The Greatest Metal Albums of All Time – Rolling Stone
Presto concludes with a heartening surge of darkness, dominated by Peart's tumbling drum fills and Lee's soaring chorus vocal. Lee attempts a heartbroken love song with his lyrical contribution to Rush's famous breakout LP. He fares poorly. But the arrangement is sublime: Cover artist Hugh Syme contributes the heavenly washes of Mellotron, signaling the band's desire to expand their instrumental palette beyond the conventional hard rock of their early work. It's a depressing moment when you realize Lee's funky, slapped bass line isn't a bass at all, but rather a sequenced synthesizer loop.
Not a great first impression for this heavily rhythmic track, which features a drum pattern Peart devised from encountered during his famous bicycle tour of Africa in There's a core of a compelling idea here — if only they'd recorded it a decade or so earlier. But instrumental flourishes and production details keep it alive — from Lee's distorted slap-bass and phaser vocals on the bridge to Lifeson's funk riffing on the outro.
A fairly modest power-ballad that builds from acoustic to electric. The clincher is the eerie, string-lifted bridge. For a second, it sounds like we've dipped back into the Led Zeppelin well, with the boys running through a generic blues-rock riff. Here's another lovely example of Lee venturing into a gentle falsetto. Lifeson's dreamy, counter-rhythmic hammer-ons and Lee's high-octave bass pulse anchor this Vapor Trails stand-out.
Fantastically bombastic, this track — part of the album's underrated second half — runs builds from a delicate acoustic intro to metallic Lifeson riffs. Lee shrieks his head off, as he often did in those days. Keep an ear open for possibly the only sloppy Peart drum fill of all-time at the mark. When the well of inspiration runs dry, consult the classics: Peart lifted plot threads and themes from two Twilight Zone episodes, "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
Rush were massive fans of the show, having dedicated Caress of Steel to late Twilight Zone creator-writer Rod Serling, but the song feels like a clumsy attempt at setting his stories to melody. Lifeson churns out some show-stopping shredding a la "Don't Stop Believin'.
This snarling metal-rock single had a lot riding on its shoulders, arriving as Rush's long-awaited comeback after the six-year following 's Test for Echo. It did not live up to expectations. The generically bluesy riffs are only redeemed by Peart's jazzy drumming and Lee's kind of hilarious falsetto leaps. Sweet Jesus, that bass! That production! In an era when most rock bands sounded like computers, Rush were thriving — even if, yes, they did go a bit far with the keyboards at times. Rush were still in the throes of blues-rock worship on their self-titled debut, genuflecting at the altar of Led Zeppelin and Cream.
The frontman's elastic bass line gives this one an edge, along with Alex Lifeson's psychedelic, bent-note guitar harmonies on the bridge. This one sneaks up on you. On first listen, it sounds like a middle-of-the-road modern Rush song — from the predictable chord progression to the melodic patterns.
But there's a lot of intricate detail here: Peart's jazzy snare rolls and roto-toms, Lee's layered vocals and wonky hammer-on bass. The almighty Peart had arrived, requesting that we Neil before him. While this chunky hard rocker isn't much of a showcase for his virtuoso talents, the drummer's steady presence still elevates this one beyond most of the Rush LP.
With his double-kick fills, jazzy snare-tom triplets, elegantly controlled hi-hat and randomly placed cowbells, he offered a full-blown clinic with his official debut. Rush added a hard-rock spin to a Buddy Holly classic on their debut single, which was released in a limited pressing of copies on their own Moon Records label. These days, an OG copy is a serious collector's item. Lee in particular dominates the track, dazzling with his fluid bass runs and singing with confidence in his middle register — a far cry from the chipmunk-on-helium approach that he utilized throughout much of the decade.
Because we were having such a hard time getting a deal, our management thought that maybe something a little more accessible, possibly something already known, would be the way to go. Lifeson employs some string guitar on this tasty instrumental track, which recalls the lurching prog-metal approach of Porcupine Tree, a band that's clearly taken some cues from the elder statesmen. Prior to the recording of Test for Echo , Peart — the world's most acclaimed rock drummer — decided to revamp his playing and signed up for private lessons with jazz great Freddie Gruber.
He entered the sessions with a new grasp of rhythm, literally, having switched over to the traditional jazz grip — and you can hear the fruits of his labor on this intricate track, as he unfurls dazzling cymbal patterns and plays against the downbeat. I kind of felt like we were a bit burnt creatively. It was a creative low time for us. In which Rush discover Rage Against the Machine. Lifeson's riff, a gnarled mass of pinched-note squeals and open-string wails, recalls Tom Morello at his heaviest.
The admiration goes both ways: Morello called Rush "one of our all-time favorite bands" in a statement about his appearance alongside Lee and Lifeson in Rage bassist Tim Commerford's video for "VooDoo," a song with his electronic rock band Future User. This is a weird one. And there's no denying the raw force of Lifeson-Lee's aggressive funk-metal riff, accentuated by Peart's nimble rhythms. Synth-pads, squealing guitar solos, overlapping vocals — the whole pop-rock radio shebang.
Lifeson even goes full-on Prince with his treble-heavy funk tone. For reasons that remain unclear, Rush didn't release "Hand Over Fist" as a single, opting instead for the far inferior and less catchy "Superconductor" and "Presto. Killer riff, but you cant help but wonder if "Malignant Narcissism" wound up as a two-minute instrumental because Rush had no idea how to develop it any further. Nonetheless, it's nice to hear the boys work their magic — Lee's bassline is so funky, Les Claypool would kill for it. You can tell most of what you need to know about this cartoonishly proggy multi-part epic just by perusing the song titles, which include "Didacts and Narpets" and "Bacchus Plateau.
It was But Lee's giving himself a bit too much gruff overall, even if Rush should never sing about sex. Draw another goblet, my nerdy friends. Rush borrow the synth chords from the Police's "Spirits in the Material World," remove the hooks and groove and contemplate the "wheels of time" passing us all by.
There's nothing wrong with "Between the Wheels," but it's hard to shake the feeling that Rush — and, well, other bands — have presented this same song more effectively in the past. Listen closely and you can hear Alex Lifeson bashing his axe against the wall in frustration. The synth-splattered "Afterimage" exemplifies Rush's mid-'80s sound, and the guitarist probably was probably extra pissed about it.
But for a brief period, they handled those keyboards with subtlety and grace, and this cut is a prime example. The more New Wave-slanted "Cold Fire" comes off as a bit muted within the mostly throttling Counterparts. But even here, Rush sound rejuvenated — check out Lifeson's sublime solo starting around , highlighted by shredding and palm-muted harmonics. Lee's Bootsy Collins-on-cocaine bass riff propels the verses, but the chorus reverts to a snooze of sparkly synth, choir and strings.
Not quite a marathon — but perhaps a 5K. Cringe-worthy lyrics aside, "Animate" marked a crucial turning point for Rush, helping them adapt to a post-grunge rock landscape with one of their leanest riffs in years. This one's a mixed bag, with Lee throwing down on some campy synth-horns that probably made Lifeson — and a lot of Rush fans — furious.
Did the La's, one of rock music's most iconic one-hit-wonders, rip off this Power Windows anthem for their sole hit "There She Goes"? Lifeson's chiming, neon synth part votes "yes. For many fans, "Grand Designs" was probably the point of no Rush return — the keyboards are the main attraction, supporting one of Lee's sleekest vocal hooks. This arty New Wave single, with its throbbing sequenced synths and a four-on-the-floor kick pulse, has dated a bit. But the sentiment is evergreen, as Lee draws on his mother's memories of surviving the Holocaust after being imprisoned at a concentration camp in Dachau, Germany.
Rush were on the verge of being dropped from their label when they recorded their riskiest album to date, , which kicks off with a minute, dystopian conceptual suite about a future world in which music is outlawed by the "Solar Federation. Rush would sharpen their vision for long-form writing with the "Cygnus" cycle on A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres , but "" is an adorably campy baby step. Lee's bass bites with the tenacity of a dog with rabies, and Peart's drums punch like prizefighter. There's not a single chance these dudes weren't blazed when they wrote "The Necromancer," which veers from Sabbath -ish proto-stoner-metal to Lifeson's squealing, harmonic-heavy solo to a climax of fragile acoustic strumming.
The mini-epic drones on for almost 13 minutes — so long, in fact, that the titular pooch from "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" drops by for a visit during the "Return of the Prince" section. Rush probably could have restrained themselves a bit — lopping four minutes off this track would only improve its reputation with the anti- Caress crowd — but, then again, isn't indulgence the point of a track this stoned?
This interlude is too slight to rank high on this list, but its a stunning moment nonetheless. The tense strings, framing an emotional Lee vocal, are a welcome relief from the hard-rock onslaught of Clockwork Angels. It's rare to fid a legitimately catchy Rush chorus post, but Lee had no trouble on this brooding alt-rocker. Elsewhere, Lifeson unfurls some legitimately psychedelic guitar work during the bridge, and Peart joins in with some tom-tom bashing.
The only downside is a glaringly awful copy-paste job at the mark where the backing track comes in a hair too early. Peart examines the dualities of race and sex on this darkly funky track. I like the lyrics to 'Alien Shore' particularly. Rush had the ambition to craft a nine-minute, multi-part suite — even if they hadn't developed the discipline to pull off that grand feat. Nonetheless, "By-Tor" is a fun exercise in self-indulgence, an excuse to stitch hair-raising drum solos and Who riffs into a stoner-friendly prog tale. Side note: The song was inspired by the band's roadie, who recalled encountering a growling German Shepherd and another, smaller canine during a visit to the home of Anthem Records manager Ray Danniels.
The title-track to Rush's farewell LP is a dynamic piece that alternates between bruising hard-rock and dollops of echoing guitar. Nick R's production is on-point here too, with the instrumental bridge of distantly mic'ed drums. Peart injects the philosophy of author Ayn Rand — a crucial influence on both and Hemispheres — into this sage, atmospheric fairy tale, which chronicles a struggle for equality between the oaks and maples of a particularly argumentative forest.
The drummer later grew out of his Rand phase, as he told Rolling Stone in , chalking up his mindset to youthful idealism. This meditation on mob mentality was intended as a studio-only track — a designated opportunity to indulge with overdubs and not worry whether they could ever pull it off onstage.
They filled out the arrangement with extra keyboards and double-tracked drums including cowbell and extra toms , adding to the textural depth of this eerie track. But "Witch Hunt" remains the weakest — but far from weak — link on their greatest album. A majestic high point of Vapor Trails , with some of Lifeson's most psychedelic guitar work. This track is a nice brush with adult-contemporary alt-rock — a break from the grungy bum-rush of Vapor Trails. This could easily be a Toad the Wet Sprocket song, and that's intended as a compliment. Rush get full-on atmospheric with Vapor Trails ' pseudo title track, another flirtation with radio-friendly alt-rock.
Lifeson washes his hands of distortion, and Peart bashes a snare with a ringing, marching-band style tone. Rush continue riding a wave of Counterparts energy on this vibrant instrumental, which leaps from prog-funk bass riffs to spacey organ and Steve Hackett -ish guitar work. Fantastic, possibly their best instrumental. Counterparts marked a return to Rush relevancy — the point where songwriting caught back up to technique.
Everyone's on fire here: Lee crafts one of his sharpest chorus hooks, and Peart pounds out a funky tom pattern on his all-acoustic kit. You couldn't blame the guy for experimenting with electronic drums, but a player this precise doesn't need any excuse to sound more like a machine.
Hold Your Fire peaked at Number 13 on the Billboard album chart — their lowest debut since 's Hemispheres. But don't blame this New Wave deep cut, starring Lee's deeply soulful, funky bass and Lifeson's echoing riff. One of a few dozen songs Rush never performed live, this airy love ballad offers a moment of reflective calm within the thunder of A Farewell to Kings.
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Peart was still in fairly tale mode in the late '70s, so he couldn't resist sneaking in a "dragon" reference. But this one's fairly straightforward in both arrangement and sentiment: " When all around is madness and there's no safe port in view ," Lee sings over a fretless-styled bass and orchestral-like guitar effects.
The formula of modern Rush is simple: If you can remember the chorus after the first listen, it's a keeper. This streamlined hard-rock anthem passes muster — check out Lee's high-range backing vocals with their expertly controlled vibrato. This one builds from crunchy, metallic verses to a gliding chorus in which Lee appropriately sings, " I can't stop thinking big!
The reggae vibes pop up again on Grace Under Pressure 's dynamic opening cut. The band sounds eerily like the Police. In their early days, Rush ripped off Led Zeppelin's molten hard rock with teenage zeal. Here, on this spellbinding solo instrumental showcase, Lifeson taps into Jimmy Page's Eastern folk side via III , strumming his acoustic string guitar fancifully in open-D tuning. At barely two minutes, it's the shortest song in the band's catalog, and it took him only one real take to nail down. This is Rush's version of punk-prog, with each player trimming the fat from their playing.
One of several of their new-millennium tracks that recalls the distorted thrust of Rage Against the Machine, "Headlong Flight" sounds eerily like "Bulls on Parade" with its main riff. On their swan song LP, Rush often sound obsessed with toughening up their sound — often sacrificing melody in favor of riffs. Fitting title for this hypnotic single, built around Lifeson's delayed guitar riffs and electronic beats that recall Peter Gabriel circa Security. Lifeson offers some originality to the modern Rush aesthetic here: He mingles jazz chords and bluesy licks on the solo, and his nervous acoustic down-strokes in the verses could pass for a modern indie-rock band.
Lee also experiments with his vocal approach, layering in heavy chorus harmonies and nodding to blue-eyed soul at the climax with soulful runs. But that early formula rarely paid off as well as it did here. The dreamy atmosphere of this Power Windows highlight envelops you like a warm blanket, Lee crooning with a rare softness and sweetness over an instant-classic synth hook.
Lifeson wiggles to the forefront on "Kid Gloves," flipping the bird to Lee's synthesizers all the way. He sounds like he's exploding with pent-up anticipation on the guitar solo, which flaunts an Eddie Van Halen -like tremolo bar flair. A rare Rush song that will leave you reaching for the Kleenex, "The Garden" stands out in the band's catalog for its sweetness and simplicity, its clarity and control.
It's an unusual arrangement for these guys, with Lee crooning softly over a David Campbell string arrangement, Jason Sniderman's twinkling piano and Lifeson's restrained acoustic guitar. And its delicate quality initially concerned producer Nick Raskulinecz. The piano parts were there, as were the strings, but everything was kind of soft. Nick wanted us to toughen it up some. If this is how the Rush story ends — and by all indications it will be — it's a poignant curtain call.
Peart examines the real-life Manhattan Project — the World War II development that resulted in the Trinity nuclear test — on this breathtaking, synth-heavy cut, documenting the very moment when man devolved into beast. The lyric is so simple, it shouldn't work, but Peart injects this Eastern-tinged rocker with a honorable meditation on finding faith in the universe and other people — and not gods. It's one of Lee's strongest choruses of the modern era. Lee is one of a handful of prog musicians with the chops — and willingness — to get funky.
But "The Big Money" is more than just a killer groove — it's also easily one of Rush's most deceptively intricate radio hits, bouncing giddily from atmospheric synths to tribal tom-toms to arena-rock choruses. The band's early '80s sonic exploration — the brushes with reggae and ska and synth-pop — had coalesced into a color all their own. Lee's bass sounds like a low-end locomotive on this dissonant rocker, which builds to a dizzying chorus with Lifeson's spacey guitars and Peart's swinging drums. Rupert Hine's warm production brings adds a shimmer to the song — this is some of the most organic engineering of any rock album in the late '80s.
Rush were still Led Zeppelin disciples on Fly by Night , but they infused their formative hard rock with a progressive edge and an unrestrained glee. But it's the subtle touches that elevate this one to a classic — look, for example, how Peart shifts to a half-time, hi-hat-heavy groove at the mark. Peart drew on his own past people-watching for this analytical cut, full of arpeggiated guitar, squelching synths and jazzy hi-hats.
Ben Mink, violinist of fellow Canadian prog-rock band FM, adds haunting, dissonant edge to the second half of this atmospheric Signals cut. Peart is at his darkest lyrically, documenting a writer's and dancer's mental and physical decline. Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett was a crucial early influence on Lifeson, and you can hear the ripples on early albums like Fly by Night and Caress of Steel. Being in a three-piece, there's lots of room. And then you've got to fill it up. Spasmodic riffs and arpeggios, Peart tapping that glockenspiel in the bridge — it's Rush in all their full prog glory.
A lot of Rush fans — hell, even Rush members — hate "Lakeside Park," for reasons that are entirely unclear. Without this head-banging fuzz-rock anthem, Rush's debut LP would be an afterthought — a demo-worthy stepping stone to their prog destiny. But "Working Man," with its Sabbath-styled riffs and blue-collar lyrics, is a stone-cold classic.
After a primal, two-minute pummel, they tease an ambitious streak with wild guitar solos, triplet drum fills and tempo changes, climaxing with Lifeson's grandiose fanfare of string bends. Rush had only one flash of brilliance, but they harnessed its power to forge their hard-prog path. Lee, in this rare posts lyric-writing credit, demonstrates a Peart-like maturity.
The track ends with one of Lifeson's most subtle and bluesy solos — you only wish it hadn't been faded out so quickly. But that was Rush in trimming fat at every possible point. Staccato riffs, anthemic acoustic strums, grooving hi-hats, bits of balladry and balls-out rocking — "Cinderella Man" is one of Rush's most overlooked tracks from the late '70s, a true showcase for every tool in their arsenal.
Rush adopted a harder-edged sound for Presto , emphasizing Lifeson's guitars more than they had in a decade. This propulsive single emphasized the guitarist's high-octave funk attack on the verses, with a spacey synth vibe on the choruses and bridge. Club in Somebody suggested Aimee Mann, and we listened to her work. Her voice is absolutely beautiful and really possessed a lot of the qualities that we were after, and she was thrilled to come up to Toronto and lend her talents to our song, which I think really elevated the track. It's a perfect symbiosis of music and lyric, as Lifeson's rippling guitar solidifies the poignancy in Peart's poetry about teenage suicide.
The song that nearly broke Rush altogether: Producer Terry Brown, essentially the band's fourth member since 's Fly by Night , was disgusted by "Digital Man"'s reggae-leaning groove that he argued against the song's inclusion on Signals — essentially catalyzing his departure from their studio team. This Guitar Hero -worthy instrumental originated from a Morse code rhythm Peart overheard from the cockpit of a small plane. The drummer's hands endure a daunting workout on "YYZ," including some precise triplets on the ride cymbal bell.
But, like the entirety of Moving Pictures , everybody's on their A-game — Lee alternating between bass and synth, Lifeson incorporating a signature finger-tapped solo. Peart focused on a less narrative form of grandiosity — one of love — with this lovely rock ballad, tinted with some spacey analog synth on the bridge. Every second of this track is a pure adrenaline rush: the transition from the caffeinated main riff to the synth-scraping chorus is one of the most breathtaking moments in their catalog, as is the way Lee extends his "call me" note at This is Rush at their finest: proggy yet economical, melodic and lyrical, a verse-chorus structure with space for soloing and extra flourishes.
Every single note of this slays. In the final verse, Lee brushes off his old glass-shattering, dog-whistle range — a blast from the then-near past, and that's before mentioning the unexpected jazz-fusion breakdown. I Love You. He was unsure about the group … but decided to go for it. Not that much as a song, though. A creditable early lead vocal on the Chuck Berry classic by George Harrison, who loved the song. It was a stage favorite that is a little tepid on record. Since Please Please Me , eight months earlier, the band had had three No. The release of With the Beatles was where things in England began to get weird.
Stores were overrun by teenagers wanting the record. It is said to have sold a half-million copies on its first day ; that would be the rough equivalent of 4 million copies in the U. They worked out the logic of this or that scenario, and delivered verdicts or advice accordingly. It took a while before actual love songs with recognizable people and situations in them would be in the offing. The new six-disc mega rerelease of Sgt. Pepper includes a reproduction of the actual poster. The Beatles set themselves up as Sgt. So why were Sgt. The result is a decent novelty song that provides ammunition for those, like me, who contend that, track for novelty track, the song quality on Sgt.
A flaw in their contracts allowed them to record outside songs for movies, a financial windfall for the studio lucky enough to make the film. What no one expected was that a young, canny director named Richard Lester would make the resulting movie an unexpected classic, with any number of comic set pieces, ranging from the slapstick to the satirical, that remain invigorating and pointed to this day.
In one scene, George is taken in to be quizzed by an amoral adman on what British youth were thinking. The anvil sound is hilarious. Wait — Maxwell kills people? In the wan Let It Be movie, you can see John Lennon looking pensive as the band runs through this piffle, wondering how his life has come to this. Docked 50 notches for the verse in which Maxwell kills the pataphysical scientist.
She seemed cool. Much later, McCartney would allow that he was guilty of laziness for putting nontracks like this on his albums. An anticlimax to the last uninteresting album the band would release for several years. They broke up for a lot of reasons. Then Lennon started using heroin. Fun times, fun times. Later he tried to paint the other Beatles as the bad guys.
The result is just that — show-offy. This first turned up on an American release, Beatles VI. The vulnerability is charming, though. One of the least interesting songs on the otherwise sparkling Rubber Soul. Ringo Starr grew up Ritchie Starkey — without a father and in the slums. He nearly died from an infection at 6 — remaining in a hospital for a full year. He then contracted tuberculosis, which gave him an extended stay in a sanitarium and no chance at all of regaining his footing in school.
The dismal future that awaited him was thwarted by chance. His natural likability and gifted affinity for the drums changed everything. He came alive on stage — sporting a streak in his hair and flashy rings. That put his life on its unlikely trajectory, and ultimately made him a worldwide household name for some 55 years now. That likability, his reliable steady beat, and his flair for a tasteful fill made him an important part of the Beatles, which is saying something.
He sang lead on 11 songs. The good songs went to the movies and toward the grueling single-release schedule that Martin and Epstein enforced. Beatles for Sale, which came out between the two soundtracks, was another unprecedented smash, spending months at No. Great groovy fuzzed-out bass line, though. Supposedly recorded in one take. One assumes this was a live crowd-pleaser, because its charms are elusive on disc. American records were rare in Britain, and the band picked up what songs they could from the eccentric assortment that presented itself; this was originally done in a distaff version by an obscure Detroit girl group called the Donays, written by one Ricky Dee.
Of the four Beatles, Harrison was the only one who grew up in a nuclear family; like the others, though, he also grew up with an outhouse, and playing in rubbled lots, the detritus of a terrible war that had given undue attention to Liverpool, a major port. Lennon could of course be much crueler about it. Harrison responded by leaving Lennon out of his autobiography. This is routinely referred to as a Beatles oddity, but the song itself is from The Music Man , one of the best American musicals of the era. The song about the meter maid, fine.
But we draw the line at animal songs, particularly when the story, pointless to begin with, goes nowhere. Much later, Lennon would play it with the Plastic Ono Band. He, too, grew up marginally in a damaged city; he lost his mother at More than any of the Beatles, and indeed more than just about anyone you can think of, he has radiated happiness and contentment and not in a self-satisfied way for most of his life. He was in the biggest-selling band of the s, and was probably the biggest-selling artist of the s as well. He was also — how to put this?
He smoked marijuana heroically most of his life, and lived a great love story with his wife, Linda Eastman, until her too-early death in If Paul McCartney has a dark side, it is the voice inside him demanding that he dominate every genre of pop music with his cosmically pleasurable, almost ridiculously facile skills. Here, a number for toddlers. And some people say he was a humorless moralist. But there was a way in which he was always on parole, and over the years his resentment grew. Docked another five notches for having basically the same title as another, even worse, song on the same album.
This one, by Roy Lee Johnson, is a genuine oddity, partly crooned, party wailed. He has an amazing voice. In addition to the lulling arrangement and production — novel and relaxing, spectacular and subtle — we have Paul mulling things over, a step up from grinning platitudes about nothing.
The argument against it is that it is in the end an argument for the status quo. Given his place in the universe, of course Paul McCartney liked things the way they were. You might think the song is directed at rich, complacent hippies — but the rich, complacent hippies in the Beatles would never write a song about that, would they?
The very antithesis of a moon-spoon-June love song. Lennon grew up a striking artistic personality, living, it needs hardly be said, at a time and in a place where this was barely recognized.
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Without getting too psychological about it, you can say this left him with lingering anger and displacement issues, manifesting in lots of drinking and random acts of cruelty many never forgot. As the Decade of the Beatles wore on, a growing realization of some of these issues put his sensibility on a collision course with the unprecedented circus of a professional life he had inadvertently found himself in. The result in the latter years of the s was a lot of growing up, and out, in public, via this or that very personal, and sometimes not very attractive, artistic statement on the matter.
This is a takeoff on Animal Farm , and anything but subtle. Funny voices, too. This is a slow grinder, sung earnestly by Lennon. Way too much echo on the track, though. Painfully plain, this is one of the first complete songs McCartney and Lennon wrote together. Simple is not the word; there are exactly 17 different words in the song, three of which manage to extend to two syllables. If you grew up with Abbey Road you probably still love it.
This is a less interesting, blaring track. The animation film Yellow Submarine was built around it years later. The film was not written by the Beatles, and does not feature their voices either, but their inspiration made it a highly enjoyable cinematic experience, then and now.
And no one could reproduce the inherent manic feel of the Beatles. I respect that Lennon is trying to strip down his work to elements, lose his ego, profess his love for Ono, and disappear to be reborn, all that shit. The outro is interminable, undergirded with a roar of white noise, a nice effect. It finally ends, abruptly, with a sharp cut, mid-note. Later, Emerick came to feel Lennon was right. What came to be called the Get Back sessions featured songs like this — a guitar or two, bass drums, maybe a keyboard, with natural voices on top. You want to like songs like this — and particularly this song, with two of the most familiar voices in the world winding around each other with obvious pleasure.
The documentary made of these sessions, Let It Be , is an engrossing, wan, sometimes joyous, but ultimately troubled look at four friends who could no longer get it together to record earth-shattering music. The band shelved the material and eventually re-formed to record and release Abbey Road. The Get Back session tracks, by this point a red-headed stepchild, were later refashioned to varying degrees by Phil Spector and put out under the name Let It Be , which inadvertently became, in the eyes of the public, the Beatles sad swan song.
This is one of them. With a sober nod to the past, they played it during the recording of Let It Be. Its official name is merely The Beatles. Side one:. Side two:. Despite the conceptual problems, there are striking moments in the first half, not least the cutaway to the credits, and of course the conceit of the foursome going home to a row of townhomes, all of which were connected inside. The Help! There are various stories about whom or what this song is really about, but in the end the critical undertones seem sophomoric; after all, the Beatles had been surviving on amphetamines for nearly a decade.
The intro is one of their drabbest. Too many of his songs consist of the title words repeated over and over in the chorus. The band played it on the famous rooftop concert in Let It Be , but it was left off the album. The song, famously written as he waited for some friends on Blue Jay Way in the L. Some nice sounds though. Those who shelled out money for them at the time could take comfort only in the fact that they must have been more tedious to make than they were to consume. Indeed, Harrison has three songs on the album.
Sound and music and meaning came together for the band here in a way that it never would again. They were adults with an ever-changing, ever-more-pointed way of looking at the world; at the same time, the extraordinary tastefulness of the production techniques instilled by George Martin gave them powerful tools to capture those impressions. This has a hummable melody, a decent bridge, a rambling bass track by McCartney, and really not much else.
I guess this is a minor Beatles song, from the period just before things started to get really interesting, but the melody and the arrangement mix, here, as in so many other songs in their oeuvre, in a lovely and highly likable way. Note the waltz time in the middle eight, with the melancholy insert from Lennon. The band barrels through the verses at top speed, not noticing they are supposed to done herky-jerky style. As recorded, three minutes of pop glory set to a melancholy, aching melody, wrapped up in whistles, flutes, vocals, production swirls, and McCartney ululations.
We take it all for granted now, but the sound spaces created on the track are exquisite. The result is lulling and stately, a dream in audio Technicolor. Too much of the lyrics are clumsy. Is Paul himself the Fool on the Hill? Pepper to compare with the three or four landmark tracks he delivered on Revolver. This song took its inspiration from a Corn Flakes commercial. There are a lot of groovy sound effects, but the story it tries to purvey is a little confused, and it clashes conceptually with the far more visionary treatment of the same subject in the last track on the album.
Here we have JoJo andSweet Loretta, with other whimsical words strung together as if they mean something, which they most assuredly do not. The Lennon-McCartney songwriting sessions were supposed to take care of vapid lyric conceptions like this.
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- From pop hits to hair metal, grab your Walkman and celebrate a golden era of musical excess.
McCartney is barely even processing what he is saying. I sing along every time it comes out of a speaker within earshot, just as you do. The real star here is the sound. The vocals, with a ghostly aura around them, fill most of the recording; way in the back, a bass and a subtle drum track seem to exist on an entirely different plane. The trouble with too many of his compositions is that they turn in on themselves; they have no meaning outside of the actual song, and neither do the funny guitar noises he comes up with here. The result?
It never appeared on a normal band album in the U. LP release that vacuumed up a number of uncollected hits. Still in the U. The chorus rocks okay. McCartney sings the heck out of it; the manic instrumental breaks lack rock-and-roll bite, but for a pop song they are pretty lively. Better, better, better. The singer used to beat his wife, but things are getting better. It was top-ten hit in the U. This is a very pretty John Lennon song whose lyrics go on and on across the universe.
He was proud of it; to me, the whole thing, including the faux -Indian chorus, sounds dated. The song, which the band had recorded but not released, appeared on a charity album in , and then, in different form, on Let It Be the next year, Spectored up. The original version is on Past Masters. The earlier version, while marred by some bird sounds and some chirpy munchkin backing vocal, is a little more organic-sounding. The song is not well served by the clunky break. A great find by the band. The song was recorded in the early part of , before the group trouped off to India, and turned up later as part of the detritus on the first side of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album.
It can be asked about a lot of pop songs, in the s and of course before and after: Why do boys who suddenly find themselves stars, and sleep with a different, willing woman after every show, suddenly start writing songs about unfaithful women?
100. Wild Billy Childish & The Buff Medways’ Fanciers Association – ‘Steady The Buffs’ (Transcopic)
I mean, besides projection. Docked 20 notches for making you sing along with a guy who wants to kill his girlfriend. He had so many advantages, and lived an amazing life. So he was of course entitled to — and deserving of — expiation artistically. It feels like he wants to have it both ways.
All the guitar workouts seem forced. Lennon would tame and focus these feelings to much better effect a few years later on Plastic Ono Band. His voice was so limited McCartney fashioned a melody for him largely centered around five contiguous notes. The ending presented a challenge.
By the time Revolver was released , the band members were adults, and dealing with unprecedented pressures — recording, money, the constant push and pull of fame, and pressing management questions. Epstein, by all accounts a talented guy, was only half a visionary, and was damaged by drug addiction and the debilitating life he had to lead, hiding his sexuality from the world.
The band knew Epstein was gay, but largely left it alone, except for Lennon and his sharp tongue. By most accounts, Lennon shared a common working-class attitude toward homosexuality, and expressed himself volubly about fags and queers — affectionately, but often with a bite, when it came to his manager. As Lennon grew older, he embraced feminism and grew out of his lumpen early attitudes, as of course someone with his intelligence and personality would.
Still, he and Epstein were close. Lennon said the involvement was never consummated, but you could see how when he told his bandmates the story it could have been elaborated on to give Lennon a taste of his own medicine. Sometime after, at a large public party, Lennon beat the living shit out of a friend who made a crack about him and Epstein, nearly causing a scandal. His business instincts and flair for organization took the Beatles to the top, but it would have taken a far greater mind than his to ride competently on the financial whirlwind he helped create.
He died of what was apparently an accidental overdose shortly after Sgt. This, the title song, might have been a good introduction to it. We then got myriad varying styles and varying quality with no sign of the metaband again until the reprise.
That said, within the confines of the record, the song certainly rocks, albeit harmlessly. The release of the album was a worldwide event. A great hook for the only good song on Beatles for Sale. The verses are just pointless variations on a theme that goes nowhere. Again, the effortless rise in the melody was tracked unerringly by his supple voice. The melodic climb in the chorus nails it; note how he affects to have a bit of trouble hitting the high notes, when of course he could sing them easily.
Great ending, too. He was probably on heroin during the recording of this track, if not the composition, hence the convincing delivery of the title words. The film featured the members of the Beatles on what was supposed to be a surreal version of the British tradition of the touristy bus trip, and was shown in a high-profile forum: The traditional BBC day-after-Christmas special Boxing Day, there. It created a minor scandal, not because it was outrageous but because it sucked balls. Magical Mystery Tour is unfunny, uninteresting, uncreative, cheap-looking, extraordinarily poorly shot, and — ironically — never went anywhere.
But the title song is a marvel. But this is classic-era Beatles at their classic-era standard, which is to say the song sports a dizzying array of production innovations, melodic frills, thrilling instrumentation, head-snapping song construction, precise singing, and a driving backing track. And one of those lovely Beatles codas. Still, docked ten notches for false advertising. Harrison found a thunderous riff in the music and uses it well. It trails off from time to time, though. It was a shtick, a trick, we knew it.
Upped 20 notches for subtext. Another tossed-off track that outclasses virtually everything else around.