The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)

After the death of their own manager, Brian Epstein, The Beatles began to fall apart. There were many reasons why this was so, but their manager’s passing began this process. Sadly, The Beatles struggled to be cohesive as musicians together from then on in.

This album was intended to be completely different from the previous two albums released in 1967. It sounds like it as well. Sadly, it is not the best album that The Beatles ever did. There are great moments here though, so let’s examine this album, track by track.

We begin with Back in the U.S.S.R. which is a comical story of sexual romping. It’s a controversial topic about loving Russian girls. Airplane sounds are everywhere, and some really great guitar playing is here. It’s an interesting piece to kick off an album with. Nice job by the group.

The next song, Dear Prudence, is a gentle acoustic driven piece by John Lennon. The harmonies here are just fantastic to hear on this song. A good effort here, worth a listen. Some great lyrics are here too.

Glass Onion is John Lennon referencing a load of songs done previously by The Beatles. It’s lyrically a weak effort, even though the melody and instrumentation beg to differ here. It’s okay a listen, perhaps alluding to Alice In Wonderland? It’s a good, not great song though. The outro is very discordant.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is truly a nonsensical piece from Paul McCartney. It’s difficult to tell what the meaning of this song is, although he sings about a family sort of situation. It hasn’t dated that well, but it’s enjoyable.

The short and random Wild Honey Pie is a great interlude in between songs. It sounds odd, as it is supposed to be. It’s over before you know it though.

The next song The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is rather an uninspired story about which references Captain Marvel, and has kids singing in the background. It could have been reworked a bit, but it’s still listenable, despite it need some editing here.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a solid piece by George Harrison which features Eric Clapton playing a Gibson Les Paul. There is some story behind that. The song itself is actually very good, it’s a shining moment on the album. Good stuff.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun is a psychedelic piece with some additional twists and turns. It’s a good piece in terms of structure, and is a John Lennon classic. It talks about having a fix (of Heroin likely) and said warm gun, which is likely about love. A good listen.

The Paul McCartney piece Martha My Dear is lovely sounding. It’s a nice piece about a girl that Paul is singing about. A good song, even though it is familiar territory by The Beatles here. The orchestration in the background is a nice touch to the song.

The John Lennon piece I’m So Tired is about that particular feeling one gets when insomnia is experienced. It also refers to attempting to rectify a love based situation as well. It’s a better effort by John Lennon here on this album.

Blackbird is a great acoustic piece. It is so pure, simple and well done that it is a highlight of the album. You can hear foot tapping away in the background and the singing is fantastic here. A must listen. The bird chirping in the background is great too.

Piggies is a political song, if you know what it is about. It’s a good piece about the dog-eat-dog nature of Capitalism towards the rest of humanity. Hence the song title. It’s a really good listen. If you research this song on the internet, you’ll find something freaky about the history of this song.

The follow up Rocky Racoon is pretty ordinary. It sounds like a child’s story tale set to music, but seems a little weaker in relation to the other songs on the album. It just is disappointing in some respects. It’s still worth listening, but not by a great deal.

The Ringo Starr song Don’t Pass Me By is well written, but the fiddle is annoying and not really necessary. The rest of the song is decent but is fairly forgettable really. Goes on for too long as well.

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? is filler. It could have been easily scrapped, but probably not really necessary. It’s a bit different to what the previous songs have been like, fortunately. Chugging piano and Paul’s singing drives this one on.

I Will is a refreshing break from the mediocrity of the previous few songs. It’s a nice love song about being devoted in love. This should be a great song for a good band to cover at some point. A nice, kind and gentle song.

The last song of side one, Julia, is a John Lennon ode to his own mother, who was tragically killed when he was younger. A nice and solid piece from John Lennon. Simply powerful here. The lyrics are fantastic for this song. Very, very good.

The song Birthday is an uptempo piece about the said topic. It’s better than lame Happy Birthday singing for sure, and is fast and pacing with some very good guitar work here. This puts us into a better listen so far on side two of this double album. Good work.

Yer Blues is supposed to be a blues parody. It does sound like a rather poor quality blues number here. It does have some great lyrics in the bridge, but once again, could be better done for sure. It’s a drag to listen to.

Mother Nature’s Son is a better effort and has some nice acoustic guitar and orchestrated accompaniment in the background. Foot tapping is here again as well. It’s a beautiful piece, one of the better ones on side two for sure. Paul McCartney does this very well here.

The weird song Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey is a random piece. It’s enjoyable, but rather trashy. It’s worth listening to anyway, but lyrically isn’t inspiring.

The song Sexy Sadie is a great sort of tale about said woman who John Lennon lusts after. Fictionally of course. It is actually well written and there is some great piano work here, which Radiohead were inspired to write Karma Police from. But that song is completely different to this one, it’s a nice number here.

Helter Skelter is a proto hard rock/heavy metal piece. It’s not quite that, but sounds fantastic compared to everything else on this double album. It just kicks ass. Everything about it, from Paul’s singing to the harmonies and drumming, is just spot on. A must listen for anyone who wants a reference point for heavier rock and roll. It’s an extended piece with many twists and turns. The ending is fantastic.

Long, Long, Long is a subdued piece compared to what was offered previously. It works very well here. It’s an acoustic and organ keyboard based number with very quiet and subtle singing. Maybe Miles Davis got the idea for his album In A Silent Way from here? But it’s a good listen. The ending is different, too.

The directly political Revolution 1 is an interesting one. It’s one of the highlights of the album, and has some very decent lyrics in it. “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow,” is a great line, for example. It rocks very well, and is worth listening to for sure. Catchy too. It cautions about any sort of political revolutions of any sort, brilliant.

The next song Honey Pie is very much an old fashioned piece by Paul which harks back to pre-1960’s jazz and big band music. If you are a fan of this sort of thing, you may enjoy this one. It’s not outstanding, but still, it’s okay. The lyrics are very whimsical.

Savoy Truffle is a rather silly piece about food and the experience of different tasting desserts. It’s a foodie anthem that is quite catchy. Good work from George Harrison. The brass section here is great.

Cry Baby Cry is a nice childlike song with some psychedelic lyrics for us to hear. It refers to a medieval setting with kings, queens and other noble like characters. Simple and effectively done, the calm before the storm here.

The extended piece Revolution 9 is a weird one. It harks back to John Lennon’s experiments on his own experimental albums done around this time with Yoko Ono. It sounds like a strange LSD trip, and is not really necessary here. Sure, it is well pieced together. But it isn’t needed here at all. Only worth listening to once for most people here.

We finally finish here with the beautiful ballad Good Night. It’s a good way to finish off this album. It’s another childlike lullaby here. Good stuff.

This album is a big mish-mash of things. Unfortunately, it is not as good a listen as the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road albums. Still worth having in your collection as a history based record, but even then, this could have been bettered.

7/10

The Beatles – Please Please Me (1963)

The Beatles really launched modern music. Before their arrival, the rock scene was considered a quick fad with no real long term potential. This album and The Beatles changed everything.

It’s not even their best album and it has a load of covers on it. But it is so good compared to most rock music that came before it that it launched Beatlemania and the real 1960s begins here.

Let’s give this a whirl, see how it sounds.

We begin with I Saw Her Standing There. It’s an upbeat pop song, and you can hear how good The Beatles were from the word go. A nice listen about romantic adventures on the dancefloor. A good start.

The follow-up Misery is a downtempo number about losing one’s love. It sounds so much nicer than Coldplay did at their best. It’s a nice little number from The Beatles.

Anna (Go To Him) is about putting a good end on a failed relationship. Hard to believe that this album was very much live, recorded on a four-track recording machine. It blows much of the modern music today away. And yes, this is a good song too.

Chains is a song about being trapped in a love-based situation. It sounds so joyful and uplifting that it makes up for the simplistic lyrics. Even the lesser tracks on this album sound great.

The next song Boys has a good melody and plenty of “bop shoo wop” chanting. It’s about what a woman desires, and there is a great guitar solo here by George Harrison. It sounds really listenable, even though it is fairly 1960s in its approach. However, that is not a bad thing at all.

The next cut Ask Me Why is more romantic stuff. “Ask me why, I’ll say I love you, and I am always thinking of you.” A very nice song and sentiment here. More romantic sentiments like these should exist in pop music of today. It’s a snapshot of an important musical era.

Please Please Me is the title track and the group’s first #1 single. It’s not as good as some of the other singles by The Beatles, but a nice and reassuring song that takes you into The Beatles musical journey. A good song, even if it is not their best.

Love Me Do is a better song. Complete with a chant-like chorus and harmonica to boot, there is an undercurrent of sexual energy and expression in this song. Nonetheless, this is one of the best songs from this album, if not the best.

The next song, P.S. I Love You sounds like a nice letter written. It’s pure romance in a song. The singing here is great, loving and happy. This sort of thing is often ignored in today’s music.

The Burt Bacharach cover Baby It’s You comes next. It’s a slow ballad piece about being hurt in a relationship. It’s about believing the hype about a failed relationship and holding onto love, despite how bad it has gone. There’s a xylophone in it, too.

Do You Want To Know A Secret? is about trust in a loving relationship. It’s a great piece of romanticism and shines bright on this album. Very good.

A Taste Of Honey refers directly to the first kiss being done in person to someone who is more or less a stranger. It’s a lovely sentiment of a song. It’s a good statement from this album.

The next cut There’s A Place is a good upbeat piece, although the lyrics are different in this respect. Indeed, it’s about giving people breathing space in a relationship. A well thought out song.

The final song Twist And Shout shows that John Lennon really could sing, although he had a cold during the recording of this album. It’s a good and danceable piece and finishes the album off nicely.

This album is self-explanatory. The Beatles would go on to do bigger and better things musically. But hey, if you are a music historian, this needs to be heard. A good album, although the best was yet to come.

8/10

The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

This was the last album to be recorded by The Beatles, although not the last to be released. Let It Be had already been recorded, but since the vibe in the once cohesive group was so bad during that recording and songs on that album, they waited another year to release Let It Be once they remixed it.

So this album is The Beatles unofficial swan song. It’s a brilliant album too, named after their recording studio and taking their sound further than ever before. Despite it being acknowledged everywhere as a classic, people are somewhat divided over the “song suite” of the second half of the album. Still, it is absolutely wonderful to listen to, even 50 years on.

John Lennon kicks off this album with the brilliant pop song Come Together. It’s a great pop piece about a strange hippie like man, which is great listening. The lyrics are surrealistic and interesting. From the word go, you can hear the effort placed into this recording. A very good effort.

The follow up has got to be one of George Harrison’s best songs. Something really is something special, and it sounds so moving. We hear some new and original sounds here, which no doubt inspired many musicians across the world.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer is known nowadays to be one of the most hated songs by The Beatles. It’s not that bad, it’s just really cheezy. But it’s a childlike tale of said character, who does some troublesome and nasty stuff.

Oh! Darling follows and is a better song by Paul McCartney. He really sings so well here, going into a semi-scream mode for us to hear. It’s a good listen, even though Paul sounds as though his efforts are a little weaker here on this album.

The childlike Octopus’s Garden is a Ringo Starr piece, and brilliant. “Would you like to be…under the sea? In an Octopus’s garden with me?” he sings. There are some trippy underwater sounds during a clean sounding guitar solo. A good song for young children in particular.

The John Lennon follow up I Want You (She’s So Heavy) is a really good listen. We start off with mellow arpeggio pieces before we go into a dirty sounding song. Once John Lennon has finished singing, we have a glorious extended jam which just sounds brilliant. It’s way better than Revolution 9 from the white album and just is stunning.

Here Comes The Sun is reassuring pop from George Harrison, and with a capo on an acoustic guitar, sounds really beautiful. It’s a very mellow piece and is positive sounding. A must listen.

Because is a short piece which talks about the mystery of existence. It’s great to listen to and has some strange yet artistic lyrics on it. Mega harmonies on this one, so keep an ear out for those.

The following piece is You Never Give Me Your Money. It’s a rather strange story about the said topic, but it is catchy with the piano-led arrangements. A good song by The Beatles. It returns later on in the album for the song suite.

The mainly instrumental Sun King arrives and it’s absolutely fantastic in terms of sound. This one is as psychedelic as you like, and has some beautiful Italian phrases in it. It’s likely inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album. Really very good listening.

Mean Mr. Mustard begins the epic song suite. The song suite is basically the sort of thing DJs do today with EDM mixes but in style of The Beatles of course. It’s a humourous tale of a dude who shaves in the dark and does other odd things. It then talks about his sister.

Polythene Pam arrives and is a short, catchy piece with wicked sounding acoustic guitar and pounding drums that just sound brilliant. Ringo Starr allegedly used some new calf head skins to achieve that particular drum sound, which is brilliant.

This segues into She Came In Through The Bathroom Window. Some great and unusual lyrics are here: “Sunday’s on the phone to Monday, Tuesday’s on the phone to me, oh yeah!” Very Beatlesesque indeed.

We almost stop the ball rolling with Golden Slumbers but Paul McCartney really puts in a great performance here. The beautiful piano leads us through the song, and is so moving in both lyrical and sonical aspects. Great stuff.

Carry That Weight revisits You Never Give Me Your Money and has a surprise twist on it. It reminds us of the semi-concept album nature by The Beatles. Indeed, this album has many similarities to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but is just as good.

The End occurs here. Every part of this song is solo based. In fact, that is there for a purpose. The Beatles had enough of each other by this point and officially had stopped working together late in 1969. So this piece is brilliantly fitting. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

But after some silence, we hear the humourous and very short piece dedicated to Her Majesty. It’s a surprise ending to the mish-mash song suite second half of the recording, and the album ends there.

In summary, The Beatles Abbey Road album is as good as The Beatles could get. It’s a fitting swan song to a band who could no longer function. After 1969, The Beatles each carved out successful solo careers. It’s a real shame that they never got back together, but after John Lennon was tragically shot dead in 1980, this proved impossible.

This fantastic album is here though. It is the final step of evolution for The Beatles and must be heard by all fans of the group.

9/10

The Beatles – Rubber Soul (1965)

We had never had it so good. The Beatles were on a roll by 1965. They had evolved out of their suits and three and a half minute pop formula to something far better, more deep and meaningful. The Help! album and movie had done well, so The Beatles took the next step forward in musical artistry and innovation.

The resulting album after Help! is Rubber Soul. This is an amazing album and one of the best albums by The Beatles. Every single song on it is a winner, and the consistency of the album placed The Beatles into musical history.

Drive My Car begins the album with its catchy hooks and a humourous story about a girl who wants to be chauffeured around like a movie star. It’s very Beatlesque and poppy enough to remind you of their mission as a band. A brilliant opener.

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) follows and is a beautiful classical pop song. It features strummed acoustic guitar, sitar parts by George Harrison and a tale of love in the woods. It is just awesome and demands close listening.

Paul McCartney talks explicitly about relationship difficulties in You Won’t See Me. The Beatles being the most popular group in the world at that point had their fair share of on/off relationships and this covers the pitfalls of such. Good pop music.

The next song abandons love based themes altogether, for the first time in The Beatles history. But it’s just as brilliant as the other songs on the album. Nowhere Man talks about someone who has lost direction in his life. It’s a great listen all the same.

Think For Yourself follows and has some awesome fuzz bass on it, which showed how much depth The Beatles had in their music. The chorus indicates relationship troubles yet again, but it is an interesting song nonetheless.

The Word is a dedication to the art of love and sounds soul influenced. It’s a testament to The Beatles branching out with their music. A good funky piece.

The next song Michelle is a beautiful piece featuring some lovely French language phrases and the repeated “I love you” refrain. It’s one of the most beautiful songs ever, and Paul McCartney shines here as a singer and songwriter. The acoustic guitar sound is unique and brilliant.

The follow up What Goes On is sung by Ringo Starr, but has a shared writing credit. It’s still a great piece about love lost. Nice job by the group.

Girl follows and is a story about a sort of “It’s Complicated” relationship. But it’s uplifting and positive regardless. The chorus has some proto Syd Barrett style vocal sound effects in it, spicing up the song further.

I’m Looking Through You has Paul McCartney revisiting soul pop influences in an awesome way. Once again, it’s about relationship issues but the guitar work here is excellent. A good job well done.

The next song is about tenderness and compassion in a relationship. John Lennon seems to speak from the heart on this issue. In My Life ensures that the listener understands the passion and love behind romance itself.

The follow-up Wait is about returning from a break from love. It’s a great analysis of what makes the best love so good. A great piece.

If I Needed Someone has clanging Rickenbacker chords on it and talks about waiting for love in a general sense. The guitar work is fantastic here, as it is through the rest of the album as well.

Run For Your Life is almost what you’d expect, except much nastier indeed. In fact, it predates punk music with nastiness about a relationship broken up. It’s still very awesome though.

This recording is purely brilliant and marks the midway point between their earlier black and white pop songs and their later surrealistic and expression based work. It’s one of The Beatles best albums, and also one of the greatest listens of all time. After this, The Beatles experimented further with sound, but this album is so consistent that Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was suitably inspired to make the Pet Sounds album after hearing Rubber Soul, which was also a classic album. The album cover was also unique at the time, featuring no band name, and just the four Beatles on the front of it. This album re-energised pop music as it was at the time.

A great listen.

9/10

The Beatles – Revolver (1966)

The Beatles were sick of touring. Blasting out on low volume to deafening and screaming crowds was in no way fun in the pre-Marshall Amplifier era. It seemed pointless. After the deliciousness of Rubber Soul, The Beatles quit touring and returned to the studio to broaden their musical palette. They still released major singles at this point, yet the key factor was making an album to top everyone else at the time.

The result was Revolver. Being totally different and excellent compared to everything else at the time, Revolver was a landmark. Everything on it sounds light years away from what was considered pop/rock music at the time. Everything sounds different.

We hear the decidedly warped intro and then we burst into the song Taxman. This was the main political song by The Beatles to be recorded before John Lennon’s much later political efforts. It’s an excellent song by George Harrison about the 95% top tax rate introduced by British Labour PM Harold Wilson. “There’s one for you, 19 for me”. Direct and slightly aggressive.

The follow up is a sad orchestral ballad called Eleanor Rigby. It’s a reminder that we all pass on one day after major life events. The music definitely evokes sadness and is emotionally powerful.

I’m Only Sleeping talks about insomnia and lying in bed all day, just to sleep. It’s an excellent John Lennon piece with the then newly discovered technique of backward guitar pieces. It’s a good song by The Beatles.

Love You To is a George Harrison stab at a mixture of pop sensibilities and traditional Indian sounds via Sitar. It’s a strange irony to know that George Harrison barely had any say in The Beatles but wrote outstanding pieces regardless.

Paul McCartney hits his stride with Here, There And Everywhere. It’s a great love song and makes you listen to the softer arrangements and instrumentation intensely. Very solid indeed.

The childhood like song Yellow Submarine follows, sung by Ringo Starr. Ringo is hardly a great singer, but all the same, he carries this song well. Featuring a number of innovative sound effects, The Beatles paved the way for Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd right here.

The follow up She Said She Said was directly inspired by a John Lennon LSD trip. In fact, by this point, The Beatles were heavily into drugs, particularly psychedelics that were readily available at the time. This explains the overall sound of the album.

Good Day Sunshine was likely inspired by Paul McCartney listening to an early release of The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album. It sounds wonderful, with a snappy beat and two pianos placed into the mix. It’s great pop music.

And Your Bird Can Sing has some repeated riffs and psychedelic lyrics about nothing in particular. It’s just a really good pop/rock song and sounds decent for this album.

The sad story For No One comes next about being in love with somebody who clearly doesn’t you back. It’s a very sad tale of heartbreak and discontent. It’s surely a good song to listen to after a breakup.

The directly openly drug song Doctor Robert arrives and we hear various lyrics about a said doctor who will help at any time of day or night to deliver drugs. This was such an explicit thing at the time to talk about, so bonus points in that respect.

I Want To Tell You is a basic love song by George Harrison about self-expression of feelings within a relationship. The most quirky part of this song is the outro, with George Harrison using an Indian based harmony to exit it. A good twist musically.

Got To Get You Into My Life may or may not be about marijuana use. Regardless, it’s a great and brassy song, with horn sections all over it. Paul McCartney delivers an underrated song by The Beatles whilst evoking soul music.

The final song Tomorrow Never Knows is about as psychedelic as Revolver gets. In fact, it’s light years away from regular and ordinary pop music in that respect. With distorted vocals, sound effects everywhere and lyrics lifted from The Tibetan Book of the Dead, it will blow your mind apart in its own way.

This album changed the way people looked at popular music culture. No longer people had to set boundaries on the sounds that they made. Instead, the only limit became musicians minds. This is a great album and shows just how important The Beatles were to popular rock music culture.

8/10

The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

The Beatles were on a roll after their own Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band virtually outsold every other album of the time. Their manager Brian Epstein passed away afterward, marking the beginning of the end for The Beatles. Much later on, it all fell apart for them. The Magical Mystery Tour movie was their first flop, but this, the album along with it, had some great songs on it.

The title track Magical Mystery Tour sounds a lot more dated today than it ever did in 1967, but is a cheerful and welcoming song inviting you to join The Beatles on their psychedelic trip. It’s better than you’d think.

The follow up is The Fool On The Hill is an amazing sounding piece by John Lennon. It features some lovely psychedelic sounds and some of the best imagery you can think of for a trippy song. Tape loops galore and John Lennon referring lyrically to a fool who is above others who stays on a hill is gold. Nice song.

Flying is a rather ordinary instrumental that could have been dropped. The outro is mega trippy though but still, it’s a fairly forgettable cut.

Blue Jay Way has got to be the most repetitive song that The Beatles made, apart from Hey Jude. It’s a sound pastiche by George Harrison that is saved by the sonic landscape, but much like the previous instrumental is largely forgettable.

The next song Your Mother Should Know is a nice song about parents music from long ago. It’s a better piece than the previous two songs, and sounds quite nice to listen to, even today.

The fantastic I Am The Walrus follows and features some totally surreal lyrics by John Lennon. It’s a pop classic that is often referenced in the history books. It has some absolutely fantastic tape sounds cut up, and delivered. The outro, in particular, shows this, it’s brilliant.

Hello, Goodbye is an old-fashioned call and response song by Paul McCartney. Both of the main songwriters in The Beatles were equals in their overall ability to create songs that were perfect pop pieces. This is a goodie.

Strawberry Fields Forever is a great psychedelic song by John Lennon about his childhood experiences in a real-life area in his Liverpool hometown. It starts off nicely, before going into a very psychedelic piece with a surprise outro. Pay attention to that as well.

Paul returns with Penny Lane, a simple song about his own childhood haunt where bizarre things happen in a pleasant way. It’s a great song and is very singalong in nature.

The next song, Baby, You’re A Rich Man is straightforward and fun to listen to. Obviously, The Beatles had not just psychedelic sounds at their disposal, but great pop sensibilities too.

All You Need Is Love finishes the album and although it’s a good song, it hasn’t aged all that well. It sounds a little corny in retrospect, although this was not intended at the time.

If you loved Sgt. Pepper and you love The Beatles, this album is a pick for you. It features some amazingly psychedelic sounds and textures that still are unmatched today. The songs are excellent too. The only downside is that, unlike Sgt. Pepper, it’s not a concept album. But it’s just as necessary in your collection all the same.

8/10