Aug 092008

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since we’ve discussed a hilariously dorky, minutia-obsessed, Beatles-related issue. Let’s do this!

This is something I used to think about a lot more, for lack of better things to do with my life. But I still think it’s an interesting idea. So much Beatlesque music lazily relies on the same old chord changes, guitar and vocal licks, etc. to elicit a Pavlovian reaction from the fanboys. But who best took the music to new places, to try and express new things? Who was most fearless in their ability to fuck with the form that the Fab Four gave us? I say XTC, specifically Andy Partridge. While I’ve moved on from this band in some ways, I’ll defend their whole catalog to my dying day. I remember an old website,, where artists programmed streaming radio “stations.” Partridge’s was by far my favorite: Plenty of ’60s psych and pop, yes, but also Charlie Parker, Phillip Glass, and Captain Beefheart. And it all made sense, you could hear how all the artists had informed his sensibilities.

Yes, the band has a slightly scary fanbase, but if you doth protest too much you may need to look in a mirror sometime. Plus, you can’t spend your life following bands who only attract young, good-looking crowds. That way lies madness, and some other maladies I can think of.

In second place for pushing the Beatles’ sound forward, I put Big Star, who upped the anty for bad vibes and emotional intensity.


  21 Responses to “Who Moved “Beatlesque” Forward Most?”

  1. sammymaudlin

    I’m inclined to immediately second the nomination of Andy Partridge but for the sake of discussion I’d like to toss Neil Finn into the ring.

    I think, and I may not make friends with this, that Neil added more warmth, soul and humanity into it.

  2. My boy Stevie.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    I completely agree that XTC did the most with pushing their Beatles influences forward and making it their own. Elvis Costello may have tied XTC, come to think of it, but I don’t think his musical arrangements were ever as novel within Beatlesque confines.

  4. Neil Finn is a truly worthy contender, Sammy. Good one.

    Elvis Costello may have tied XTC, come to think of it, but I don’t think his musical arrangements were ever as novel within Beatlesque confines.

    Yes, Imperial Bedroom aside, I don’t think he really shines in the “studio tinkerer” Beatles mode. Most of his best albums sound like he and the band figured out the arrangements in rehearsals, then banged them out fairly quickly in the studio.

  5. Badfinger!

  6. BigSteve

    Freddie & the Dreamers

  7. sammymaudlin

    I never really thought of Costello as being “Beatlesque”.

    If pressed on an “-esque” I’d offer Dylan-esque before Beatlesque.

  8. BigSteve

    I think I may be the only King’s X fan here, but their hard rock/funk sound always has lots of vocal harmonies, and there’s a definite but hard to put one’s finger on late-period Beatles vibe in their work. In terms of moving Beatlesquitude forward, Abbey Road is a pretty unique path to take.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    I don’t know how “forward” the movement was, but Cheap Trick took the Beatles pop thing and attached it to ball-crushing guitar power — as well as the style, flair and attitude that modern-day arena rock required. As great as the Beatles were, they never really figured out how to handle a huge audience. Not that that was their fault.

    Please, no nit-picks about Shea Stadium or the amazing overdriven guitar sounds of “Revolution” or “Helter Skelter.”

  10. BigSteve

    Can we all agree that Oasis set the concept of Beatlesque back? To be honest I never really heard the Beatles in their music at all, except for maybe some Lennon in the vocals, but everyone who wrote about the band always seemed to claim that they were ripping off the Beatles. I didn’t get it.

  11. BigSteve, I lay partial claim to King’s X and their Pearl, MS roots (my own hometown). I think that Ty Tabor is one of the most gifted guitarists to come down the pipe. He’s amazing. I love his first solo record, Moonflower Lane, which is a power pop treasure and definitely a must for Beatles fans. Not at all what you’d expect from a “metal” guy like Tabor.

    Pearl versus Boston? Pearl gave us Ty Tabor and Tommy Aldridge, drummer for Whitesnake and Black Oak Arkansas and Ted Nugent and Ozzy (with Randy Rhoades) and whoever else. Pearl was also home to Lee Ann Rhimes before her Star Search days.


  12. Like LDB claims for Pearl, I’m surprised none of you Philly guys have taken responsibility for Todd…

    He’s one of the guys who ‘got it’ and used outlandish musical concepts like ‘melody’ and over ‘harmony’ in his rock – certainly the two most important aspects of what makes beatlesque beatlesque…

    who is to say if John Lennon wouldn’t have jumped off a burning pyramid or two in the middle of a Velino solo if Jodie Foster hadn’t ventilated his overcoat…

  13. Emmit Rhodes. I think that he did a great job in his garage. I’m sure that it was a lot of work as well, dealing with the 60Hz on the tape and not letting any barking dogs get caught on the album as well.

    Also, I read in an interview that he had a 3 channel EQ, and that he would use it to mix! Like if the guitar was too low, he would turn up the treble, and not the track volume. I know it’s no big deal, but I love that sort of thing.

  14. sammymaudlin

    Hey invisable mint: Welcome and thanks for reminding me about Emmit Rhodes. I put that first solo album on for the first time in at least a decade.

    Out McCartnies McCartney.

    I love the sound on that album.

  15. alexmagic

    I like Emitt Rhodes a lot and think that he and Badfinger were the most capable at doing the McCartney sound, especially his solo sound.

    But I’d agree that XTC seems to fit the bill for having pushed what you can do within the concept “Beatlesque” furthest. A lot of that feeling comes from seeing how capable of directly aping the sound Partridge could be when he felt like doing a straight pastiche: The Loving, Mole From The Ministry, etc. But generally he added his own sound on top of things, that weird, nervy, hard-to-define Partridge-ness. In demos, you can still hear his influences plainly, but he was bringing his fair share to the table and created something new when the song was finished.

    I guess what strikes me as a little odd is that he seems to have retreated from that a bit as he’s gone on. Later XTC albums are a little more straightforwardly Beatlesque, and the Apple Venus albums (both of which I like quite a bit) almost feel like he split the Partridge-isms and straight guitar pop down the middle at times.

    Steve mentioned Oasis as setting the concept back, and I’d maybe nominate Karl Wallinger as someone who’s pushed Beatlesque the least far, in that when he’s doing a Beatlesque number, it often sounds like a hermetically-sealed copy.

  16. Hey for some straight fab four channeling, check out the Vinyl Kings. Mostly Nashville session guys alla whose religion changed on February 9th, 1964.

    better than ‘Deface the Music’

  17. Hmmm… A much as I love them, I think Teenage Fanclub may have set Beatlesque back a lot too, though they were doing it at a time when there was a lack of that straight ahead guitar pop that they did. Then again, the argument could be made that their more Beach Boys-y than Beatlesque.

  18. This sight is just music nerdy enough for me

    Squeeze, XTC, NRBQ, Badfinger,Big Star,Jellyfish and Posies come to mind off the top of my head. Elvis Costello goes in and out of his Beatles phase. 99% of the time Beatlesque means that a band only goes back as far as The Beatles and not their influences (like Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Carl Perkins, Motown) and then come off missing the VERY IMPORTANT blues, country and soul influences. It’s like being Stonesesque and not knowing Muddy Waters or Dylanesque and not knowing Woodie Guthrie.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Townsman Jungleland2, welcome aboard! I’m glad you found us. We know the rock nerds are out there. It’s just a matter of reeling them in with our scintillating and otherwise socially inept conversations.

    I love what you say about “being Stonesesque and not knowing Muddy Waters…” It’s understandable with young musicians, but after a while you’d hope curiousity would take over and these bands would dip back a bit further, kind of like what I see Gnarls Barkley doing in their new homage to the California Raisins.

  20. hrrundivbakshi

    Here’s what I want to know: we have a “jungleland2” Townsman. Do we also have a “jungleland1” out there?

  21. He’s not particularly well-known, but Anton Barbeau has taken a strong Beatles influence and created a whole musical universe of his own as the title of “Another Anton Song” suggests. He even references the Beatles by name (particularly Paul) in a number of his songs. Check him out on Spotify or at his website:

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