Money (That's What I Want) - The Beatles

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"Money (That's What I Want)" - The Beatles (1963)

When The Beatles decided to record  “Money (That's What I Want)” it was an attempt to emulate the spectacular success of “Twist And Shout.”

The song was composed by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, reaching number two in 1959 on the US R&B chart.

The Beatles lowered the original from the key of F to E, converted into a galloping 12-bar blues song with a piercing bass line. They added a searing vocal from John Lennon and close harmonies from Harrison and McCartney. The end result was a thundering powerhouse.

Much of this was down to the climactic final chorus, driven along by Ringo Starr's eight-to-the-bar bass drum - a sound which would soon become characteristic of early 1960s beat music.

Ringo explains in the documentary Anthology how they chose this song to record:

“The cover songs recorded for With The Beatles were chosen by whoever liked them. It was interesting that when I joined The Beatles we didn't really know each other, but if you looked at each of our record collections, the four of us had virtually the same records. We all had The Miracles, we all had Barrett Strong and people like that. I suppose that helped us gel as musicians, and as a group.

In later years McCartney would lament the way that Lennon tended to be viewed as the Beatle with the rock 'n' roll edge. This song, along with “Twist And Shout” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” showed precisely why. Although McCartney came close, most notably on “Long Tall Sally,” and “I’m Down,” Lennon got there first, and in 1963 audiences had heard nothing like this before.

Says Russian music critic George Starostin:

“ 'Money' is, of course, a piece of satire - sort of an undercover attack on the very values that, let's admit it, brought the Beatles into show business in the first place. And so it's one thing when Lennon spends his precious vocal cords on 'shake it-uh baby now', and quite a different one when he does likewise for 'now give me money, that's what I want'.”

The Beatles’ outstanding backing and vocal harmony arrangements were an important part of their signature sound and on this record it clearly shows what they learned from studying Motown singers and performers.

For instance, the ever so slight pause Paul and George put into "THAT'S...what I want" really makes the song tough. In George’s harmonizing,  the last letter is leaving his mouth literally just as John comes back in- and vice-versa.

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