Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beatles/Stones Face Off Part 1

Let's take a look back at that surprisingly brief period (certainly shorter than I remembered) when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones went head to head releasing singles in the U.S.  It only lasted from November 1964 to February 1967, twenty eight months in which the two groups released 20 singles, some of which were double-sided hits (all but one by The Beatles).  Part 1 covers the first 14 months, to the end of 1965 while Part 2 covers the remainder of this period.

Until late 1964 there was simply no competition.  The Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show in February, in March 60% of all singles sold in the States were by John, Paul, George and Ringo and in early April they had 13 of the top 100 Billboard singles. There was a deluge of Beatles singles as various labels put out tracks to capitalize on the band's insane popularity and order was not restored till late summer.  Meanwhile, the first Stones singles barely charted in the US with only Time Is On My Side barely making the Top 10. 

Some notes before we start the review:

Dates of single release in the U.S. are shown in (parens).

Singles reaching #1 on the Billboard Charts are shown in boldface.

Singles not reaching #1 but charting in the Top 5 are underlined.

Singles peaking between #6 and #10 are in italics.

Okay, now we're ready:

I Feel Fine/ She’s A Woman (11/23/64):  The Beatles kick things off with the first single to use guitar feedback. Great riff and nice break with Ringo on the drums.
Heart of Stone (12/19/64):  The Stones were, along with The Animals, the leading “black” sounding British invasion band and this song reflects it although it also has an odd country overlay in parts. Second Stones song to hit the Top 20.

Eight Days a Week (2/15/65):  Not released as single in the UK. The last early period Beatlesque single. They could have gone writing stuff like this forever but they would have lost their relevancy.
The Last Time (3/13/65):  Neat, and simple, riff. Second Stones song to reach the Top 10.  Murky production.
Ticket to Ride (4/19/65):  Listen to the off kilter drumming! First use of British slang in Beatles single.

Satisfaction (5/27/65):  The Rolling Stones become THE STONES. One of the best known riffs in rock history, great lyric and beat along with “hey, hey, hey, that’s what I say”. First single to ever combine mocking consumerism with sexual suggestiveness (actually, it’s more than suggested). The bad boys become badder.
Help (7/19/65):  Unusual opening and ending. The first introspective lyric in a Beatles hit.
Yesterday (9/13/65):  Whaa? Jaw dropping when it came out. Another first for The Beatles -  kids and the DJs agreed, never heard anything like it before - some liked it, some hated it. Hey, where’d John, George and Ringo go?
Get Off of My Cloud (9/25/65):  What’s Mick saying? What's it about? Doesn’t sound like a love (or even lust) song. It's all jumbled up but it's very cool and the Stones keep the momentum going from Satisfaction.
We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper (12/6/65):  The Beatles use unusual instrumentation (including a harmonium) and song structure and the lyrics sound like they start in the middle of a conversation. A beautifully constructed pop single. Day Tripper has another memorable riff and big use of British slang.

The count so far:

Beatles:  6 Singles all of which were #1 and 2 B side Top 5s.

Stones:   4 Singles, 2 #1 and 1 Top 10. 

1 comment:

  1. Perfect blog stuff for this baby boomer...bring on part 2! dm