Musings about a Heretical Comparison: The Beatles vs Metallica

The_Fabs Metallica_at_The_O2_Arena_London_2008







It occurred to me that as unlikely as it seems at first glance, there are some parallels to be drawn between the Fab 4 and the rulers of metal. Perhaps the most obvious is that both consist of four members – including two guitarists. Each has one that member that is more focused on money and fame than the others (Paul and Lars), one that is a punk at heart (John and James), one that is just there for making music (George and Kirk) and another that is just happy to be there (Ringo and Rob currently). Each group has about the same number of albums (10 and 9 respectively). Both bands first efforts were heavily influenced by their peers and their breakthroughs were both around their 3rd or 4th albums (Beatles for Sale and Master of Puppets) when their creative juices where truly rolling. There was then a run of a few albums that defy classification (Rubber Soul and Revolver on one hand and And Justice for All and Metallica on the other).  The styles changed at that inflection point – for The Beatles, they dove head-first into the psychedelic period with Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour (as well as Yellow Submarine although I consider that more of a soundtrack than a standalone album.). One could argue that MMT and YS were their weakest albums ever. Indeed, Metallica’s output of Load and Reload was with very few exceptions derivative and corporate and also their weakest output. The White Album was an incredible explosion of creativity just as the band was falling apart – similar to St Anger which is disturbing until one understands the backstory of this being nearly the end of Metallica as well. The last two albums from the Fab 4 were the best produced and probably most coherent in their catalog: Abbey Road and Let it be. They ended on a high note just as they knew that the internal tension would rip the band to shreds had they attempted to continue. Fortunately, Metallica got their shit together and produced Death Magnetic as well as the Beyond Magnetic EP and seem as cohesive as before. What lessons can be derived from this comparison? I am not really sure. These are certainly the greatest rock group ever in terms of overall popularity, record sales, covered songs, and in gross earnings vs the greatest metal band of all time in all those same categories (other than covered songs perhaps). Both have had undeniable influence on their genres. Perhaps the balancing act between ego and musicianship works well in groups of four people. I suppose could also look to U2  as I have done in the past  as other 4-piece rock groups that has achieved a balance over the years.

Why was this on my mind? Because I am going to the premier of Through the Never Tuesday night and was listening to The Beatles catalog while driving several hours this weekend. Beware of Fino when his mind is focused on the road and thinking about music…

Food for thought…


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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