John Lennon’s “Early Beatles” ‘Gurgling’ Rhythm Guitar

smg_lennon_rickenbacker_325Been listening to “Meet the Beatles” a lot lately and I love the sound of John Lennon’s rhythm guitar on the early Beatles records.

His playing and sound on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” is just phenomenal, it’s got this almost gurgling, underwater sound to it.  Those two chords at the beginning, the rhythm; exhilarating. Check out the pattern he’s playing on the verses.

In this era he was playing a Rickenbacker 325 Capri guitar. Perhaps more than you’ll ever need to know here.

His playing on “I Saw Her Standing There” is also remarkable. Love ‘that chord’.

While we’re at it, of course this guy was unbeatable as a rock and roll singer on their rave up covers. I mean, “Slow Down”? Absolutely ripping performance. Ow!! Ahhhhh!!!! Whoooo! bbbbbllllllbbbbb!!!

Also while we’re it, I will go on the record – the early Beatles records are WAY BETTER in MONO.

Check out the difference, here’s glorious mono:

Here’s stereo, it’s just not right:

This guy has great little primer on Lennon’s playing on

RIP Pete Quaife, Kinks Bassist

pete03Pete Quaife, bassist for the Kinks, passed away on June 24th.

I love the Kinks.

Listened to a lot of “Village Green” today.  Pete’s bass playing is great on that record.  In an interview I read today Pete mentions how he liked working with Dave Davies and how his input was appreciated (apparently not the case with brother Ray.) Pete has a classic moment in Dave’s “Wicked Annabella” from that record (in the video here it is at 1:13 on the line “twisting my mind”) where he perfectly drops in a snippet of Bach.

Also for the record, “Wicked Annabella” is a fantastic Kinks song from probably the best, but let’s just say a can’t be beat, Kinks record. Dave’s guitar sound IS wicked. Mick Avory on drums seems to be doing his best to combine the styles of Ringo and Moon.  The lyrics are great and made more so by Dave’s amazing performance, I love the way he sings the “lots of little demons, enslaved by Annabella” line.  Great stuff. Listen to that warped guitar!

Pete Quaife had a million great bass lines; I’ll just go on the record here that the descending bass line to “Sunny Afternoon” can’t be beat.

I was alerted to the news and the links below by Boston Globe reporter (and obsessed Kinks fan) Geoff Edgers via his documentary film’s Facebook page: “Do It Again: One Man’s Quest to Reunite the Kinks” (Kinks fans, join this Facebook page now).

A Loving Tribute From Dave

An Appreciation from Do It Again

Marianne Spellman at Popthomology

The interview mentioned above is from the invaluable

Rest in Peace, Peter Quaife, thank you for the everlasting music!

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony Allegretto/Second Movement

Beethoven, thankbeethoven God you walked the earth and left us so many immortal, eternal masterpieces.
The second movement of his 7th Symphony (the “Allegretto”) just may be the greatest piece of music ever written, but I’ll be content to say it can’t be beat. Good God, this is just so magnificent, so moving, so thrilling to the soul. I cannot get it out of my head and I welcome it (I had the Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name” in my head for a week and though that is amusing, it doesn’t compare).
This video is of Carlos Kleiber conducting. The version I always come back to is his with the Vienna Philharmonic. But they’re all good; there’s some debate on the correct tempo but this source material is almost impossible to screw up. I’d listen to that theme on kazoo and washboard.
I have absolutely no knowledge of the symphony form or classical music terminology but I do know good music when I hear it, and unequivocally, this cannot be beat. I mean, just dig the part around 5:40 and on. God rest his immortal soul, thank you Beethoven!

Some related links:
A Tiny Revolution – great essay and comments
A cool “Where Did You First Hear It” post and comments

Join the club!

Artie Shaw’s “The Man I Love”

ashawLydia’s Uncle Jack was a great man, a true gentleman, a soldier in the big one, a loving father, and a real jazz fan.  He lived in NYC in the 30s and 40s and saw all the greats.  He had a huge record collection and all them are still in perfect condition.  When Jack passed away, Lydia’s aunt Bobbie gave us some of the records.  Lydia was pregnant with Cormac and we had just moved in to our new home in Prospect Heights.

One of the LPs  is a compilation of Artie Shaw records.  We listened to this OVER and OVER.  Mr. Shaw is surely one of the greatest musicians to ever grace this plane.  His clarinet playing cannot be beat. His genius co-arrangement and performance of Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine” is an everlasting gift to Homo Sapiens everywhere (and the record company geniuses made it a B-side!). His bands were fantastic – he could swing with the best of them, but he was always looking to do something new – like arrangements with strings and the harpischord (check out the Gramercy Five stuff for that incredible sound.) The guy’s personal life was something else – he was married to Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, among six others! A biography by Tim Nolan, Three Chords for Beaty’s Sake: The Life of Artie Shaw was recently published.

Well, how about that?  Yesterday, May 23rd,  was the 100th anniversary of his birth! Happy Birthday, Sir!

He was a self-described “very difficult man” but I’m not family, friend, or band member so the only first-hand knowledge  I have is of his beautiful music.

His version of the Gershwins’ “The Man I Love” is beyond words; most assuredly it can’t be beat.

Be patient with the video, it takes about 30 seconds for the needle to drop on this 78.

The Beatles’ Second Album. Vinyl. In Glorious MONO

thebeatlessecondalbumreissuecoverPicked up an LP of the Beatles’ Second Album this weekend at the Park Slope Flea Market.

Oh man, what a great record! I remember my brother Mike and I blasting this baby over and over again from the little crappy one speaker turntable we had.

This record totally rocks from start to finish.

BANG! “I’m gonna write a little letter gonna mail it to my local DJ” – George sounds great on vocals and guitar on the opener “Roll Over Beethoven.” Although there is no question that Chuck Berry can’t be beat, the same may be said for this rollicking cover version and all the covers on this record.

How about “Please Mr. Postman”?  “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me”? “Devil in Her Heart”?  “Money”? These songs all have incredible vocals – lead and backup.  Lennon is just in absolutely prime form on “Money.” Love how he draws out “Well…….. now give me money!” CRUSHING version of this song – so heavy with the piano, guitars and bass just bashing out the relentless riff.

Then the originals: “Thank You Girl” with Ringo’s falling-down-the-hill drum rolls, “I Call Your Name” with that bizarre skipping instrumental sort-of-ska break, the sheer joyousness of “She Loves You” (how about that drum intro? would offer that can’t be beat) and “I’ll Get You” has those “Oh yeahs” and the marvelous harmony on the “Well, there’s gonna be a time” break (that bit also has someone forgetting the words.)

Another example of Capitol Records ‘butchery’? Not an ‘official’ Beatles LP release?  Who cares? I didn’t in 1973 – when I doubt many 8 year old Americans were buying the canon on import – and I don’t now. Too much reverb and echo added by Capitol engineers? Big deal. This record rocks.

Glad I can put this to its intended use:

Spin record, drop needle, turn up, dance!

“Long as she’s got a dime, the music will never stop”

The Bo Diddley Beat

John Leamy and I of Dr. Mars got together this week with friends and guitarists Scott Kleber and Jory Hull. We ran through some new songs, one of which is based on the everlasting gloriousness of the BO DIDDLEY BEAT.

Here’s the originator, dig the guitar tone:

Buddy Holly loved the beat, and used it in one of his best, “Not Fade Away':

The Rolling Stones took Holly’s lead and super-charged it (with the maracas and hand-claps and all) for their version:

Knowing their love of early rock ‘n roll, it shouldn’t have been a surprise – but it was refreshing – to hear The Clash incorporate it in their classic “Rudie Can’t Fail” (I still remember the thrill of hearing this during “Rude Boy” at the Paradise Cinema in Boston.)

By the way, “I went to the market, to realize my soul” – that line can’t be beat!

Your favorites?

Try to use the Bo Diddley beat today!

Welcome to Can’t Be Beat

Welcome.  If you are here, you must have expressed an interest in The Kinks, Alexandre Dumas, Guinness or George Harrison.

As you must know, The Kinks, Alexandre Dumas, Guinness and George Harrison CAN’T BE BEAT.  As cable ‘documentaries’ about ancient aliens and secret societies are wont to proclaim,  “some believe [such-and-such dubious claim]”, “some believe” that so-and-so is the best band, the best writer, the best beer and the best guitarist.  Of course this is simply not so and just a matter of opinion. But, you may say, are not blogs meant to contain opinions, and many of them, and perhaps even some baseless speculation and celebrity gossip as well?


Here, however, I will try to contain the main overriding opinion that while certain people, places, things and rock bands may not be “the best” – they most definitely, indisputably cannot be beat.

For example, as the tag line indicates:

The Kinks – Especially the 65-68 period.  Can’t Be Beat.


Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo alone qualifies him but the guy wrote literally dozens more outstanding historical romances.alexandre_dumas_1

Guinness – A proper pull can’t be beat.


George Harrison – In addition to being unbeatable as a Beatles guitarist, he is also surely the best-dressed of the Beatles, no doubt.  This is on authority of Liam Gallagher no less (he particularly calls out his “Rubber Soul”/”Revolver” period style).


There you go; the concept may be applied to virtually everything in life and I encourage you to try it.

Rest assured we have only begun on the topics of Kinks, Dumas, and George but will be covering many others at length and superficially as called for.

Looking forward to your highly valued opinions on further subjects.

PS If you came here looking for “Press Any Key” – the majority of those posts have been moved to the interFUEL blog.