Band has mixed review of 'Beatles: Rock Band'

The members of the Augusta-based Beatles tribute band Ed Turner & Number 9 know a lot about rock bands, but little about the video game Rock Band , but that didn't keep them from finding much to both criticize and love about The Beatles: Rock Band.

The group recently tried The Beatles: Rock Band, which was released today. It was the first time most of the group had been exposed to Rock Band, and the reviews were mixed. As musicians, they found rocking the plastic ax completely alien, nothing like the actual making of music.

As Beatles scholars, they found the game riddled with inaccuracies both significant and small, such as altered arrangements and performances at venues where they never happened. Mr. Turner noted that the wrong brand of organ was placed in the iconic Abbey Road studio, an obvious mistake to the Beatle-soaked piano man.

The band said the game oversimplifies the iconic British band's music and might lead gamers into believing they have mastered the musical intricacies of the 45 included tunes.

Chip McDonald, the band's lead guitarist and a professional guitar instructor, said confusion between real guitar and the Rock Band push-button equivalent is an educational issue that dates to the earliest days of the games.

"I've lost several students because they decided they would rather do this," he said.

What the band appreciated and enjoyed was the game's look, sound and sense of reverence. They approved of the mix of obvious hits and more obscure tracks, the incorporation of iconic Beatles moments -- the Apple Records rooftop concert and pitch-perfect Budokan concert were favorites -- and distinctive visual style. The Yellow Submarine dream sequence was found admirably distracting.

They also found the bonus system, which awards rare photos, sound and video clips for button-mashing excellence, appropriate. Mr. Turner said some of the footage, such as an outtake from The Ed Sullivan Show , was new to him.

Guitarist Jeff Johnston said The Beatles: Rock Band bears only the slightest resemblance to what he does with Number 9, but he was still willing to embrace and approve of the game.

"I don't care what those guys say," he said with a laugh. "I thought it was a lot of fun."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

ALL YOU NEED IS CASH

Fans wanting the full Beatles experience will have to shell out a little. The basic game costs $59.99. A limited edition premium bundle, which includes a replica Hofner bass and Ludwig drums, lists for $249.99, and Rickenbaker and Gretsch guitars, modeled after those played by John Lennon and George Harrison, will sell for $99.99 each. Full albums for the game will also be available for download. The first, Abbey Road, is set for release Oct. 20 and will cost $16.98. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul follow in November and December.

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