The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles 1967 album Sgt Pepper is often cited as the most influential and important album of all time. In what I consider to be a reactionary backlash to this praise Sgt Pepper is also often cited as one of the most over rated albums of all time.

This year this monumental album turns 40 years old. So where does it stand now? In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the 1 album of all time. It doesn?t fair quite as well on the popular music rating website Rate Your Music where it ranks 27 of all time which is behind four other Beatles classic albums Revolver (#1), Abbey Road (#2), The White Album (#10), and Rubber Soul (#21).

Personally while it?s not my favorite Beatles album (that honor has to go to The White Album) I do believe it is the most important and most influential album of all time and I do rank it above Revolver, Abbey Road, and Rubber Soul.

I?ve heard some people say it doesn?t hold up well with time but I disagree entirely. I think this album is absolutely timeless. I don?t think the songs sound like they are from the 1960s necessarily. They sound like they are from the future and the past simultaneously.

I believe all 13 songs from this album to be absolutely essential to the album and this is a very rare thing. What set this album apart from most of the albums that came before it is that it truly plays like an album. While definitely somewhat in debt to The Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper takes things a big leap forward. In many ways I still feel that Sgt Pepper is the perfect cohesive album. It doesn?t take the ?concept? and wear it thin but it also holds together as one work very well despite, and maybe because, the fact that the songs are of such varying styles.

Song by Song Breakdown:

1 Sgt Pepper

The album starts off with the crowd noise which goes into the first song which shares the same name as the album: ?Sgt Pepper?s Lonely Hearts Club Band.? This is a great song and also sets up the rest of the album as part of this loose concept of watching a band perform. This is all made to come together even more by the later inclusion of the Reprise of this song! Paul McCartney came up with the idea of the Beatles pretending to be this different band. The idea being that they could really branch out into all sorts of different styles with no limitations. They could also break free of their image. There?s quite a few layers to the idea but it?s also a very simple idea that isn?t overbearing unlike some later prog rock attempts at ?concept albums.?

2 With A Little Help From My Friends

This track was written by lead songwriters and singers Paul McCartney and John Lennon specifically for the drummer Ringo Starr to sing. This adds another layer to the lyric ?I get by with a little help from my friends.? This song was a hit for Joe Cocker (his cover version was used on television program The Wonder Years.) It also contains a reference to marijuana with the line ?I get high with a little help from my friends.?

3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

This song is inspired by LSD in my opinion although Lennon denied this and said it was merely inspired by his son?s painting. Many years later McCartney admitted the influence of LSD on this track. This song is often cited as a prime example of 1960s psychedelic music. Besides the other worldly fantastical lyrics the song has a dreamy quality to both the music and the vocals. This song uses a flange effect on the drums and the bass is very prominent in the mix.

4 Getting Better

There?s so many great things about this track I have a hard time deciding what to talk about first. One thing that really does stand out for me though is use of sitar in this track. It?s subtle and yet very effective. A great example of the sort of unique tracks on this album that don?t really have any direct comparison to anything else in rock music, even to this day. I think the sharp down stroke style used on the guitars in this track has been extremely influential in rock to this day.

5 Fixing A Hole

This is another amazingly unique song that has so many layers and so much to discover. I?m still hearing new things in it now and I must have listened to it over 1000 times. The harmony vocals are absolutely incredible (listen to the right side)

6 She?s Leaving Home

This song features McCartney and Lennon on vocals but no Beatles play in the instrumentation. The song was scored for classical musicians. The twists and turns in this album are startling but they somehow all make sense. So much variety. All beautifully and masterly done.

7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

Lennon got all of the lyrics off of an old circus poster he had. A great example of the avante garde attitude of the Beatles at the time. I like to picture this as the wild place she goes after she leaves home. I don?t hear 60s when I listen to this track. I hear another time, another place. A warped distorted but still very relevant version of our own reality. This song is absolute psychedelic weirdness. It?s overflowing with ideas and imagination. The instrumental breakdown after ?Henry the Horse Dances the Waltz? and at the end of the track includes bits of real circus sounds which were all cut up and taped back together randomly. This type of thing you could do quite easily today with Pro Tools but in 1967 it was a very inventive and creative technique. The way it was done also lends to it a timeless quality that isn?t connected to any particular recording technique or trick. This sort of experimentation has been very influential on countless artists.

8 Within You Without You

This is probably the least popular song on the album amongst your average rock fan because unfortunately too many people have a hard time opening their minds towards other types of music. This song, just like ?She?s Leaving Home?, features no Beatles on the instrumentation. The music is all recorded by Indian musicians under the direction of George Harrison. Harrison sings and wrote the music. This song to me is absolute essential to the album. ?Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite? should have opened your mind a little bit but this one should really blow your mind right out of your head. You are now in a completely different world. This is an album that deftly takes you all over the world with an incredible journey through the middle of your mind. I really don?t think I?m overstating this or exaggerating. I simply feel if you don?t hear this, then you haven?t really listened to this album and fully experienced it. I think in some ways this is the most psychedelic song on the album. It?s a true journey and it?s very beautiful. I believe the laughing at the end of the album symbolizes your average person who laughs at things that are different or thoughtful.

9 When I?m 64

As of this writing Paul McCartney is actually 64. As far as out as the last track takes you, this one places you right back somewhere else entirely. Such a strange trip, isn?t it? This is another song of many on this album that is not guitar based. The Beatles really were experimenting with instrumentation a lot on this album. This instrumental experimentation has been extremely influential on many bands

10 Lovely Rita

This is just an excellent fun song. The lyrics are fantastic. There are so many just out of this world sounds going on, really listen to everything going on in the mix. And for God?s sake, listen to the reverb on those backing vocals. Awesome. I also just absolutely love the way this song ends with all of the weird vocalizations with the delay. They?re just having a great time making this track that enjoyment directly leads right into my ears.

11 Good Morning Good Morning

This is probably my least favorite track on the album if I have to choose one. That being said it?s still a great song. I?m a big fan of the time changes and of Paul McCartney?s searing Hendrix like guitar solo.

12 Sgt Pepper (Reprise)

The sound of a rooster leads directly into a guitar squeal. One of the coolest segues ever. This version of Sgt Pepper is like the first except it rocks a lot harder. This is a great way to tie together the album and lead into the grand finale.

13 A Day In The Life

This may be the greatest song ever written. In my opinion it is just that. Certainly a fantastic way to end an album. The orchestral buildups are genius and perfectly capture the feelings that could never be put into words. The song itself is can sometimes sound deceptively simple but there?s so much nuance. So much you can hear even on the 1000th listen.

The Top 10 Rock Albums Of All Time According To Rateyourmusic.com

I?m a big fan of the site RateYourMusic.com (I?m also a huge fan of the site http://www.MusicByDay.com by the way!) and one thing I really like to look at is the overall charts to see which albums have been the top rated of all time. If you don?t know what RateYourMusic.com is, it?s a site where music lovers (like myself) rate all of the albums they?ve listened to. Some raters also write their own reviews which can be very interesting to read.

This article is a review of the top 10 rock albums listed (removing the jazz albums that are listed in the top 10 because while I do enjoy jazz I don?t feel I know enough about it to really review it.)

1 The Beatles ? Revolver

As a huge Beatles fan I?m definitely glad they have the 1 spot although personally I feel that Revolver has become a bit overrated in the backlash to Sgt Pepper?s supposed overrated-ness! As great as Revolver is (and it is really great) I don?t feel it should rank above either Sgt Pepper or The White Album. That being said the songs on Revolver are truly timeless and beautiful. The album was also extremely groundbreaking and has been almost incalculable in it?s influence.

2 The Beatles ? Abbey Road

I?d personally probably rank Abbey Road as the fourth best Beatles album so I think it?s slightly overrated as well here. It?s still a great album but for my tastes it?s not quite ?far out? enough in comparison to some of the other great Beatles albums. The second side is quite glorious though.

3 Bob Dylan ? Highway 61 Revisited

I?m not sure you could go wrong with about 5 different Dylan albums here. ?Ballad of a Thin Man? is my personal favorite track on this album.

4 Bob Dylan ? Blood on the Tracks

I don?t quite enjoy this Dylan period as much as his 60s stuff. I think I may even prefer his recent trilogy (at least Time Out of Mind & Modern Times) over Blood on the Tracks, not sure why. This is still a great album, don?t get me wrong.

5 The Velvet Underground ? The Velvet Underground & Nico

I?m a fan of The Velvet Underground yet I do think this album is probably a little overrated here.

6 Radiohead ? OK Computer
This album is now nearly 10 years old and it is the most recent album on the list. I certainly believe it belongs on the list, although I think Kid A should be ranked just as high, if not higher!

7 The Beatles ? The Beatles (The White Album)

This is my 1! I would rank this as the greatest album of all time because of it?s expansiveness and how many times I can replay it without ever getting tired of it. It?s not as cohesive as most (any?) of the albums on the top 10 and it has a few tracks that aren?t that great by Beatles standards yet somehow it all just works perfectly together for me.

8 Bob Dylan ? Blonde on Blonde

I?d rank this one over Blood on the Tracks for sure. Not sure vs. Highway 61 Revisited.

9 Bob Dylan ? Bringing it all Back Home

This is the fourth Dylan album on the top 10 to go along with the 3 Beatles albums. It?s no surprise really. There?s really no competition when it comes to who are the two most important acts in rock music history. It?s Dylan and the Beatles.

10 Pink Floyd ? The Dark Side of the Moon

I actually feel this album should probably rank even higher. It?s a timeless psychedelic classic. This album is just about as close to perfection as you can find.

U2: Legends of Rock

U2 was founded in 1976 and features Bono (Paul David Hewson) on vocals, The Edge (David Howell Evans) on lead guitar, keyboards, and background vocals, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, and Larry Mullen, Jr. on drums and background vocals. The band found popularity in the mid 1980?s and is still wildly popular today. They have sold about 50.5 million albums in the United States alone, and approximately 170 million across the globe.

Six of U2 albums were 1 in the U.S., and the band has won more Grammy Awards than any living or past recording artists, with 22 under their belt. In its April 2004 issue, Rolling Stone magazine, named U2 in its 50 ?greatest rock & roll artists of all time? and in the following year, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Arguably, one of the most successful bands of all time, the band continues to top music charts and sell out stadiums and arenas all around the globe.

U2 was initially formed in Dublin, Ireland in the fall of 1976. Mullen, Jr., posted a notice on his secondary school?s bulletin board seeking musicians to form a new band. Seven boys would attend the band?s first ever practice, but only Mullen, Jr., Clayton, Evans, and Hewson would be left by the time the band was performing at a talent show in Limerick, Ireland on March 17, 1978. The band won the top prize at the top show and impressed Jackie Hayden, one of the judges for the show, who also worked for CBS Records. Hayden would provide the band with studio time to record their first demo. Before releasing their first single, the band went through multiple band names, starting with The Larry Mullen Band, then changed it to Feedback, and then to The Hype, and then finally settled on U2. Under the CBS label, U2 would release their first two singles in the Irish market. Neither singles generated much attention from audiences and critics.

In March of 1980, U2 signed with Island Records and released their first international single ?11 O? Clock Tick Tock,? and their first album, Boy. The album included their first hit single, ?I Will Follow.? The album, along with the band?s first tour outside of Ireland and the U.K., were well received amongst music critics and their fans. In the following year, U2 released October, an album that exhibited strong spiritual, Christian overtones. In 1983, U2 released their third album, War, which included the band?s first international hit single, ?New Year?s Day?. The song would peak at the 10 position on UK charts and climb just under the top 50 on US music charts. MTV placed the ?New Year?s Day? music video into heavy rotation, which helped introduce mainstream America to U2. From that point on, performing at sold-out concerts in Europe and the U.S. was nothing out of the norm.

In 1984, U2 released The Unforgettable Fire, which included hit single, ?Pride (In the Name of Love).? The album contained a new sound from the band that was more atmospheric, effects-driven, and symphonic. The single, about civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., would penetrate the U.S. Top 40 and U.K. Top 5. The album also included ?Bad,? a song that would go on to become a fan favorite, particular at live concerts. In 1987, the band released The Joshua Tree, which would debut at 1 on UK charts and also peak at 1 on U.S. charts. The album, which included hit single ?Where the Streets Have No Name? and 1 hit singles ?With or Without You,? and ?I Still Haven?t Found What I?m Looking For? would go on to win the coveted Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album to date, has sold an estimated 25 million copies. Later that year, U2 was featured on the cover of Time magazine, with the headline reading, ?Rock?s Hottest Ticket?. The band?s Joshua Tree Tour was a commercial success, as the band consistently played in front of sold out arenas and stadiums. In 1988, U2 released a double album entitled Rattle and Hum. The album, which featured tracks performed with Bob Dylan and B.B. King was well received by fans, but with lukewarm reviews from music critics. In the following year, U2 announced they would take some time off from touring.

In 1991, the band reentered the music scene with the release of Achtung Baby, which included smash hit single, ?One?. The album was well received by both fans and critics. To date, it has sold over 17 million copies. In 1993, U2 released Zooropa, an album that infused techno style and electronic effects to U2?s traditional alternative guitar rock sound. The album, which included tracks, ?Zooropa,? ?Stay (Faraway, So Close!)? and ?The Wanderer,? featuring country and rock legend, Johnny Cash, expanded the band?s reach and sustained their popularity going into the 90s and beyond.

In 1997, the band released Pop, an album that would debut at 1 in 28 countries. The album was also noted for mixing elements of popular 90s techno with traditional US alternative guitar rock. Critics were mixed on the album, which despite being an early commercial success, has lifetime sales that are among the lowest in U2?s catalogue. On September 20, 2007, U2 would set a new European record at that time for the largest attendance at a concert for a single band, thanks to the 150,000 Italians that went to see them at the ?Campovolo? in Reggio Emilia. In 1999, U2 released All That You Can?t Leave Behind, which included several hit singles, such as: ?Beautiful Day,? ?Stuck in a Moment You Can?t Get Out of? and ?Elevation?. In 2001, the band would highlight the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVI, set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In November 2004, U2 released How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which would debut at 1 in 32 countries. The album, featuring hit singles ?Vertigo? and ?Sometimes You Can?t Make It On Your Own? would sell an estimated 840,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week, a record for the band. U2 would go on to make a huge splash at the 2005-2006 Grammy Awards, taking home five Grammy?s including: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Album.

U2 is also well-known for their active participation in the cause for human rights, particularly in Africa. Most recently they have been encouraging fans and the general public to take part in the ONE campaign, even taking time during their concerts to talk about the cause. Frontman Bono was named as one of TIME magazine?s Persons of the Year in December of 2005 for his participation in worldwide humanitarian efforts. Their most recent album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, has sparked a hugely popular worldwide tour. Recent singles include ?One? with Mary J. Blige, ?All Because of You,? ?City of Blinding Lights,? and ?Vertigo.? U2 has gone on record to intimate a new album to be released in late 2006 or in 2007.

If you are a U2 fan, get your U2 Ringtones

Rush The Snakes And Arrows Tour

One of Canada’s most successful musical exports, Rush, are currently touring to support the release of their latest Snakes and Arrows album. Having amassed hugely impressive sales over four successive decades, earning nearly 40 Gold and Platinum records while shifting an estimated 35 million albums worldwide, this progressive rock trio is showing no signs of giving any of it up.

With Geddy Lee (lead vocals, bass and keyboards), Alex Lifeson (lead guitar), and Neal Peart (drums), Rush have been as constant a success in the worldwide record industry as they have been a solid rock band since the release of their debut album in 1974.

With a lengthy discography behind them, Rush have always been about the album, not the single. An emphasis on instrumental skills combined with chief lyricist Neal Peart?s fondness for science fiction and fantasy-inspired lyrics, hasn?t always been especially pop or radio friendly.

Despite this, they have managed to score a number of hit singles through the years, including Limelight, Fly By Night, Tom Sawyer, Closer To The Heart, Spirit of Radio, New World Man, and Subdivisions.

Their music has proved popular as cover material for bands as diverse as Catherine Wheel and Audioslave, and Rush are frequently listed on other artist?s lists of musical influences. If you want a good introduction to the band and some of their more accessible material, their 1990 double-CD best-of release, Chronicles, is a very worthwhile purchase.

Discography (original studio albums only):

Rush – Mar 1974, 105 (US only) Gold
Fly by Night – Feb 1975, 148 (US only) Platinum
Caress Of Steel – Sep 1975, 113 (US only) Gold
2112 – Apr 1976, 61 (US), 1 (Canada) 3x Platinum
A Farewell To Kings – Sep 1977, 33 (US), 2 (Canada), 22 (UK) Platinum
Hemispheres – Oct 1978, 47 (US), 4 (Canada), 14 (UK) Platinum
Permanent Waves – Jan 1980, 4 (US), 1 (Canada), 3 (UK) Platinum
Moving Pictures – Jan 1981, 3 (US), 1 (Canada), 3 (UK) 4x Platinum
Signals – Sep 1982, 10 (US), 3 (Canada), 3 (UK) Platinum
Grace Under Pressure – Apr 1984, 10 (US), 1 (Canada), 5 (UK) Platinum
Power Windows – Oct 1985, 10 (US), 2 (Canada), 9 (UK) Platinum
Hold Your Fire – Sep 1987, 13 (US), 9 (Canada), 10 (UK) Platinum
Presto – Nov 1989, 16 (US), 11 (Canada), 27 (UK) Gold
Roll The Bones – Sep 1991, 3 (US), 1 (Canada), 10 (UK) Platinum
Counterparts – Oct 1993, 2 (US), 1 (Canada), 14 (UK) Platinum
Test For Echo – Sep 1996, 5 (US), 1 (Canada), 25 (UK) Gold
Vapor Trails – May 2002, 6 (US), 3 (Canada), 38 (UK)
Feedback – Jun 2004, 19 (US), 5 (Canada)
Snakes & Arrows – May 2007, 3 (US), 3 (Canada), 13 (UK)

Over the years Rush have become Canadian cultural icons, even crossing boundaries to become involved in the most unlikely of mediums for a serious band, such as spoofs and TV comedy.

Geddy Lee with Bob & Doug McKenzie (the infamous Canadian SCTV brothers), scored a 1982 hit with their anthem Take Off, and the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys features a character with a Rush fixation. A 2004 episode of the show was based around an appearance by Alex Lifeson, who was kidnapped from his hotel prior to a concert and forced to perform a private concert in the trailer park.

Rush have built a solid reputation for incredible live performances and the band have released half a dozen live album recordings to support this. Currently on tour throughout Canada, this October sees the band injecting their special brand of rock to a European audience, kicking off with several dates around the UK.

3 Oct – Glasgow, Scotland – SECC
5 Oct – Newcastle, England – Metro Radio Arena
6 Oct – Sheffield, England – Hallam FM Arena
9 Oct – London, England – Wembley Arena
10 Oct – London, England – Wembley Arena
12 Oct – Birmingham, England – NEC Arena
14 Oct – Manchester, England – MEN Arena
16 Oct – Rotterdam, Netherlands – Ahoy
17 Oct – Rotterdam, Netherlands – Ahoy
19 Oct – Oberhausen, Germany – Arena
21 Oct – Mannheim, Germany – SAP Arena
23rd – Milan, Italy – Forum Arena
26th – Oslo, Norway – Spektrum
27th – Stockholm, Sweden – Globe Arena
29th – Helsinki, Finland – Hartwell Arena

Rush The Snakes And Arrows Tour

One of Canada’s most successful musical exports, Rush, are currently touring to support the release of their latest Snakes and Arrows album. Having amassed hugely impressive sales over four successive decades, earning nearly 40 Gold and Platinum records while shifting an estimated 35 million albums worldwide, this progressive rock trio is showing no signs of giving any of it up.

With Geddy Lee (lead vocals, bass and keyboards), Alex Lifeson (lead guitar), and Neal Peart (drums), Rush have been as constant a success in the worldwide record industry as they have been a solid rock band since the release of their debut album in 1974.

With a lengthy discography behind them, Rush have always been about the album, not the single. An emphasis on instrumental skills combined with chief lyricist Neal Peart?s fondness for science fiction and fantasy-inspired lyrics, hasn?t always been especially pop or radio friendly.

Despite this, they have managed to score a number of hit singles through the years, including Limelight, Fly By Night, Tom Sawyer, Closer To The Heart, Spirit of Radio, New World Man, and Subdivisions.

Their music has proved popular as cover material for bands as diverse as Catherine Wheel and Audioslave, and Rush are frequently listed on other artist?s lists of musical influences. If you want a good introduction to the band and some of their more accessible material, their 1990 double-CD best-of release, Chronicles, is a very worthwhile purchase.

Discography (original studio albums only):

Rush – Mar 1974, 105 (US only) Gold
Fly by Night – Feb 1975, 148 (US only) Platinum
Caress Of Steel – Sep 1975, 113 (US only) Gold
2112 – Apr 1976, 61 (US), 1 (Canada) 3x Platinum
A Farewell To Kings – Sep 1977, 33 (US), 2 (Canada), 22 (UK) Platinum
Hemispheres – Oct 1978, 47 (US), 4 (Canada), 14 (UK) Platinum
Permanent Waves – Jan 1980, 4 (US), 1 (Canada), 3 (UK) Platinum
Moving Pictures – Jan 1981, 3 (US), 1 (Canada), 3 (UK) 4x Platinum
Signals – Sep 1982, 10 (US), 3 (Canada), 3 (UK) Platinum
Grace Under Pressure – Apr 1984, 10 (US), 1 (Canada), 5 (UK) Platinum
Power Windows – Oct 1985, 10 (US), 2 (Canada), 9 (UK) Platinum
Hold Your Fire – Sep 1987, 13 (US), 9 (Canada), 10 (UK) Platinum
Presto – Nov 1989, 16 (US), 11 (Canada), 27 (UK) Gold
Roll The Bones – Sep 1991, 3 (US), 1 (Canada), 10 (UK) Platinum
Counterparts – Oct 1993, 2 (US), 1 (Canada), 14 (UK) Platinum
Test For Echo – Sep 1996, 5 (US), 1 (Canada), 25 (UK) Gold
Vapor Trails – May 2002, 6 (US), 3 (Canada), 38 (UK)
Feedback – Jun 2004, 19 (US), 5 (Canada)
Snakes & Arrows – May 2007, 3 (US), 3 (Canada), 13 (UK)

Over the years Rush have become Canadian cultural icons, even crossing boundaries to become involved in the most unlikely of mediums for a serious band, such as spoofs and TV comedy.

Geddy Lee with Bob & Doug McKenzie (the infamous Canadian SCTV brothers), scored a 1982 hit with their anthem Take Off, and the Canadian comedy series Trailer Park Boys features a character with a Rush fixation. A 2004 episode of the show was based around an appearance by Alex Lifeson, who was kidnapped from his hotel prior to a concert and forced to perform a private concert in the trailer park.

Rush have built a solid reputation for incredible live performances and the band have released half a dozen live album recordings to support this. Currently on tour throughout Canada, this October sees the band injecting their special brand of rock to a European audience, kicking off with several dates around the UK.

3 Oct – Glasgow, Scotland – SECC
5 Oct – Newcastle, England – Metro Radio Arena
6 Oct – Sheffield, England – Hallam FM Arena
9 Oct – London, England – Wembley Arena
10 Oct – London, England – Wembley Arena
12 Oct – Birmingham, England – NEC Arena
14 Oct – Manchester, England – MEN Arena
16 Oct – Rotterdam, Netherlands – Ahoy
17 Oct – Rotterdam, Netherlands – Ahoy
19 Oct – Oberhausen, Germany – Arena
21 Oct – Mannheim, Germany – SAP Arena
23rd – Milan, Italy – Forum Arena
26th – Oslo, Norway – Spektrum
27th – Stockholm, Sweden – Globe Arena
29th – Helsinki, Finland – Hartwell Arena

10 Greatest Martial Arts Movies Of All Time

After hundreds of movies, thousands of eye-popping fight scenes and millions of punches thrown…which ones are the best? Which ones have I been missing out on my whole life? Which ones must I have in my collection in order to not bring shame upon my family name?

We?ve scoured the internet. Reviews. Forums. Amazon. Postings. Bulletins. And this list is what we?ve come up with as the greatest Kung-Fu movies of all time and why you should watch each one. Pay attention to movies involving Yuen Wo-Ping as either director or action director, there’s a reason why half this list is movies where he was involved!

If you want to watch trailers of these movies, go to: http://www.experiencemartialarts.com/articles/movies.html

(you can also get directly to these movies in http://Amazon.com from this website)

1 – Way of the Dragon (1979)

This is the only finished film to be written and directed by Bruce Lee. (Game of Death is the other one but is unfinished) We could write a lot about the plot, characters or fight scenes…but all you really care about is watching Bruce Lee fight Chuck Norris in the final battle.

Martial Artists: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris
Director: Bruce Lee

2 – Shaolin Temple (1982)

Depicts the amazing history of the Shaolin Temple, the focal point for Chinese Martial Arts. Think of the Shaolin Monks as Jedi Knights (an elite group of fighters) and the rest of China as the messed-up universe that Star Wars takes place in (people who are afraid of the elite fighters and want to take them out of power). Much work to do, you have, young Jet Li. *picture Yoda?s accent on that one* Define Irony: A movie shot at the site of the Shaolin Temple, telling a story about the fall of the Shaolin Temple, sparks so much public interest that the temple was re-opened shortly after the movie released.

Martial Artist: Jet Li (His debut movie)
Director: Chang Hsin-Yen

3 – Ong Bak (2003)

Raw action without wires, Tony Jaa brings a new martial arts style to the big screen and does so in style. Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) is stronger and more direct than the Chinese styles you?re used to seeing with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, giving a new look to how a martial arts movie can be done. You?ll be seeing more of him…guaranteed.

Martial Artist: Tony Jaa
Director: Prachya Pinkaew

4 – Iron Monkey (1993)

Doctor by day, thief by night…Iron Monkey is your classic Robin-hood meets Kung Fu. It?s an action packed flick that can?t go 5 minutes without an excellent fight scene. It all comes down to a battle between Iron Monkey (ie Robin Hood) and an ex Shaolin Monk (remember, these guys are like the Jedi Knights of Chinese martial arts…they?re elite). Remember that guy Yuen Wo-Ping I mentioned? Well he’s the director in this one, so you know it’s good!

Martial Artists: Yu Rong-Guang, Donnie Yen
Director: Yuen Wo-Ping
Action Directors: Yuen Cheung-yan, Yuen Shun-yi

5 – 5 Deadly Venoms (1978)

No room form “martial arts beauties” in this one, there’s so much blood and action that they only cast male actors. Exit the traditional elaborate costumes and enter the muscular, skin-bearing, bloody martial arts style that would become a trademark for director Chang Cheh. Each cast member is trained in an art resembling one of 5 venemous creatures (Scorpion, Snake, Centipede, Gecko, Toad) with the 6th cast member being trained in all 5. Six main martial arts actors = LOTS O? ACTION

Martial Artists: 6 Martial Artists (yes, 6 main characters)
Director: Chang Cheh

6 – The Seven Samurai (1954)

One of the greatest classic kung-fu movies of all time and arguable Kurosawa?s best work. Some Samurai of the time were down on their luck (homeless) and willing to do anything for a meal. A village under attack by bandits recruits a group of seven such Samurai warriors and asks them to help defend their village. The movie is about the Samurai teaching the village how to fight and culminates in a massive battle between a village and almost 50 attacking bandits. The acting is superb, the emotions run high and Kurosawa keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Martial Artists: 7 Martial Artists (all names you won’t know since this movie is so old)
Director: Akira Kurosawa

7 – Legend of Drunken Master (1994)

Some will say this is the greatest martial arts movie of all time because of it?s balance between plot-line, comedy, drama and amazing kung fu sequences. Probably Jackie Chan?s best martial arts performance. You?re going to love the final scene where you learn what ?Drunken Master? really means. We?re talking box-splitting, fire-spitting craziness!

Martial Artist: Jackie Chan
Director: Lau Kar-leung

8 – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

Based on a Pentalogy (yes, that?s 5 books) written by Wang Dulu, this movie covers mostly the 4th book. Critically acclaimed to cross international borders with it?s amazing character development, intricate plot, martial arts ideals, stunning special effects and quicker-than-the-eye fighting scenes, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon set a new standard for martial arts movies. Telling Zhang Ziyi (the lead female character and an amazing martial artist) to get back in the kitchen would likely cost you 50 punches to the ?bags?. Be ready for subtitles, ?cuz turning on the English track is like watching…uh…like watching a kung fu movie in English.

Main Martial Artist: Chow Yun-fat
Other Martial Artists: Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei
Director: Ang Lee
Action Director: Yuen Wo-Ping

9 – Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)

You?re going to want your home theatre room for this one. It?s tough to beat beautiful women beating the crap out of each other in fast-paced, action-packed, make you cringe, bloody, gory, cut-?em-up (more buzz words go here) movie jam packed with as much martial arts death as possible. Tarantino expertly uses every camera angle and a plethora of special effects to deliver a better-than-real visual experience that gives this blood-and-guts thriller an artistic feel you?ll appreciate at the end. Did I mention is has Uma Thurman in it?

(?Kill bill vol. 2? brings closure to the set, but hey…we had to choose one movie. Say ?Five-Point-Palm Exploding Heart Technique? 5 times fast.)

Actors: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Action Director: Yuen Wo-ping

10 – Fist of Legend (1994)

A classic story of Chinese vs. Japanese martial arts, Fist of Legend is actually a remake of the original Bruce Lee movie, Fist of Fury. If Bruce Lee is like the original James Bond, Jet Li is the Pierce Brosnan. He?ll never be the original, but the modern film-making and larger budget bring the entertainment value just a hair above the original Fist of Fury. (The ghost of Bruce Lee is probably going to strike me down for writing that) The Yuen Brothers are known for amazing action choreography, and they totally deliver on this one. (Casting Jet Li may have helped them a little too.)

Martial Artist: Jet Li
Director: Gordon Chan
Action Directors: ?The Yuen Brothers?

The fun doesn’t stop there.

We tried to stop at only 10…really, we did. But we just couldn’t control ourselves.
“Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!” – Will Ferrell in “Old School”

To see the movies that deserve “Honorable Mention”, go to http://www.experiencemartialarts.com/articles/movies.html

Whether you enjoyed this list or think we snuffed your favorite movie, we’d love to hear what you think. Post your comments at: http://www.experiencemartialarts.com/blog/archives/16

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles 1967 album Sgt Pepper is often cited as the most influential and important album of all time. In what I consider to be a reactionary backlash to this praise Sgt Pepper is also often cited as one of the most over rated albums of all time.

This year this monumental album turns 40 years old. So where does it stand now? In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as the 1 album of all time. It doesn?t fair quite as well on the popular music rating website Rate Your Music where it ranks 27 of all time which is behind four other Beatles classic albums Revolver (#1), Abbey Road (#2), The White Album (#10), and Rubber Soul (#21).

Personally while it?s not my favorite Beatles album (that honor has to go to The White Album) I do believe it is the most important and most influential album of all time and I do rank it above Revolver, Abbey Road, and Rubber Soul.

I?ve heard some people say it doesn?t hold up well with time but I disagree entirely. I think this album is absolutely timeless. I don?t think the songs sound like they are from the 1960s necessarily. They sound like they are from the future and the past simultaneously.

I believe all 13 songs from this album to be absolutely essential to the album and this is a very rare thing. What set this album apart from most of the albums that came before it is that it truly plays like an album. While definitely somewhat in debt to The Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper takes things a big leap forward. In many ways I still feel that Sgt Pepper is the perfect cohesive album. It doesn?t take the ?concept? and wear it thin but it also holds together as one work very well despite, and maybe because, the fact that the songs are of such varying styles.

Song by Song Breakdown:

1 Sgt Pepper

The album starts off with the crowd noise which goes into the first song which shares the same name as the album: ?Sgt Pepper?s Lonely Hearts Club Band.? This is a great song and also sets up the rest of the album as part of this loose concept of watching a band perform. This is all made to come together even more by the later inclusion of the Reprise of this song! Paul McCartney came up with the idea of the Beatles pretending to be this different band. The idea being that they could really branch out into all sorts of different styles with no limitations. They could also break free of their image. There?s quite a few layers to the idea but it?s also a very simple idea that isn?t overbearing unlike some later prog rock attempts at ?concept albums.?

2 With A Little Help From My Friends

This track was written by lead songwriters and singers Paul McCartney and John Lennon specifically for the drummer Ringo Starr to sing. This adds another layer to the lyric ?I get by with a little help from my friends.? This song was a hit for Joe Cocker (his cover version was used on television program The Wonder Years.) It also contains a reference to marijuana with the line ?I get high with a little help from my friends.?

3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

This song is inspired by LSD in my opinion although Lennon denied this and said it was merely inspired by his son?s painting. Many years later McCartney admitted the influence of LSD on this track. This song is often cited as a prime example of 1960s psychedelic music. Besides the other worldly fantastical lyrics the song has a dreamy quality to both the music and the vocals. This song uses a flange effect on the drums and the bass is very prominent in the mix.

4 Getting Better

There?s so many great things about this track I have a hard time deciding what to talk about first. One thing that really does stand out for me though is use of sitar in this track. It?s subtle and yet very effective. A great example of the sort of unique tracks on this album that don?t really have any direct comparison to anything else in rock music, even to this day. I think the sharp down stroke style used on the guitars in this track has been extremely influential in rock to this day.

5 Fixing A Hole

This is another amazingly unique song that has so many layers and so much to discover. I?m still hearing new things in it now and I must have listened to it over 1000 times. The harmony vocals are absolutely incredible (listen to the right side)

6 She?s Leaving Home

This song features McCartney and Lennon on vocals but no Beatles play in the instrumentation. The song was scored for classical musicians. The twists and turns in this album are startling but they somehow all make sense. So much variety. All beautifully and masterly done.

7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite

Lennon got all of the lyrics off of an old circus poster he had. A great example of the avante garde attitude of the Beatles at the time. I like to picture this as the wild place she goes after she leaves home. I don?t hear 60s when I listen to this track. I hear another time, another place. A warped distorted but still very relevant version of our own reality. This song is absolute psychedelic weirdness. It?s overflowing with ideas and imagination. The instrumental breakdown after ?Henry the Horse Dances the Waltz? and at the end of the track includes bits of real circus sounds which were all cut up and taped back together randomly. This type of thing you could do quite easily today with Pro Tools but in 1967 it was a very inventive and creative technique. The way it was done also lends to it a timeless quality that isn?t connected to any particular recording technique or trick. This sort of experimentation has been very influential on countless artists.

8 Within You Without You

This is probably the least popular song on the album amongst your average rock fan because unfortunately too many people have a hard time opening their minds towards other types of music. This song, just like ?She?s Leaving Home?, features no Beatles on the instrumentation. The music is all recorded by Indian musicians under the direction of George Harrison. Harrison sings and wrote the music. This song to me is absolute essential to the album. ?Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite? should have opened your mind a little bit but this one should really blow your mind right out of your head. You are now in a completely different world. This is an album that deftly takes you all over the world with an incredible journey through the middle of your mind. I really don?t think I?m overstating this or exaggerating. I simply feel if you don?t hear this, then you haven?t really listened to this album and fully experienced it. I think in some ways this is the most psychedelic song on the album. It?s a true journey and it?s very beautiful. I believe the laughing at the end of the album symbolizes your average person who laughs at things that are different or thoughtful.

9 When I?m 64

As of this writing Paul McCartney is actually 64. As far as out as the last track takes you, this one places you right back somewhere else entirely. Such a strange trip, isn?t it? This is another song of many on this album that is not guitar based. The Beatles really were experimenting with instrumentation a lot on this album. This instrumental experimentation has been extremely influential on many bands

10 Lovely Rita

This is just an excellent fun song. The lyrics are fantastic. There are so many just out of this world sounds going on, really listen to everything going on in the mix. And for God?s sake, listen to the reverb on those backing vocals. Awesome. I also just absolutely love the way this song ends with all of the weird vocalizations with the delay. They?re just having a great time making this track that enjoyment directly leads right into my ears.

11 Good Morning Good Morning

This is probably my least favorite track on the album if I have to choose one. That being said it?s still a great song. I?m a big fan of the time changes and of Paul McCartney?s searing Hendrix like guitar solo.

12 Sgt Pepper (Reprise)

The sound of a rooster leads directly into a guitar squeal. One of the coolest segues ever. This version of Sgt Pepper is like the first except it rocks a lot harder. This is a great way to tie together the album and lead into the grand finale.

13 A Day In The Life

This may be the greatest song ever written. In my opinion it is just that. Certainly a fantastic way to end an album. The orchestral buildups are genius and perfectly capture the feelings that could never be put into words. The song itself is can sometimes sound deceptively simple but there?s so much nuance. So much you can hear even on the 1000th listen.