Monday, April 26, 2010

The Beatles Legacy - The Pioneering Influence of the Fab Four

By Virginia Magary

Every era produces a handful of historically significant artists whose work perfectly captures the spirit of their times and becomes an inspiration for countless generations to follow. Looking back at the 20th century, only a few musical artists represent the best in popular music: Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, perhaps Elvis Presley. However, one band holds the top spot for the most influential of the century: The Beatles.

The four lads from Liverpool took the music world by storm and, in the course of a mere six years, established themselves as innovators of rock and became known as one of the greatest bands of all time. Their music continues to delight generations of new fans, as well as influence many other artists such as U2, Radiohead, Nirvana, Coldplay, Green Day and countless others.

Their astonishing career has produced numerous albums that are now considered masterpieces of rock music as well as capturing the zeitgeist of the 1960's. Not many critics or serious music fans can name even one artist with as profound a legacy in popular music, and The Beatles' albums "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Revolver," and "The White Album" still frequently top the lists of the best rock albums of all time.

This is quite significant, given that the modern recording industry is many times larger than it was in the Beatles' time, with literally tens of thousands of albums being released each year. Still, The Beatles' recordings have weathered the test of time and continue to sell steadily, as old and new fans alike continue to enjoy their timeless music.

Though The Beatles' recording career was relatively short, mostly from 1963 to 1969, their work cannot be viewed as a mere relic of the 1960's. The Beatles may have been initially influenced by Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry, but they did not limit themselves to those early styles of rock for long. With the help of producer George Martin, The Beatles pioneered many recording techniques that proved that rock music could encompass a nearly limitless array of harmonies, structures and sounds.

Many types of "experimental" rock have a precedent on Beatles albums. Some of the effects heard in their music were created using backward tapes, distortion, filters, animal sounds, and unfamiliar musical instruments.

This dramatic change came about in late 1965 with the release of the "Rubber Soul" album. At this point, they had decided that they would no longer tour and they wanted to focus on developing and experimenting with more creative musical ideas and recording technology. Most of their music was recorded using four-track recorders, and multi-tracking was achieved by overlaying new tracks onto existing tracks. The result of their trailblazing in the studio was the development of the multi-track recording studio, with many technological innovations that are in use today. The band utilized everything that was available to them in a way that no other artists had had the creativity or possibility to do before, and which no one has replicated since.

In late 2009, The Beatles re-released their main catalog with the much anticipated remastered recordings of their original works. Later, their company, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI released a unique box set: a beautifully crafted, green aluminum apple-shaped USB drive containing the entire stereo box set, plus visual elements such as documentary films, album art, rare photos and complete liner notes.

To read more about the Beatles and their influence, and to see a review of the Beatles USB Box Set, go to this site:

Virginia Magary is a freelance writer and designer in Florida, who is also a die-hard Beatles fan.

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