Latest News: the beatles

From the Vault: The Beatles

By 15

50 years ago today in 1962, The Beatles' very first single, "Love Me Do," was released in the U.K. The soulful and bluesy tune was penned by Paul McCartney (with John Lennon later contributing the eight bar middle section) in 1958 when he was just 16. It wasn't always certain that "Love Me Do" would be the groups first single, however. Producer George Martin had initially planned to have the boys record a tune called "How Do You Do It?" but they insisted on using their own material. Martin was able to sway the boys decision on one thing, though, and that was which song would be released as their first single. The boys thought "P.S. I Love You" would make a stronger single and nominated it as their choice, but Martin held firm to his selection of "Love Me Do" and so it was. The song only reached 17 on the British pop charts but marked the beginning of what would become Beatlemania and the starting point of the a new movement of music that changed a generation. A few months later, The Beatles returned to Abbey Road to record a song John Lennon had written called "Please Please Me." After laying down the track, Martin congratulated the boys saying "You've just made your first number-one hit.” He was right. And the rest is history. Stream VSQ's string rendition of "Love Me Do" below:

Check out both VSQ tributes to The Beatles:

Available at iTunes and Amazon

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Raging Strings: The Beatles vs. Oasis

By 21

[Welcome to the new weekly series on the VSQ Blog called "Raging Strings." Each week, we'll highlight two pop and/or rock songs which include strings, and we'll ask you to vote for your favorite.] It seems like people are split down the middle when it comes to being fans of The Beatles or Oasis, but no one can deny that both bands have written some of pop's greatest songs. Granted, the Beatles may have a larger catalog than Oasis, but they've both put out great arrangements that have included strings. Oasis prominently features strings (the London Philharmonic Orchestra, to be specific) in their song "Whatever," and the Beatles did a remarkable job incorporating strings within the famous "Eleanor Rigby." Take a listen to both songs below and let us know which one you prefer. Then tell us why by leaving a comment below.

Oasis, "Whatever"

The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"

If you're a fan of either band, check out these VSQ releases:

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Rock the Casbah: Famous Music Venues

By 13

The spirit of the infamous but now defunct New York music club CBGB will be reborn this summer, in the form of a music festival and movie. Originally intended to showcase the music styles it was named after (Country, BlueGrass, and Blues), CBGB became a breakout forum for Punk and New Wave bands like The Cramps, Ramones, Misfits and Talking Heads after it opened in 1973. Many mourned its closing in 2006 – but six years later, its death inspired a movie (coming to theaters in 2013) directed by Randall Miller and starring Alan Rickman as owner Hilly Kristal, Rupert Grint as Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome and Malin Akerman as Blondie’s Debbie Harry. The first CBGB music festival was also born this year, which will take place July 4 - 8 and will feature Cloud Nothings, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Guided By Voices and The War on Drugs. Here’s a look at some other infamous U.S. rock venues: Whisky A Go Go Location: Los Angeles, California Opened: January 16, 1964 Notable Acts: The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield and Love were regulars, and The Doors used to be the house band (until the debut of the oedipal lyrics in "The End" got them fired). Many British bands invaded the Whisky for their first headlining performances in the area, including The Kinks, The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Oasis. One night…: The Doors opened for Van Morrison's band Them during a two-week residency in June, 1966. On the last night of the residency, the two Morrison bands (one headed by Jim, the other by Van) jammed together on "Gloria," a song written by Van Morrison that The Doors did their own sexually-charged cover of years later. Fillmore East Location: New York City, New York Opened: March 8, 1968 Notable Acts: Classic rock legends Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Led Zeppelin (opening for Iron Butterfly!) played this historic venue during the brief three years it was open. The Allman Brothers Band played so many shows there that they were sometimes called "Bill Graham's House Band," after venue promoter Bill Graham. One night…: Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys was recorded live at the Fillmore East on New Year's Day 1970. What some people wouldn’t give to have been there… Red Rocks Amphitheatre Location: Morrison, Colorado Opened: 1906 Notable Acts: From opera singer Mary Garden in 1911 to The Beatles in 1964 (the only concert not sold out during their US tour), this natural amphitheatre has hosted many bands throughout the years. Many more bands have recorded live albums there, including U2, Neil Young, R.E.M., Phish and Coldplay. There’s just something about Red Rocks… One night…: During a 1971 sold-out Jethro Tull performance, about a thousand fans showed up without tickets and were directed by police to an area behind the theater where they could still hear the music but not see the band. Growing unsatisfied with what they were given (as humans often do) the fans charged the amphitheatre and were met with clouds of tear gas from the police. The winds blew the tear gas over the gates and into the amphitheatre. This "Riot at Red Rocks" led to a five-year ban of rock concerts at the venue. But they couldn’t keep the rock out of Red Rocks for long…

Be sure to check out

The String Quartet Tribute to the Doors Available now at VSQ Online Store, iTunes and Amazon

and also:

The String Quartet to the Who's "Tommy"

The String Quartet to Led Zeppelin

The String Quartet Tribute to Coldplay

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Is Rock & Roll Dying? A Response to Patrick Carney

By 18

If you've been in a long supermarket line recently, you've probably seen the leather jacketed members of The Black Keys gracing the cover of this month's issue of Rolling Stone. You may even be privy to the attention-grabbing lede: "Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world. So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit – therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world." That was Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney's quote, which the author used to start the profile piece. The article was about much more, but the easy, pot-stirring soundbite was the driving force behind the retweets, reblogs and shares, so let's talk about it. Is the great rock & roll dying? However you feel about Nickelback, one of those bands that is simultaneously hugely popular and hugely dismissed, is irrelevant to the underlying idea Carney is getting at: rock & roll is the big time, and the big time is no longer cool. The sub-culture and/or counter-culture has always been present in music, whether it was jazz or punk. But it seems the recent rise of the internet has made it a viable place to live; now, more than ever, you can stay off of the radio and refuse The Tonight Show and still make enough money to live. Indie has become a self-sustaining ecosystem and community. As a result, kids picking up guitars for the first time can aspire to get big – but not too big. Maybe big enough to get on the cover of Rolling Stone, at best. But is that killing rock & roll? There's an idea out there in the fandom that mainstream popularity and coolness are usually mutually exclusive. Just look at any misguided discussion about “selling out.” Carney seems concerned with making straight rock & roll, and the fame that comes with it, a positive thing to the rebellious youths turning away from rock & roll and toward alternative or indie. Because what kind of world would we live in if rock & roll was no longer hip? What I think Carney is picking up on isn't that rock & roll is dying, but it is definitely changing. It's now an umbrella term for a wide variety of music – just look at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's definition of the genre. Rock & roll has always branched out from its point of origin, but with technology providing a low barrier to entry and easy distribution, it has splintered out even faster. So any of the big guitar acts, like indie chart toppers Arcade Fire, don't really identify as simply “rock & roll,” leaving that territory for the Nickelbacks. Despite this, it's hard to imagine that Arcade Fire doesn't fit in the big world of rock somewhere. If they identify as an indie band, or some kind of alternative, or some derivative of folk and chamber pop, all of that can still be traced backwards through time to a rock & roll tradition. It's not that rock & roll is dying – it's just that the term isn't helpful in today's mass music access, because it doesn't describe the difference between Radiohead and Papa Roach. It's important to note that people have always claimed that rock & roll was dying. In 1968, the King of Rock & Roll himself, Elvis Presley, gave credit to these new bands like The Beatles and The Byrds, but felt that they were straying away from rock's roots in gospel and R&B. Maybe it's changing faster now than ever, but it's always been changing, and that's far from death. In a culture where there's something for everyone, where every band – even Nickelback – has a niche and an audience, how can that be anything but survival?

Be sure to check out:

Vitamin String Quartet Performs Modern Rock Hits 2011 Vol. 2

Available now at iTunes and Amazon


Vitamin String Quartet Performs Breaking Dawn Part 1

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Available Now! VSQ Performs The Beatles Vol. 2

By 15

Available now at iTunes

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A Day in John's Life

By 13

December 1980 must’ve felt especially cold with the death of John Lennon fresh in the news. But every year around this time, Lennon is brought back to life with new articles about his life – as well as “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” on repeat at shopping malls across America. With the Beatles’ music being so big, it is the small, humanizing tidbits on their daily lives that keep fans interested in figuring out who these British boys in tight trousers really were. A lot of clues led fans to conclude that these celebrities were in fact just like us. In a Rolling Stone interview three days before his death, John spoke about the importance of being human over being a rock star: “Real success is…the success of my personality, the success of my relation with [Yoko] and the child, my relationship with the world…and to be happy when I wake up. It has nothing to do with rock machinery or not rock machinery.” Yet it is John’s rock star image that makes his personal life intriguing – so intriguing that someone paid $16,696 for his 1980 handwritten to-do list on Gotta Have Rock And Roll. From the famous scrawl, it looks like a day in John’s life wasn’t that different from ours (except for the fact that it was written for a personal assistant to do): Filling up the gas tank, returning that book, fixing that hook on the bathroom door, asking Steve for some herbs (“for the cat”) and waiting for the HBO guy. Up-and-coming rock stars (and their interns): Start saving those shopping lists. You never know when a rich fan will want to feel closer to their idol and dish out a college-tuition’s worth to frame your daily scribbles over the dinner table. For those of us with smaller paychecks, there is still the best part of Beatles - their music. Check out the Vitamin String Quartet’s second take on some number one hits.

Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Beatles Vol. 2 Available at iTunes

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Paul McCartney Claims He Liked The Grey Album

By 6

Before Danger Mouse, AKA Brian Burton, became well-known with bands like Broken Bells, Gnarls Barkley, and producing every buzz band that comes along, he was trying to break into the limelight with a 2004 project called The Grey Album. This tribute piece was a mashup between classic Beatles songs and Jay-Z. The album was one of the most infamous of its kind, garnering a lot of attention from both lovers and copyright sheriffs alike. The album would eventually be attacked by EMI, the copyright holder of The Beatles, and told to cease distribution of the album or face consequences. Jay-Z’s label did nothing because the a capella tracks that Danger Mouse used for the album from the rapper had been commercially released for just such purposes. This would lead to a day of electronic civil disobedience, where many websites posted the album for download to counter EMI’s claim that the album wasn’t fair use. Years later, after many such mashups have since been released, The Beatles’ Paul McCartney is now saying he liked The Grey Album. “I didn’t mind when something like that happened with The Grey Album. But the record company minded. They put up a fuss. But it was like, ‘Take it easy guys, it’s a tribute.’” The Beatle went on to say that he felt that his group brought a lot of music out to the masses when they began, and he feels like hip hop does this today. “It was really cool when hip-hop started, you would hear references in lyrics, you always felt honored. It’s exactly what we did in the beginning – introducing black soul music to a mass white audience. It’s come full circle. It’s, well, cool. When you hear a riff similar to your own, your first feeling is ‘rip-off.’ After you’ve got over it you think, ‘Look at that, someone’s noticed that riff.’” In response to extreme fans that found the mash-up to be sacrilege, he explained, "I think there will be people who are purists and want to hear it as it was. And y'know what? It exists as it was. So you know, play your vinyl. Y'know, that is how it was, but obviously by allowing it to happen, we don't have a problem in cleaning (the masters) up. So for the purists, you stick to the pure sound and let other people hear it clean." Be sure to check out: The String Quartet Tribute to the Beatles Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Come Together: EMI Looks For Partners to Hang Onto Abbey Road

By 7

It’s not very often that the music consumers of the world have a moment of collective interest in the world of real estate. But there are certain pieces of property that embody something so sentimental and influential to the history of music that its fate will likely always be of some interest to anyone who has been influenced by that place in some way. Okay, now you’re wondering where I’m going with this. Today’s example: Abbey Road recording studios. Word leaked to Reuters last week that amid financial hardships, music company EMI has been in talks with interested parties about possibly selling the studios where the eponymous Beatles album was recorded. And since there is hardly a breathing soul on this planet who hasn’t been touched by that album, any news of the infamous recording studio is, well, news. When the rumors started going around about the possible sale, people were kind of pissed. Well, according to EMI, we can take a big chill pill because they’re not selling. At least, not right now. But the company is singin’ the need-mo’-money blues. According to a statement the company just released, EMI is “holding preliminary discussions for the revitalization of Abbey Road with interested and appropriate third parties.” Instead of selling it to parties unknown (and how are we supposed to trust that they would give Abbey Road the love and respect it deserves? Okay, I’ll calm down), EMI is looking into giving the place a fortifying facelift. The bummer here is that this could just be a stepping stone to selling; going through the architectural preservation process makes it a lot harder for a future owner to do anything drastic to the site. The lesson here? Start buying music again so that EMI isn’t forced to sell Abbey Road to someone who is going to turn it into a strip mall (okay, that’s worst case, but you never know. Better not take any chances).

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