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

Ed Sheeran – Divide (Deluxe Edition) (2017)

Ed Sheeran is most likely the most popular musician alive today. He has had a winning streak throughout the 2010s and is now so wealthy that he is almost a billionaire. This album is a great album in postmodern contemporary music, so let’s dive in and check it out.

Eraser kicks off the album with a message that tells of Ed Sheeran’s difficulties coping with fame. It’s a fairly straightforward tale of rock and roll excess, with Ed Sheeran stating that he finds comfort in his pain. It’s a disturbing but catchy enough song.

Castle On The Hill is another catchy piece which tells of a childhood haunt of our main man. It’s a decent song, and one not far away from Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles. Nice to hear that sort of influence.

The following song, Dive, talks about the sacred nature of love. It’s a beautiful piece with Ed Sheeran pleading for reassurance from his lover before he dives right into her. Ed Sheeran recently married, so it’s safe to assume that this song is about his new lover.

After that, we have the tropical sounding Shape Of You, a huge hit upon release as a single. It’s lyrically perverse but catchy as anything. It’s a very solid piece, and demands repeated listening. “I’m in love with your body,” says Ed. Brilliant.

Perfect is the most beautiful song ever done by Ed Sheeran, and also truly one of the most beautiful songs ever made. It’s a tearjerking ballad but so well done that it hits the spot very, very well. Perfect, indeed.

Galway Girl is a take on Irish music and a great job of it. It’s a good listen with some Irish fiddles in it and seems very anthemic. A nice leftfield tune by Ed Sheeran. Ideal for anyone who likes this sort of folk-like thing, it’s great for that purpose.

The follow-up Happier is a strange sort of message about lost love, but feeling better about it after some time. Hence the title of the song. It’s not a nasty message though, in fact, it is reassuring. It is a slower piece but as good as what has come before on this album.

After that song, we have New Man. This song is about a pretentious sort of guy who doesn’t get respect from Ed Sheeran. A simple meaning over an acoustic pop background is here and chugs along nicely.

Hearts Don’t Break Around Here is a simple sentiment about getting the right woman to be with to love. Not since The Beatles has the world of pop music encountered such brilliantly done romanticism. It’s effective, to say the least.

What Do I Know? is a hipster-like song with a philosophical bent. It’s one of the best statements you will hear in pop/rock music today. It simply talks about the power of music and love, “…but what do I know?” asks Ed Sheeran. It’s not a definite statement of self-importance, but a good one nonetheless.

The Coldplay-like How Would You Feel (Paean) is a wonderful song about love and companionship. It’s a slightly weaker song, but it’s still quality nonetheless.

The very sad sounding Supermarket Flowers is an ode to Ed Sheeran’s mum. It’s a nice way to reveal to the world about he feels about his own mother. “You were an angel in the shape of my mum”. Ed Sheeran – a brilliant musician indeed.

Barcelona is a catchy and upbeat song which is very good poppy stuff. It’s about Barcelona itself and has a very good and catchy chorus. Mint.

Bibia Be Ye Ye is a nice sort of song about the aftermath of getting trashed after a night out. It’s not throw away at all, despite the fact it is not a hit single. It’s still solid and does very well with some quacky guitar sounds in it.

The next song is Nancy Mulligan, a fictional story about running off with said girl to get married to her. It’s an interesting piece with fiddles again. Never a dull moment on this album whatsoever.

The most direct and recognisable statement is Save Myself. It’s a great way to finish off this album and makes one feel satisfied after this listen. It’s a great album no doubt.

This album went stratospheric after its release. Ed Sheeran is now all over virtually every radio station and has become a household name. After all – he deserves it. This is a quintessential and great album.

9/10

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

Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994)

Prior to Oasis, British music lacked an identity during the 1990s. Grunge rock was everywhere, particularly prior to Kurt Cobain’s suicide. There seemingly was a lack of cultural and individual need for rock music to thrive in the UK.

Then, along came Oasis.

Oasis was the most identifiable rock group of the 1990s and re-energized the rock scene for the first time in a long time. They seemed light years away from bad keyboard sounds, weird haircuts and the Thatcherism of the 1980s. They combined the best elements of pop and rock culture into their songs and sang from a deeply emotional and upbeat place.

Their first album, Definitely Maybe, is their best by far. It’s also their most punkish album as well. It features Liam Gallagher’s unique vocal (a John Lennon/John Lydon hybrid), Noel Gallagher’s awesome songwriting skills, loud rhythm guitar parts, fluid basslines, and tom-tom style drums. But on a deeper level, it features great songs with realistically meaningful lyrics and catchy melodies too. It was also the first record to use the mixing technique of “brickwalling” (everything cranked to full).

It starts off with Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. This song is an ode to the art form and loud music of rock and roll. It’s a joyous and fantastic listen and blows all the rubbish 1980s records “experimenting” with synthesizers away. It’s no doubt that these guys knew they were going to get big from their music.

Shakermaker is a semi-blues melodic song, although in retrospect it is a little weak. It does borrow the melody and verses from the I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing Coca-Cola song, but obviously was changed for legal and copyright reasons. Ah, the joys of suing others…

Live Forever is one of the deepest and most meaningful songs that you will ever hear. It uses a lot of hopeful statements and kills off the sour mood of Grunge bands earlier in the decade. Apart from Wonderwall, this may be the band’s best ever song in terms of emotion. Brilliant.

The next song Up In The Sky is a political song, believe it or not. Although Noel denies this directly, it is what it is. The meaning of it is completely direct and pointed to the future of British politics with the Third Way of Tony Blair. It’s weaker but still fun.

The jam Columbia sounds absolutely brilliant on a mega stereo. With a trippy guitar intro, punchy drum beat and nonsensical lyrics, it’s the best jam style song you will ever hear. Oh yeah, it’s really loud at the end of the song. Enjoy the tinnitus.

Supersonic is the band’s first single, and is there any other reason why? “I need to be myself, I can’t be no-one else.” This is one of the best lyrics ever, and Noel who follows in the footsteps of The Beatles writes a killer tune here. It’s a good piece.

The tom-tom drums are on full speed during Bring It On Down. It’s the most punk-like song off the album, and Liam really sounds Johnny Rotten-like here. It’s a weaker track, but still great.

Drugs ahoy on the next song, Cigarettes And Alcohol. It’s about getting trashed obviously but has some nice lyrics too. It explicitly mentions Cocaine use in it. These guys must have had their fair share of parties, you think? An awesome guitar riff is borrowed from T. Rex for your listening. Enjoyable.

Digsy’s Dinner is absolutely ordinary but still has its place on the album. It is saved by some piano and a good bridge in it. Still, it’s skippable, except if you listen to every song on the album.

The mega love song Slide Away is next. It features one of Liam Gallagher’s best ever vocals and it sure is brilliant. It’s a favourite of Noel’s and should be rated as one of the best love songs ever.

The last song, Married With Children, is actually about the things that annoy partners most. Nothing to do with marriage or children, it is so simple and brilliant, it just works. A nice way to finish a brilliant record.

With an analysis track by track, this is quite simply one of the greatest albums of all time. Oasis may have delved deeper into their emotional side later on in their records, but for emotional simplicity, look no further. It’s a great listen, and something that every single rock music fan should own.

If you loved this album, be sure to check out the remastered re-issue featuring extra songs and goodies galore. This is Definitely Maybe, a fine album.

9/10