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New film shows Beatlemania strain on Fab Four

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I have listened to all their albums and saw some of their television performances. As music performers, their singing and instrumental skill was or is average at best. They were simply at the right place at the right time. They were also the prototype for the pre-fabricated boy band groups which shows that their success wasn't really about talent but marketing. The same can be said about some performers today. They were simply the first to be good at it.

I will concede and say that they do have a place in music history, but it isn't really for their skill.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

I have listened to all their albums and saw some of their television performances. As music performers, their singing and instrumental skill was or is average at best. They were simply at the right place at the right time.

Sorry, but you could not be more wrong. The Beatles were about song-writing. Their songs have withstood the test of time and are great, no matter who plays or sings them.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Silvafan So you went to the trouble of listening to all the albums and some of the TV performances of an "average" band that was in the "right place a the right time"? I don't think there is one professional musician in music today that doesn't regard them one of (if not the) greatest band of all time. What would you regard as a talented band?

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Sorry, but you could not be more wrong. The Beatles were about song-writing. Their songs have withstood the test of time and are great, no matter who plays or sings them.

An opinion can't be wrong. It is what it is....an opinion, regardless if fanboys disagree or disagree.

The Beatles in Japan are either used by over 50 school teachers to let students sing easy English songs (even though students would prefer One-D or Taylor Swift)and certain elderly groups at karaoke clubs. I understand their popularity but fans don't have to get defensive if other don't like their music or think they weren't so great.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

"...used by over 50 school teachers to let students sing easy English songs."

Yeah, right. I'd like to see them handle the 3-part harmonies in songs like "Nowhere Man." Japan's top performers normally avoid even handle 2-part harmonies. Singing in simple unison is the norm here.

"their singing and instrumental skill was or is average at best."

Gimme a break. The Beatles' tenure in Hamburg, doing marathon performances, turned them into polished musicians. That's why they didn't need studio musicians when recording albums, apart from the orchestral tracks, unlike the Beach Boys and numerous other bands.

Billy Joel and others have said the Beatles inspired them to become "real musician" pop stars who wrote their own material. No one else was doing this at the time.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

An opinion can't be wrong. It is what it is....an opinion, regardless if fanboys disagree or disagree.

Sorry, but an "opinion" that asserts or implies that any artist's music can be rated solely in terms of "singing" skill or "instrumental" virtuosity is dead wrong. There is much more to music than just those two elements.

Note his last statement: .. as if "skill" meant only those two aspects. If the Beatles were simply in the "right place" at the "right time," no other group since them has ever been in such a position. I don't believe the opinionator knows that much about music, frankly.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don't think there is one professional musician in music today that doesn't regard them one of (if not the) greatest band of all time.

Silvafan was referring to their musicianship. There are different kinds of great. Technically, their musicianship was not great. Harrison got better as he went along, but much of his early guitar work is clumsy, as attested to by their early sound engineer and a casual listening of Harrison's playing. McCartney became an accomplished bassist, but his early playing wasn't anything special. Starr is a fine drummer, but it wouldn't take long to find his equal in today's drumming world. Lennon was a decent rhythm player but lacking in the lead area.

I'm a huuuge Beatles fan, but an impartial evaluation would find them to be only decent musicians. Where they shine is their songwriting and their sound--the vocal blend and the studio production. They were in the right place at the right time and they had enough experience and charm to stand out, but they went on produce some wonderful art.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

pre-fabricated boy band groups

At minimum read about their years playing clubs, playing live shows, before you make a comment like this. Are you confusing them with The Monkees?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

So many no-nothing wannabes out there who criticize bands like the Beatles for not being a great "technical" band.

Proof positive they know absolutely nothing about rock music.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

"Their success wasn't really about talent but marketing"

Epstein certainly packaged them at the start. I do find it hard to accept their success wasn't about talent when Rubber Soul, Revolver, Pepper, The White Album and Abbey Road routinely make it into the top ten albums of all time on many lists.

Packaged boy-bands don't generally do this. Acts like One Direction don't write songs like A Day in the Life, Blackbird, Strawberry Fields, Rain and Norweigian Wood.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I have listened to all their albums and saw some of their television performances. As music performers, their singing and instrumental skill was or is average at best. [.... ] I will concede and say that they do have a place in music history, but it isn't really for their skill.

If appreciating music was just a virtuosity contest, we'd all be listening to Buddy Rich or Larry Adler, and fewer people would want to puke after watching Steve Vai. You should try hearing some of the music that was made in the 1920s. A lot of it is incredibly raw. The same goes for field recordings made by Alan Lomax and others. Or try Fat's Waller's singing. You'll see that people were perfectly happy with rough sounding music and vocals, and others who heard it, even when not simply trying to copy it, have been chasing that kind of sound, lyric, or feeling ever since.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

wipeout - you took the words right out of my mouth with the Steve Vai reference. Plays 100 miles an hour but hasn't created one riff known to man.

Can neither rock nor roll.

I think those who don't appreciate bands like the Beatles should stick to electronica or disco (same thing, I know)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

performing as a band... was the foundation of everything we recorded

The Beatles made music to be passed down through the generations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY3Q1DMf5zY

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I love the Beatles, and think they were wonderful. But I understand the backlash as well. There is simply no amount of talent in the world that could ever justify the hysteria that was Beatle-mania. A lot of their extreme success had to do with the dawning of television, among other things. As the article noted, the fans screamed so much that it was obvious they were not there for the music.

The Beatles would have been successful in almost any case, but their timing coincided with the growth of real mass media in a way that can never be repeated

To the Beatles credit, they were always ready to cite their sources and help the careers of the artists who inspired them - some great artists who were either the wrong color, too old, or not pretty enough to find the success that found so many bands in the 60s and 70s.

And I agree with the Steve Vai mentions. I'd rather hear one note played out from the heart with real passion than 100 notes packed into the same space just to dazzle.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have listened to all their albums and saw some of their television performances. As music performers, their singing and instrumental skill was or is average at best.>

Anyone with a passing taste for real Rock and Roll (as opposed to "technically proficient", processed cheeze "rock" music) knows that the Beatles were a killer live band in the early sixties. Not many in the U.K. could touch them for loud and fast thrills.

The pre-fame Beatles had a magic combination of musicianship, attitude, groove and energy. Whereas many modern "technically proficient" musicians massacre Chuck Berry/Little Richard/Carl Perkins classics and turn them into leaden, robotic, oldies snooze-fests, the early Beatles had the ability to truly kick out the jams in style. A quick listen to the 1962 Star Club performances in Germany proves it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdjXQvHcw4A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZUo37wJkPY

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My opinion and points still stand. Everyone hear concedes to my points but then try to make some excuse or change the subject. It would be pointless to try and have a rational debate with fanboys because I am hurting your feelings about idols from your youth.

Right place, right time....right race. That was the biggest factor to their success!

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

"It would be pointless to try and have a rational debate with fanboys because I am hurting your feelings about idols from your youth."

I was born after the Beatles broke up. As for "right place, right time...right race", how do you explain the lasting influence of this band and the fact that the albums they produced are continually rated as some of the best ever recorded? How does it explain the fact that McCartney is the most successful songwriter in the history of popular music? You are making no sense here by saying the main reason for their success was lucky timing. Gerry and the Pacemakers were part of the Merseybeat fad but they are not the colossus the Beatles still are.

I listed 5 Beatles tracks in my previous post. I'll list 5 more and could list many more - Nowhere Man, Eleanor Rigby, I Am The Walrus, Hard Day's Night and Revolution. Why are these songs still known by people born decades after the break up a band which owed its success to lucky timing?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I never dreamed I'd ever hear someone say that they didn't like the Beatles or thought they were "average at best."

They were just kids when they wrote some of the most iconic music and lyrics ever composed.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sometimes when I watch concerts going on at European festivals, I often see men holding up women on their shoulders without any care for the people standing behind them trying to watch the performance. When I see old clips of the Beatles performing in the 60s, all I hear is women shrieking the entire performance. In both of these cases, aren't there any other patrons asking the girls to shut up or the couples to get out of the way?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I'm a 62 year-old Englishman. I recently visited the Cavern Club in Liverpool for the first time, during Beatleweek, and just burst into tears, overwhelmed by the enormity of what these four working class lads have given to the soundtrack of my life.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My opinion and points still stand. Everyone hear concedes to my points but then try to make some excuse or change the subject

Wow, thats delusional. I read the comments and see almost everyone in awe at how wrong you are.

Again, rock music is not for you. Stick to the DJ booth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I'm 64, I'm going to rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear, as an act of homage to the fab four. I shall scrimp and save. Hope to bump into Vera, Chuck and Dave.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Silvafan, McCartney is acknowledged as one of the great rock bassists and Ringo is often cited for his uniqueness and creativity by some great drummers from both the rock and jazz worlds. Plenty of accolades for harrison and lennon too regarding their musicianship. Then theres the music!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Outrider and everyone else

He was an excellent bassist -- for the Beatles. In the entire world of rock bassists, however, it could be argued that he was okay (average to good).

I'm a 62 year-old Englishman.....just burst in into tears.

That's my point! People are transferring the Beatles history to their youth. I'm putting a value judgement on your youth, but I am being critical of their technical prowess as musicians and singers.

It is similar to the arguments related athletes. People rave about the skill of past athletes, and some are called the greatest of all time. In reality, many of the GOATs would be schooled by today's modern athletes. The reason why they still get that recognition because they were one of the first. The same as the Beattles.

There have been far greater musicians and singers before the Beattles and after the Beattles. They were simply one of the first global sensations. Right place, right time.

Reread Nessie and commanteer posts again!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Silvafan

Yes, in my opinion, Marvin Gaye was a better vocalist than either Lennon or McCartney ( it's worth remembering that Rolling Stone placed both Lennon and McCartney very high on their list of greatest vocalists ). As a bassist, McCartney is rated very highly ( he's also admired for his ability to play quite a few instruments ). Harrison had a very minimalist but very interesting style and sound. You may prefer the fire in a pet shop riff style but many don't. I think telling us who you admire as artists could tell us a lot. Which vocalists/guitarists/bassists/drummers are you talking about and what did they create?

Your right place, right time argument is utter nonsense. Gerry and the Pacemakers were near contemporaries of the Beatles, as were the Searchers, as were the Swinging Blue Jeans. I could go on here. You haven't explained why the Beatles have such lasting appeal and McCartney is the most successful songwriter of all time.

I think incredible creative talent allied with a great sound must be a bigger factor.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Silva fan, I think this is one of those going-nowhere debates. Each to his own and happy listening to you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Silvafan - LOL, just utterly, head-shakingly, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, LOL! Please critic Mozart, I'm dying to read it. Err, and Beatles - one 't', yeah.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Silvafan -- Two questions:

1) You keep claiming the Beatles' success was due to being in the right place and the right time -- which implies you know there were better groups out there. Groups who weren't in the right place or time. Care to name one or two them?

2) Having "listened to all their albums," please list the two or three Beatles songs that you consider their greatest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Silvafan...if you only hear 'at best', your not listening to the deeper raw layers of any given song... progression that lets their music last long. Every genuine talent has been 'in the right place at the right time, or we wouldn't know it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The broken up the band was the best thing ever happened to members of Beatles. The Beatles times was closed to end when they broken up the band and new kind of music was about to replace Beatles style. After they broken up, they all making different kind of music and they have succeeded in their own style. Otherwise, we will never know and hear John Lennon's Imagine and Double Fantasy album, George Harrison's My Sweet Lord and Paul McCartney's Band on the run album.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Rik314

Not spelling their name correctly doesn't make opinion less valid or unsound. It just means you don't have much to counter with.

@Everyone else

The Beatles collectively were very good musicians, though they weren't the sorts of virtuosos that generally get lauded as guitar gods or whatever. Were they legendary, Clapton-style instrumentalists? Nah, not really. So, yes, the Beatles were ok to good musicians. None of them were great technical virtuosos. There strength was their songwriting and that's it. On the other hand, I thing they are seriously overrated as lyrical songwriters. Almost every song has the same predictable format of 4 lines of verse/4 lines of chorus. The pattern repeats until the 3/4 mark of the song when we get the 4 line chorus twice, followed by a denouement chorus and done. Wasn't that the formula for pop genre at the time?

Their production separated them from the rest of the bunch. Martin was way more than an influence on the Beatles -- he was an integral part of their music. Martin wrote the arrangements for those strings and horns. Martin did have the technical expertise to do that, while the Beatles themselves almost certainly did not (even in recent years, Paul McCartney's ventures into classical music required the aid of an orchestrator). The Beatles would not have been the Beatles without Martin.

If wasn't for Martin, they would be no better or worse than their contemporaries: Gerry and the Pacemakers the Searchers, or the Swinging Blue Jeans. The same reason boy bands or any performer today can become famous. Production! They were the first to use it on a whole new level. It was mentioned earlier that people who worked with them in the studio said "that they were average to good at best"

Right place, and right time!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wholeheartedly agree with Silvafan on the integral part Sir George Martin played in giving the boys room to become who they were. The creativity was theirs. Sir Martin the conduit.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Right place, and right time!"

I met Paul McCartney once, because I was in the right place at the right time but Sir Paul is worth over £800 million because he is a musical genius. And back then, the tax rate was NINETY-FIVE PERCENT because George Harrison wrote a song about it.

Virtuoso musicians are ten-a-penny but genius songwriters are not...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

was in the right place at the right time but Sir Paul is worth over £800 million because he is a musical genius.

There are a quite a few music celebrities worth 100 of millions of dollars. It doesn't mean they are geniuses. Your argument like the others make no sense.

Virtuoso musicians are ten-a-penny but genius songwriters are not...

LOL!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"There are a quite a few music celebrities worth 100 of millions of dollars. It doesn't mean they are geniuses"

Well actually you will find that it does...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

was in the right place at the right time but Sir Paul is worth over £800 million because he is a musical genius.

No, it is mainly because he didn't die young and is still alive in an era of Baby Boomer nostalgia and hero worship. The same people I have debating with on the article. He is also constantly working! Album after album, generically exhorting listeners to action or reminding them of glory of love or sketching the outlines of a less pleasant emotion (fear, sadness, unregulated anger) without any real specifics. Baby Boomer nostalgia just eats it up.

I have nothing against Paul McCartney or the Beatles, but he constantly seems to be cropping up in places performing tired renditions of Hey Jude or Let it Be to adoring older people. Whenever there is a tribute to the Beatles, Paul closes out the show with yet another rendition of Hey Jude, just like he did at the Olympic games and countless other places. I know that Paul would much rather people get excited about the original music he's written lately but they don't, they all want to be able to say they saw a Beatles perform Hey Jude.

By the way, only his collaboration with John Lennon made an enormous impact to his career. John was the lyric writer, and he has been riding the gravy train ever since.

Once again, his accumulation of wealth has more to do with him continuing to perform for the nostalgia of baby boomers not his genius.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yet, you have no reason that he is great other than you were star struck from an encounter..

You obviously don't know what you are talking about!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hard to deny their greatness given their hit count and long-term place on the scene.

B-side tracks, everyone's got those, lots of them if they play longer. Tracks a lot of people don't like, of course, I hate ballads but lots of people like them. I guess. There's probably lots of tracks I like that weren't hits at all, doesn't take away from the other side of the coin, 'greatness' of those hits I don't like at all. I'm not a jillion people.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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