My Twelve Favourite Beatles Lead Guitar Parts (and some other stuff)

The band in question with the instrument in question...

The band in question with the instrument in question…

 

Oh, and you know you're a guitar-playing Beatlemaniac when you own one of these! I actually do...

Oh, and you know you’re a guitar-playing Beatlemaniac when you own one of these! I actually do…

 

I play guitar. (Well, you probably already knew that, but anyway.) And despite what a few 70’s insert-rock-god-of-your-choice fans like to believe, The Beatles were incredibly good guitarists. And so I decided to make a list of their best lead guitar moments! This won’t include rhythm/finger-picked parts, ‘cos they will get their own post at some point, along with bass and drums. And by the way, Eric Clapton on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ doesn’t count.

As I said above, The Beatles were much better at their craft than they are given credit for. Some of the most famous riffs have come from the Casinos/Rickenbackers/Gretschs at Studio Two (or Studio One…or Studio Three), Abbey Road Studios (or Trident Studios…or Twickenham), and there are actually a few soaring rock-god moments in the catalogue. Whether it be their incredible use of overdrive, or the clever use of slides and pulloffs and hammerons, there is something special about The Beatles’ playing that no-one else can re-create. (Yeah, I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.) So here’s my list – too small to fit in all my favourite moments, but just big enough for this lovely blog! Oh, and if you’re not a guitarist (or not familiar with some of the terminology), you might like to skim over the guitar dictionary below, which’ll give you an idea of what things such as ‘pulloffs’ and ‘hammerons’ are (if you don’t already know): http://www.guitarscholar.co.uk/dictionary/. And the number in brackets (if required) refers to when the part in question begins, so you can skip to that point to hear what I’m talking about if you want. And now let the list begin!

12. ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey’ (particularly the double-stops at the beginning, but also the fills in between the “c’mon, c’mon” bit)

This song has a few records set around it. It’s the longest Beatles song title. It contains John’s highest note (a C6, or two Cs above middle C – in other words, incredibly high!). It also probably has The Beatles’ largest use of cowbell. But finally, in my opinion, it’s one of their rockiest songs. I have a small obsession with the double-stops at the beginning – a lick that I must learn! But today, I also noticed the actual lead guitar bit once the song (and the cowbell!) has kicked in – and they are damn impressive! George’s fingers must have been very nimble…

11. ‘Let It Be’ – album version (1:57)

What a pity this isn’t the single version/the version that everyone knows – I’d choose the above over it any day! The solo in this is something else – unlike the slightly sappy solo on the single, this one is gutsy and overdriven and crunchy and very, very groovy! I particularly love the slide/bends in it. And for those of you who think The Beatles can’t do a soaring rock-god thing, listen to this – you’re wrong! Oh, and I dig the organ…

10. ‘Old Brown Shoe’ (1:37)

Wikipedia describes George’s solo in this unfairly-underrated blues-rocker as “highly [Eric] Claptonesque”, and rightly so! The lead guitar in this is just stunning – rocky and cool in every way! Slightly reminiscent of ‘Savoy Truffle’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, in my opinion… People say The Beatles didn’t do the blues well, but I beg to differ – George (if you think about it) was actually a very bluesy guitarist in the late-’60s, his skills in such genres on full show in songs such as the above and ‘For You Blue’ (which he wrote – John played the slide lead). And I don’t want to imagine life without ‘Yer Blues’!

9. ‘Taxman’ (1:12)

Paul plays the wonderfully acidic solo here, despite the fact George wrote the song in protest of the amount of money he and his bandmates lost to taxes (you tell them, George!)! Even those of you who aren’t guitarists probably can hear how intricate it is. The entire solo (plus the fills in other bits of the song) are comprised of a number of excruciatingly-difficult pulloffs and position-changes, so Paul was clearly damn good at the guitar to be able to pull this off (pun may or may not be intended)! I love this song in general – the accented rhythm guitar, the whimsical harmonies, and (of course) the political message it carries! And a fun-fact for you – a different take of this solo was reversed and used in the psychedelic tape-looped masterpiece ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

8. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ (1:32)

One word: backmasking. This is, in fact, the second or third (depends whether you go on the track-listing of Revolver or on the recording dates) song ever to use it. EVER. No satanic messages involved.

In fact, this song is just amazing. I was listening to my Revolver vinyl the other day, and felt some kind of intense euphoric wash of love about halfway through this song. It completely and utterly blew my mind. But more on that strange experience and The Beatles’ effect on me another day…

7. ‘Nowhere Man’ (0:48)

Rubber Soul is a beautiful album. My second favourite, to be exact – only behind Revolver. And this is possibly one of the top three most beautiful songs on the album! John and George played the solo on matching “sonic blue” Fender Strats, and god, it sounds good! I don’t know what I like so much about it, but I just do, and that is all. And by the way, you have to watch the clip above – it is just the cutest thing ever! And a bit sad too – but then, so is the song…

6. ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (the beginning + 1:33)

This was the first Beatles song I ever heard. Must have been about four – I certainly remember asking my godfather (hello!) to put it on a compilation CD when I was about six. But now I’m over double that age, I still love this song. And I love it – apart from sentimental reasons – especially for the lead guitar (and the harmonies, but that’s a different story). I believe George played it through a Leslie speaker, and then had it multi-tracked (like ‘Old Brown Shoe’, and so many other Beatles songs of the time). People dismiss this song ‘cos it’s Ringo’s, but it’s beautiful, incredibly complex, and it turned so many people (myself included) onto that magic world that is The Beatles.

5. ‘Hey Bulldog’ (1:42)

Back to the 1968 overdrive that I appear to be so obsessed with! I reckon 1968 was The Beatles best year for their lead guitar… There has been some debate as to whether John or George plays the solo, but it has generally been said that George played it on his black-and-red Gibson SG (as can be seen in the music clip above). But then there’s that riff. Possibly my favourite riff ever. So I guess it’s here for both of it’s lead guitar parts.

4. ‘Get Back’ (0:43 + 2:00)

If you seriously thought this list wouldn’t contain any John solos, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog! Despite popular opinion, John was a stellar guitarist – and I’m not just saying that. Listen to the rhythm part in ‘All My Loving’, or the Esher demo of ‘Revolution’ – only a stellar guitarist could play that! But this isn’t about rhythm, it’s about lead. And John had a number of groovy lead moments, but this is my favourite. The crunchy bending and intricate picking of this song were played on John’s famed Epiphone Casino, and it’s far more complicated than it sounds! Trust me – I tried it, and probably shouldn’t have… And sorry about the subtitles – it was the only clip I could find that uses the original Let It Be footage.

3. ‘Not Guilty’ – Beatles version (entire song, but the solo is at 1:33)

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I do know this is on Anthology 3, but it deserves to be on here. In fact, in that case ‘Watching Rainbows’ (an obscure Get Back bootleg THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED) should be on here, too, but that’s a different story. I have never heard George’s solo rendition of this, but I have heard it is acoustic – I personally love it as a prime example of acid rock, as displayed above. Like a few of the songs on here, I don’t know why I love the lead so much on this – maybe the overdrive (as you will have gathered, it is my favourite effect), the volume pedal (I think), just the fact it is so hard-rocking? But who cares – it’s groovy, so it deserves a spot on here! Oh, and I dig the harpsichord…

2. ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (0:44)

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve really badly sung this riff whilst miming air guitar in front of my mirror. Lost count. Someone on a Beatles forum described it as ‘[Led] Zeppelin-esque, yet heavier’, and I agree. I’d go so far to say that it is proto-metal. I don’t think there is much I can say about this one, so I’ll let it (and my love for it) speak for itself. And finally…

1. ‘Dear Prudence’ (1:50)

This, my friends, is possibly the best Beatles lead guitar part, and definitely the most underrated. BUT IT’S LOST IN THE MIX!! WHY?! (Sorry…) And that’s why I put the isolated guitar above. But anyway, I. Love. This. Part. The bending, the crunch, the bluesy bits– oh, just everything! Listen to it yourself, and you’ll see what I mean. I’m trying to play it on my own guitar at the moment, and it’s almost impossible! I officially proclaim George a guitar genius.

So there you go! My favourite Beatles lead guitar parts, with bass/rhythm guitar/percussion/insert other random instrument a Beatle played more than once on more than one Beatle record editions coming soon!

 

And it was birthday on Thursday! Thank you to all those who helped me celebrate. I was serenaded with ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by my class (who supposedly ‘hate’ The Beatles!), and had a lovely tea with my parents (and later with my grandfather and godparents respectively!)! I got lots of beautiful Beatles stuff, including my own copy of LIFE’s collection of Robert Whitaker’s photographs of The Beatles (I’ve wanted that book since December!), a rare World Record Club pressing of Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits (Australian pressing), some first-edition Beatles 7″ singles/EPs, a beautiful hardback copy of John’s books In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works and a ticket to John Waters’ infamous John Lennon tribute ‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’ (which you’ll – undoubtedly – be getting a post on)! Here’s a picture:

Once again, thank you! I've been well and truly spoilt... :-)

Once again, thank you! I’ve been well and truly spoilt… 🙂

Oh, and Big W in Australia (I don’t know if they exist elsewhere) are selling official Beatles shirts for $13AUD, in two styles (Abbey Road and a 1963 photo-shoot)! I’ve already got my two (thanks to a lovely friend who told me about them), so make sure you go and check your local store out!

Good day sunshine 🙂

 

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A ‘Good Night’ (pun intended) at The White Album Concert!

 

The promotional poster for the gig.

The promotional poster for the gig.

And me before the show, in my White Album shirt (which was my only Beatles shirt until last month!). Yes, and I do wear things other than Beatles shirts...

And me before the show, in my White Album shirt (which was my only Beatles shirt until last month!). Yes, and I do wear things other than Beatles shirts…

 

Hey Bulldog/Jude/all,

Well, as you have probably gathered, I went to a gig last night. And that gig was none other than the critically-acclaimed White Album Concert! As I explained in my previous post, The White Album Concert is made up of four well-known Australian musicians (Tim Rodgers of You Am I, Chris Cheney of The Living End, Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon and Josh Pyke, an ARIA-Award-winning singer/songwriter – a soloist, too, unlike the other three) singing/playing the entirety of The Beatles (better known as The White Album), along with a 17-piece band. The show was toured once before – in 2009 – and has been travelling around Australia since the 13th of this month. As you can probably guess, Adelaide had one of their last shows – the second-to-last, to be exact. The show was held in the Festival Centre – our fancy theatre where a lot of shows are held (also the second-biggest venue in SA).

After being forced to park on the other side of town (the CBD isn’t particularly big, though – one could probably drive from one side to the other in ten minutes) due to the premiere of a play in the Dunstan Playhouse and some soccer match, we finally came to the Festival Centre. We (or more specifically, my Dad – thanks!) bought a program, which can be seen in the picture above, and, soon enough, we had entered the theatre and the lights were dimmed.

The show was begun with the band playing ‘Can You Take Me Back’ (the unrelated coda at the end of ‘Cry Baby Cry’, if you are not familiar with the title), before Chris Cheney ran onto the stage, and began playing ‘Back In The USSR’! This was followed by the entire contents of the first disc, each song being covered by either Cheney, Jamieson, Rodgers or Pyke. And then, twenty minutes after the last strum of ‘Julia’, the second half again started with Cheney – this time, though, playing ‘Birthday’. After the end of ‘Good Night’, however, the show did not finish – all four musicians came together (pun intended) to cover ‘A Day In The Life’ and a reprise of ‘Revolution’ (and most of the audience stood up and danced/sang at this point – including me)! And I should probably add that by the entirety of the White Album, I mean the entirety – this means their repertoire included ‘Wild Honey Pie’ and ‘Revolution No. 9’ (which didn’t sound much like the real thing – thankfully… But then, I listened to the entire track for the first time yesterday, and it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. I found John and George’s (non-edited) voices quite comforting, though – not sure I would have listened to the whole thing otherwise…)!

I don’t have a stand-out favourite performance, as all the covers were so darn good! I was, however, incredibly impressed by the fact that the White Album version of ‘Revolution’ was performed specifically as ‘Revolution No. 1’, and that the single version of ‘Revolution’ was kept for the encore. If I did have to choose a favourite bit, though, it would probably be ‘Cry Baby Cry’ (sang by Josh Pyke), ‘Rocky Racoon’ (Pyke, again – I don’t normally like this song too much, but it sounded like a ‘Oh! Yoko’ and ‘Racoon’ mash up!), ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey’ (Tim Rodgers), ‘Long, Long, Long’ (Pyke, again), ‘Yer Blues’ (Phil Jamieson) and Chris Cheney’s guitar-god moment, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’! Other favourites included their versions of ‘Martha My Dear’, ‘I’m So Tired’ and ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, but to be honest, I really didn’t do too much favouring!

And did I prefer The Beatle Boys to the WAC? As with above, I really cannot choose, as they were both so different. (On a random note, I’m listening to Anthology 3 at the moment, and the acoustic version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ has just come on – I forgot how beautiful the demo is! I prefer it to the real thing…) As we all know, The Beatle Boys dressed up in the suits and boots and had their hair cut in moptops and put on Scouse accents – and what a great job of their tribute they did! The WAC was completely different, though – no dressing up, no accents (though Tim Rodgers did make a ‘rattle your jewellery’ joke in a Liverpudlian accent), no haircuts – just a night of electrifyingly-good music, sung by four relatively-famous musos. So again, I have no preference – let’s just say that they were both two of the best nights of my life! But this time, however, I took a lot of pictures, and only one video (0f ‘Cry Baby Cry’), so I will have something to show you of my own, for once – we were sitting in Row E of the dress circle, so I was in the perfect position to get some full stage shots! See below for my pictures and some YouTube clips of the concert in other states:

white album one

white album two

white album three

Note all the psychedelic lighting - I couldn't quite capture the beauty of them in single shots, but I tried! The acoustics were also amazing - it was so loud, but God, did it sound good!

Note all the psychedelic lighting – I couldn’t quite capture the beauty of them in single shots, but I tried! The acoustics were also amazing – it was so loud, but God, did it sound good!

white album five

The whole band!

The whole band!

 

The promo.

‘Birthday’

‘Revolution No. 1’ (gives you a good idea of the atmosphere – everyone singing!)

 

So there you – a review of my lovely night! I think I posted this last time, but here is the link to their website, so please check it out! Hope you’re all having a great day, wherever you are, and good day sunshine! 🙂