Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jason Geeks Out, Part 5

As many of you know, I can be something of a music geek and a video game geek. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are the perfect fusions of both worlds. I've played both a few times at friends houses and at our most recent company Christmas Party (we had Wii and Rock Band set up in the conference room for the whole company to play). I've even had the urge to buy one of them myself. But I've never done it, both because of the cost and in support of the free time I'd lose to having the game at home.

But now the makers of Rock Band have cooked up something I don't think I'll be able to resist. Rock Band: The Beatles. The thought of it reduces me to a screaming teenage fan circa 1963 (on the inside, of course.) I've always been a big fan of the band, like 80% of the population, and, knowing what MTV and Harmonix went through to get the remaining Beatles and the deceased's heirs to sign on, I'm thoroughly excited and impressed.

Some of you may not be aware just how protective Apple Corps, the Beatles' holding company, is over the Beatles back catalog. They've refused lucrative deals to sell the music on iTunes, Rhapsody and other digital music services. They've been cautious to the point of paranoia about digital piracy and protecting the integrity of the original recordings. In 1987, when EMI, the record label that owns the recording rights to many Beatles classics licensed "Revolution" to Nike, Apple Corps fought viciously, though unsuccessfully, to block the deal. Right now the entire back catalog of Beatles music is only available on CD, tape, and record (legally, at least.)*

So it's interesting that the first place the Beatles have deigned to allow digital purchase of their music is in a video game. It shows how mainstream video gaming is becoming. It may already be the case that I don't have to title an entry on this topic with "Jason Geeks Out", but rather "Jason Goes Along with the Crowd."

In any case, the game is going to cover music from their entire career, and feature all the famous performance venues, from the Ed Sullivan Theater, Shea Stadium, and the Cavern Club, to trippy dreamscape worlds in their later, psychedelic phase. Just as with Rock Band you'll be able to play guitar, bass, drums and vocals, but now the vocals, if you have three microphones, will feature three-part harmonies. It's just the kryptonite I need to finally break down and buy. I'll wait for a used copy, though. The initial release price tag is a little steep for my blood. But it will be mine.

*As a side note, I recently discovered Beatles music on Pandora, the music genome project. How they procured the rights, I don't know. It may have something to do with Pandora's mission, and the fact that you can't purchase music through the service.

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