Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Vinyl Frontier - The Beatles

I am not a huge Beatles fan. I have my own favourite songs and I only own Revolver and the two anthologies (on CD)…until now. Recently, I inherited (with great privilege) some ‘old’ records including all twelve original Beatles LPs (thirteen if you include Magical Mystery Tour) plus a few other compilations and rarities collections.

Here they are: 

The Beatles’ albums cover a mere eight years, from the debut Please Please Me in 1963 to Let It Be in 1970. Often making two albums a year during this time, it is an incredible catalogue of music and culture. The development of the band’s music can be divided into four trilogies: Please Please Me, With The Beatles and A Hard Day’s Night is poster-boy jangly pop; Beatles For Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul is a band exploring and expanding; Revolver, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album is creativity, risks and reward; and Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be is the sound of self-indulgence, fractures and reflection – Abbey Road feels like the start of Harrison’s solo career with some of his best songs and Let It Be, mostly recorded before Abbey Road, doesn’t feel like a ‘break-up’ album although The Long And Winding Road always seems to be an obvious swansong.

For me, the height of The Beatles’ creativity and power was 1966. The reason I bought Revolver is that I still think it’s a masterpiece – although it does seem to divide fans somewhat – and listening to my new vinyl copy, even more so. The album has just about everything from the dark sad Eleanor Rigby to the playful nursery-rhyme Yellow Submarine, punchy Got To Get You Into My Life and the eclectic closer Tomorrow Never Knows. Vocals are shared and Harrison wrote three good songs. In comparison, the follow-up Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is overrated (but still very good). Having listened to the most of the earlier albums in full, A Hard Day’s Night is a highlight, with its fuzzy production and Lennon and McCartney writing together wonderfully.

I do recognise why and how The Beatles are so popular and why the songs and albums are iconic works of art, not only as part of British music but around the world. The song-writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney is still legendary and combined with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, one of the best-known and loved pop bands lives on.
-- CS

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