Arts, Culture & Media

Playing with The Beatles

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The Beatles are, to many, one of the greatest bands ever, and indisputably one of the most influential of the 20th century. They had dozens of top-ten hits, graced hundreds of "best of" lists, sold millions of albums, and starred in feature films — a wild success by anyone's estimation. One thing they never had, however, was a video game. Until now.

Rock Band developer Harmonix has scheduled "The Beatles: Rock Band" for release on September 9th. Fans are cracking their knuckles, stretching their legs, and growing their mustaches in preparation to rock along with John, Paul, George and Ringo on such classics as "Yellow Submarine," "Back in the U.S.S.R.", and "Twist and Shout."

Huge sales are expected for the video game and, as a result, The Beatles' entire musical catalogue. With album sales having stayed on a downward spiral for years, could video games be the saving grace for the music industry?

"Rock Band" enthusiast Brad Malow says "One of the fun things abuot his game is that in addition to picking it up and playing any song that you want, you can follow the band's career from beginning to end.  It starts out in a virtual Cavern Club in Liverpool, it takes you through the 'Ed Sullivan Show,' through Shea Stadium, then into the Abbey Road Studios.  If you play the game from start to finish, you'll get to experience how the band transformed.

"Usually in 'Rock Band' or 'Guitar Hero,' they go for the really aggressive, loud songs.  The Beatles game is going to have some of the quieter songs.  'Dear Prudence,' which is a song that you wouldn't think would be the kind of thing you would want to sit down and start strumming along with, but it's very fun to play."

Players will get a group of songs from The Beatles catalog with the game purchase.  Other songs will be made available via download for the game individually for $2.00 each, and entire classic Beatles albums will be availablefor the full "Rubber Soul" or "White Album" experience.

Musicians and those in the gaming and music industries have taken note of the games a cultural phenomenon as well as a legitimate system of distribution. Dani Harrison, son of the late Beatles member George Harrison, was instrumental in getting this project launched.  It was an encounter at a party that sparked the idea.

As with past "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" releases, songs featured within the games often enjoy renewed popularity as downloads online in iTunes and elsewhere.  With this in mind, the entire latter-era Beatles catalog will be remastered and reissued to coincide with the release date of the game.

 

 
 

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

 

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