Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 13 of X: Beatles vs. Stones

Rob Sheffield's stand-out chapter on the Beatles vs the Stones in his Dreaming the Beatles is another example of the many candidates for flat-out best chapter in this great book, in this case because Sheffield demonstrates a mastery in discussing the Stones equal to what he does about the Beatles throughout his book.

Just to be clear, I don't agree with every point Sheffield makes or even explores in this book, but I agree with a lot more than I usually do in any book about anything. But to give you an example of one point in which I strongly disagree, Sheffield says in the chapter before the Stones that Magical Mystery Tour is a terrible album.  I agree it's not one of their best, but it's much closer to superb than it is to worthless.

I'm not even sure I hold the Rolling Stones in as high esteem as does Sheffield.  I usually think they're the second best rock group of all-time, but the Beach Boys for very different reasons aren't far behind. But I agree completely that the Beatles are better.

And I agree with and very much like Sheffield's analysis of the Stones vis-a-vis the Beatles, and how the Stones finally broke free of and beyond the competition with the Beatles with their "Jumpin Jack Flash".  I remember the time I first heard that masterpiece on the radio, and I thought immediately that the Stones had done something, at very least, different from what the Beatles had ever done.

So the Stones deserve credit, for, if nothing else, breaking free of the sway of the Beatles, which every band, especially those in England, had to be in the grip of, in one way or another, in those days and even now.  But one point I would also make about the Stones, which Sheffield didn't (at least, not yet), is that the Stones were able to survive the death of Brian Jones and be vibrant and path-breaking as a band which the Beatles could not in the case of John Lennon.  And that's not only because the Beatles had already split apart a decade before Lennon's murder, but because he was essential to the Beatles in a way that Jones never was to the Stones.  (An equivalent blow to the Stones would have been the death of Mick Jagger, or perhaps Keith Richards.)

Which means that part of how we now evaluate the Stones is due to their continuing on to this very day as a band.  In living on into the 21st-century - performing, writing, recording - the Stones thus took their considerable accomplishments in the 1960s and 70s to another whole, unique level.

But Sheffield's still right that the Beatles were and are better.

See also Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 1 of X: The Love Affair ... 2 of X: The Heroine with a Thousand Faces ... 3 of X: Dear Beatles ... 4 of X: Paradox George ... 5 of X: The Power of Yeah ... 6 of X: The Case for Ringo ... 7 of X: Anatomy of a Ride ... 8 of X: Rubber Soul on July 4 ... 9 of X: Covers ... 10 of X: I. A. Richards ... 11 of X: Underrated Revolver ... 12 of X: Sgt. Pepper

lots of Beatles in here
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