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