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Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Oh well.... I suspect that many of us have the entire catalog already on discs ( vinyl and plastic ) and already have burned the whole shebang to our iTunes catalogs. But this will give many younger listeners the chance to hear the best band of all time. Let's hope you are not a day late and a dollar short Apples... Maybe there is some new work buried in this offering?

A "baby boomer" band from an era when music was much more important culturally than it was previously or is now

Drink your morning coffee before you write such non-sense.

Wasn't this a brief-lived hot beat combo that betrayed its raison d'etre by being equally accessible/non-threatening to mums? Cf. Stones, Rolling, The.

OK, can we finally heal the most grievous of Baby Boomer wounds now?

Next: let's get AC/DC on iTunes. That's a MAJOR tragedy.

Mike, I dare say you missed a word or two in this sentence:
" band from an era when music was much more important culturally than it was previously or is now"

Those words being "to me/my generation." As a thirty something the Beatles have been part of my musical education and most of my peers have explored their back catalogue. But music remains a very central part of the lives of subsequent young people, most of whom count artists other than the Beatles as most important to them.

"Still can't buy Time Fades Away, though."

Yeah, can't buy me love, either.

(I'm probably about the 28th person to have submitted that joke. Or maybe the the 28th to have thought of it, but the first to have had the bad taste to submit it.)

I can't tell from your tone, do you like the Beatles, or not? Do *you* think they were important musically?

OK, I'll bite. Why is this such a big news item? This isn't a criticism directed at you, as much as it is a real question. If there were new material being released, or if it were otherwise difficult to get ahold of their music, I could see how it would be a big deal. But this just strikes me as the resolution of a rights/marketing/distribution negotiation/squabble/competition. I just don't see what the larger significance is. If the only significance of this is, "Look, this company with rights to highly sought-after music finally agreed to release its catalog in digital format, thereby constituting a landmark event in the transition to digital", then... I don't buy it. That ship sailed long ago. Anyone getting on board now is just a straggler, nomatter how important the music. And the fact that they finally caved/came to terms with the idea just doesn't strike me as a news item with broader appeal. And it certainly doesn't strike me as the kind of announcement that we should all be breathlessly anticipating, the way Apple is trying to make it seem...

Am I missing something?


Also, the 2000s were not the nameless decade. They were the Naughties.


No, to me, ensemble jazz centering around the second half of the 1950s is most important.

Music was a leading cultural force in the West from the death of John Kennedy to the advent of disco. The music of that era might not be the most important to you or me, and musically sensitive people of any era are deeply involved in the music of many eras, but music in the '30s or '40s (say) or right now is not nearly as important culturally or socially as it was in 1968. Not even close.


Maybe now we can get the cover art thru iTunes.

Naughties? Surely you mean Noughties? :)

Sounds like a non-event to me.
And "On the beach" got released, the archives too, so you got to be patient :)

(On my side, I'll simply enjoy The Promise... and especially that '78 Houston show...).

but music in the '30s or '40s (say) or right now is not nearly as important culturally or socially as it was in 1968. Not even close.


Mike, you're right. But I'm wondering if that was just a function of the fact that youth (erroneously) saw music and musicians of the day as being the literate vanguard of that indefinable feeling of the alienation that spare cash, for the first time, allowed them to express.

Of course, it all died when the likes of Jefferson Airplane grew big hair, rolled their jacket sleeves up to the elbow, and became a putrid travesty. And when Youth got jobs in banking, obviously.

Still, at least Keef didn't lose his looks.

Well, fools rush in, and all that...

I support the idea that music peaked as being culturally and socially significant by the end of the '60s.

I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that, at that point, music was very social. It's popularity rose with coming of the portable, transistor radio. Suddenly, music was something you could take with you and share. Radio was king, and music really did form a soundtrack to your youth.

People bought albums, and invited friends to get together to hear the latest records. Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles really did mark the spot where records could be considered as a collections of songs meant to be heard together, instead of individual songs.

Music as a shared experience started to lose out with the introduction of the Walkman, the headphones made music in public a solitary experience. The headphone boom continued with MP3 players.

Today, you don't have to go to a friends house to hear the latest album or song; just download it on your own.

I miss the days when we'd all hang out at someone's house and listen to new records. And socialize, and hear music we may never have heard otherwise...

Jim McD,
In many ways the significance of music in the "sixties" (roughly 1963-76*) isn't even recoverable now--not only have the artists degenerated in many cases into self-parody or declined with age, but the music has become mainstream, even hidebound, and exhaustively co-opted by commercial culture. Speaking of the Beatles, "Revolution" was used for a shoe commercial, an indication of how completely it's neutered now. And speaking of that, Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," clearly a sardonic little anti-materialist ditty, was briefly used for a Mercedes-Benz TV ad. Meaning Janis wasn't the only one on Southern Comfort and acid.


*I use that date because a friend of mine, in a hilarious rant, once pegged the end of the Sixties at the release date of Paul McCartney's "Silly Little Love Songs." [g]

@ Dennis Allshouse.

You can already get missing cover art into your iTunes collection. First, search Google images to find the artwork (about 500 pixels square is best), and save the image to a convenient folder. In iTunes, right click a track, then select "Get Info". A box appears, and the right-most tab is called "Artwork". Press the "Add" button, point the dialogue box at the image location, and press OK.

You can only do this for one track at a time, but assuming the rest of the tracks on the same album are present with the same album name, iTunes picks up the image and applies it to them as well.

I only discovered this when I loaded a CD of a very little known Spanish band into iTunes, and whatever online database iTunes uses for album info and cover art did not have the album listed. I still had to type in the track names manually, though.

Yes, I've long had the entire Beatles catalog on my iPods, burned from my set of CDs. It's the music I grew up with and perhaps the only band of pop musicians that I ever followed with persistent interest (for decades).

"Music as a shared experience started to lose out with the introduction of the Walkman, the headphones made music in public a solitary experience."
I never considered this notion, Paul. Perhaps you have something there. Music certainly does seem to have become far more Balkanized than it was in "my day".

"Music certainly does seem to have become far more Balkanized"

Amen. And nowhere is that more obvious than in "race music"--the segregation of black music into "R&B" prior to 1963 and the separation now of "country" (which = power pop for white people only) and "hip-hop" (which = dance music for black people, although admittedly not as exclusively). In that brief Renaissance you had every sort of coming together of styles and people, from older black blues musicians opening for big rock acts to "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." The old barriers are in place again now.


Sort of 'off topic', but then in some way 'on topic' - if anyone is interested in hearing an excellent and wide variety of music from the past 70 years, then check out God's Jukebox. It's available on the BBC for a week after it's broadcast and is well worth a listen. The link is...

Music aside, this is still a photo site, I love looking at the images of the old bands from that era. I might be more inclined to purchase a box set of Beatles images then all their music. I am glad iTunes has album art as it has always been as important to me as the music.

You all want to get yourselves a copy of Elijah Wald's "How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music". (Not at all a Beatles-hating book, despite the title). Explores the phenonomenon that kids today are still listening to the music of nearly 50 years ago, whereas in the 60s they weren't listening to Paul Whiteman.

@Ken & Mike

Music in the late '60s was all about bringing down barriers, sadly you are both right in saying they have gone back up again.

I think it's a consequence of having so many choices avaialable. The market becomes fragmented, and brand/image becomes more important than the initial product/service. Ford was very successful with 'any colour you want, so long as it's black.' I read recently where one car plant (maybe GM) had so many varieties they could go a year without building the same car twice.

But in the '60s - there was only the music.

@James, et al

You can add artwork to an entire album at once if you "Get Info" on the album grouping. There will be a metadata box for artwork.


I'm surprised you thought your purchases would sound very good, given their lossy nature.

I have thousands of cuts downloaded from iTunes, and many of them sound fine. Some are outstanding.


"but music in the '30s or '40s (say) or right now is not nearly as important culturally or socially as it was in 1968. Not even close."

Yes, I have often thought that that music, as well as the artork and writing that you bought with the records, WAS the internet of the time. It was how young people communicated, city to city and town to town. It was our unique, as yet uncorrupted shared consciousness. As for the Beatles, not only their musical skill, but their absolute fearlessness on The Ed Sullivan Show can still electrify me now, much as it did when I was 12. Rock on, Mike....

What discussion about the Beatles would be complete without:


Last Sunday the BBC broadcast a half hour programme called "When Cassius Met The Beatles". This half hour programme tells the story of how, one day in 1964, the Beatles met Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali). The Beatles were on their first visit to USA and were on the brink of international fame while Cassius Clay was about to defeat the then World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Sonny Liston, against all expectations.
The meeting was set up by British Daily Express photographer Harry Benson - also destined for fame in his field.
The BBC retains virtually all its radio broadcasts for 7 days and you can listen to the whole programme via http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00r8b1k/Ali_When_Cassius_Met_The_Beatles/ . The programme proper starts about 90 seconds into the recording. I was 15 years old at the time and even though I had, and still have, a strong preference for classical music and modern and traditional jazz rather than Pop, I rapidly became, and remain, a Beatles fan. I find their complex and unexpected key and rhythm changes musically interesting and the lyrics enduring.
The Beatles and the 1960's were a significant cultural phenomenon and I'm sure that the effects of both will be studied by kids on courses for many years to come. And the way those kids will access the Beatles music is from the likes of iTunes rather than record or CD purchases.

Who are those four blokes in the photo?

"The Beatles? Weren't they Paul McCartney's old band?" (an actual quote).

BTW, the audio book of Keef's autobio is out today. Johnny Depp does the honors.


Why did you explicitly point out Eminem's race? Obviously you don't take him seriously, at least that's the innuendo. Is he just a curiosity to you? To me he is an eleven Grammy Award winning artist at the top of his game, not just a white guy with a funny name. I'm sure Sammy Davis Jr. loved it when people referred to him as the black guy in the rat pack.

I'm not calling you out because I want you to be PC, I'm saying there are 100 better ways to describe Ememin than by the color of his skin. He was named the Best Rapper Alive by Vibe magazine in 2008.

I'm sure Paul McCartney or Micheal Jackson's estate or whoever owns the rights to the Beatles' catolog will be pleased as punch to make a bunch of money selling the music on iTunes. No doubt some folks will be third- or even forth- or fifth-time purchasers. That's a racket I'd like to be in.

@ Adam
"Why is this such a big news item?"
Because for some reason, unfathomable to me, millions of people actually use iTunes.

- and even as a Stones fan I have to admit that the Beatles music was probably the most influential of the last century.

For the Beatles fans among us ... and I listened to them non-stop from age 9 for a couple of years back a country and some many years ago...
Last weekend we went to see "Nowhere Boy". Highly recommended. Beautifully shot, very well acted, intelligently written.

Jesus, I dislike the Beatles. Bunch of twits. I always liked rock better than pop, and they were sort of the "Jackson 5" of their time. If any band personified that era, it was the Stones, not the Beatles. Or maybe even the Beach Boys. I agree about the significance of music in the 60s, because it became political, and there were lots of politics going on -- civil rights, womens lib, anti-war, the rise of the drug culture, etc.


Huzzah, our long national nightmare is over! No longer will people suffer without adequate access to the recordings of THE MOST POPULAR BAND OF ALL-FREAKING-TIME. That's something we all desperately needed.

Off topic again, is that photo a Harry Benson? He has a wonderful book titled "Once There Was A Way" that has wonderful images in it of The Beatles including the famous pillow fight shot.

Don't understand why anybody would pay money to download a badly compressed DRM "protected" lossy m4a, when for less money you can buy the CD, compress it to anything you want, at whatever quality you want, and put it on any and every device you own, now or in the future, without being labeled a thief.

Perhaps it is right to say that music peaked in the 60's, however it is still an important part of modern culture.

I also think it is inaccurate to say that music is no longer social. Certainly I can listen to music from my PC at home, but that doesn't mean I want to. There is nothing quite like an engaging conversation with close friends while listening to good music

I don't really see the significance of iTunes getting the Beatles either. They don't even sell music in a high quality format.

The most impressive thing about the Beatles is that they are not only still listened to, but also still sound fresh and contemporary.

Nico, 17

The notion of hip-hop as segregated is true only insofar as it relates to the artists, not with regard to the audiences or fans. I would be willing to bet good money that far more hip-hop is purchased by Caucasians than by African-Americans.

In that respect, you shouldn't underestimate the significance of that "white rapper named after a type of candy". He's not the first of his kind, nor even the first to gain broad appeal, but he is arguably the first to gain full recognition among his peers. I'm not saying that Eminem's significance is equal to that of the Beatles. But I think he deserves more than (what I understood to be) a snide remark. On top of which, his best work is outstanding: brutally raw and personal, dealing not with imagined gunfights on the streets, but personal conflicts and damaged relationships.

Also, when considering the cultural significance of music today, don't underestimate its global influence. (Primarily American) pop music is heard around the globe, and serves as a great tool for giving people a common experience. Again, not trying to subvert the claim that music was more significant in the 60s and 70s, just pointing out that you shouldn't underestimate the present.

Finally: I still don't get why the Beatles on iTunes is such big news.


"On topic again, is that photo a Harry Benson?"

Looks like him, doesn't it? I don't know though.


Dear WB,

Please release me!


Time Fades Away

It's Neil who's blocked the release, not WB. The word is he has "bad memories" of that tour. He's apparently never going to allow it to be released on CD.

It was interesting in several ways, even though the tour was apparently a complete catastrophe: it was alleged to be the first live album issued of all-new material, and it was one of the earliest live records mastered digitally. As for NY's contention that it was his "worst record ever," not even close. Neil is the Brett Favre of musicians: there are the good records and there are the bad records.

Good thing I still have the original on vinyl....


I agree with Adam (a non-event), but it should be noted that Apple didn't treat this as an event (Jobs appearance on stage at an over-hyped media gathering). It's just an iTunes marketing thing, in time for Christmas.

But it will introduce the Beatles to a new generation of listeners who were born long after the Beatles broke up. In fact, so were their parents!


"But it will introduce the Beatles to a new generation of listeners who were born long after the Beatles broke up."

I don't see how that's possible, if the Beatles were the second best selling band of the 2000s. (Which was the part of this announcement that amazed me.) Who's been doing all that buying over the past ten years if not a new generation of listeners? Their parents and grandparents certainly already own the music if they want it at all, don't they?


I guess for it to be interesting you had to have been following the epic Apple-vs.-Apple (reminds me of "Spy vs. Spy") battles, and the ongoing reports of the negotiations that led up to this. I've been reading about it for years. It's been (er, sorry) a long and winding road.

In fact, just the topic of the Beatles song rights would make an interesting book in the hands of the right writer.


Why bother with iTunes when the 2009 remaster stereo and mono complete works on CD are absolutely glorious? In fact, why bother with iTunes for ANYTHING available on CD? Unless you are in the grip of ADHD and simply can't wait for the UPS truck, CDs are always a better deal in every way.

"CDs are always a better deal in every way."

...Unless you only want three songs from an album, e.g., "Only a Northern Song," "Hey Bulldog," and "It's All Too Much."


For what it's worth.

1. There is no DRM on music downloads in the iTunes store. The remaining DRM was removed a year or two ago when everything moved to iTunes+

2. I personally would rather buy downloads than disks because you don't have to store downloads in a drawer somewhere and I've lost far more disks than I've ever lost files on my hard drive.

Whenever I lose another CD the first thing I do now is just download it from iTunes or Amazon if they have it.

The sound quality issue is a potential issue. But as I get older I can't work up the energy to actually care. 256K AAC is damn close if not identical to CD in almost any rationally priced (heh heh) playback setting.

And oh yeah, The Beatles are better than probably 99% of the pop/rock/whatever music in any given time period since before or after the Beatles existed. So there.

Sorry folks, I just don't buy the argument re: the importance of music in 1968. I have spent a lifetime bombarded with the message that everything important happened in 1968, which is coincidentally the coming-of-age for the largest demographic tsunami ever seen. Doesn't that raise your alarm bells about the potential hegemonic blind spot in such claims?

Is it any wonder that the Beatles today still sell so well? The enormous cultural/economic/political grip that is wielded by such a huge majority guarantees that the music/experiences/products/world views favoured by that majority will get most of the airtime. And that such domination will be seen as natural and based on merit (not the luck of timing and demographics.)

Growing up in the 80's and 90's, the biggest threat to music wasn't the contemporary music itself, it was the chokehold of classic rock radio and increasingly conservative station programmers and record execs. I am very thankful for the internet coming along and disrupting this cultural monopoly. "You say you want a revolution?" There it is.

I didn't say everything important happened in 1968 (when I was 11, BTW), I just said music was culturally a much greater force then--which is true.

And I'm not sure the majority is quite as huge as you think it was. There were more births per capita in the early 1900s than in the '40s and '50s, and in terms of absolute numbers there were more babies born in 2007 than in 1957.

But I see your point.


"...Unless you only want three songs from an album, e.g., "Only a Northern Song," "Hey Bulldog," and "It's All Too Much.""

I've always been album-oriented. :-)

Buy the CD, rip it at MUCH better than iTunes quality, archive in the deep freeze (well, basement actually). You own it forever, you have the artwork, etc. Done deal.

Another vote for "Time Fades Away". THAT would have got me excited. Somewhow I sort of expect it to turn up in the Archives 2 timeframe... Gotta be one the best NY albums.

I see your points too Mike.

Why all this talk about the Beatles?

Jimi Hendrix just released a 4 CD box set yesterday called Seattle Boy...Go get a vente latte and crank it, Seattle style, or roll a nice one and be old school about it...

There's an 8 LP version too!

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