Now this here is a question we have been asked many times at thetunesblog, especially by our fans, of which there are several. The Beatles had 12 official studio releases throughout their approximately eight year career as a band. It’s weird to lay it out there like that, but with Ringo Starr, the Beatles as we know them were only around for eight years.
I am going to trim down those 12 masterpieces to 5 for the sake of this blog’s length, but trust me that it was no walk in the park. The 5 Beatles albums we will be considering today are: 1. Abbey Road 2. Revolver 3. Rubber Soul 4. Sgt. Peppers 5. The White Album
Now rest assured I am absolutely TORN about not being able to include Magical Mystery Tour and Help!. On Mystery Tour literally every song is good, every single one is a winner, but the album as a whole doesn’t hold up to the greatness found in the rest of the catalogue. And on Help! there are just a couple bad songs, and while the rest of the album is fantastic, it falls just short of the cut
Let’s get into it shall we?
5. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
The most critically acclaimed album of all time and you’re not even putting it as a top 3 album from the band itself? Yea that’s right, because if you break it down, while Sgt Peppers is a great album, it is not the band’s best work. What is revolutionary about Peppers is that it was the first true concept album ever made. Thats absurd, they pioneered an entire idea of how to produce an album which is still relied upon heavily today. But I am here to judge the music and the music alone, and Sgt Peppers, while having a handful of great songs in “Within You or Without You”, “Lovely Rita”, and of course “A Day in the Life”, the bulk of the album is made up of “Good Morning Good Morning”s and “When I’m Sixty Four”s, good songs no doubt, but not the creme de la creme of the best band in the universe.
4. Rubber Soul
I love this god damn album to death. It kicks off with “Drive My Car”, pure rock n roll! But I can’t make a case for it being higher than #4, and I’ll tell you why. While every song is great, Rubber Soul is an album you would be pumped about hearing in a long drive or a coffee shop, but you wouldn’t necessarily designate tracks for individual play while scrolling through your music. What I love about Rubber Soul is that it maintains the same sound throughout, a sound which the Beatles pioneered and would later culminate into Revolver. While Help! contained the band’s first traces of psychadelia, Rubber Soul shows that they were well on their way by 1965. What I do think is an impeccably underrated track is “Think for Yourself”, one of George Harrison’s first masterpieces. The band cranked it out in one take, probably between passing a joint, and the delightfully fuzzy bassline of Paul Mccartney really holds it together. Try saying Rubber Soul 10 times fast. Cool.
There was a point where I had Revolver in my top slot, but as I have matured, so has my taste for The Beatles, and that is why it is clocking in at #3. The album starts with “Taxman”, which really sets the tone. That weird atonal chord staccatos along as this ultra cool melody kicks in with light and lofty harmonies hanging above it. And then you realize wait, this song is actually really catchy, and then BAM, you realize you are listening to a masterpiece. My favourite thing about Revolver is that it contains psychedelic tracks that are melodic to the core. The backwards loops on “I’m Only Sleeping”, The drippingly psychadelic guitar tone achieved with “She Said She Said”, and the effect “Doctor Robert” achieves by dragging its trippy melody over the upbeat rhythm. Eleanor Rigby is in all likelihood George Martin’s finest work as a producer. Highlights on the album to me reveal themselves in “For No One” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
2. Abbey Road
The first half of Abbey Road reads more like a regular album and is almost flawless. “Something” is one of the best songs ever written, and the fact that it could be haphazardly thrown amongst that cluttered first side is testament to the quality of musicianship seen on the album’s latter half. “Oh Darling!” is perhaps The Beatles’ best pure rocker, taking McCartney countless takes to achieve the belted out rasp that his bandmate Lennon would be famous for. Unlike some people, I actually enjoy “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and think that “Octopus’s Garden” is totally underrated. Just listen to that guitar work! The first side of Abbey Road closes off with “Because”. It’s haunting and emotive and there really aren’t too many songs like it. But as we all know, the best part about “Because” is that it serves as a preamble for what comes next. The Abbey Road Medley is one of the best things ever
to grace modern music. It starts soft, maintains its themes throughout, has brief and tangy reprieves in the middle, and closes the band’s last real album with the nominally appropriate “The End”. I am just a humble blogger, there simply aren’t enough adjectives. But verbs? One would say shining. Or is that an adjective in that context?
1. The White Album
The White Album is long and sprawling and has good parts and bad parts and its kind of hard to navigate and I guess that’s what makes me love it so much. By this point The Beatles were essentially a bunch of solo artists working on an album under one name. Could McCartney have gotten away with the saccharine of “Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da” on a conventional Beatles album? Would Lennon have been allowed to write, and subsequently belt “Yes I’m Lonely. Want to die.” These are the questions. There is just so much on this album, so much emotion and lyricism and music. “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”, one of the heaviest hittingiest Beatles songs ever written. And then it goes into “I Will”! What?! “Helter Skelter” created heavy metal, it actually created it. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is musically one of the most complex Beatles songs and one of the last that the group worked together on as a cohesive unit. It resonates as to what could have been if they had kept at it. There are ballads, heartfelt and visceral ballads, there is some of the purest rock n roll of that entire era, there’s “Blackbird”, there are some tracks that are simply catchy, and there’s also a stupid song called “Piggies”. The White Album is the apex, the absolute height of both The Beatles and music, and thus maintains the #1 spot on my list.
And there you have it.