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Beatles vs. Stones Paperback – 11 Nov 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (11 Nov. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143915970X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439159705
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 822,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

A lively examination of the most legendary (and least understood) rivalry in the annals of rock 'n'....

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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book looks at how, in the Sixties, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were pitted against each other as rivals by the press, fans and, despite claims by both sides that they were not in competition, sometimes by the bands themselves. In the early Sixties, the Rolling Stones were portrayed as the Beatles polar opposites - the Beatles wanted to hold your hand, the Rolling Stones wanted to burn down your town, went the old quote. The Rolling Stones were rebels, the Beatles lovable mop tops; the Rolling Stones aggressive louts that no respectable father would want his daughter to date, the Beatles beloved by parents as well as their children. Yet, how true were these press and publicity exaggerations and what did they mean to the bands themselves?

When considering which bands were thuggish, the author concedes that, in pre-fame days, it was hard to beat Lennon. Constantly in trouble at school, known as a local juvenile delinquent, even Paul McCartney's father would warn, "he'll get you in trouble son." Interestingly, the author also notes that the Stones came from more stable and prosperous homes; their background much more middle-class than the Beatles and their prospects, had success not arrived, better than that of the Liverpool group which had virtually abandoned their education to play in a band (for example, McCartney failed to sit his Art A Level, as he was in Scotland backing Johnny Gentle at the time).

It is interesting to read that, from when they first met, the two bands became firm friends.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Extremely well written and gives plenty to chew on in the never ending fascination of which of these two heavyweights was the best. To the more discerning fan it probably doesn't matter but its a nice sidestep from the usual 'cash-in' style books that appear on a regular basis on both bands.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beatles vs. Stone – these two groups change our music in the 60’s.

The book tells the story about Beatles and Stones – about their god relationship and their competitiveness.

Did Beatles and Stones have a political issue? Off course!

Bay and read the book.
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Husband very pleased.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8eb4c348) out of 5 stars 44 reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e68f648) out of 5 stars Very good historical context, but some significant flaws 12 Nov. 2013
By Chicago Bookworm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Note: I'd give this 3 1/2 stars, if I could.

This is not the book to start with if you want to begin understanding the Beatles and Stones, but for established fans of both or either band, McMillian provides some fascinating details about their respective histories. This is also not the place to go to for musical analysis; McMillian is writing as an historian, and the (relatively brief) parts of the book where he writes directly about the music are the least illuminating, in my opinion. But if you want a close look at how the Beatles and Stones got established and made their ways in the mid- to late-60s, you'll probably find this book interesting, even if parts of it will likely also annoy you.

The most useful part of the book, for me at least, was the exploration of how Brian Epstein shaped the Beatles' early image, and how Andrew Loog Oldham shaped the Stones'. McMillian goes deeper than most other writers in his consideration of how that image shaping worked, and looking at the two bands and managers side by side gives a fuller view of the early 60's musical landscape. One thing this section demonstrates is how crazy it is to talk glibly about the "authenticity" of either band's early image. When Epstein met the Beatles, they were dressed entirely in black leather and projected a toughness they'd developed in Hamburg; when Oldham met the Stones, they were a mixed lot without a definite "look." Epstein cleaned up the Beatles' look, and after the Beatles achieved early success with that, the Stones tried it as well, before settling on the hard-edged look they made their own. It's a testament to the talent of both bands that neither could be confined by that early image.

McMillian also does a creditable job of tracing the part-rivalry, part-cooperative relationship between the bands over the years. He's at his best when he's describing concrete events, as when he paints the scene of Lennon and McCartney completing the writing of "I Wanna Be Your Man" while Jagger and Richards watched, and then going into the studio and participating in the recording of the Stones' "We Love You." There was obviously a lot of musical cross-pollination going on between the two bands, and I enjoyed learning about the direct evidence for it.

Another valuable section of the book delves into late-60s politics and the divide between the Stones' "Street Fighting Man" and the Beatles' "Revolution." I already knew something about the way each song was received at the time, but not about the extent to which Lennon's song was seen as a betrayal by many on the left. I came away with a greater appreciation of Lennon's courage in acknowledging his ambivalence publicly -- but of course, your mileage may vary, especially if you're more of a Stones fan.

In general, I think McMillian is too hard on the Stones (and I say that as someone who appreciates both bands' work, but is much more of a Beatles fan). He leans too hard on the Stones' "copying" the Beatles, when the reality is that both bands were responding to similar cultural forces. He does acknowledge that the Stones influenced the Beatles musically, but does so in a way that seems half-hearted.

The ending of the book is particularly unfair to the Stones. McMillian chooses to close the Beatles' story with John Lennon's murder, which is somewhat understandable (it makes for dramatic storytelling, and Lennon's murder definitely ended speculation about whether the band would ever reunite) but also feels like an evasion. Meanwhile, McMillian spends a lot of ink denigrating the Stones' post-70s recording and touring, which is both unreasonable in musical terms (since they've released some good later music, and had some great tours) and unbalanced in terms of the book's subject (the Beatles all had solo careers, and McCartney and Starr are still performing).

All in all, this is a book worthwhile primarily for understanding the Beatles' and the Stones' early histories and their interactions with each other in the 60s. If you're looking for a comparison of the two bands in musical terms, DeRogatis and Kot's book on the Beatles and Stones focuses on that, though it too has real weaknesses. After reading both books, I'm more convinced than ever that it's a mistake to take that "vs." seriously. The only conjunction that really belongs between "Beatles" and "Stones," in my opinion, is "and."
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e66cb10) out of 5 stars In-depth review: McMillian insists on a sustained rivalry 15 Nov. 2013
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The conventional wisdom claims both bands loved each other; any rivalry was only hype. Historian John McMillian marshals evidence, gleaned from chronicles, biographies, interviews, and his own expertise as a scholar of the underground press, that suggests the contrary. While carefully allowing for mutual respect and admiration between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, he reveals that the competition between the perennial "toppermost of the poppermost" and their scruffier, sleazier runners-up motivated the Stones to match the success of pop's lads from Liverpool, who were then driven to keep ahead of those equally calculating London blues-rockers, during much of the 1960s. McMillian examines the creation of the marketing images for both groups, and he demonstrates how they were both, despite denials by members, complicit in their Fab Four models and thug five poses.

He begins with the clichés. They merit qualifications but endure as plausible. The dichotomies emerge. The Beatles as Apollonian, the Stones as Dionysian; one pop, the other, rock; erudite vs. visceral; utopian as opposed to realistic. Sean O'Mahony, publisher of both bands' official fan magazines starting respectively in 1963 and 1964, crafted and softened their public images. He opines: "The Beatles were thugs who were put across as nice blokes, and the Rolling Stones were gentlemen who were made into thugs by Andrew [Loog Oldham, their manager]." McMillian accepts this as closer to the truth than the bands or their fans might admit during the next half a decade.

McMillian contrasts the rapid rise, within half a year, of the Stones from R&B idolatry and obscurity to a more accessible delivery of a style with limited appeal, the electric blues. What eased the Stones' ascent was a rush to find the next lucrative regional scene, the next Beatles.

The press leaped onto another bandwagon. Future John Lennon biographer Ray Coleman pushed the "Would You Let Your Sister Go With a Rolling Stone?" headline for Melody Maker. Future rock encyclopedist Lilian Roxon peddled the received wisdom: "The Beatles' songs had been rinsed and hung out to dry. The Stones' had never seen soap and water. And where the adorable little wind-up Beatle mop-tops wanted nothing more than to hold a hand, the hateful rasping Stones were bent on rape, pillage, and plunder." Some youths began to drift into a more dangerous, salacious group than one for princesses and schoolgirls to swoon over. The Stones defied any ready-made boy band look.

However, Lennon bristled. The instrumental variety and lyrical sophistication of Rubber Soul quickly found a deft response in Aftermath. He brooded: "Everything we do, the Stones do four months later." McMillian champions the underdog, affirming that the Stones often put their diverse instrumentation to "better and more innovative than the Beatles normally did". A statement sure to sustain debates today, but with the flailing Brian Jones still able to show moments of genius on record, and with Jack Nitzsche taking on studio production that began to match that by George Martin, the two bands by 1966 seemed more evenly matched than any would have predicted two years earlier.

Proud and cocky, Lennon and Paul McCartney felt they bettered the five blues fanatics at the polished as well as psychedelic pop game. Spurred on by Sgt. Pepper two months before, the Stones, stoned and mocking, failed to finish "We Love You". Then, John and Paul walked in, quickly restructured the song around their own high backing vocals, and showed the upstarts (as they had when John and Paul tossed their new song, "I Wanna Be Your Man", at a floundering Keith Richard and Mick Jagger two and a half years before to record) how in Oldham's witness "vision became reality. We'd just have another major lesson from the guv'nors as to what this recording thing was all about."

As the Summer of Love faded amid Mick's own drug bust and legal dealings, and as the Vietnam War and social unrest flared the year after, both bands were called to task by young people urging solidarity from their counterculture role models. McMillian handles the controversy around Lennon's "Revolution", as underground papers added to the mainstream media a sharper round of accusations against the Beatles, if usually patience to let the Stones to speak out for the New Left. More than one radical, based on Jagger's Cockneyisms and the band's swagger, believed them proletarian lads. "Street Fighting Man" true to Jagger's equivocal nature played his audience off to his gain. After some Chicago radio stations had boycotted his band, Jagger commented: "They must think a song can make a revolution. I wish it could." His pose at the barricades proved another adroit but fleeting stance. While the immense corporate sponsorships of the Stones on future tours might not have been conceivable for the hippies who loved them, their U.S. tour in 1969 already hinted at compromise.

Much of Beatles vs. Stones will be familiar to any fan who follows each band closely. It relies on secondary sources, well-documented and in-depth, and by now, everyone associated with either band has been hunted down and interrogated so often that scholars such as McMillian can sift through massive archives. Augmenting these, he relies on periodicals on microfilm from the underground press, which reveal that the likes of Brian Epstein, O'Mahony, or Oldham cannot manage the reactions of restive, antiwar or revolutionary fans. Without supplication but with veneration, for the Stones and the Beatles are both elevated to deities, radicalized youth fight the Man and yell back at four or five men.

Financial dealings consumed both bands by the end of the 1960s. Fighting not against each other but for their royalties and copyrights, this signals a move from the utopian idealism of flower power into a harder, street-smart attitude to cushion, or boost, their bottom line. In fact, after Epstein died, Jagger and McCartney mooted joining the two bands' business interests. Allen Klein killed off this proposal.

Within Jonathan Gould's and Bob Spitz' respective biographies of the Beatles' cultural impacts (both among the many resources cited here. both reviewed by me), as they reached Allen Klein and the ensuing managerial bickering that entangled both bands, dissonance clanged out. Any historian must survey this period, but it sobers the fan who favors earlier if never carefree times for each band. With Brian Jones self-destructing and Lennon self-indulging, the energy darkens. Yoko's entry must be acknowledged. Lennon let go of his fraying Beatles bond, as McCartney tugged for control of the weary band against John in favor of the financial direction pushed by Paul's new father-in-law, Lee Eastman. Mick Jagger had introduced Klein to the Beatles to assist Apple. As for the Stones, Klein finagled better deals for them, and for him. While his tenure was brief, Klein kept all profits (the band had signed over its copyrights from 1963-70) on their best-selling LP to date, the double-disc compilation Hot Rocks.

The tracks ending that anthology signaled, in McMillian's estimation, that a zenith had been reached by the Stones. Let it Be was no Let it Bleed. Beggars Banquet arguably bettered a lot of Abbey Road. Post-Beatles, Mick and John continued to spar in interviews. In 1970, Lennon lashed out again. Lennon claimed the lag between "what we did" and what they did was down to "two months after, on every f[---]' album and on every f[---]' thing we did, Mick does exactly the same. He imitates us."

"At least the Beatles didn't break up because they started to suck." So opens McMillian's coda. Forty-three years after the breakup of their friendly rivals, fans continue to cheer on the Stones, if fewer of them for their albums after a vague point in a future now past that Lennon never predicted: when middle-aged men ruled as rock stars. The Stones shone on Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street, confirming in that past decade's competition who came in first by the start of the next. McMillian asserts that after 1972, the Stones' "imperial phase" gave way to at best a few good songs per album from then on, and one good album in 1978.

The Beatles never have to worry about reuniting. McMillian does not calculate their accrued earnings, or contrast McCartney's lucrative deals with Jagger's own, but his point sticks. The Beatles, after refusing to come together, linger nostalgically for baby boomers, winners against death itself.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f053714) out of 5 stars Beatles vs. Stones 7 Dec. 2013
By S Riaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book looks at how, in the Sixties, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were pitted against each other as rivals by the press, fans and, despite claims by both sides that they were not in competition, sometimes by the bands themselves. In the early Sixties, the Rolling Stones were portrayed as the Beatles polar opposites - the Beatles wanted to hold your hand, the Rolling Stones wanted to burn down your town, went the old quote. The Rolling Stones were rebels, the Beatles lovable mop tops; the Rolling Stones aggressive louts that no respectable father would want his daughter to date, the Beatles beloved by parents as well as their children. Yet, how true were these press and publicity exaggerations and what did they mean to the bands themselves?

When considering which bands were thuggish, the author concedes that, in pre-fame days, it was hard to beat Lennon. Constantly in trouble at school, known as a local juvenile delinquent, even Paul McCartney's father would warn, "he'll get you in trouble son." Interestingly, the author also notes that the Stones came from more stable and prosperous homes; their background much more middle-class than the Beatles and their prospects, had success not arrived, better than that of the Liverpool group which had virtually abandoned their education to play in a band (for example, McCartney failed to sit his Art A Level, as he was in Scotland backing Johnny Gentle at the time).

It is interesting to read that, from when they first met, the two bands became firm friends. A witness states that when the Rolling Stones took the Beatles to their filthy flat, rather than being shocked, Paul McCartney's face said that the accommodation was something he was all too familiar with (as he spent his first Hamburg trip in an unheated, unlit room next to a toilet, that was undoubtedly true). Still, rather than attempting to maintain the top spot, to their credit George Harrison told Dick Rowe of Decca (the man who infamously, "turned down the Beatles") to sign the Stones. Rowe would not make such a mistake again and duly gave them a recording contract. John and Paul also gave them a song, when they were desperate for a follow up to their first single, and encouraged Mick and Keith in their song writing. Song writing also features in the Stones shifting balance of power, as Brian Jones seemed unable to successfully come up with songs and his attempts were derided by the band.

Although the Beatles always outsold the Stones by a huge margin, the Beatles would often resent the Stones more anti-establishment persona. This book follows them through the Sixties - touring, drugs busts and music. Andrew Loog Oldham states that John and Paul saved the Stones own attempted Sixties anthem, "We Love You" when attending one of the desultory recording sessions and gave the Stones, "another major lesson from the guv'nors as to what this recording thing was all about." So, did the Stones emulate the Beatles? Did they, as Lennon ranted in his infamous Rolling Stones interview with Jann Wenner, imitate the Beatles, despite not being, "in the same class"? In some ways, it seems the Stones were overshadowed during the Sixties, and were perhaps more aware, or bothered by, the comparisons than the Beatles were.

This interesting read follows both groups through the Sixties to the Beatles break up and looks at the parallels in their careers. It also comments on the undeniable fact that the Beatles have enhanced their legacy by not reforming. If the Stones had broken up, it is possible that they would also be treated with more reverence. Undoubtedly, both bands helped each other during the Sixties in many ways and their music has stood the test of time. However, although they certainly did not dislike each other, and cannily arranged record releases not to clash, so reducing the competition between them to both bands advantage, there is certainly a perception that they were somehow pitted against each other. In the mid Sixties you had to be either a fan of the Beatles or the Stones and you were defined by your choice. Whichever is your favourite band, you can rest assured that their music will last forever and that it is now perfectly acceptable to like both.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e597588) out of 5 stars Great read for all FANS. 20 Feb. 2014
By Jim Serger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As I completed this book as a 43 year old dad and husband--the first thing that came to my mind was growing up with a dad whom just adored the Beatles--after dinner he would put on his Beatles album and clean up the kitchen--this went on for years. But, not once did he ever throw on the Stones album. It was not until the Steel Wheels Tour that I had really dabbled into the world of the Stones. But growing up in a time where The Beatles were seen as the clean cut bunch as described in this book, and The Stones were seen as the razors edge--I understood the appeal of The Beatles to my family as apposed to the Stones. However, the author John McMillian did a huge justice in describing to me the reader how each group helped each other in the long run succeed. I felt a special link to this book for I never really gave The Stones a chance personally, for I always favored The Beatles. I am a Stones music fan, I have more songs down loaded then I do Beatles songs-- I feel very educated on the rivalry after reading this book and the world in which both groups lived in and flourished. The ups and downs were really explained in this book--great articles, great old interviews. I know more now about how they relied on each other, rather than seeing them as enemies.
HASH(0x8e661384) out of 5 stars Disappointing to fans of how their music was made. 3 Jun. 2016
By Paul Cool - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A disappointing book. There is no subtitle, but it might have been Lennon, sometimes McCartney, rarely Harrison, and a virtually absent Starr tee off against Jagger, Jones, a sometime Richards, and a virtually absent Wyman and Watts. This book is largely about the press and public image of the perceived personalities, love lives, drug hijinks, and often misfiring political toe-dipping of the two groups, or rather Lennon, Jagger, Jones, and sometimes McCartney. It is good for explaining that the "rough edged" Stones actually came from better backgrounds than the economically hard pressed Beatles youths. The roles of Epstein and Oldham in raising them to the heights they deserved are explored. It is only secondarily about the music, both groups’ reason for being. The Rolling Stones’ ambitions to play catch-up to the remarkable Beatles is here, but precious little. The author does hammer on the point that the Stones were inspired by the Beatles’ evolution from Rubber Soul through Revolver to Sergeant Pepper, and back again through their later albums, notably the harder rocking White Album. The Beatles did Rubber Soul, so the Stones did Aftermath in reply, playing catch-up. Sergeant Pepper was indeed answered by the clearly inferior Their Satanic Majesties Request. But there is no mention of the fact that the Beatles, and especially Paul, was equally driven to play catchup to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. And a band does not just knock out Aftermath, with its Mother’s Little Helper (UK version), Paint It Black (US version), Under My Thumb (both versions, and marked by one of their greatest musical arrangements ever), Out of Time (UK version), Stupid Girl (both albums), etc. A band can be driven by the achievements of another. It does not mean it can respond in similar quality. How did the Beatles and Rolling Stones do it, how, as musicians, did they keep the rivalry going? What role did Watts and Wyman play, for example, in providing the bottom to the singing, guitar playing, and musical leaps of a healthy if seriously declining Jones? These and similar questions regarding the music of these two foremost British bands of the 60s are of very little interest to the author. But we do get the dirt, most of it published elsewhere. Unless you are most interested in the origins and the dirt, pass this one by.
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