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The Beatles and the Rolling Stones

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The Beatles and the Rolling Stones


That's mostly true, of course. The Beatles never managed to become the long-lasting commercial enterprise that the Stones did. In fact, the Stones probably learned how to handle their business by noting all the mistakes the Beatles made.
The Beatles stopped touring early in their rise to stardom, reportedly because the screaming and carrying on from fans got out of hand. The boys from Liverpool hit the big time with their 1963 release of “Please Please Me,” but they broke up in 1970, with McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison all going their separate ways. Lennon was murdered in 1981 at age 40, while Harrison passed away from cancer in 2001 at age 58.
The Stones, meanwhile, have been one of the largest touring bands every decade since the 1970s. All the members — Jagger, Richards, 76, Charlie Watts, 78, and Ron Wood, 72 — are out on the road every couple of years with a new show, which feature elaborate sets and amazing light shows.
All true. The Stones and the Beatles were/are fundamentally different kinds of musical acts. The Beatles were singer/composers who could also play their instruments. The Stones, once they settled into their groove, have always been a solid rhythm and blues band with a rough originality. The Beatles wrote hundreds of songs, each one unique, even the bad ones, like "Obladi-Oblada," are uniquely bad. The Stones have essentially delivered the same product, in different packaging, hundreds of times. It is a bit like the difference between Bach and Vivaldi. What the Stones do is great, but they do it over and over. This is undoubtedly why they are so long-lasting and so successful. The Beatles, on the other hand, couldn't stand to repeat themselves and their creative ferment drove them apart in less than a decade.

Now the Stones have a new number one single, the first in a long, long time, and it is again, a solid, blues-based tune a lot like their other stuff:


A while ago they did a tribute album devoted to some old blues standards like "Ride Em Down," an old Eddie Taylor tune from the 50s and, with a funky video starring Kristen Stewart driving a classic Mustang, it was really well done:


Here's the original:


But again, still in the same basic blues groove. And why not, that's what they do and that's what people like.

But the Beatles were always a different story. With everything they did, they tried to break new ground. And succeeded. Some samples:


Yeah, French horn solo.


Completely different harmonic scheme and vocal treatment.


Again, completely different harmonic structure, this time alternating between major and minor.

I choose all these from a fairly early period in the Beatles just to show what variety they were capable of even early on. Later, of course, they did a lot of radically innovative things. They even did a couple of solid blues-based tunes...



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