The Beatles

The classic look of The Beatles, pre-1966. From left to right:
George Harrison (guitar), Paul McCartney (bass), John Lennon (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums)

Do I even need to describe this band? They're THE rock band. It all started with these guys, and no one did it better than they did or will do it better. Sound like I'm overexaggerating? It's possible, I haven't heard every piece of music out there. But given what early '60s music was typically like, and then comparing it to what these guys were doing... you can see what I mean. They were way ahead of their time... no, scratch that, they're just timeless. That's why just as many people listen to them today as they did back when they were just erupting onto the scene.

When you've got a team of musicians like Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo working together, I guess it's no surprise there was magic. And yes I do include all of them, because The Beatles weren't JUST Lennon and McCartney as some people like to claim. Each one brought something to the group. For one thing, I think Harrison was severely underappreciated by his bandmates and by people to this day; I think almost all his original compositions have merit. There's an occasional bad song, but even Lennon/McCartney had their share of crap (believe it or not, not everything these guys wrote was gold). Harrison wasn't as visionary as his bandmates, sure, but he provided wonderful classics like Taxman, Within You Without You (seriously), and of course While my Guitar Gently Weeps, not to mention any of his Abbey Road material, which is pretty much on par with anything Lennon or McCartney wrote. His guitar skills were a bit lacking in the early years, but the improvement he made is astounding. Listen to any of the guitar solos for Let it Be, which, after watching the video, I can assure you he pulled off with ease. He was rough in the beginning, but finished his time in The Beatles a seasoned pro.

Ringo, the other "forgotten" member of The Beatles, is highly underrated by a number of people. Drummers revere him and rightfully so... the man's feel was incredible. Many arguments have been made in favor of Ringo's presence in the band, and I think those who try to cut him down just don't understand what The Beatles would've sounded like if they had an inferior drummer. Ringo's songwriting skills perhaps weren't very impressive, but hell he only wrote two songs so let's not pick on the guy too much. His job was to drum and I can't think of someone who could pull off the job any better. Where Lennon and McCartney were the visionary songwriters, Ringo was actually a rather visionary drummer. Drummers today still take influence from this guy, because he really is the foundation of rock 'n' roll drumming.

Then of course there's Lennon and McCartney, and so much has been said on them what more could I possibly have to say? Not much. I think Paul is perhaps the best songwriter of our time, because I can't think of anyone who has written so many timeless, classic songs. Not just with The Beatles, but his solo career has had quite a few hits too; Maybe I'm Amazed anybody? Needless to say his bass playing was also innovative and ahead of his time, and that he's probably one of the best bassists out there. And of course that voice! I could go on and on. Paul is a musician in the purest sense of the word, and no one can really compare to him.

Meanwhile, I see Lennon as more of a wild child. No doubt he had some brilliant ideas, but without Paul and perhaps the others I doubt they would have been executed so fluently. After reading Geoff Emerick's book on recording these guys, it seems Lennon would just have these strange ideas that he had trouble even communicating, and it was up to the rest to really understand and flesh them out. I'm not trying to criticize the guy either, because everyone's got their strengths and weaknesses. Lennon was just as visionary as Paul, but just a bit more reckless and willing to take more risks. It's because of that attitude that we've got his weirder stuff like I am the Walrus and of course, everyone's favorite Revolution 9. As a vocalist he's a bit more limited than Paul I think, but his early vocals were perhaps some of the most defining in rock 'n' roll history. For some reason he hated his voice though, and was always trying to disguise it in the recordings. Not that he sounded bad later, but so much of the quality of his vocals relied on technology later on.

If for some reason you haven't given a good, long listen to The Beatles yet, you're not too late. Their music is eternal, just like people still listen to the great classic composers from centuries ago. Go ahead and pick up just about any of their albums; there's something to like on all of them.

Now, onto the reviews...

Please Please Me
Rating: 2
Release date: 3/22/1963
Favorite song: I Saw her Standing There
TracklistRatingWords; Music
I Saw her Standing There5Lennon/McCartney
Anna (Go to Him)2Alexander
Ask me Why2Lennon/McCartney
Please Please Me4Lennon/McCartney
Love me Do3Lennon/McCartney
P.S. I Love You1Lennon/McCartney
Baby it's You3David/Williams/Bacharach
Do you Want to Know a Secret3Lennon/McCartney
A Taste of Honey1Scott/Marlow
There's a Place5Lennon/McCartney
Twist and Shout5Medley/Russell
Let's not go overboard; The Beatles beginnings were fairly humble, even though there is some evidence of burgeoning genius. But this album is not exactly an easy listen, because there is simply a lot of boring music to wade through. Most of the Lennon/McCartney material is pretty good, some great, with the exception of the utterly trite and boring P.S. I Love You. Otherwise, we get Paul's classic rocker opening the album, one of their finest moments as a band even. You simply can't beat that great groove the bass creates. Let's not forget the utterly catchy singles, the bright Please Please Me and the groovy beat of Love me Do, even if it is the most repetitive song ever written. The covers... well, most of them suck, I'll be honest. Most cite Twist and Shout as one of the greatest rock and roll covers of all time. I can see their point: John's vocals are absolutely killer here, and the energy is great. The other cover I like is Baby it's You, though I'm not sure why. Something about the downcast mood, and that perfect hook where John says the title in the deepest voice he can muster. But the rest is all cheese, especially the awful A Taste of Honey which I was really tempted to rate a 0. Ringo's rendition of Boys is also unsettling, but the energy of the band made me give it at least one point. Anyway, the energy throughout the album is actually rather impressive, but the quality of the songs overall is pretty low, so a 2 it is.

With the Beatles
Rating: 2
Release date: 11/22/1963
Favorite song: All my Loving
TracklistRatingWords; Music
It Won't be Long4Lennon/McCartney
All I've got to Do4Lennon/McCartney
All my Loving5Lennon/McCartney
Don't Bother Me4Harrison
Little Child1Lennon/McCartney
Till There was You3Willson
Please Mister Postman4Dobbins/Garrett/Gorman/Holland/Bateman
Roll Over Beethoven4Berry
Hold me Tight2Lennon/McCartney
You Really got a Hold on Me2Robinson
I Wanna be your Man1Lennon/McCartney
Devil in her Heart1Drapkin
Not a Second Time3Lennon/McCartney
This really isn't that much better than their first album, it just might seem that way because of the four excellent originals right up front. And I do say four, because I think Harrison's Don't Bother Me is a fine song, certainly better than some of the Lennon/McCartney crap on this album (like Little Child). In fact, this album actually has pretty lousy originals after the first four, but the covers are generally pretty good. The middle section has the great upbeat rockers Please Mister Postman, once again featuring a great vocal from John, and then George taking lead on Chuck Berry's classic Roll Over Beethoven. Paul's acoustic cover of the showtune Till There was You isn't bad either. The biggest change in the group is apparent in the first song, which is a rough rocker that takes a much more serious position than the opener from Please Please Me. The mood overall is quite a bit more serious here, but unfortunately the quality hasn't improved all that much.

A Hard Day's Night
Rating: 3
Release date: 6/10/1964
Favorite song: Can't Buy me Love
TracklistRatingWords; Music
A Hard Day's Night5Lennon/McCartney
I Should Have Known Better5Lennon/McCartney
If I Fell4Lennon/McCartney
I'm Happy Just to Dance with You4Lennon/McCartney
And I Love Her5Lennon/McCartney
Tell me Why5Lennon/McCartney
Can't Buy me Love5Lennon/McCartney
Any Time at All3Lennon/McCartney
I'll Cry Instead2Lennon/McCartney
Things we Said Today4Lennon/McCartney
When I Get Home2Lennon/McCartney
You Can't do That2Lennon/McCartney
I'll be Back3Lennon/McCartney
A totally original album! And for the most part, it's actually really good. Perhaps the most consistent of their early releases, in fact. John seemed to just hit a stride or something, because 10 of these songs are his, with Paul taking care of the other 3 (all of which are good; as usual, Paul's upbeat rocker is my favorite of the album). The first side, which is the "soundtrack" to the movie, is clearly the better. It seems John just had this whole pop song formula thing down, and it's no doubt that this outpouring of music here is what led him to such wild experimentation quickly after this. All of these songs are pretty solid, but for the most part they're all pretty formulaic and there's not a lot of variety. It's the "classic Beatles" sound on pretty much every song, so even though it's the place to start, it may not stand up well to a lot of repeated listens, depending on how much you like that sound. Anyway, I'd start here with the early Beatles, I think; the previous two albums are too spotty, as are the following two. This one's just chock full of upbeat pop goodness.

Beatles for Sale
Rating: 2
Release date: 12/4/1964
Favorite song: I'm a Loser
TracklistRatingWords; Music
No Reply5Lennon/McCartney
I'm a Loser5Lennon/McCartney
Baby's in Black2Lennon/McCartney
Rock and Roll Music4Berry
I'll Follow the Sun2Lennon/McCartney
Mr. Moonlight1Johnson
Medley Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey3Leiber and Stoller/Penniman
Eight Days a Week3Lennon/McCartney
Words of Love2Holly
Honey Don't1Perkins
Every Little Thing4Lennon/McCartney
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party5Lennon/McCartney
What You're Doing3Lennon/McCartney
Everybody's Trying to be my Baby2Perkins
An album so rushed out it's just as spotty as their first two, even though the first two songs here demonstrate The Beatles could've come up with a far better album given time. Interestingly The Beatles were rather obvious about their opinions regarding the rushing of the album: just look at all the gloomy titles. There are of course plenty of bright tracks, like the relatively weak single Eight Days a Week and the first McCartney screamer Kansas City (even though it's probably the weakest of that type, as well). But everything else here seems to be down in the dumps. Occasionally this feeling just churns out boring music, such as the flaccid Mr. Moonlight cover or I'll Follow the Sun, and occasionally it results in something brilliant like No Reply, the feel of desperation, drama, all that stuff that makes music interesting. Ringo's song, Honey Don't, is boring and annoying with its country twang, and unfortunately this trend continues for the next two albums. Anyway, it is a bit more mature than A Hard Day's Night but weak in comparison. It's just too rushed to feature the topnotch songwriting that that one featured.

Rating: 3
Release date: 8/13/1965
Favorite song: Yesterday
TracklistRatingWords; Music
The Night Before3Lennon/McCartney
You've got to Hide Your Love Away5Lennon/McCartney
I Need You4Harrison
Another Girl3Lennon/McCartney
You're Going to Lose That Girl5Lennon/McCartney
Ticket to Ride5Lennon/McCartney
Act Naturally1Russell/Morrison
It's Only Love2Lennon/McCartney
You Like me too Much3Harrison
Tell me What you See2Lennon/McCartney
I've Just Seen a Face4Lennon/McCartney
Dizzy Miss Lizzy2Williams
Given a little time, here's a quality album that Beatles for Sale could've been. Not only is most of the music really good, it's not like A Hard Day's Night where it's all pretty formulaic. Sure, there's some filler here like Paul's The Night Before and Another Girl, but most of the other tracks standout. Certainly the biggest standouts are John's desperate Help!, which is disguised as a wonderfully arranged and catchy pop rocker, the Dylan imitation You've got to Hide Your Love Away, and then the ridiculously catchy piano pop song You're Going to Lose That Girl. Oh and that little song at the end called Yesterday is kind of important too. Harrison's contributions are some of the better "lesser" songs though; I Need You is a great song I think, certainly better than a lot of the Lennon/McCartney material, and You Like me too Much is also quite good though not quite as distinctive. Harrison is really starting to bloom as a songwriter though. Oh, and as usual Ringo's song Act Naturally sucks, and they end the album once again on a weak rock 'n' roll cover. Thankfully, this is the last Beatles album to feature covers, which on this album were the weakest tracks. Goes to show that the Beatles were coming into their own as mature songwriters at this point. It's a strong 3; I wanted to give it a 4, but next album is a definite step up.

Rubber Soul
Rating: 4
Release date: 12/3/1965
Favorite song: In my Life
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Drive my Car5Lennon/McCartney
Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)4Lennon/McCartney
You Won't See Me4Lennon/McCartney
Nowhere Man5Lennon/McCartney
Think for Yourself3Harrison
The Word4Lennon/McCartney
What Goes On1Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
I'm Looking Through You3Lennon/McCartney
In my Life6Lennon/McCartney
If I Needed Someone5Harrison
Run for Your Life2Lennon/McCartney
Here we go, a fully mature Beatles! No covers and pretty much all the originals are quite good, except for, as usual, Ringo's song What Goes On, which is another dorky country piece. It's not terribly experimental, but these songs seem to prefer acoustic guitar instead of electric, and the album as a whole seems more "tame" than earlier records with jumpier music. I picked In my Life as my favorite, since it's such a timeless nostalgia piece, and the reflective mood has perhaps never been better captured. But the catchy, dreamy Nowhere Man is another strong piece of pop. Also notable is Harrison's If I Needed Someone, a great 12-string guitar song with great harmonies. Think for Yourself is decent but clearly not as good. Once again, the album ends on a clunker, John's lame Run for Your Life. Thankfully this is the last occurrence of this trend for The Beatles. I feel that though this album is overshadowed by what comes next, I find myself listening to it pretty frequently because it's all quite good and it's just easy to listen to. So if you find yourself not too interested in the early Beatles records, start here, because this is where their mature period begins.

Rating: 5
Release date: 8/5/1966
Favorite song: Eleanor Rigby
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Eleanor Rigby5Lennon/McCartney
I'm Only Sleeping5Lennon/McCartney
Love You To2Harrison
Here, There and Everywhere5Lennon/McCartney
Yellow Submarine3Lennon/McCartney
She Said She Said5Lennon/McCartney
Good Day Sunshine4Lennon/McCartney
And Your Bird can Sing4Lennon/McCartney
For no One5Lennon/McCartney
Doctor Robert3Lennon/McCartney
I Want to Tell You4Harrison
Got to get you Into my Life5Lennon/McCartney
Tomorrow Never Knows5Lennon/McCartney
Ah yes, perhaps one of the Beatles's finest records. There's plenty of backwards guitars, Indian instruments, and vocals-through-Leslie speakers to make it psychedelic enough, but in a way it feels a lot more rock 'n' rollish than some of the psychedelic stuff to come. Just listen to the excellent She Said She Said, a great rocker with unique time changes, or the more straight ahead And Your Bird can Sing with its great riffs. George also contributed a few great songs, the classic fast-paced Taxman and the more leisureley but still interesting I Want to Tell You. He also begins his foray into Indian music with Love You To which is unfortunately the only weak track on the album. Also, tons of McCartney classics: the haunting Eleanor Rigby, with its harsh string accompaniment and lonely lyrics, and For no One, a depressing piano ballad. Can't forget his upbeat songs either, the brass dominated swingin' Got to get you Into my Life and the classic sing-along Yellow Submarine. And then of course the psychedelic song to end all psychedelic songs, the closer Tomorrow Never Knows, which seems so ahead of its time... honestly it still feels groundbreaking. Can't forget I'm Only Sleeping either, another classic John composition. What a great album... full of experimentation, great songs, and improved instrument playing from all the band members. Be sure to listen to the bass on this record though; Paul just started going nuts all of the sudden around this time. Simply excellent.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Rating: 5
Release date: 6/1/1967
Favorite song: A Day in the Life
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band5Lennon/McCartney
With a Little Help From my Friends4Lennon/McCartney
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds5Lennon/McCartney
Getting Better4Lennon/McCartney
Fixing a Hole5Lennon/McCartney
She's Leaving Home5Lennon/McCartney
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!4Lennon/McCartney
Within You Without You4Harrison
When I'm Sixty-Four2Lennon/McCartney
Lovely Rita5Lennon/McCartney
Good Morning Good Morning5Lennon/McCartney
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)4Lennon/McCartney
A Day in the Life5Lennon/McCartney
A big ol' chunk of psychedelic pop. Not the perfect album-to-end-all-albums that a lot of people claim; in fact, other than the fact their studio tricks are in full force here more than anywhere else, there's nothing particularly outstanding about this album. The biggest thing is that John is totally drugged-out and has created a number of wonderful psychedelic songs: the anthemic Lucy with its spooky Mellotron opening, the circus-themed Mr. Kite! with a ton of peculiar noises strewn about, and of course the epic A Day in the Life, the grandest closing song the band ever produced. I also highly recommend John's Good Morning Good Morning, a rocker (the only one on the album, other than the title track!) with an odd time signature, a magnificent guitar solo (done by Paul), and a bunch of brass instruments. One of my favorite tunes from this album and it seems to get overlooked quite a bit. Honestly, most of Paul's music here isn't particularly special. Fixing a Hole is probably my favorite of his, and When I'm Sixty-Four definitely my least. It's "granny music shit" as John would call it. Finally, George's only contribution to the album is no doubt his best Eastern influenced song. The song itself isn't that much stronger than some of his others I suppose, but the instrumentation is just fantastic, mixing all the Eastern instruments with a Western orchestra. The result is lovely and unique. It sticks out on the album, but then again it's a psychedelic album so I suppose that's a good thing. Anyway, this is as strong as any other mature Beatles album, but not any better. Overrated, but still a strong record.

Magical Mystery Tour
Rating: 5
Release date: 11/27/1967
Favorite song: Strawberry Fields Forever
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Magical Mystery Tour5Lennon/McCartney
The Fool on the Hill5Lennon/McCartney
Blue Jay Way5Harrison
Your Mother Should Know4Lennon/McCartney
I am the Walrus5Lennon/McCartney
Hello Goodbye5Lennon/McCartney
Strawberry Fields Forever5Lennon/McCartney
Penny Lane5Lennon/McCartney
Baby You're a Rich Man5Lennon/McCartney
All you Need is Love5Lennon/McCartney
Not really an album, just a collection of songs mostly. The first half (1-6) are for the soundtrack for the MMT movie, and the rest are some singles from the Sgt. Pepper period thrown on to give the album a more proper length. Unfairly this makes it one of the best Beatles albums, since any collection of their singles is of course going to be nothing short of superb. Nonetheless, the first side is very strong too, definitely on par with Sgt. Pepper's music. John's nonsensical I am the Walrus is no doubt the highlight; one of the most bizarre Beatles songs, with tons of noise and distortion, and yet a catchy chorus. Not to be ignored is Harrison's amazing Blue Jay Way, the most haunting piece of music in the Beatles' catalog, and one of the most trippy as well. One of my favorite songs by Harrison, highly underrated. The second side is full of great singles, all of which I went ahead and rated a 5 because they're all that good. Even the b-side tracks like Baby You're a Rich Man are incredibly good. Though the album doesn't feel quite as cohesive as Sgt. Pepper, the songs are generally better if you ask me, and for that I like it more. Note the close release date to Sgt. Pepper though; of the "mature period" Beatles albums, this and its predecessor are the only two that sound similar, and that shouldn't be too surprising considering how little time passed between the two.

The Beatles
Rating: 5
Release date: 11/22/1968
Favorite song: Happiness is a Warm Gun
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Back in the U.S.S.R5Lennon/McCartney
Dear Prudence5Lennon/McCartney
Glass Onion4Lennon/McCartney
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da4Lennon/McCartney
Wild Honey Pie0Lennon/McCartney
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill2Lennon/McCartney
While my Guitar Gently Weeps5Harrison
Happiness is a Warm Gun5Lennon/McCartney
Martha my Dear5Lennon/McCartney
I'm so Tired3Lennon/McCartney
Rocky Raccoon4Lennon/McCartney
Don't Pass me By1Starkey
Why Don't we do it in the Road?3Lennon/McCartney
I Will4Lennon/McCartney
Yer Blues5Lennon/McCartney
Mother Nature's Son3Lennon/McCartney
Everybody's got Something to Hide Except for me and my Monkey5Lennon/McCartney
Sexy Sadie5Lennon/McCartney
Helter Skelter5Lennon/McCartney
Long, Long, Long3Harrison
Revolution 14Lennon/McCartney
Honey Pie2Lennon/McCartney
Savoy Truffle4Harrison
Cry Baby Cry5Lennon/McCartney
Revolution 9xLennon/McCartney
Good NightxLennon/McCartney
OK, how do I explain this one? Forget psychedelia, the band strip down to the essentials here, and we've generally got two types of songs: loud, abrasive and rocking, or soft and acoustic. And the types alternate without hesitation, the album is a total mess. But that's the charm! Here we have a "naked" Beatles album, and it's this giant sprawling monster of an album with an incredible ending. Which leads into my explanation of the last two "x" ratings: while these aren't songs I'd skip to, they are absolutely essential to the listening experience. Yes, even Revolution 9, a sound collage (nothing but noise) created primarily by John and Yoko, is critical to bringing this album to a proper close, which is why I rated it an "x" instead of a 0. Paul's short "take me back" bit after Cry Baby Cry is also rather useful to the cause, since it seems really bizarre and haunting. Wild Honey Pie and Ringo's aggravatingly bland Don't Pass me By are the only two songs I could do without on this album. Everything else has at least something going for it. Honestly, there's no way I'll be able to describe this gigantic album in just one paragraph, so just pick it up and revel in all the Beatles goodness you're going to get. Choosing a favorite was near impossible; I went with John's Happiness is a Warm Gun but I'm hard pressed to explain why. I could've just as easily chosen the piano-pop perfection of Paul's Martha my Dear. Song-for-song this can't really compare to other Beatles albums, which I suppose are generally better. For every great song on here, there's one that's not quite so hot. But again, that's part of what makes this such an interesting listening experience. It's just so raw. It also goes to show that an album's effectiveness is not just the average of the all the songs taken individually.

Yellow Submarine
Rating: 2
Release date: 1/13/1969
Favorite song: Hey Bulldog
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Yellow Submarine3Lennon/McCartney
Only a Northern Song3Harrison
All Together Now3Lennon/McCartney
Hey Bulldog5Lennon/McCartney
It's all too Much3Harrison
All you Need is Love5Lennon/McCartney
Sea of Time2Martin
Sea of Holes2Martin
Sea of Monsters2Martin
March of the Meanies2Martin
Pepperland Laid Waste2Martin
Yellow Submarine in Pepperland3Lennon/McCartney
Like Magical Mystery Tour, this is hardly a proper album, just a collection of songs that didn't quite work from the past few years to comprise the soundtrack for the Yellow Submarine cartoon. Which should tell you something about the quality of these songs: it ain't very high. The only one everyone can agree on is John's great rocker Hey Bulldog; unfortunately, I think it's good enough that you really should take the time to pick this album up just for it. Not that the other songs are terrible. Like most mature Beatles stuff, it's all fine, really. George's two songs on here are really psychedelic and weird, mostly made up of noise and a steady drumbeat. Neither are particularly great but not bad. The other song is All Together Now, an incredibly childish and simple song, but who can deny the catchiness of it? "Bum, buh-bum, sail the ship! Bum, buh-bum, chop the tree!" No one's going to mistake it for high art but it's a great singalong. Then there's side 2, the orchestral incidental music to the film, scored by George Martin. So it's not even really Beatles, and if you don't like orchestral music, you won't like this. Especially since it's a cartoon, it's not particularly inspiring... this isn't side 2 to Bowie's Low. Anyway, if you're a Beatles fan you gotta have it, 'cuz it's got Hey Bulldog. Otherwise, save the $10.

Abbey Road
Rating: 5
Release date: 9/26/1969
Favorite song: Here Comes the Sun
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Come Together5Lennon/McCartney
Maxwell's Silver Hammer4Lennon/McCartney
Oh! Darling5Lennon/McCartney
Octopus's Garden4Starkey
I Want You (She's so Heavy)5Lennon/McCartney
Here Comes the Sun5Harrison
You Never Give me your Money5Lennon/McCartney
Sun King4Lennon/McCartney
Mean Mr. Mustard4Lennon/McCartney
Polythene Pam4Lennon/McCartney
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window4Lennon/McCartney
Golden Slumbers5Lennon/McCartney
Carry That Weight5Lennon/McCartney
The End5Lennon/McCartney
Her MajestyxLennon/McCartney
Just going by the ratings of the songs themselves, this is easily the best album by The Beatles. Every song on here is good, no, great. Every one. Side two even has this great sixteen-minute medley of song fragments, starting with You Never Give me your Money. Another bold step for the band and of course it worked out very well. It was hard to rate the fragments since they're just that, so don't take them too seriously (I didn't). The main point is you've got this great build-up of rock 'n' roll until you reach the soft and yet powerful Golden Slumbers, which leads into the dramatic group singing in Carry That Weight, and finally climaxes in a guitar solo that has Paul, George, and John all trading licks (done in one take!). A brilliant close to the album and to the band. All the individual songs on the first side are fantastic too, though. There's John's cool, dirty Come Together with this great swooping bassline and a curious drumbeat to match. I Want You is even better, a heavy rocker with thick guitars and a ridiculously long coda that just slowly gets swallowed up in noise until it just suddently cuts off. Everyone raves about Paul's excellent vocals on Oh! Darling which has him just belting out notes over a fairly standard 6/8 piano ballad. Harrison's contributions are his best yet, with the great ballad Something and then the soft, uplifting acoustic guitar piece Here Comes the Sun. Even Ringo chipped in a catchy little song, Octopus's Garden, which isn't the greatest thing ever written but is a good singalong nonetheless, certainly a step up from the awful Don't Pass me By. A strong effort from all individuals, and a wonderful swansong to the greatest rock band ever.

Let it Be
Rating: 1
Release date: 5/8/1970
Favorite song: Let it Be
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Two of Us5Lennon/McCartney
Dig a Pony5Lennon/McCartney
Across the Universe1Lennon/McCartney
I Me Mine5Harrison
Dig ItxLennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey
Let it Be5Lennon/McCartney
Maggie MaexLennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey
I've Got a Feeling5Lennon/McCartney
One After 9094Lennon/McCartney
The Long and Winding Road1Lennon/McCartney
For You Blue3Harrison
Get Back5Lennon/McCartney
Argh, it could've been a fantastic album. Imagine another White Album but all the junk has been removed, since most of these songs were written around that time, and every song is a straightforward rock 'n' roll track. This album was indeed recorded before Abbey Road, but released afterwards because they shelved it out of disagreements with each other. It was finally released in 1970 because John had recruited a certain Mr. Spector to clean up the tapes and make something presentable out of it. And what a job he did! The mix of Across the Universe is awful (the song itself is not a 1, it's actually one of their best songs!). The Long and Winding Road is also ruined, with a bunch of strings and choirs overdubbed to make the song a lot more pompous than it needs to be. There's also a lot of "chatter" in-between songs and throwaway tracks like Dig It and Maggie Mae. Let it Be has also been given the Spector workover as well, but this one still manages to shine through all the ugly overdubs somehow. Most of the other songs don't suffer quite as badly, but it's so aggravating to listen to this version of the album that I just gave it a 1. I never listen to this original release, when there's a better one available now. If you want to hear it as people heard it in 1970, go ahead and pick this up (that's why I did). If you don't though, just grab Let it Be... Naked because it's far superior.

Past Masters - Volume One
Rating: 3
Release date: 3/7/1988
Favorite song: Long Tall Sally
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Love me Do3Lennon/McCartney
From me to You4Lennon/McCartney
Thank You Girl2Lennon/McCartney
She Loves You5Lennon/McCartney
I'll Get You2Lennon/McCartney
I Want to Hold Your Hand4Lennon/McCartney
This Boy5Lennon/McCartney
Komm, gib mir Deine Hand0Lennon/McCartney, Nicholas, Heller
Sie Liebt Dich0Lennon/McCartney, Nicholas, Montague
Long Tall Sally5Richard, Penniman, Blackwell
I Call Your Name1Lennon/McCartney
Slow Down4Williams
I Feel Fine5Lennon/McCartney
She's a Woman2Lennon/McCartney
Bad Boy1Williams
Yes it Is3Lennon/McCartney
I'm Down4Lennon/McCartney
You'd think a collection of Beatles A-sides and B-sides would be just utterly fantastic, well... such is not the case. Unlike the later years, when Lennon and McCartney kept producing better and better masterpieces to compete for the A-side, here they seem a bit more complacent. The early single From me to You, a prime piece of Please Please Me era pop, stomps all over the lesser b-sideThank you Girl. This trend continues for most of the album. You've got the classic She Loves You, a classic Beatles song, right next to the positively annoying I'll Get You. The exception would be Lennon's thoughtful This Boy, a quaint little acoustic ditty with three-part harmonies, providing an excellent b-side to the not as impressive I Want to Hold your Hand, which, were it not for historical reasons, would probably not be that big of a deal. The best song on here, despite some classic original material, is the Little Richard cover Long Tall Sally. If you want to hear McCartney just belt it out like only he can, and hear the Beatles at their most ferocious at general, this is the ticket! They all just cut loose here, and not even their later heavier stuff like Helter Skelter can compare to the frantic energy of this one. Little Richard's original sounds flaccid by comparison. McCartney's I'm Down is an obvious attempt to cop the crazy Little Richard style, and does a good job but can't compare to exhiliration of Long Tall Sally. Most of the other cover songs on here are worthless, the one exception being Slow Down. Not because it's a great song, but that piano riff is catchy as anything! The song itself isn't anything to write home about. Anyway, despite a lot of crap on this album, there are just as many absolutely essential Beatles tunes here. Gotta take the wheat with the chaff, I guess.

Past Masters - Volume Two
Rating: 5
Release date: 3/7/1988
Favorite song: Hey Jude
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Day Tripper5Lennon/McCartney
We can Work it Out5Lennon/McCartney
Paperback Writer5Lennon/McCartney
Lady Madonna5Lennon/McCartney
The Inner Light2Harrison
Hey Jude6Lennon/McCartney
Get Back5Lennon/McCartney
Don't Let me Down5Lennon/McCartney
The Ballad of John and Yoko5Lennon/McCartney
Old Brown Shoe5Harrison
Across the Universe0Lennon/McCartney
Let it Be5Lennon/McCartney
You Know my Name (Look up the Number)2Lennon/McCartney
The ratings speak for themselves. A nearly flawless collection of music; in fact some of The Beatles' finest music is on here, and it's almost a shame this stuff never made it onto a regular album. But just look at all the "competition" singles, where Lennon and McCartney try to outdo each other. They just keep getting better and better! Day Tripper and We can Work it Out are both two of the finest songs the Beatles had made up until that point, and then it's outdone by the next single, the amazing Paperback Writer/Rain, probably better than just about anything on Revolver. And they don't let up, as the next single represents two of the best Lennon/McCartney compositions ever: Hey Jude, only one of two Beatles songs I've rated a 6, and then John's heavy rendition of Revolution. Really the peak of their songwriting, I think. I almost feel no need to even describe most of these songs because they should be fairly well-known by this point; honestly, who hasn't heard Hey Jude, and what more could I possibly have to say about it? The rest of the album is still quite good. You get some great Let it Be singles, including the infectious The Ballad of John and Yoko, which, while repetitive, features an amazingly catchy bass line that I could listen to all day. Its b-side is the same: George's Old Brown Shoe features another stunning bassline and off-beat drumwork, which makes it stand out in the Beatles' catalog. The biggest flaws are the absolutely atrocious mix of Across the Universe, with all sorts of weird effects added, and George's Eastern-influenced The Inner Light. The last song is also a bit "out there". Otherwise, a nearly flawless collection of The Beatles at their peak.

Let it Be... Naked
Rating: 5
Release date: 11/17/2003
Favorite song: Let it Be
TracklistRatingWords; Music
Get Back5Lennon/McCartney
Dig a Pony5Lennon/McCartney
For you Blue3Harrison
The Long and Winding Road5Lennon/McCartney
Two of Us5Lennon/McCartney
I've Got a Feeling5Lennon/McCartney
One After 9095Lennon/McCartney
Don't Let me Down5Lennon/McCartney
I Me Mine5Harrison
Across the Universe5Lennon/McCartney
Let it Be5Lennon/McCartney
Believe it or not, this is a bloody fantastic album. Far better than the original Let it Be. No useless songs, no banter in-between tracks, just the raw music, unadorned and clearer than ever. Listening to this made me realize what a strong album this really is: not a bad song in sight. The Long and Winding Road is finally enjoyable in this form, and this is the only version of Across the Universe I can listen to. Amazing what just stripping it down to what the Beatles themselves had envisioned improves it that much. Mostly, this is a straightforward rock 'n' roll album, and it's played mostly live as a matter of fact. I put my favorite song as Let it Be because it IS hard to deny the beauty of McCartney's classic ballad, but I've Got a Feeling is a strong contender. Just listen to that deep bass groove! It's also another dual composition between McCartney and Lennon, with each person providing a different part to the song to complete it as a whole. One After 909 is a fast rocker in the style of their early material (probably because it IS early material) but with the more skilled arrangement of the later period Beatles. It's the logical next step after The White Album: where that album was stripped down, this one is even more raw and a total return to roots but with improved songwriting. It's all just great rock 'n' roll. A lot of people scoffed at the release of this album, but I highly recommend it.