11 is between 2 maybe 3 songs. It's hard to hand out low scores here because even though there are songs I don't particularly care for, I feel harsh handing low scores out to this band. I have to keep telling myself that it's a rate and I have to consider the songs on a smaller scale; against themselves and not judged solely on their overall impact on music altogether. So just know that if you see a 4, 3, or possibly lower!
     
    Aester, Ironheade and DominoDancing like this.
  15. I know what you mean, I kind of implemented a relative scale myself, just so I could have a wider range of scores and not just like "TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN". I don't have any below 5 though.
     
  16. I don't think I'll go lower than a 4, but I do have a few of those. I always rate on how much I enjoy the songs more than anything else. There are definitely some duds for me here, even though I know they're classics for a reason.
     
    DJHazey likes this.
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