Check out both VSQ tributes to The Beatles:
Check out both VSQ tributes to The Beatles:
The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"
If you're a fan of either band, check out these VSQ releases:
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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?
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Vitamin String Quartet Performs Modern Rock Hits 2011 Vol. 2
Vitamin String Quartet Performs Breaking Dawn Part 1
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
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