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The Beatles

The Beatles

I had managed to remain mostly unaware of The Beatles for most of my life, having been born in the '80's. Well, I joined a band with some guys who loved them and wanted to cover them, so I found myself sucked into their repertoire at long last. There's not much to be said about these guys; they're legendary musicians. They kept updating themselves and their music, inventing, or at least popularizing, a number of genres along the way. And since people are required to make the comparison, I prefer The Beach Boys, sorry.

Album Reviews

The Beatles' origins were... humble, to say the least. This album starts with a great rocking opener, but then just completely falls apart. There's a few gems amidst all these terrible cover songs, but they're few and far apart. I don't know if I've ever managed to listen to this album all the way through.

Best tracks:
1. I Saw Her Standing There
2. There's a Place
3. Please Please Me

Worst song ever:
A Taste of Honey

The group's sophomore effort isn't much better than their first. There doesn't seem to be much development since the first album, and there's still lots of terrible covers. The only great song on this one is once again a McCartney tune: All my Loving. Everything else I could do without.

Best tracks:
1. All my Loving
2. Please Mister Postman
3. I can't decide; they all suck

OK, here's where The Beatles start to get impressive. You can tell they've really mastered their style at this point. Not a lot of invention going on yet; this is simply the pinnacle of the early Beatles sound. This is a good place to start with them. The first two albums can be safely ignored.

Best tracks:
1. Can't Buy me Love
2. I Should Have Known Better
3. Things we Said Today

A lot of people call this album too rushed, and there is some crappy material to provide evidence of this, but The Beatles start to emerge from their original formula here. There's an annoying amount of covers once again, and some of the originals stink, but there's some of their best tracks to date on this one, and right at the beginning of the album, too!

Best tracks:
1. I'm a Loser
2. No Reply
3. I Don't Want to Spoil the Party

OK, here the Beatles start to mature and produce real albums. Only a couple covers, a few good songs, and a suddenly surprising amount of really great songs. This is the album where The Beatles really hit their stride, and drop the last vestiges of their early sound, which they had thoroughly worn out by this point. This is the first album in which I actually had trouble deciding which tracks wouldn't make my top 3, in fact.

Best tracks:
1. You're Going to Lose That Girl
2. Ticket to Ride
3. Yesterday

I want to like this album more. It's considered the first real "album" of the Beatles, rather than just a collection of songs. That is in part due to the fact most of the songs feature a folksy, acoustic guitar vibe, and so they work together well. Unfortunately, song-for-song, I think Help! is the better album. There's some great tunes here, to be sure, but there's a lot of songs that just don't do anything for me. Alas.

Best tracks:
1. Nowhere Man
2. In my Life
3. If I Needed Someone

Here is where they become legendary. A lot of the initial popularity surrounding the band had probably died down by this point, especially due to them deciding to stop touring, but this is when they actually get good! Revolver mostly seems to feature straightforward guitar driven tunes, but there's also some psychedelia creeping in. It's most evident in the final track, which seems so ahead of its time that it could have been recorded in the 21st century. This is the first Beatles album I can really appreciate all the way through.

Best tracks:
1. For No One
2. Tomorrow Never Knows
3. Taxman

OK, I get that this album opened a new world in music and recording. There's some truly fantastic and timeless music on here. But there's also Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! and When I'm Sixty-Four. While I can appreciate it as a landmark album, there are just some songs I don't care for. Others have already pointed out it's only very loosely a concept album: the first two and last two are the only songs fitting any sort of concept. Everything else just shows the Beatles composing a variety of interesting songs with a range of sounds and styles. It's certainly a strong album, and probably a step up from Revolver, but the Beatles will outdo it later.

Best tracks:
1. A Day in the Life
2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
3. Fixing a Hole

This album is basically Sgt. Pepper, Part 2. It's less of an album and more of a collection of songs from that period, and so it's no surprise that it has the same huge variety of styles. Thankfully, this was a particularly fertile time for the band. I think MMT is basically just as good as Sgt. Pepper, at least when comparing song by song. Other than the sort of useless instrumental Flying, there just isn't a bad song on here. Everything is decent if not good or great.

Best tracks:
1. All You Need is Love
2. The Fool on the Hill
3. Strawberry Fields Forever

I'm always tempted to call this my favorite Beatles album because it's probably the one I play the most. It's nothing short of an aural adventure. Although the sounds and styles aren't experimental like in the past few albums, nonetheless it's a huge range of songs, spanning two discs, and it almost feels like a concept album by the time you get to the end, even though it's almost the opposite of one. Truth be told, there aren't even a lot of really great tracks in here. Most are good, but there's even some real losers, too (Wild Honey Pie... really?). Nonetheless, to me it feels like it deserves to be their eponymous album. It really gives one the experience of The Beatles.

Best tracks:
1. Martha my Dear
2. Happiness is a Warm Gun
3. Back in the USSR

This may have been the latest album to be released, but it was recorded before Abbey Road. The Beatles were trying to become a band again, playing straight rock 'n' roll. Usually these sorts of "return to roots" efforts end up boring, but there are some great hits on this one. There are a number of decent songs, and not really anything terrible. By the time I was a Beatles fan, the "Naked" version of the album was released. Once I heard it, the original became unlistenable. Spector's overdubs are just completely unnecessary and obtrusive. I highly recommend the re-released "Naked" version of this album over the original.

Best tracks:
1. Two of Us
2. Across the Universe
3. I've Got a Feeling

If there's any album for which The Beatles should claim as their best, it should be this one. It's not experimental like Sgt. Pepper, or a stripped-down return to roots like Let it Be. It doesn't seem like it has any theme in particular; it's just a collection of The Beatles doing what they do best. There's not a bad tune in sight. Harrison particularly steals the show this time around, if you ask me. Something and Here Comes the Sun are his best contributions to the band, ever. Then, the B-side is a bunch of short Lennon/McCartney pieces that form a grand medley to conclude the album. As an album brimming with strong compositions, Abbey Road serves as a satisfying swansong for this legendary band.

Best tracks:
1. Here Comes the Sun
2. Something
3. I Want You (She's So Heavy)

Top 10 Songs

  1. Hey Jude
  2. Here Comes the Sun
  3. Nowhere Man
  4. Lady Madonna
  5. For No One
  6. You're Going to Lose That Girl
  7. In my Life
  8. Martha my Dear
  9. Two of Us
  10. A Day in the Life