Andrew Fithall’s Top 10 of 2010

There was a recent reference on this site to the Kanye West album which seems to have reminded people that he can do things other than be an irritating moron at awards events. However, I am still not a fan. But each to their own. With the Ashes lost and football yet to re-commence, I don’t have much sport to get excited about, so I thought I would indulge myself and bore you with my ten favourite albums of 2010. In no particular order…

Washington – I believe You Liar

Megan Washington has stood me up. Twice. The first was the Apollo Bay Music Festival in April 2010. She won a Triple J award and the prize included performing at a gig in Alice Springs. I would have chosen Apollo Bay, but Megan didn’t. The second was at Queenscliff in November when an illness resulting from a whirlwind North American and Britain tour left her too exhausted to attend. Just by-the-way, Clare Bowditch with full band was the late replacement and were one of the highlights of the festival. Despite her inattention, I still like Megan. This album came after a couple of EPs and there is a bit of re-release repetition, but I like the poppiness and the strong song-writing and the voice and the music. I do like Megan Washington. And she shares a birthday with Scott Pendlebury.

The Phantom Band – The Wants

There is a recency factor in this one. The Phantom Band came to my notice through a small Sydney-based record company. The wanker early-adopter aspirations in me had me chasing down the album and it has been on high rotation since. The band is from Glasgow and according to their website are not to be seen in Australia in the near future. The songs are high quality from start to finish.

Charles Jenkins and the Zhivagos – Walk This Ocean

This album came out mid-October, but is still flying under the radar. It will get noticed, eventually, and justifiably, because it is an excellent album. All the music was recorded when the band took up residence for a week in the West wing of a (very) large house outside Casterton. I saw the band perform live soon after that residency, and the tightness of the performance was a good predictor of what was to come on the album. Part of the reason for the lack of publicity is that at the time the keyboard player Matt Vehl was touring with Clare Bowditch and the guitarist Davey Lane was touring with You am I and their new album. A planned “re-launch” of Walk This Ocean in late January has been re-scheduled to a date yet to be fixed. Charles is obviously still struggling to get his band’s attention. (Disclaimer – for the first time ever, my name is in the liner notes of an album, for the very non-creative assistance given in helping with transport of band equipment to the recording location in Western Victoria – but I am still excited by the recognition).

Tame Impala – Inner Speaker

This West Australian band are getting a lot of attention here and overseas – they recently supported MGMT on a North American tour. I first saw Tame Impala at Meredith 2008 and their live appearances are getting a lot of positive publicity. And their ticket prices are getting out of my league, which is why I missed them live late last year in Melbourne. As a first album following single and EP releases, this is a strong performance. The album won the Triple J Australian album of the year, but don’t let that put you off.

Sally Seltmann – Heart That’s Pounding

Sally Seltmann formerly performed under the moniker “New Buffalo” and this is her first release under her own name. Sally is probably most famous for writing the song 1234 recorded by Faust. It seems Sally Seltmann is performing at all the summer festivals (I saw her put on a great show at Queenscliff). Sally’s voice is not strong, but the sound is beautiful, with numerous well-credentialed guest musicians filling out the recording.

Pikelet – Stem

Pikelet (Evelyn Morris) has a varied musical background, including time spent as a punk-band drummer. Hearing her now, this is not obvious. With somewhat experimental instrumentation and a band that has now stabilised after numerous iterations, Pikelet’s sound is more poppy and the vocals a joy as they are “doubled” and “reverbed”. When performing live, Pikelet recreates this sound with the use of loops. Friends said that me seeing her twice at Queenscliff could almost amount to stalking.

Little Red – Midnight Remember

Little Red’s first album, Listen to Little Red, released in 2008 had about 20 songs, each about two and a half minutes long, and had a real ‘60s retro feel about it. This one seems a bit more “:produced” but not over-produced. The sound is still fresh. With five members, the vocals shared, with the strongest coming from Tom Hartney, their appeal has broadened. The single “Rock It” is a pop favourite and will feature fairly high in the Triple J top 100.

Holy F**K – Latin

With a name like that it is not surprising this band from Toronto Canada doesn’t get a lot of mainstream exposure. The instrumental sound is a mass of tone generators, drums, guitars and keyboards. This sound doesn’t work for every mood, but when it is right, it is very right. I am looking forward to seeing them live at Laneway in February.

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest

Originating in Atlanta, Georgia, Deerhunter first began life nearly ten years ago. Their 2010 release is my first real exposure to the band, but has sent me to their back catalogue. There is good variety with ballads, pop and perhaps even a nod to shoegaze  in this album, with no weak spots. A must-see at Laneway next month.

Cloud Control – Bliss Release

This band from the Blue Mountains will also grace the stage at Laneway. The four-piece girl/boy band has been around for a little while but this is their first album. One reviewer describes their sound as a mixture of Midlake, Fleetwood Mac and The Go-Betweens, but I didn’t hear any of that. I just enjoyed the music – loud and frequently.


Otouto – Pip

Maurice Frawley and Various Artists – Long Gone Whistle

Mountain Man – Made The Harbour

Faux Pas – Noiseworks

MGMT – Congratulations

Spoon – Transference

Lisa Miller – Car Tape II

The National – High Violet

Broken Bells – Broken Bells

Amaya Laucirica – Early Summer

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. John Butler says

    Andrew, you need to face facts about the Washington girl. She’s a tease, she’s a flirt, and she’ll only break your heart. :)

  2. David Downer says


    Notwithstanding I haven’t heard of anyone to whom you refer above (!) …well sans-Washington, but that’s only from you giving me the good oil previously …you present here a piece more coherent than I.Meldrum has mustered in the past thirty-five years.

    Beat magazine awaits, surely…


  3. Andrew Fithall says

    Thanks JB and David. JB – I will take your advice. Mind you, I can be a bit flighty myself. You may note a compete absence of the latest release from the Audreys. Haven’t bothered chasing that one. Tash – you’re dropped.

    David – We will get you back on the live music bandwagon this year. You need to do it BC (you work it out) or it will be another ten years and more.

    One release I inadvertantly left out was the self-titled album by Allo Darlin’. The main reason I maintained my The Monthly subscription as long as I did was for the music-related writing by Robert Forster. One of his articles was all about the first realase from this obscure 4-piece from London (I think) with the female vocalist originally from Queensland. It is a beautiful record, but I am still not sure how Robert Forster thought it was worth devoting so much of his limited copy space.

  4. AF – you groover you. I’m way out of the local music scene now – kids stuffed that up.

    Some years back I went to see Jethro Tull at the Tennis Centre. Great concert. At one point Ian Anderson said to the crowd “And now we’re going to play one of our more modern songs. This one was written in 1969”

  5. The National’s High Violet was my fave of 2010 and I saw them on Sunday night at the Palais. Great gig.

    I saw Megan Washington at the EG Awards in December. The main act of the night was Paul Kelly. Every act performed one of his songs. Megan Washington and Almanacer, Tim Rogers, performed his song, ‘I Can’t Believe We Were Married’, with Tim singing and Megan playing a litte keyboard. Just as Tim (hamming it up to the max) wet to sing the penultimate chorus Megan accidently struck a wrong chord. In the stillness of the performance she gasped and then covered her mouth in shock/mock apology. Tim paused, then sang “I can’t believe you played a wrong chord”. It brought the house down. The crowd at the Prince of Wales went wild. Then PK came on and blew us away.


    Oh, and AF, hurry along to ‘getting’ Kanye West. He’s the real deal.

  6. I feel pretty good. Out of that lot, I can claim to know Washington, Charles Jenkins, Sally Saltmann, Pikelet, Little Red, MGMT and The National.

    Every time I hear “The National” I keep thinking of the ABC’s failed attempt to come up with a modern news program back in the 80s. It too was known as “The National”. From memory, it was anchored by Geraldine Doogue and lasted only a couple of weeks.

    To make it look even more like I know something of today’s music, I have to say that I found Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 release, The Age of Adz, somewhat disappointing, although I quite like the last track – or at least parts of it. (It goes for 25 minutes!)

  7. Andrew Fithall says

    Dips. You will be back to it soon. But you will need to let go of Jethro Tull.

    Rick – I am a bit envious about your The National gig. I have heard and read very good reports. I did consider it but not a big fan of the all-sit-down arrangement of The Palais, although I must say I did enjoy the Angus and Julia Stone concert there a few months back.

    I too was at The EG Awards. As you say, it was a great night! Did you note that as the evening progressed, Ms Washington seemed to continue to enjoy the rider from the side of the stage?

    I heard yesterday that Megan Washington is bringing out a collaborative album with Lance Ferguson from The Bamboos. That would be very interesting.

  8. The only reason that I know about half of these acts is that my 18 year old daughter has played some of their music to me (and dropped a huge hint to include the Washington album in her christmas presents – in return I dropped a hint about the Ray Davies album mentioned below). some of them. The one is exception is Pikelet, who accompanied Clare Bowditch when she opened for Leonard Cohen in November. I like Little Red and suspect I would like Washington if I saw her live – I had mixed feelings about the album.

    There have been some good albums for older fans as well. Ray Davies (of the Kinks) has been one of my favourite singers and songriters for nearly five decades – (“You Really Got Me” came out in 1964). He has released an album “See My Friends” in which he performs fifteen of his songs with other singers and groups, both classic performers (Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne) and contemporary performers (Mumford and Sons, Paloma Faith). Not all the combinations work – he should never have let Jon Bon Jovi loose on “Celluloid Heroes” but the ones that do work are terrific. I particularly liked the duet with Jackson Browne on “Waterloo Sunset”; “Dead End Street” with a young woman I have never heard of named Amy MacDonald; “Lola” with Paloma Faith – a female singer changes the implications of the whole song; and a performance of “You Really Got Me” with Metallica which certainly strengthen Ray’s claim to have written the first heavy metal song.

    The high point of my Christmas presents was “How to Make Gravy” in a package that includes both the book and the four albums that Paul Kelly recorded over four nights. The combined effect is hours of music by Australia’s best songwriter and a very interesting autobiography.

    I was going to include a few other records by older artists such as Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise” but this post is already too long.

  9. Andrew Starkie says


    I was at the EG Awards. PK was sensational. Naturally. Can it get better than Paul Kelly in a crowded Melbourne pub? Doubt it. Have read part sof his memoir. Very interesting to learn where his ideas and songs come from.

    A few days earlier I screamed my lungs out at Bon Jovi at Etihad. Big show, big crowd,very white teeth. Good old fashioned ’80s rock and roll.

    Two totally different shows, same exhilarating experience.

  10. Andrew Fithall says

    Gigs – as an alternative to Sufjan Stevens album, try the EP which also came out in 2010, All Delighted People. It is excellent. I bought it on-line for about $5. Great value for an EP which goes for well over 30 minutes.

  11. Thanks AF. Will do. I actually heard one of the songs from that EP the other day – Beautiful Ghosts (or something) – and loved it.

  12. The Phantom Band sounds ok Andrew.

  13. #12 – “Like” (Sorry, been doing too much Facebook lately.)

  14. Andrew Fithall says

    Dave (#8). That sounds like an excellent album. There was a 2002 release: This is where I belong; The songs of Ray Davies and the Kinks, which is a tribute album. But it doesn’t have the breadth and calibre of performer your album has… or Ray Davies.

    The album I mention “Maurice Frawley and Various Artists – Long Gone Whistle”, is also a tribute album for the late Maurice Frawley who died of cancer in 2008. It is a triple CD with 2 CDs of covers and also the orginals by Maurice. The covers are all excellent by great artists including Paul Kelly and Tex Perkins and Megan Washington (!!)… It is a long list.

    To make a vague connection to football (that is why we are all here after all), Maurice Frawley was a first cousin of Herb Barlow, father of Fremantle’s Michael.

  15. #8. Dave, no reason you can’t do your own Top 10 article. Bring it on!

  16. John Butler says

    Since we’re making lists…

    Hear are a few you may not have encountered.

    Gareth Liddiard- Strange Tourist: The Drones front man alone in a country house with an acoustic guitar and a close-up mike. Some of the most rambling, heroically non-commercial songs written in many a day. Black humour, pathos, weird narratives… I could go on.

    The L’il Band O Gold- The Promised Land: Strictly a 2009 release, but seeing as they toured here twice in 2010… Louisiana swamp pop super group (if a largely unknown genre can have a super-group). White guys playing black pop reeeeall gooood.

    Dave Rawlings Machine- A Friend of a Friend: with long-time partner Gillian Welch, Dave has given bluegrass and (real) country music a real boost in recent years. Catch them if they ever tour again.

    I’ll second the emotions re Lisa Miller and The National.

  17. AF #7, re Ms Washington: Yes, she looked like she was enjoying the rider and getting friendly with the roadie of all roadies, Dan Luscombe.

    AS #9, How To Make Gravy is one of the best things I’ve read in a long while. I’m reading Keith Richards’ ‘Life’ at the moment. It is great – you get to hear from the actual guy who wrote ‘Satisfaction’ about how that came to pass! However, it pales, in writing and pure story-telling, to Gravy. And yes, PK was sensational at the EG Awards.

    AF #10, I’m like you are with Kanye with Sufjan. I want to like him and a song here and there catches my attention but more often than not I find myself drifting.

    As for Ray Davies, say no more. I came across his Choral album of Kinks song last year. Just brilliant. I like ‘See My Friends’. My fave track is the one he does with Lucinda Williams, ‘Long Way From Home’.

  18. No Doris Day in the list AF? “If you can’t make your mind up, we’ll ne-ver get started.” Magnificently used in Strictly Ballroom: check the swaying of the curtains in the scene where the song is featured. Brillinat.

  19. Andrew Fithall says

    #18 Would have been in JTH but excluded because not released in 2010. BTW – as one of the few with a digital radio, I enjoyed your session with Sam Pang on ABC local radio yesterday evening. My daughter Audrey took advantage of the limited listenership and participated in the quiz. Did well with a couple of correct answers and missed by only one day the duration of the shortest serving Australian PM.

  20. Damo Balassone says

    I feel old after reading all this, but the Paul Kelly talk has cheered me up – was just listening to him on the way to work this morning – Songs of the South Volume 2 from either last year or the year before (I’m not sure). There are some beauties on it e.g. The Oldest Story in the Book, Our Sunshine, I’ll Be Your Lover Now…just to name a few.

    What I like about the book “How to Make Gravy” is the mention of Peter Daicos.

  21. Andrew,
    A good list…funnily enough I have quite a few of those albums courtesy of your good self!
    Re Little Red, I much prefer the rawness, and “catchiness”, of their debut, but Midnight Remember certainly grew on me.
    There is a Melbourne band called the “Cutom Kings”, whose album “The great escape” was one of the year’s best for me.
    Like Rick (#5), Kanye’s “My beautiful dark twisted fantasy” was one of my favorites this year, although I think “808s and Heartbreak”, his previous record, is far superior.

  22. Andrew Fithall says

    #16 JB – At your recommendation I am now listening to the Dave Rawlings album. You are right about the bluegrass/country aspects. I have listened to quite a bit of Gillian Welch but wasn’t aware of this connection.

    Saw L’il Band ‘o’ Gold (can never get those apostophes right) twice but didn’t have the experience you had seeing them at Meeniyan. That is a great destination venue for the right act.

    #20 Damo – Don’t let age be a factor. Unless you act young when you aren’t, people don’t care.

    #21 Darren. There are a few more to add to your collection. Beach House’s album arrived in the mail yesterday so I am yet to give it a proper listen. Also have a couple of recent and older albums from Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti just come to hand. Am seeing Middle East (album due out later this year) supported by Mountain Man at the Rooftop Bar (Curtin House) on Monday night. Weather permitting, it should be a great show.

  23. Am disappointed Six & Out failed to make a further impact on the ARIA charts after such a successful debut, helped along by the unique vocal stylings of Richard Chee Quee. Maybe they had trouble appealing to the all-important 13-16 female demographic once Shane Lee started to bear a striking resemblance to Todd Hunter.

  24. AF,

    nothing wrong with Jethro Tull…..except I was dancing to Locomotive Breath when I snapped the tendon.

  25. Has anyone looked at the clip of Bap Kennedy, yes that’s Bap Kennedy, doing a very fine cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”.

    Well worth a look. It wont hurt one little bit. (Nice and loud, of course)

  26. Andrew Fithall says

    Good referral Phantom. Nice clip. I have also checked and contrary to previos belief, The Phantom Band do not all wear skin-tight purple costumes when performing (unlike your good self I am led to believe).

  27. John Butler says

    Phantom #24, I just hope you weren’t wearing the tights.

  28. Effing blue plaster at the moment JB.

    I can put white horizontal stripes around it I suppose.

  29. Jonas Brothers <3
    – Known as the Beatles of today.
    Everything from the cute on stage wear, to the fan girls, and yes i would classify myself as being a 'Joe hoe'
    'Hold on' being one of their best tracks echoes the thought that "an empty room can be so loud"
    Classic boyband.

  30. btw that kanye west thing was THE BEST!
    There is something seriously wrong with that hillbilly.
    to the point now, SWIFT SUCKS.

    TEAM JONAS! :)

  31. one more note (promise!)
    ur selection looks interesting but im disapointed my the lack of ‘doof-doff’ :P


    Hey Andrew, if you don’t mind the indulgence, I have incleded a link to Les Everett’s website, Australian Rules where I put my Top, er, 20 songs of the year (and top 5 concerts) on. Follow the hyperlink. I has Justin Townes Earle, Drive By Truckers, Los Lobos and a bunch of others including Sleigh Bells, a band who have just played Melbourne and in the words of the yoof of today would have been awesome.

  33. Andrew Fithall says

    Danni – What? No Justin Bieber? Michael Buble? (don’t be alarmed folks… private joke)

    Rick. Thanks for the link. A very eclectic / diverse mix. A couple of observations:
    1. You are a much better music writer than me.
    2. I think you should give Port Fairy a miss and come along to Golden Plains. Tickets still available. It seems a much better fit for you.


  34. Golden Plains would be a great gig, particularly because The Hold Steady are playing (their gig at The Corner two years ago was an absolute rocknroll highlight). However, PFFF has become our family annual event. Talk about diverse and eclectic and lots of country (which is never have enough). Me love Port Fairy.

    Thanks for the comp. Keep on rockin in the free(ish) world.

  35. Matt Quartermaine says

    I’m late on this topic, but as my Mrs would say “what else is new?”
    Top albums for me last year were:
    Black Keys “Brothers”
    Beach House “Teen Dream”
    Local Natives “Gorilla Mansion” – coming to The Corner and should be spectacular
    Sleigh Bells “Treats”
    Kanye West “My Dark Twisted Fantasy”
    Robyn “Body Talk”
    Tallest Man on Earth “Wild Hunt”
    LCD Soundsystem “This Is Happening”
    Big Boi “Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty”

    Without doubt the big flog of 2010 was Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise”, an album of songs left out “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” that others built careers on. Great band, great sound.
    Happy New Year to all you Knackers

  36. I’ve recently been put on to Dungen. Scandanavian, so no idea what they are singing about, but mix ethereal with more rock than Sigur Ros in a way that makes sense when you hear it. Not necessarily when you write about it. Took a few listens, but now I can’t get enough.

  37. John Butler says

    Matt #35, you can’t miss with The Black Keys.

    Re The Promise, I believe Bruce has left the missus off-stage for those shows. Just the personnel who played on the album.

    Danni #30, at the ripe old age of 18, aren’t you a little old for the Bieber demographic? :)

    And if it’s doof you want, check out Umderworld or LCD Soundsystem.

  38. 33- i didnt mention those two since i thought it was obvious anyway. :P

    37- JB, Have you not heard of the ‘Bieber cougar’ demographic? ages 18-30 ;)

  39. and for those interested the Jonas Brothers also have a song called ‘Black keys’ on thier album ‘Lines, Vines and trying times.’

  40. John Butler says

    Danni, the problem right up front was that whole “…those interested in the Jonas Brothers…” bit. :)

  41. 40- hey im trying to help u oldies out!:P
    i will have u know Jonas Brothers have graced the cover of Rolling Stone mag!

  42. John Butler says

    Some of us oldies are probably beyond redemption. But feel free to keep trying. :)

    PS: Rolling Stone would put Hitler on the cover if he hung with Jan Wenner enough. Its standards have dropped over the years.

  43. 42- :O leave Hitler out of this! lol
    i may hate what he did, who wouldn’t?
    he was a ruthless murderer,
    But his leadership and scaryness-ness is striking and intrigues me.

    feel free to borrow any of my Jonas or Buble albums! :)

  44. John Butler says

    Only when he learns to spell Bubble right.

  45. John Butler says

    Actually, “Oh leave Hitler out of this” is probably a good credo to live by.

    “He may have been a psychopathic mass-murderer, but he was a hell of a dresser…” Perhaps not.

    Anyway, we seem to be drifting off the topic of music. :)

  46. You may not know this but Bieber is known for his dislike to Cloke’s use of the footy, mostly infront of goal.
    The chorus of his song ‘Baby’ when decoded really is-
    ‘Harry, Harry, HarryOOOO like Travis, Travis, Travis, Nooooooo’
    See, he knows what he’s singing about.

  47. All of my instincts are telling me not to step into this Jonas Bros fray but what the hell. Little Elvis C has good things to say about the lads and from all accounts they did a great job at the McCartney White House bash, covering ‘Drive My Car’ with McCartney’s band.

  48. 47- :D ;)

  49. 47, Rick i am with you but here goes….
    29, Danni, I cannot have the Jonas Bros being compared to the Beatles.

  50. Matt Quartermaine says

    This has got way out of hand. I don’t even own a Hitler album.

  51. John Butler says

    #51, I believe he recorded on the same label as Charlie Manson, which was Asylum, of course.

  52. #49 Rick not accusing you of rewriting history BUT….
    in the early sixties the Beatles were a band that was followed by mobs of screaming girl fans. It is reported that at their 45 minute concerts it was impossible to hear them if they were in fact playing at all.
    In the late 00s the Jonas Brothers are a band followed by mobs of screaming girl fans. I have no idea how good they are or will be.
    But whatever they sing can not be worse than “I wanna hold your hand”.

  53. Dave Nadel says

    No-one is suggesting that “I wanna hold your hand” had great lyrics but if you compare the tune and the harmonies with what most white pop groups were doing in 1963 it was a pretty good pop song.

  54. Phil Dimitriadis says


    let’s face it. Had the Beatles not evolved through Hard Days Night to Sgt Pepper to Let It Be, they would have been as influential as Gerry and the Pacemakers.

    When it comes to music my favorite quote is from Rik Mayall in the ‘Young Ones’: “The only reason you don’t understand our music is because you don’t like it”

    Good on you AF for keeping up with the newest sounds. I lost interest after the Smiths…but that is my problem.

  55. Dave Nadel says

    Phil, That’s just wrong. The Beatles’ reputation with two generations of sophisticated music fans who weren’t old enough to be teenagers during the mid sixties may be based on their later work, but their popularity with teenagers in the sixties was based on more than their sex appeal and humorous press conferences.

    After turning the world upside down in the fifties rock had turned into fairly formulaic pop with colourless young American teenagers like Frankie Avalon and Connie Francis singing plastic pop written for them by professional songwriters. Occasionally good pop was produced despite the cynicism of the managers (e.g. The Shirelles, “Will you love me tomorrow” written by King and Goffen) But most of the best stuff from America was produced by black musicians and got limited airplay on main stream radio both in the US and over here (e.g. Stan Rofe was virtually the only DJ in Melbourne playing the Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas, no-one at all was playing Smokey Robinson or James Brown)

    By 1963 a lot of young people in Melbourne were listening to Trad Jazz and going to Jazz dances because Rock in Melbourne mostly meant third rate imitators of ’56 American rockers. In Sydney the counterparts of Melbourne’s Jazzers were the Surfies. The Beach Boys lyrics were pretty ordinary but at least they had rhythm, melody and harmonies.

    Then the Beatles arrived. Love Me Do was quite different to any pop song on the radio in the early sixties. Please Please Me, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There may all have had fairly simple lyrics but they were exciting songs with rhythm, melody and harmony, interesting guitar riffs and they were great to dance to. Suddenly young people didn’t divide into Rockers and Jazzers or Rockers and Surfies. We were all listening to the Beatles.

    No, Phil, even without their later development they were would have been much more influential than the other Liverpool groups that followed in their wake. Without the Beatles, it is highly unlikely that most of the other great British groups of the mid sixties like the Stones, the Animals, the Kinks and the Who would have been successful outside the UK. The Beatles rewrote the rules for pop music and they did it with their early songs.

  56. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Dave, I love and respect the Beatles, but they were in the right place at the right time. Their early music was crowd pleasing pop.

    The fact that they were four working class kids from Liverpool gave their music impetus. They also knew how to seduce the media and this helped propel their popularity. Lennon, in particular, knew how to ‘work it’ for his own benefit.

    Lennon was the first Rock ‘n Roll Spin Doctor. That is why I have my reservations about the Beatles ‘Phenomenon’. Great music…questionable intentions.

  57. 54. First we had the Beatles being mentioned in the same breath as the Jonas Bros (29), then Gerry and the Pacemakers! Yes, they were both from Liverpool….
    55. Dave, agree wholeheartedly. The Beatles actually changed culture.
    56. yes Phil they were in the right place at the right time, as were so many other bands. But they had the talent to carry it through. Their music has stood the test of time. With no spin-doctoring.

  58. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Sorry Smokie,

    the music was great but they spun it for all it was worth. Sentimentality makes the heart grow weaker.

  59. Jonas Bros did do a Beatles cover of ‘hello goodbye’ on their..i think third album.

  60. Abe Lincoln was “in the right place at the right time” for ditching slavery.

  61. Phil Dimitriadis says


    my daughter loved the Jonas Brothers…until one of them dumped Demi Levato. They were her Gods…momentarily. My point is that musical tastes change with each new release. Twas always thus and always thus will be.

  62. walk into a bar anywhere in the world and you will meet a Collingwood supporter, a Beatles fan and of course a New Zealander. [God help you if its the one person]
    I wasnt denigrating The Beatles per se, just trying to point out that they are not untouchable. Phil picked up my drift quite well, and there were the passionate responses that I expected from Beatles fans.
    I care not about The Beatles or The Jonas’.
    I just dont like the notion sacred cows getting away with mediocrity while their fans denigrate others for the same offence.
    I do acknowledge that the Beatles got better than the 60-64 period and the Jonas’ may do the same! Who knows???

  63. Hi Phil, re #56 about Lennon being the first RnR spin doctor. I think there were a few bigger and better before him. He learnt from masters. For example, Colonel Tom Parker. The story goes that even when Elvis was merely a regional star, Parker would have two different badges made to sell at his shows. One said: I love Elvis; the other: I hate Elvis. Brilliant. He knew what he had and how to sell it. He set the template of the artist’s Manager, which Epstein and others including Albert Grossman (Dylan) adopted. And while there may have been plenty of spin, that was easily outweighed by the truth, artistry and insight of the acts they managed.

    As for whether the Beatles were just another band but got a bit lucky, mmm, I don’t think so. Even from their early pop years they were ahead of the curve, something you can only say about a very few artists of any form or genre. I Want To Hold Your Hand will still be around long after most pop-pap is consigned to the slag heap of western pop culture history.


  64. Damo Balassone says

    There’s no doubt that from “Rubber Soul” onwards the Beatles grew up (after encountering Dylan of course – who changed everything), but I think we have to be careful not to denigrate what the Beatles were doing prior to this. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You” etc. must have stood out like nothing before – the melodies, the harmonies, the outrageous chord changes. It was more than just pop. Even simple things like a song having a bridge (something we all take for granted now). They were a force of nature. It must have been a sight to behold to see them in Liverpool or Hamburg in the early 60s, before the onset of Beatlemania.

    The fact that we are still talking about them 50 years on must testify to something. And I venture to say, with no disrespect to Lennon who was indisputably a genius, that people will still be whistling McCartney tunes 500 years from now.

  65. John Butler says

    #64,I agree with that general sentiment. You have to judge art as much by what came before it. The early Beatles stuff stands apart by synthesising its influences (which were shared with others) with a very different attitude which reflected the time. Any music which is remembered enduringly has an attachment to its time- for good or ill.

    And not all the Beatles later stuff is great. I’m of the school which considers Sgt. Peppers one of the most overrated albums of all time, responsible for inspiring oceans of pretentious dross.

    But after all that, I still prefer the Stones. :)

  66. The Beatles were a lot of things, but I am a believer in being in the right place at the right time WITH the right set of tools to take advantage of the landscape. They had the advantage of working 8hr sets in the bars of Hamburg to hone their craft/chops to the point where they did stand out amongst the competition when they got home.

    “Bounce” by Matthew Syed espouses the 10000hr theory of excellence. That is; if you put 10000hrs of practice into anything, you will be proficient to an exceptional level. The Beatles achieved this in a shorter time than most because they were working so hard, therefore developing an understanding of melody/structure/pop music and were able to capitalise on the opportunity that arose.

    They had to develop the security of popular success in order to go beyond and experiment in their later years. In much the same way that Madonna, U2 and even Kylie have evolved into different creatures as opposed to say the Rolling Stones/Elton Johns/Bon Jovis/Axl Roses and others doing the RSL circuit who are attempting to mine the same genre/generic hill.

    For all that, I prefer the Stones, but am probably more influenced by the Beatles. What can I say? My father is an Entomologist…

    Rick Kane. I hold you responsible for taking hours of my weekend following up your Top 20 (not indulgent in any shape or form). While I may not agree with everything on your list, I have been converted to Sleigh Bells, Cee-Lo and a few others I’ll remember when I catch up on the lost sleep. Your name is now on a par with ‘Newman’. Thank you. I was too removed from access to ‘new’ music to update my collection. My ears are grateful!

  67. Some others to add to the list of 2010’s best…
    Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
    Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
    Best Coast – Crazy For You
    Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer
    Robyn – Body Talk
    Sleigh Bells – Treats
    Beach House – Teen Dream

    As much as I love the Mick Taylor-era Stones, in terms of influence, you’d have to give the nod to The Beatles.

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