After our brief aside into the lengthy (perhaps admitedly a little too lengthy) analysis of The Beatles in their endovours with studio, musical and lyrical techniques, we return to the regularly scheduled programme. Today is 27 April, the day The Beatles released “Love Me Do”/”P.S I Love You” into the US. In honesty the collection of the A side and B side together the same sentence seems a little needy. Imagine that in a letter;
Love Me Do
Lovesick boy going through puberty
P.S I Love You
I may have made a few sweeping assumptions there, but it seems to be the work of an obsessive boy (or girl, I’m an equal opportunist in my sweeping generalisations) who is a bit full on, like the kind of person where the first night he (or she) stood outside your window with a boom box serenading you with the soothing sounds of Peter Gabriel was quite sweet, but now it’s the 10th time and it’s gotten a little creepy (also he/she may have stopped making the effort of finding pleasant sounding synth love songs and just started playing ‘Sledgehammer’ around day 5.
With all this in mind today I have dedicated about 700 words of misaimed rambling towards the subject of The Beatles: In The Studio
-First band to write the majority of their own songs
In the 1960s, the music industry wasn’t composed of singer/songwriters. At least not really, there were a few of artists like Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan who wrote most of the songs on their albums (and in some cases all), but this was considered rare (and to be fair with Chuck Berry 50% of the time it would be the same song with different words and some slight alterations). At the time the charts were dominated in the UK by the likes of Cliff Richard and Shirley Bassey (who went on to be known as ‘that bird who sang songs for James Bond movies’) and in the US the likes of Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley, who had some to little input in the songwriting duties. There was usually less than 5 songs written by the artist, some artists like Elvis never even wrote their own songs. Then Lennon-McCartney rolled in.
Two likely lads from Liverpool who were full of piss and vinegar, and after they had relieved themselves, ideas for songs. Before Lennon-McCartney it was considered exceptional that a music act wrote their own songs, then Meet The Beatles came out, and soon it would become expected that artists could both write and sing (Isn’t it nice how that’s transferred to today and the music industry is dominated by singer songwriters….).
It is possible that Lennon-McCartney also inspired the great writing partnerships of Barât-Doherty, Marr-Morrissey, Page-Plant etc. It is also possible that they inspired generations of British and American songwriters.
-First concept album
So The Beatles had just stopped touring and were full of creativity (among other things, they had moved on from piss and vinegar apparently), and were ready to experiment in the studio. Out of this creativity had come the idea that the next album should have a running theme throughout it. McCartney had written a song called Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band and it was suggested that the album should be like a show, a show performed by Sergent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and their singer Billy Shears (who was Ringo because The Beatles still had a sense of humour at this point).
Now it is debatable whether this is actually the first concept album. Firstly because Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys had come out about a year earlier, and secondly because they had given up on the concept after the first 2 tracks had been recorded, Lennon said in an interview that “Every other song could have been on any other album”.
This being said it is still heralded as being the first, and while the concept was weakly implemented it left a lot to be worked out within the whole idea of a concept album. The band that should be most thankful of the creation of the concept album is Pink Floyd, considering all of their albums from 1973 to 1983 were concept albums.
Sgt Pepper also took The Beatles into a new era, as between 1966 – 1968 The Beatles cultivated ‘flower power’ as part of their image. An image they tried very hard to keep positive and in the spotlight.
Leaving you this time with a clip of The Beatles mucking around in the studio during the Let It Be sessions, they did have some good times before the end.