Music tech that’d see the Beatles go yeah, yeah, yeah

If the Beatles were recording today, what gadgets could help them along their long and winding road of success?

13 Feb 2013


Fifty years ago four lads from Liverpool with funny haircuts and funnier accents wandered into Abbey Road studios and cut an album that changed everything.


The Beatles recorded Please, Please Me in one mammoth 12-hour session on 11 February 1963. Fuelled by tea, tobacco and - oddly enough - milk, they cut 11 tracks and kept going 'til John Lennon's shredded vocal cords left the outspoken rocker speechless.

The album changed the face of popular music and culture, transforming Liverpool into a nasal precursor to Swinging London, and its creators into pop messiahs.

Now a host of stars including Graham Coxon and Mick Hucknall have recreated the 1963 session for the record in the same Abbey Road studios, but if the Beatles were recording today, what gadgets could help them along their long and winding road of success?   

From Cuban heels to kaftans and moptops to meditation, the Beatles spent the seven years after Please, Please Me setting the musical and cultural agenda with a succession of records that redefined popular music and spawned a generation obsessed with love, peace and laying about.

From backwards tape loops to avant garde electronica, the fab four spent these years as sartorial and sonic pioneers, embracing the latest audio innovations, growing fine moustaches and sporting increasingly nauseating shirts.

Record songs here, there and everywhere

Lennon and McCartney were known for recording first takes of songs at home, something Apple's GarageBand takes in its stride. With their guitar plugged into their MacBook Pro they could have laid the foundations of the next Strawberry Fields Forever from home - and Lennon supposedly loved lolling on the sofa, as songs like I'm Only Sleeping and I'm So Tired suggest.

On Please, Please Me it took 13 takes to get There's A Place in the can, but GarageBand can accommodate as many takes as necessary - not even the Beatles got it right first time.

Say you want a revolution

At the end of 1965 the Beatles released Rubber Soul. They looked different on its cover, their hair longer, their faces wiser, so it's perhaps unsurprising it was a marked departure from what went before.

Influences ranging from Bob Dylan to Motown saw boy-girl songs replaced with serious lyrics, folk guitars and soul-influenced brass and rhythm sections.

But it was the next record, Revolver, which cemented their legacies as sonic pioneers and paved the way for modern music. Working with producer George Martin, the band used backwards tape loops and fed vocals back through a Leslie cabinet to create something which - otherworldly in 1966 - still sounds fresh today.

Such studio experimentation and noodling brings to mind the Magix Music Maker 2013 Control. Designed to run on Windows, the software offers enough sounds and loops to keep even the most inventive home musicians busy - and it even comes with a keyboard too.

All you need is… a wireless speaker

Writers and fans often come to blows over whether Revolver or Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band was the Beatles' true masterpiece. Friends have been lost and relationships severed over one man's preference for military costumes in pastel satin, so we'll leave it for you to decide.

Anyway, when the Beatles finished recording Sgt Pepper they took an acetate round to Mama Cass Elliot's flat to play. Although lacking the same folklore gravitas, we reckon a Bose wireless portable speaker could have come in handy here.

The precious acetate could have been spared the dawn departure from Abbey Road, for Lennon could merely have transferred the songs to his smartphone and paired the device with the speaker.

Once at the Mamas and Papas star's flat he could have played the music from his phone via the speaker.

See the Beatles' story on your Xbox, from hello to goodbye

They say if you can remember the Sixties you weren't there. But the surviving Beatles have oodles and oodles of newsreel footage to jog their memory - as well as a video game which charts their rise to the toppermost of the poppermost.

Beatles Rock Band takes you - or a nostalgic Macca or Ringo - on a whistle-stop tour of the Beatles' career via your Xbox 360 or PS3. Starting in the sweaty, claustrophobic Cavern Club, the game takes in iconic gigs at Shea Stadium and elsewhere before ending with the last-ever Beatles performance on the rooftops of Apple in London.

The suited and booted Beatles who dominated the Cavern Club stage with songs that'd make up Please, Please Me are almost unrecognisable from the long-haired hippies who performed on Apple's rooftop wearing green trousers, fur coats and orange jackets.

They may have ditched the Beatle-bow, the saccharine smiles and the moptop-shaking yeah, yeah, yeahs, but their thirst for the latest in audio and recording technology grew faster than their hair and 'taches.