Well, yes, probably so

Although it’s often thought impolite to point it out:

Sir Paul McCartney has described the Rolling Stones as “a blues cover band” and claimed The Beatles tapped into a wider array of musical influences.

The Stones used to be described as a “singles band” rather than an album one. Some startlingly good pieces undoubtedly – and yet the albums often enough contained acres of very lazy, umm, blues covers.

25 thoughts on “Well, yes, probably so”

  1. Not sure that they’d deny it would they? That’s how they started out.
    A more knowledgable expert than I on here will be able to explain, but I was always under the impression that Brian Jones’ death marked the point at which they turned into a more commercial band.

  2. While the Beatles were singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” the Stones sang “Let’s Spend The Night Together.” Nursery school versus grown-ups.

  3. “yet the albums often enough contained acres of very lazy, umm, blues covers.”
    So what? The Stones have always been primarily musicians. It’s how they play, not what they play. They covered established blues numbers & themselves added to the repertoire. That how blues works. You look at their early days, you see the connection with Cyril Davis All Stars. Sort of blues cooperative from the 60’s. All sorts of people were part of it. There’s tracks with Rod Stuart & Jagger on them. Members of other later famous bands. Blues then was always about playing the music rather than making money. Why I can remember being one of a dozen people listening to Clapton playing acoustic along with 3 never-heard-of’s for an entry fee of half a crown on a wet Sunday afternoon. Why the Stones were still doing occasional pub gigs up until fairly recently.

    “Beatles were a glorified boy band.” Indeed. They were actually a generic descendent of music hall. An act. Woman who did some of their management/promotion in their very early days was from that tradition. Married to Dad’s Army’s David Croft. Same background.

  4. “The Stones used to be described as a “singles band” rather than an album one. Some startlingly good pieces undoubtedly – and yet the albums often enough contained acres of very lazy, umm, blues covers.”

    I never get the acclaim for Beatles albums. They’ve become culturally iconic, but they just aren’t that good.

  5. @BoM4
    I listen to a couple of internet radio stations. Play all sorts of music. DJAMradio out of Paris is a good one. They regularly play Stones tracks. Beatles, hardly ever. How often do you hear them on the BBC stations? Sure. “Culturally iconic”. But how many people actually listen to them?

  6. The Beatles broke up over 50 years ago. Paul McCartney is trading on past glories even more than William Shatner.

  7. There’s a band gig a bar here. Mixed Brit/Spanish. Actually, very good. They’ll often do Stones covers. Although they may be covers of Stones covers. Goes down well with the younger 20s/30s as well us geriatrics because they recognise them. How many of them would recognise a Beatles number? How would you do She loves You? Aa comedy number?

  8. The Stones were just a Blues covers band? Like Led Zeppelin then; and as Roué le Jour says, the Beatles were just a jumped-up Boy Band.

  9. Did we discuss this before? – I read somewhere Lennon and McCartney started writing their own stuff to get round the problem of the opening band performing the same material before they, the headliners, came on.

  10. Imagine is my choice for worst song of all time. The work of a clinical depressive.
    As for MacCartney, Lennon sang that the only thing he’d done was Yesterday. And even that is soppy shit.

  11. I was always Beatles in the great Beatles – Stones wars, but as soon as they released Abbey Road they became, for me, totally sixties and dated. Whereas the Stones music, being blues-based, is timeless.

    In my humble opinion, of course.

  12. As a blues band The Animals were better. Compared to the Stones they had the best voice (Burdon) and the best musician (Price). And they didn’t make the preposterously stagey claim to be “authentic”.

  13. “They were actually a generic descendent of music hall. An act.”

    I recall an interview with Pete Waterman where he said the first time Kylie heard his George Formby records, her eyes lit up… “That’s where the Beatles got it from, isn’t it?“

    Which, despite the fact I consider them the single most overrated… thing in all of human history, I actually count to their credit. At least it was different to the endless stream of Elvis clones and blues wannabes.

  14. “Pete Waterman where he said the first time Kylie heard his George Formby records, her eyes lit up”

    I find this slightly disturbing.

  15. That’s a chat up line on Kylie that I’d never have thought of. I shall start practising it. I wonder if it will also work on Clare Grogan ?

    Anyway the Beatles were not the only ones to have been beaten to it by Formby

    https://youtu.be/A1rNnxfCxQs

  16. “I wonder if it will also work on Clare Grogan ?”

    You, sir, are clearly a gentleman of taste and distinction.

    And yes, it is a rather strange thing to have happened. Waterman’s a big Formby fan apparently.

  17. Image and audience demographics aside (both of which have nothing to do with the quality of a band or their music), The Beatles were objectively more talented and versatile than the Stones. They spanned several genres, were willing to take risks and make cringe-worthy mistakes along the way, wrote songs that had some kind of emotion behind them (whether you agreed with the message or not) and still knew how to be loud and edgy for their time (“Revolution 9” still holds up as gritty and individualistic to this day).

    Rolling Stones might’ve been okay at the way beginning (“Paint It Black” had some effort put into its writing), but they devolved into just another derivative 70s rock band. Virtually indistinguishable from, say, KISS. All bands have their fanbases who show up to the concerts and collect the paraphernalia, and swear by how “legendary” the bandmates are, but you cannot convince me that this fandom is based on anything to do with how objectively good they are at playing instruments, writing lyrics or constructing a song.

    If you had to compare The Beatles to another band from that era, maybe you’d stack them up with The Who, since both bands wrote concept albums and were known for experimenting with recording techniques. I’d consider them “weed and LSD” bands, while RS were more of an “alcohol and coke” band. The Stones loved to tout the “bad boy rocker” image, but they were simply junkies, not much more. Maybe their tunes were catchy for some, or good for head-banging, that’s about it. If the atmosphere of a concert is your criteria, then you’re no better than a Dave Matthews or Jimmy Buffett fan. Sorry to break it to you.

    And even if mindless head-banging is your thing, I could name 20 other bands who are better than the Stones for that. The Stones are such a “tough, male-skewing” band that they had to give K.D. Lang a writing credit for “Anybody Seen My Baby” because they basically xeroxed her.

    If you’d like a classic comedy analogy, you could say RS was The 3 Stooges, while The Beatles were Laurel & Hardy. Far more authentic, cerebral and interesting, but still kept the things you like about their counterparts.

    If you want a direct side-by-side comparison between the Beatles and Stones, listen to “Blackbird” versus “Brown Sugar.” Both songs have subject matter related in some way to the civil rights movement, but one of those songs has deeply symbolic lyrics with an addictive chord progression. The other is a hacky blues riff with brash incongruent lyrics about masters whipping slaves.

    And if that’s not enough, look at the shitty collaboration Mick did with David Bowie, or the one with Dave Grohl to write a way-too-topical song about COVID. It’s sooooo incredibly douchey.

    There’s a reason why The Beatles have inspired so many more covers and tributes than the other guys. Even while RS have had a good 50 years after the breakup to create better content.

    Honestly, I can go on all day about how shit the Stones are.

  18. bloke in spain,

    “I listen to a couple of internet radio stations. Play all sorts of music. DJAMradio out of Paris is a good one. They regularly play Stones tracks. Beatles, hardly ever. How often do you hear them on the BBC stations? Sure. “Culturally iconic”. But how many people actually listen to them?”

    My feeling is that a lot of people say they like The Beatles, and will sometimes listen to the odd song, and if you’re in a room and someone is playing it, you won’t get anyone asking you to turn it off, but they don’t care that much. So this works for media and TV about music because they can make a documentary that everyone will watch. But how many people name The Beatles in their favourite bands?

  19. “If you want a direct side-by-side comparison between the Beatles and Stones, listen to “Blackbird” versus “Brown Sugar.” Both songs have subject matter related in some way to the civil rights movement, but one of those songs has deeply symbolic lyrics with an addictive chord progression. The other is a hacky blues riff with brash incongruent lyrics about masters whipping slaves.”

    Yep. Those two ’bout sum the argument up.

    One is a track people are still bopping to. The other is music to help you slit your wrists.
    Depends what you think music is for. Stones you enjoy yourself to. Much of Beatles is to get wordily existential over. Most people prefer a good time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *