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The Beatles

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles Album Reviews

From very early in their career and probably until the demise of Western civilization, Liverpool’s The Beatles will stand unchallenged as the world’s greatest rock and roll band. They emerged after a lull in rock music; Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Little Richard joined the ministry, Elvis Presley was drafted into the army, and Chuck Berry was in trouble with the law. Into this vacuum, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr quickly became the world’s preeminent band.

The Beatles took the energy of the first wave of rock and roll, and with the help of producer George Martin, added more harmonic and melodic sophistication, creating the template for guitar based pop music ever since. As rock music matured as an art-form throughout the 1960’s, The Beatles were at the forefront, as they used more sophisticated recording techniques and more diverse instrumentation. There are clear phases in their work, which mirror the development of 1960’s music as whole, as they move through rock and roll, folk-rock,  and psychedelic rock, before a back to basics approach at the end of the decade.

I’m certainly not going to question The Beatles’ preeminence in pop music, but their catalogue is thinner than is sometimes acknowledged. Their early albums are fabulous compared to what their contemporaries were producing, but are still formative compared to their later triumphs. Reading Ian McDonald’s amazing Revolution in the Head helped confirm my viewpoint that The Beatles’ peaked in 1966 and 1967, and that their last few albums represent a band in decline. The White Album and Abbey Road are both patchy, while Let It Be is largely a disgrace to the legacy of a once great band.

Additionally, I’ve generally found the group’s solo careers to be over-rated – while the various members managed a few great albums and singles during the 1970’s, they rarely were more than a shadow of their former band; Lennon needed McCartney’s pop sense, and McCartney needed Lennon’s boundary pushing, and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass is probably my favourite solo effort.

The Beatles’ Best Ten Songs

I Am The Walrus
Penny Lane
Strawberry Fields Forever
A Day In The Life
Hey Bulldog
Here Comes The Sun
She Said, She Said
Ticket To Ride
We Can Work It Out
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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The Beatles Please Please Me

Please Please Me – The Beatles

1963, 7/10. Please Please Me is a respectable beginning, but the world’s greatest pop band were just getting started.

The Beatles With The Beatles

With The Beatles – The Beatles

1963, 6.5/10. With The Beatles follows the same formula as the band’s debut – a mixture of original compositions and covers.

The Beatles A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

1964, 7.5/10. A Hard Day’s Night is the soundtrack to a movie about The Beatles, which only further cemented their status as the world’s most popular band.

The Beatles Beatles for Sale

Beatles For Sale – The Beatles

1964, 6.5/10. A pressured recording schedule forced The Beatles to resort to six covers to fill out Beatles For Sale.

The Beatles Help

Help! – The Beatles

1965, 8.5/10. Help! features a generous handful of the group’s best loved songs, including ‘Yesterday’, ‘Ticket To Ride’, and ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’.

The Beatles Rubber Soul

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

1965, 9/10. For the first time in their career, The Beatles had a focused period simply for creating an album; a month of dedicated recording.

The Beatles Revolver

Revolver – The Beatles

1966, 10/10. Rubber Soul showed the potential of the LP as an album long statement, but Revolver took the ideas much further.

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

1967, 10/10. Traditionally The Beatles’ most celebrated album, Sgt. Peppers was the first rock album to win a Grammy.

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

1967, 9.5/10. The first side of Magical Mystery Tour is the soundtrack for the group’s 1967 TV special, while the second collects their 1967 singles.

The Beatles White Album

The Beatles (“The White Album”) – The Beatles

1968, 8.5/10. The previously tight knit Beatles began to splinter, but there’s an embarrassment of riches.

The Beatles Yellow Submarine

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

1969, 6/10. In this age of digital music, it’s easy to ignore George Martin’s instrumental score and treat Yellow Submarine as a four song EP.

The Beatles Abbey Road

Abbey Road – The Beatles

1969, 7.5/10. After the disappointing sessions for Let It Be, The Beatles regrouped for one final effort.

The Beatles Let It Be

Let It Be – The Beatles

1970, 5.5/10. Let It Be has some good material, but it’s very weak by The Beatles’ high standards.

The Beatles Past Masters Volume One

Past Masters Volume One – The Beatles

1988, 7/10. Past Masters Volume One collects material from 1962’s debut single ‘Love Me Do’ through to 1965’s ‘I’m Down’.

The Beatles Past Masters Volume Two

Past Masters Volume Two – The Beatles

1988, 8/10. There’s some essential Beatles’ material on Past Masters Volume Two, and the first four tracks are among their very best work.