#2. They've Made the Same Album Ten times or More
This one is going to be tough for me because, simply put, I fucking love Motorhead. That's why it bums me out to have to admit this, but the fact of the matter is, they're kind of a shitty band. Why, you ask? Because they've basically made the exact same album over 20 times now. I put up with it because Lemmy Kilmister is the only man on earth with enough charisma to make a facial wart seem endearing ...
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... and also I'll take any excuse I can get to wear this logo in public:
I wouldn't even try to defend Motorhead as a "good" band, though. Clearly they recorded like 45 albums worth of material sometime in the late 1970s, probably the last time the entire band was conscious in the same room at the same time, and have been doling it out in 10-song chunks as "new albums" ever since. I admit that's not a positive trait, but it just so happens that theirs is a brand of bad that I enjoy. If every song by every musician from now until the end of time sounded like "Ace of Spades," I think I'd still be alright with it.
I feel the exact same way about AC/DC, except for the part where I hate their music with every fiber of my being. Don't get me wrong, on paper, there isn't a ton of difference between the two bands aside from a glaring disparity in the number of times their lead singers have died (Once for AC/DC, probably six times just on the last tour for Motorhead).
So how come I hate one band and adore the other? Because I grew up in the Midwest, where bars are required by law to play "Back In Black" at least twice an hour whenever a crowd of 20 or more people gather in one place.
I probably heard "Highway to Hell" three times a week for the first 35 years of my life, and I've never once owned an AC/DC album. It was my destiny to be tired of their shit before I even made it out of high school.
No matter which band you prefer though, one indisputable fact remains - they've both been making the exact same album every single year for like three decades now. As comforting and sometimes enjoyable as that may be, you have to admit that it also sort of sucks.
#1. They Don't Know When to Stop
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"Beatles or Stones" is a debate that will likely rage among rock fans for as long the NSA allows such displays of open thinking among the general populace. It's pointless, though, because we've had an answer for a long time now. In the half-century-long war that pitted England's biggest hit makers against each other ... there was no winner. Like almost everything else, I blame this on the 1980s.
If everything Beatles- and Stones-related ended in the 1970s like it should have, Mick and Co. could have claimed a clear and easy victory. The Beatles imploded almost as soon as the decade started, while the Stones can count a number of their '70s albums among their best. For example, if you don't love Some Girls, you're an asshole.
It's got "Before They Make Me Run" on it!
And that's what they ended the decade with. They kicked it off with stuff like Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St., and Goats Head Soup. It might have been a close battle in the '60s, but when peace and love gave way to glam and eventually punk in the '70s, the Stones pulled way ahead of The Beatles, who spent most of the decade releasing good-to-average solo albums. Two things happened at the beginning of the next decade, though, that makes picking a definitive winner a lot more difficult.
To start with the less depressing stuff, having a massive hit with a (fucking amazing) disco song when most people were siding with the idea of safety pins as fashion statements must have left the Rolling Stones feeling like they could get away with anything, because that's exactly what they tried with their next album, Emotional Rescue. While Some Girls found success by incorporating subtle disco elements into the classic Rolling Stones sound ...
... Emotional Rescue is just straight-up disco music. This absurd monologue by Mick Jagger from the title track is by far the most entertaining moment on the album ...
Unfortunately, the Stones were confoundingly unstoppable by this point, so the disco album sold like crazy, too, even if every critic recognized its terribleness immediately. And when they haphazardly tossed a song they'd almost deleted five years earlier onto their next album, it became one of their biggest hits of all-time.
Suddenly on a hot streak, the Stones plowed headlong into the '80s with a newfound willingness to try anything at least once. As we all know now, the returns never stopped diminishing after that point, culminating in embarrassing shit like this:
Did those suits work on anyone? Ever?
More than 30 years later, a lot of us are still wishing the Rolling Stones would just bring the embarrassment to an end already. It's a lot like when Michael Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards, the only difference being that the Stones probably aren't risking broken hips on a nightly basis to satisfy a crippling gambling addiction.
As for The Beatles, well, John Lennon died in 1980, so we'll never know if the original line-up would have reconvened sometime that decade to embarrass us all just like every other hero from the '60s did. If nothing else, though, the fact that they didn't even attempt to carry on as a band after that (aside from some studio trickery surrounding a lost Lennon demo in the '90s) shows The Beatles knew when done really meant done. Meanwhile, The Rolling Stones will most likely be the first band in the history of rock to break up in their sleep.
That's why the Beatles vs. Stones war will never have a clear winner. When your only choices are "Gone too soon" or "Way overstayed their welcome," how do you even decide?