The Beatles Revolver

Rating The Beatles’ Albums

Obviously The Beatles are the most celebrated and analysed pop band in the history of music, and I don’t have anything especial to add to the conversation. The main reasons that I’m covering them is that I like them – like a lot of music fans they were one of my initial favourites and they’ve been an important presence in my music library ever since – and that this site would feel incomplete without them.

My take on The Beatles was solidified after reading Revolution In The Head by Ian MacDonald; it’s well worth looking at for details on the band’s sessions. MacDonald argues that the band peaked around 1966’s Revolver and 1967’s Sgt. Peppers’, mirroring my own thoughts on the group’s albums. Here are my rankings of the Beatles’ studio albums:

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Disagree with my rankings? Think that I’m under-rating the perennial favourite Abbey Road? Please let me know below.

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  1. The white album is my favourite album (period) so a score 10 is an insufficient scale!
    I too was disappointed by Let it Be but Abbey Road (as you anticipated) would be much higher in my books.
    I’d like to read Revolution in the Head!

    • Revolution in the Head is amazing, it’s really interesting to see who played what on each Beatles’ track.

      I find White Album has a too much filler for me to rank it among their best albums, but it does have a lot of great stuff. The band also feel more fractured in their 1968-1970 albums – I often miss the collective spirit of their earlier work.

  2. I want to comment on this and rank these. But I really have to think about it. It’s very easy to get caught up in what I should think is best (per conventional wisdom) and what I truly still listen to. I’ll be back…

    • The Beatles lasted long enough that I’m sure that there are varied opinions on their discography – there are probably plenty of people who prefer their early work. I’ve always favoured that middle period, but maybe it’s only because I owned Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour as a teenager, while I didn’t hear most of the other full albums until later.

      • Ok, so do you know I’ve been listening to the Beatles since forever and I’ve never once (until now) tried to rank their albums? Maybe I felt them unrankable. Or maybe I didn’t want my face to melt like that guy in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ Anyway, the distance between 1 and, say, 6 or 7 isn’t really that great, just minor gradients. And I could re-do this list next week and shift the Top Five around.

        Also, while I think Sgt. Pepper is a great album with a lot of great stuff, sometimes it feels more like a museum piece. I prefer the energy of my favorite early album, ‘Hard Day’s Night.’ But I’ll up-rank ‘Pepper’ out of respect for its impact on music. Is ‘Abbey Road’ really my favorite? Well, it is today.

        I didn’t score them, too much like work. Just ranked them FWIW: (Oh and I left Past Masters off as it’s a compilation. Just didn’t know what to do with it).

        13. Yellow Submarine
        12. Magical Mystery Tour
        11. Please Please Me
        10. With the Beatles
        9. Beatles for Sale
        8. Help
        7. Let it Be
        6. Hard Day’s Night
        5. Sgt. Pepper
        4. Revolver
        3, The White Album.
        2. Rubber Soul
        1. Abbey Road

      • I responded but don’t see it on your site. I think it may have gone into your spam box, possibly due to length. I’ve seen this happen before.

    • I guess the general consensus is that their studio albums from Rubber Soul to Abbey Road are strongest, and you’ve ranked all of those fairly highly apart from Magical Mystery Tour, which is a bit of a mishmash but has my three favourite Beatles’ songs – ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, and ‘I Am The Walrus’.

      • Yeah, those are three great songs but just not enough to make that a great album IMHO. BTW, You may well already know that ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’ were originally supposed to be on Sgt. Pepper. EMI bitched and they released it as a single instead. But they would have had to pull something off of Pepper to fit the 45 (or so) minute length of vinyl and I don’t know what those would have been.

  3. Revolver is my favourite, followed closely by Abbey Rd, but I can’t argue with any of your picks…I mean we’re talking about the greatest band in pop history. I can listen to any of them and still find something to love…even “Yellow Submarine” (their weakest IMO).

    • I prefer to pretend that Yellow Submarine is a four song EP – it’s fine if you treat it that way, and ‘Hey Bulldog’ is a top ten Beatles’ song for me.

      I’ve always been a bit baffled by Abbey Road love – side two is mostly great, but I only like a couple of songs on the first side.

      • I get that. Side 2 of Abbey Rd is what makes the record so special for me. Indeed it would be interesting to pick a favourite side 1 &2. I think mine would be side 1 of David Bowie’s “Low” with “Abbey Rd” as side 2.

  4. As a huge Beatlemaniac, the true question for me is which of The Beatles’ albums isn’t a 12 out of 10! 🙂 I think they are all outstanding for different reasons, so I would have a hard time ranking them.

    I’d definitely encourage you to listen to “Let It Be…Naked,” which nicely illustrates what a brilliant album it is. When you take away Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound,” all for a sudden, the true beauty of epic tunes like “The Long and Winding Road”, “Across the Universe” and “Let It Be” becomes even more obvious!

    And, in case you haven’t had chance, I would also encourage you to listen to two amazing live records: the Hollywood Bowl album, which is a terrific illustration of Beatlemania, and “Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962”. While the sound quality of the latter is mediocre, there is something very charming about the raw power of the music that comes across here. It really shows how how good The Beatles were at playing classic rock & roll songs!

    BTW, congratulations to your blog, which is a true music encyclopedia, and thanks for following my blog and humble thoughts!

    • I think the next step in The Beatles will be a few solo albums; I’ve covered a little bit of Lennon already, but I want to do some McCartney and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.

      Thanks for the kind words – I’m trying to go for a curated Encyclopedia kind of vibe, but it’s nowhere near where I want it yet.

      • “All Things Must Pass” definitely is a masterpiece and a great way to start with Harrison.

        As for McCartney, I’d probably start with “Band on the Run,” his third studio album with Wings from 1973. I also think 1982’s “Tug of War” is pretty outstanding.

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