Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More transitions...

I am not a Beatles fan.

And because of this I never feel right talking about a Beatles album even though I own them all and listen to several of them on a regular basis. So it goes. But while we’re talking about transitions this week, we may as well throw possibly the most famous band of rock n roll in the mix as well. In my opinion the big Beatles transition album is not one record but two, which is to say the back to back, one-two punch action of Rubber Soul and Revolver. In my mind this is the Beatles’ “mid period,” between the fun, straightforward but sometimes silly pop n roll of their early days, and the studio heavy, anything goes, often overindulgence of their later career, that not only kept them in the charts, but put them on the map as a) a pinnacle for their peers to reach for but never attain (sorry B-Wilson) and b) solidified them with a ginormous golden star in the annuls of rock history for like…ever. Whatever. (I am not a Beatles fan.) But while they were still touring and playing out, that is to say still a band, and not just a collection of musicians sitting around making noise, they put out the two ambitious, groundbreaking, yet highly accessible albums mentioned above. In a word, they started to take their songwriting more seriously, shedding a lot of the la-la love you do-wah-ditty silliness that had the young girls screaming and crying to beat the band (I mean literally, the fans were so loud the boys couldn’t even hear themselves onstage) and replacing it with a deeper, more mature, more moving sentiment akin to realizing the difference between school boy crush and adult love (or the loss there of). Plus, they became more introspective on other subjects such as isolation, loneliness and various forms of social prejudice. Seriously, I’ve got two words for you: Eleanor Rigby. That one right there is a barn hanger. Many fans hold one or both of these albums as among the best, if not the best, that the Beatles had to offer, when they were still accessibly pop-tastic and grounded enough in their subject matter for folks to identify with what they were saying, before they left the planet for strawberry fields and penny lanes. (I am not a Beatles fan.) And even though these two albums aren’t usually my first choice when in a Beatles mood, what I enjoy about them is that they’re still very much rock n roll…more sophisticated than Please, Please Me but with the same energy, less pretentious than Sgt. Peppers but equally as inspired.

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