Albums Reviewed 04: The Beatles
I could fall into a big trap here. It's easy to flaunt my knowledge of artists like They Might Be Giants or Weird Al Yankovic. Now I'm getting into the Beatles, probably the most-discussed rock group ever. As you read my reviews, keep in mind three things:
(a) I am no sophisticated music critic, I just go by what my gut tells me about each album
(b) I know my Beatles collection is far from complete, but I wanted to do an AR on the Beatles, and hell, I can't review albums I don't have
(c) These lists represent solely my own opinions
Well now I'm even more scared. Since I've posted this article, less than 24 hours ago, it somehow got 246 reads. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, but that's a little obscene.
OK, let's get started now.
I'll just discreetly bypass Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, and Help!, none of which I own. Wait a minute, if I tell you I'm bypassing them, that kind of removes the discreetness, doesn't it? Well, nevermind then. Anyway, Rubber Soul is a really awesome album. I love the Beatles for their versatility, and that's something Rubber Soul has a lot of. Just look at how different all these songs are. "Michelle", a soft, French love song is completely different from a song like "Run For Your Life", a more psychedelic and more disturbing song. I love every song on this album.
Favorite songs: Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Run For Your Life
"And when I awoke I was alone, this bird had flown. So I lit a fire. Isn't it good Norwegian wood?" (Norwegian Wood)
"Michelle, ma belle, sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble" (Michelle)
"Well I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. You better keep your head, little girl, or you won't know where I am" (Run For Your Life)
"Nowhere man, please listen. You don't know what you're missin'. Nowhere man, the world is at your command" (Nowhere Man)
"Ah, girl, girl (takes a drag)" (Girl)
Here the Beatles continued the style they had going with Rubber Soul. The result was an album I love, but not as much as Rubber Soul. There's still that versatility of the tracks, but not as much consistency. I said that I loved all the tracks on Rubber Soul. I'll listen to all the tracks on Revolver, but when it gets to, say, "I Want to Tell You", I'll be thinking, "Alright, this is an OK song, but let's hurry up and get to the next track." Still, I like this album a lot, and many of their most popular songs came from here, so I'm not complaining. BTW, can anyone tell me why "Love You To" has that title? The phrase is not mentioned in the song, and the title isn't meaningful like "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Favorite songs: Here There and Everywhere, She Said She Said, Got to Get You Into My Life
"You didn't run, you didn't hide, you know I wanted just to hold you" (Got to Get You Into My Life)
"She said, 'I know what it's like to be dead, I know what it is to be sad.' And she's making me feel like I've never been born" (She Said She Said)
"If you drive a car, I'll tax the street. If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet" (Taxman)
"But to love her is to need her everywhere, knowing that love is to share, each one believing that love never dies, watching her eyes, and hoping I'm always there" (Here, There, and Everywhere)
"Lay down all thought, surrender to the void. It is shining, it is shining" (Tomorrow Never Knows)
And I couldn't leave out a lyric from this song: "Eleanor Rigby, died at the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came. Father MacKenzie, wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No one was saved" (Eleanor Rigby)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
First off, let me start by saying that this is probably the most often spoofed album cover ever, with the possible exception of Abbey Road. I don't know what inspired them to do this album cover, but I think it's one of the greatest album artwork of all time. Well, I'm just babbling because it's kinda hard to fill space when you have nothing but good things to say. Because this album is great. It has the consistent greatness and also the versatility: everything from sweet little songs like "When I'm 64" to psychedelic songs like "Day in the Life" to weird drug-induced songs like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." I really like the format too, with the introduction and then the reprise of it. Very cool album, guys!
Favorite songs (this album is especially tough, I like all the songs for such different reasons): Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, She's Leaving Home, A Day in the Life
"The girl with kaleidoscope eyes" (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds)
"Sheeeee (we gave her most of our lives), is leaviiiiiing (sacrificed most of our lives), home (we gave her everything money could buy" (She's Leaving Home)
"Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view. Indicate precisely what you mean to say. You're sincerely wasting away" (When I'm 64)
"Though the holes were rather small, they had to count them all. Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. I'd love to turn you on" (A Day in the Life)
"And it doesn't really matter if I'm wrong I'm right where I belong I'm right where I belong" (Fixing a Hole)
Magical Mystery Tour
This album is never really included among the greatest of the greatest of the Beatles, but I think it's almost as good as the most revered of their canon. The only bad thing is that it only has 11 tracks. And there are plenty of classic, very popular songs on MMT: "Penny Lane", "All You Need Is Love", "Hello Goodbye", "Strawberry Fields Forever", and of course, the infamous "I Am The Walrus." MMT is a very underrated album.
Favorite songs: Magical Mystery Tour, I Am the Walrus, Hello Goodbye
"The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away, coming to take you away" (Magical Mystery Tour)
"Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess, man you've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down" (I Am the Walrus)
"There's nothing you can do that can't be done, nothing you can sing that can't be sung, nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It's easy" (All You Need Is Love)
"Why why why why why why do you say good-bye, good-bye" (Hello Goodbye)
"Lift up your hearts and sing me a song that was a hit before your mother was born. Though she was born a long, long time ago, your mother should know" (Your Mother Should Know)
The White Album
The White Album is probably my favorite Beatles album. The songs are all so versatile. Just contrast the sweet love song "I Will" with the hard rock song "Helter Skelter" with the weird, nonsensical "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" with the bluesy "Yer Blues" with the classic "Blackbird" with the Beach Boys parody "Back in the USSR." These songs are all so different, yet I love them all. That's another thing: this album has 28 real songs on it (I'm not counting "Wild Honey Pie" or "Revolution 9" because these tracks aren't songs, they're just noise - and I can easily skip over them), and out of all 28, there's not a single song I dislike! The Beatles were masters of doing so many different styles of music, and that's what I love about them. Oh, and BTW, since this is a double album, I've expanded the favorites section beyond the usual 3 and 5, to 5 and 9.
Favorite songs: Back in the USSR, I Will, Helter Skelter, Why Don't We Do It in the Road?, Blackbird
"Why don't we do it in the road? Why don't we do it in the road? No one will be watching us. Why don't we do it in the road?" (Why Don't We Do It In the Road?)
"Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind. And Moscow girls make me sing and shout that Georgia's always on my my my my my my my my my mind" (Back in the USSR)
"When I get to the bottom, I go back to the top of the slide, where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride, till I get to the bottom and I see you again" (Helter Skelter)
"Come on, it's such a joy. Come on, it's such a joy. Come on, let's make it easy. Come on, let's make it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy. Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey" (Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey)
"Sing it loud so I can hear you, make it easy to be near you. For the things you do endear you to me, and you know I will" (I Will)
"Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia" (Julia)
"Blackbird, fly. Blackbird, fly into the light of a dark black night" (Blackbird)
"Mother Superior jump the gun, Mother Superior jump the gun, Mother Superior jump the gun, Mother Superior jump the gun" (Happiness Is a Warm Gun)
"All day long, I'm sitting singing songs for everyone" (Mother Nature's Son)
Okay. Brace yourself. Here goes. I seem to recall that somewhere else on this site, lbangs commented that the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street is a great album, not a collection of great songs. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet that he thinks the same of Abbey Road. Me, my musical taste isn't sophisticated enough to see this kind of structure to an album: I see an album as a collection of songs. For example, let's say there were two versions of the same album on CD, and one just included the 10 songs that were originally released on the album, whereas a newer version included these 10 songs plus a couple bonus remixes and a few live songs. Ignoring cost differences, I would always want the one with more tracks, because I figure, hey, it's more music; if I get even the slightest enjoyment out of these bonus songs, I'll be better off than if I had never heard them at all, and if I don't like them, I can always just skip them. Someone else, on the other hand, might want the album with just the original 10 songs, because he or she would say that the extra songs interrupt the flow of the album or cheapen the general tone of the album or are just unnecessary. I guess it's a roundabout way of saying it, but what I'm trying to say here is that it's probably my fault for not liking Abbey Road as much as every other Beatles fan in the entire world. Don't get me wrong, there are some songs I love on here, like the fun "Octopus's Garden" and "Here Comes the Sun", or the hilarious "Her Majesty", or the second medley, or much of the first medley. I must also mention the brilliant "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", one of my favorite Beatles songs, whose complicated rhyme scheme must've been a bitch to write, but they pulled it off without cheating, unlike a certain rock artist named Elvis Costello, who rhymes "stranger" with "arrangements." But Abbey Road also contains some low points. "Because" is completely nonsensical, and while I often like their nonsensical songs, "Because" doesn't work for me, maybe because of the rotten music. Some parts of the first medley annoy me, mostly in "Sun King." "Oh! Darling" is alright, but just alright. "Come Together" and "Something" are the most popular songs on the album, but IMHO, both are overrated. And now we come to my least favorite Beatles song of all time (besides "Revolution 9" and "Wild Honey Pie", which, as I said, I don't consider songs). "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is an awful, annoying, repetitive song. The song lyrics consist of 11 words, and they are stretched into a seven-minute song. As they repeat the chorus (can there be a chorus if there are no verses?) over and over and over, I become more and more annoyed each time. I despise this song. But anyway, enough of the bad stuff. I think that many aspects of this album are really quite brilliant, but the bad aspects make this a very overrated album for me.
Favorite songs: Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Octopus's Garden, the Golden Slumbers medley (What's that? I'm cheating, because this is actually three tracks? Well, if you don't like it, make your own damn Beatles album review list)
"P.C. Thirty-One said, 'We caught a dirty one', Maxwell stands alone, painting testimonial pictures, oh oh oh oh. Rose and Valerie, screaming from the gallery, say he must go free. The judge does not agree and he tells them so-o-o-o. But as the words are leaving his lips, a noise comes from behind..." (Maxwell's Silver Hammer)
"Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, someday I'm gonna make her mine, oh yeah, someday I'm gonna make her mine" (Her Majesty)
"And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make" (The End)
"We would be so happy, you and me. No one there to tell us what to do. I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden with you" (Octopus's Garden)
"Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to me" (She Came In From the Bathroom Window)
This CD was the first Beatles CD I ever got, and it was enough to get me interested in the Beatles. I didn't start loving the Beatles, however, until I bought my first real album of theirs - SPLHCB. The problem with "1" is that it's too damn mainstream. I want to hold your hand. Can't buy me love. Love me do. Boooring. As you go further down the track sequence, the tracks start gaining that bizarre Beatles flair, like in "Yellow Submarine" or "The Ballad of John and Yoko" - but hey, there's no "I Am the Walrus." I realize that they didn't really have much control over the song selection, since it only contains their #1 hits, but maybe only including #1 hits was a bad way of doing it. "1" is a decent compilation for those who aren't big Beatles fans, but as for me, I'm just glad "1" left me wanting more. P.S. For the favorites here, I'll only include songs that haven't appeared on albums that have previously been reviewed. This includes: Love Me Do, From Me To You, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Can't Buy Me Love, A Hard Day's Night, I Feel Fine, Eight Days a Week, Ticket to Ride, Help!, Yesterday, Day Tripper, We Can Work It Out, Paperback Writer, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Get Back, The Ballad of John and Yoko, Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road. Jeez, that was a long list. It would probably have been easier to list the songs I excluded. Oh well.
Favorite songs: I Feel Fine, Hey Jude, Lady Madonna
"I'm so glad that she's my little girl. She's so glad, she's telling all the world" (I Feel Fine)
"Christ, you know it ain't easy. You know how hard it can be. The way things are going, they're gonna crucify me" (The Ballad of John and Yoko)
"Lady Madonna, baby at your breast wonders how you manage to feed the rest" (Lady Madonna)
"You left me standing here a long, long time ago. Don't leave me waiting here. Lead me to your door" (The Long and Winding Road)
"Hey Jude, don't let me down. You have found her, now go and get her. Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better" (Hey Jude)
Will be updated as I get more Beatles albums, which I fully intend to do.