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  1. #31

    This is where the Beatles begin to truly expand their musical horizons and, perhaps along with Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, would inspire other bands to record their own masterpieces. Indeed Brian Wilson credits Rubber Soul with the inspiration for Pet Sounds which, in turn, would inspire McCartney to come up with Sergeant Pepper. So this not only started the golden mid period for the Beatles, it started a new rock n roll renaissance that would quickly transform the face of music. Rubber Soul was one of the Beatles’ more eclectic efforts which is saying something given they were one of the most eclectic bands of all time. From folk-rock to baroque, this album has something for everybody. A real classic to be sure. How do I know? Well, let’s read on to find out.

    Drive My Car: The album opens innocently enough as Drive My Car seems like a continuation of the Beatles’ songs circa Help! It’s a good song but, honestly, I like some of the other tracks better. Some interesting double entendres in the lyrics.

    Norwegian Wood: This song is legendary in a couple ways. First we have Lennon’s lyrics about a one night stand. It’s barely camouflaged and it’s one of Lennon’s most brutally honest songs. The other is the first use of sitar which would start something of a trend in rock for the next couple years. George Harrison took up the instrument about the time they were filming Help! Obviously Harrison hadn’t mastered the instrument as of yet and he would later use Indian musicians on some of his Beatle recordings, but he plays it well enough to make a legendary accompaniment to what is essentially a gentle folk-rock song.

    You Won’t See Me: I actually heard the Anne Murray cover first as a kid and it’s safe to say I’m not into Anne Murray. Thus, I didn’t expect much from this track. So imagine my surprise when I heard it for the first time. It is another of McCartney’s fascination with soul and it works very well on this album. An underrated gem.

    Nowhere Man: One of my all time favorite Beatle songs and yet, it can only be the second best song on the album (more on that later). So what makes this such a great song? Well, for starters you have one of the best three part harmonies on any Beatles song equaled only by the harmonies on Because. Then there is the superb guitar work over the folk-styled rhythm guitar background. Add some introspective lyrics by Lennon and you have another Beatle classic. Again, one of their blockbusters in my book.

    Think For Yourself: The first of two Harrison contributions. The Beatles work hard on the harmonies on this one and Paul’s fuzz bass doubles as the lead guitar on this. Harrison’s lyrics are a bit cryptic on this one and he even sounds a little angry. One of the heavier tunes on the album. It’s one of my favorite Harrison contributions.

    The Word: I actually used the title as my signature on my album reviews on the music forum I was on and I’m doing it again here in my album review thread. It’s the first of many Beatles songs that would focus on the concept of universal love. The harmonium is evident on this track and it would be even more so on I’m Looking Through You. It has a good rhythm and it is quite a solid track. If you’re into garage rock, catch the live version of the Word by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. That version really rocks.

    Michelle: A bit of McCartney schmaltz in my opinion. The lyrics are great, especially when he gets into the French speaking part, but I think the song sounds a bit too wimpy for my tastes. A very popular song, McCartney said he was influenced by Nina Simone on this one. And you can hear the soulful parts of the song. Unfortunately, for me, you can also hear the MOR parts of the song too.

    What Goes On: A country tinged song in the spirit of Act Naturally, Ringo Starr gets partial songwriting credits on this one. Lennon claims to have actually written this even before there was a Beatles. Whatever the case, I’m not very big on this song. In fact, I’d rate it as the weakest song on the album

    Girl: Which leads me to the strongest song on the album. In some ways it is similar to Michelle, but while Michelle comes off as a bit schmaltzy to me, this song comes off as a bluesy folk-rock piece. Some of Lennon’s best lyrics can be heard on this one. There are a few clever references such as the tit-tit-tit background vocals in the middle eight and the deep breathing. The Beatles add a balalaika sound right at the end. If there is such a thing as the perfect song, this could be it.

    I’m Looking Through You: This one starts off with an acoustic base and an unusual beat of sorts. There is a noticeable organ sound after each verse, played by Ringo. It’s essentially one chord, but it works with the song. Some very good lyrics by McCartney about yet another fight with girlfriend Jane Asher.

    In My Life: This is the baroque part of the album and George Martin plays the baroque piano solo. It’s another piece of good introspective writing by Lennon. It’s one of their most played songs in movies and TV. It isn’t really a favorite song of mine though. I mean, it’s a great song to be sure, but it wouldn’t be the first song I would think of when talking about Rubber Soul.

    Wait: I think this may have been originally recorded for Help but they decided it not to release it on that album. They revived it for Rubber Soul, adding some percussion, guitars, and vocals. I like this tune. It has a nice reverb after the middle eights. I especially like Paul’s middle eights in fact. Some nice harmonies as well on the song. One of my favorite tracks on the album

    If I Needed Someone: Harrison’s other contribution, this one is probably the Beatles’ most Byrds-influenced song. They were reportedly asked who their favorite band was around this time and they all said in unison, the Byrds. In fact, the Byrds’ PR man, Derek Taylor, would soon be working for the Beatles and would be a close friend of Harrison’s. It’s a good song and I’m sure the Byrds would have been impressed. I have to admit I like Think For Yourself a bit better though, not that I don’t like this one, because I do. But it isn’t what I would call special by Beatles standards either.

    Run For Your Life: Yes, the line “Rather See You Dead Little Girl…” was taken off the song Baby Let’s Play House and yes, the song does sound rather misogynist. Lennon himself hated this song. I like it though for all its flaws, legitimate and maybe not so legitimate. It has this mood where you can imagine being out in the west with just you and your horse. And I love the screaming guitar break. A great way to end this classic album.

    And so that completes the review on my second favorite album of all time. I won’t tell you my all time favorite- not yet anyway. Mainly because I have to review my third all time favorite album first. So I’ll see you then
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  2. #32


    This would be something of a stressful year for the Beatles, especially on the touring front. There was an incident in the Philippines where the Beatles were accused of snubbing First Lady Imelda Marcos. The government incited potential violence against the Fab Four and they were lucky to get away with their lives. But the biggest blow was a comment John Lennon made to Maureen Cleave of the Evening Standard when he said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. This led to a major backlash in the American South where radio stations hosted Beatle burn-ins and firecrackers were thrown at them in Memphis. Lennon would be forced to apologize at a Chicago press conference later. The Beatles would stop touring after their San Francisco concert that August.

    So in the backdrop of all that, the Beatles retreated to the studio in 1966. And, by now, they had gone all progressive, even to the point of toying with the psychedelic sound that the Beatles would be among the pioneers in. By the time the Beatles got to recording Revolver, the Beach Boys had released the highly acclaimed Pet Sounds and there was a sense that the Beatles wanted to top that. And they would in a big way.

    Interlude 1966 single

    Paperback Writer: Lennon would call this the son of Day Tripper though, in reality, it is a matter of fact a song by McCartney as he is trying to submit a book to a publisher. It’s a good yarn to be sure but it is really the strong guitar work and bass that makes this such a great song. Some great background vocals with the simple refrain of Frere Jacques of all things.

    Rain: Lennon’s flip side, it isn’t unlike Paperback Writer with its metallic guitar and Byrds-like jangles, at least not until the end. Lennon somehow had accidentally put the recording in backwards on a tape and he came up with the background effects at the end. In some ways this is the Beatles’ entry into the world of psychedelia. One thing for sure, this, along with Paul’s A-side, makes this yet another quality two-sided single from the Beatles.

    So now we come to an album that is considered the greatest album of all time according to some music critics. I actually rate this third behind Rubber Soul and an album yet to be released. Of course, this is an amazing album as the Beatles push the envelope doing things a conventional rock band wasn’t supposed to do. This was released on the backdrop of the Jesus Christ controversy and some stations even banned the album and its accompanying single briefly. Time has been kind to this album though and it now receives the accolades it so richly deserves. Did I mention I really love this album? Well, let’s see what I think of the tracks.


    Taxman: A Harrison song starts off the album, the first of three contributions by him. Harrison had a reputation of worrying about his finances and this is a scathing attack on the government and their high taxes essentially. McCartney plays lead guitar on this one and it is one of the most recognizable Beatles riffs. There is a little bit of an Indian vibe to the guitar. A good start to the album.

    Eleanor Rigby: Another McCartney with string quartet arrangement. This one is different though as we have accompanying vocals from Lennon . It is a well crafted song about loneliness and, even while Paul is accompanied with the strings, there is a much harder edge to it than Yesterday. This was released as a single with Yellow Submarine. I prefer this side.

    I’m Only Sleeping: A trippy track from Lennon. This song features backwards guitars from Harrison backed by a bluesy beat. The Beatles even experimented with xylophones in an earlier take. This is a great track and indicative of the experimental spirit of the Beatles at this stage in their career.

    Love You To: Harrison’s second contribution. He brings in Indian musicians on this one. In fact the only Beatles on this track are Harrison on the sitar and McCartney on bass. The rest of the instruments are Indian such as the tabla and tambura. It’s not one of the stronger songs on the album but you can feel Harrison’s love of the Indian culture on this track.

    Here There and Everywhere: After several tracks with much experimentation, the album settles down with this straightforward ballad from McCartney. This is hardly schmaltz though as Harrison and Lennon compliment McCartney’s well thought out lyrics with their background vocals. This is my favorite song on the album and my favorite McCartney tune overall. In fact, I’ll go on a limb and say McCartney is never better than he was on Revolver. While Lennon and Harrison certainly had their contributions, this is clearly McCartney’s moment to shine through.

    Yellow Submarine: A children’s song essentially, Yellow Submarine was written by McCartney and given to Ringo, who is perfect for this song. Not one of my favorite songs though as it seems just a little too whimsical to me despite Lennon’s repeats of Ringo’s last verse as if he were the captain of the submarine (best part of the song). The inspiration for the incredible animated movie two years later.

    She Said She Said: Inspired by Peter Fonda of all people who, while on an LSD trip, claimed that he knew what it was like to be dead. Lennon wrote lyrics around that and the result is a one the heavier songs on the album. I again have to use the word trippy on this heavy guitar laced song. I like this song, it’s one of my underrated gems.

    Good Day Sunshine: A goodtimey start to side two by McCartney. It’s a happy tune and one that I surprisingly like. More great harmonies and a nice piano based tune. McCartney said they were influenced by the Lovin Spoonful on this one. A great tune.

    And Your Bird Can Sing: A quick song on the album but also a fairly powerful one. This was one of three songs Capitol managed to put on the Yesterday and Today collection, released two months earlier, I’m Only Sleeping and Doctor Robert being the others. This is one of those songs that seems to play in my head a lot. It’s catchy and it’s vintage Lennon at his nonsensical best. I like this track.

    For No One: McCartney’s other true classic on this album. Backed by a baroque piano and a great French horn solo, this song is one of McCartney’s most haunting pieces. It’s a beautiful melody and it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.

    Doctor Robert: Inspired by a doctor who introduced Lennon and Harrison to LSD, this isn’t a song I especially would kill for. In fact, I think it’s the weakest song on the album. Some nice guitar work by Harrison.

    I Want To Tell You: Harrison’s third entry and probably the closest thing to a filler track on this album. Not a terrible song by any length of the imagination and you can see where Harrison’s style would take him later on. It’s not an especially inspiring track overall though.

    Got To Get You Into My Life: Here, McCartney tries to play an all out soul song. Actually, influenced by an experience with pot, this is lyrically quite adventurous. I don’t think it fits well as a Beatles song though. With another band like maybe Blood, Sweat, and Tears, who in fact, did cover this, I think it would work better. Well crafted song though.

    Tomorrow Never Knows: The last song on the album but the first song to be recorded, this was the Beatles’ attempt to record a song on one chord and, this time, they succeed. One of the Beatles’ trippiest songs, they go all out with a continuing tape loop and Lennon’s droned vocals. Lennon took the lyrics from the Tibetan book of the dead and patterned the song over a droning C chord. I won’t say this is my favorite song on the album but it has nothing to do with lack of greatness. There are so many superior tracks on this album, including this one, and I can’t think of a better way to close out this classic album.

    And thus ends the prequel to what will be the standard by which all other rock albums are measured.

    But first, a little bit of nostalgia.

    Interlude: A Collection of Beatles’ Oldies

    Essentially a greatest hits collection put together by Parlophone as there wasn’t a Beatles release in the works (at this time, December 1966, the Beatles were in the studio recording Strawberry Fields Forever). It’s a fair compilation of their hit singles to this point plus one track that was previously unreleased in England. A nice little collectors item. As for the unreleased track…

    Bad Boy: Recorded during the Help! sessions, I call this the twin to Dizzy Miss Lizzie. This had been released on Beatles VI in the US but for some reason unreleased in Britain. Another Larry Williams cover, it isn’t anything major to write about but I do think it’s better than Dizzy Miss Lizzie if only because Dick Clark didn’t shove this one down our throats in Birth of the Beatles.

    And that’s about it for 1966. 1967 would be a major year for changes both in musical and personal directions for the Beatles. So stay tuned as we explore what was possibly the most creative of all Beatle years.
    Last edited by mrmustard615; September 22nd, 2019 at 01:06 PM. Reason: editing typos
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  3. #33

    1967 Singles and Sgt. Pepper

    Interlude: The 1967 singles

    1967 was not only a watershed year for the Beatles. It was for the rock genre in general. As minds were expanding, or at least that was the thought with the hippie culture then, so was the music, and the Beatles were on the forefront of it all. It would peak with the landmark Sergeant Pepper album which we’ll be covering in this segment, but first, some amazing singles.

    Strawberry Fields Forever: This may have been the most ambitious effort by the Beatles as there are four different versions. If you listen to the Love album, you can hear the progression from the early takes to the two final products which George Martin would merge at different speeds. This wonderful piece of psychedelia is not only my all time favorite Beatles song, it is my favorite all time song period. I probably should start a thread on this song alone.

    Penny Lane: Strawberry Fields Forever was a reminiscence of John’s. Penny Lane was Paul's reminiscences. You can hear the contrast from the moodier sound of the B-side to the peppy sound here on this A-side. It’s a great piece of what was probably already known as Paisley Psychedelia in England and it probably accentuates what is probably the best of all the Beatles double sided singles. Love the radio edit with the piccolo trumpet (David Mason does the famous trumpet solo during the instrumental break).

    All You Need Is Love: Recorded live for the Our World program, this is probably the signature message song by the Beatles. It’s a very optimistic song that Lennon wrote specifically for Our World. This single release also signals the end of the Beatles as we had known them to this point for it would only be a month later when their manager, Brian Epstein, died and things would begin to unravel. I like this song, and it’s one of those songs that can keep playing in my head.

    Baby You’re a Rich Man: If the A-side is one of the most positive moments of Lennon, this one is just plain nasty. Supposedly this was Lennon’s personal attack on Epstein which I’m sure he later regretted, as they were quite close. The song is accentuated with a keyboard instrument known as a clavioline. It sounds kind of like something Harrison would have come up with in his Indian phase. An above average Beatles tune in my opinion.


    And here we are at the Beatles’ own landmark album. Combined with the early single, this album took about six months to complete. The idea to call it Sergeant Pepper was McCartney’s and more than half the songs on this album are primarily his. McCartney was very influenced by the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds on this album. Lennon too contributes his share and he’s never been better. Harrison’s one effort isn’t his best but it seems to fit in with this classic. And this is a classic, the ultimate classic. Still acclaimed by many as the greatest album ever made, this is also the album I would rate as my all time favorite, even with the flaws, and there are a couple. But enough of my chit-chat. Let’s review the songs.

    Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Beatles open the album with a straightforward rocker, or so it seems until you hear the marching band. This was the song Don McLean was alluding to in his epic, American Pie, a few years later. Not my favorite beginning song from the Beatles (I’d probably go with A Hard Day’s Night), but it is nonetheless a great intro.

    With a Little Help From My Friends: And it segues into a John and Paul ditty that was given to Ringo. The screaming throngs that melded the opening track into this one makes two songs sound like it’s just one, something McCartney in particular would use to great effect on Abbey Road. This song, as Lennon and McCartney were writing it, is highlighted in Hunter Davies’ biography, released a year later. It’s a nice little ditty and Ringo (or is it Billy Shears?) sings it with charm.

    Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds: This is Lennon at his trippiest. This song would be banned in some circles because of its supposed reference to LSD. It was in fact inspired by a drawing from Lennon’s young son, Julian. The lyrics are certainly Lennon at his trippiest. I really love the harpsichord sounding opening and it certainly is a mind expanding experience. One of my favorite songs on the album.

    Getting Better: A piece of nice McCartney pop with some contributions from Lennon. It’s one of those songs where the contrast between McCartney’s optimism (It’s getting better all the time) and Lennon’s pessimism (Can’t get much worse) makes this one of the more humorous songs in a sense. Lennon’s lyrics can be a bit personal (I used to be cruel to my woman… ) but the optimism seems to be the dominant force here. A nice tune.

    Fixing a Hole: This one starts out with a straight harpsichord, one of my favorite instruments used in rock in general by the way. Maybe there is a Donovan influence here as that instrument is prominent on his Sunshine Superman album. It’s a good song, but probably the weakest track on side one.

    She’s Leaving Home: A bit lush and certainly with some drama, this might be my favorite McCartney track on the album. Based on a report at the time of a missing teenager, this lyrics recounts the laments of parents who had given their daughter everything but love it seems. A beautifully arranged song and one of those underrated gems I like to talk about.

    Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite: And what a way to end side one. Lennon cheated a little by taking the lyrics off an old circus poster, but the calliope effects among other things makes for a real classic. Melody wise, it’s reminiscent of It’s Only Love, but in execution it is indeed a totally different song. It has me after Henry the Horse doing the waltz and the calliope effects and tape loops take over the song. A favorite of mine.

    Within You Without You: Now after the absolute brilliance of side one, side two is kind of a letdown, especially early on, and it is only the final track that keeps this album from falling out of the top spot. This particular track is Harrison’s contribution and probably one of his weaker efforts. It’s a straight forward Indian tune with some psychedelic seasoning in the overdubs. I don’t dislike the song in any way, but it is a disappointment after the wonderful Paisley pop of side one.

    When I’m Sixty Four: And we come to my least favorite song on the album. McCartney wrote this during the Beatles early days and it is surprisingly mature for such a period. But I hate the whole old timey elements that McCartney would really pervert on some of his Wings tracks in the seventies. It’s the one song I try to skip when listening to this album.

    Lovely Rita: The album improves significantly on this track. While it still pales in comparison to the brilliant tracks on side one, this song about a parking meter cop is a nice piece of McCartney pop. Some sound effects are brought in but I don’t think they’re necessary. A nice song.

    Good Morning Good Morning: Inspired by a Kellogg’s commercial, this sax driven piece was considered something of a throwaway piece by Lennon. It probably is the weakest of his four tracks, but it does have its charm. The animal montages at the end was perhaps inspired by Pet Sounds.

    Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise): Set up as both an epilogue to the album and for the introduction to the grand climax, this quick track is something of a companion piece to the title track. This is a good version and it sets up the final track extraordinarily well.

    A Day in the Life: I think people know the story of the classic example of two songs in one, Lennon writing the main piece, with McCartney scoring the middle eight. Many people consider this the Beatles' peak and it would be hard for me to disagree. Lennon’s lyrics about some elements in the news basically, as well as a great melody are the moving forces on this track. McCartney adds to this song with his own day in the life so to speak and it ends with a crescendo of orchestral music ending with that ever so long piano chord that lasted fifty-three seconds. This was done with three pianos with Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Mal Evans playing the same piano chord in succession. Next to Strawberry Fields Forever, this is my second favorite Beatles tune and it’s safe to say this is the best ending to any Beatles album. And don’t forget about the inner groove.

    And now the Beatles have reached their musical zenith and it would be all downhill from here. But would it really? Much of their most acclaimed material would be among their final albums and at least two of these are bonafide Beatles classics. So stay tuned as we cover the Beatles’ late sixties material.
    Last edited by mrmustard615; September 23rd, 2019 at 01:58 PM. Reason: editing
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  4. #34

    After the death of Brian Epstein, the Beatles found themselves in a no man’s land of sorts. Not having any real leadership and with Lennon all but having relinquished his role as band leader, McCartney came up with the idea of a film where the Beatles would go on a bus and explore the English countryside. It resulted in one of the Beatles’ most panned efforts. As for the music, this was no doubt meant as Son of Sergeant Pepper, but it was never a complete album, being released in England as a double EP set. Capitol added two singles from earlier in 1967 to make it a full album in the States. While there are some good tracks as well as one amazing cut on this album, I rate this as one of the Beatles’ disappointments. I’m also adding some tracks that were recorded during this period but released on later recordings, mostly the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.

    Magical Mystery Tour: The title track and one of the better cuts on the EP. It starts out with the sound of trumpets and the circus like atmosphere dominates the song. It’s not quite as psychedelic as Pepper but it’s still pretty paisley in its own way.

    The Fool on the Hill: This is all mostly McCartney and it is certainly his song. It is a gentle recorder based song with some rather nice lyrics. It’s probably not a song I’d go out of my way for but it is a nice listen. This would become a hit for Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66’ nearly a year later.

    Flying: The only released Beatles instrumental until Anthology and the only song with writing credits to all four members, this was meant as incidental music for the film. It certainly shows in that aspect. Obviously a filler track which is odd considering there are other tracks (see later) that could have been used.

    Blue Jay Way: This is Harrison’s contribution and not an especially great song. Harrison wrote this in LA while waiting for Derek Taylor. It does make for interesting lyrics at least. He actually has two better songs that could have been used on this album, but I guess Lennon and McCartney were in a bad mood on this album.

    Your Mother Should Know: My least favorite song on the album. McCartney tries to do the two step here, much like he would do with Wings later. For whatever reasons, the other Beatles didn’t try to stop him from being cheesy on this one. His mother (God rest her soul) should have spanked him.

    I Am the Walrus: And this one is unequivocally a Beatles classic and one of Lennon’s best. Some of Lennon’s best nonsensical lyrics dominate the song which is accentuated from the heavy orchestral background that would later become the main sound of the Electric Light Orchestra. It’s easily my favorite song on this almost album.

    Hello Goodbye: This is the big hit from the soundtrack. It’s vintage psychedelia with McCartney’s own offbeat lyrics (You say goodbye and I say Hello). To be honest, this isn’t a song I can really get into, maybe because they played this to death on oldies radio for a while. I will say that I Am the Walrus was a much more superior side and I think I speak for the majority on this one. I sense even McCartney himself thinks so. Not a horrible track at all, it just isn’t for me.

    Tracks later released on Yellow Submarine

    All Together Now: McCartney called this a throwaway song. It is certainly meant as a children’s song. Honestly, it isn’t really my speed but I can see why they used this in Yellow Submarine. A very simple song, really.

    Only a Northern Song: I think I mentioned Harrison had two songs that were superior to Blue Jay Way. This was one of them. Recorded during Pepper actually, I can’t understand why this wasn’t used instead of Within You Without You on that album. A swipe at the Beatles song publisher. It’s a great piece of psychedelia and one of Harrison’s most underrated songs.

    It’s All Too Much: The other Harrison song that would be saved for Yellow Submarine, this Indian flavored psychedelic piece isn’t as strong as Northern Song but it’s still superior to Blue Jay Way. It’s an upbeat tempo and it fits in quite well with the animated feature that was Yellow Submarine. Not a bad song at all.

    And that’s about it for the Beatles’ mid period/psychedelic era. Stay tuned as the Beatles become disillusioned with each other after a trip to India and take a bite out of the Apple.
    Last edited by mrmustard615; September 24th, 2019 at 01:52 PM. Reason: editing
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  5. #35

    Interlude: 1968 non-album tracks

    This was something of a transitional year for the Beatles in a few ways. First, they would be launching their own label, thus Lady Madonna/The Inner Light would be the last release on Parlophone while Hey Jude/Revolution would be the debut on the new Apple label. Then there were the personal transitions as Lennon would leave his wife Cynthia for Yoko Ono, something that would put great strain on the other Beatles. McCartney too would find himself in between girlfriends as Jane Asher would announce their break up. Then there was the disillusionment with the Maharishi after a trip to India in early 1968 after the Lady Madonna recordings. And then there was disillusionment among the Beatles themselves, something that would come to a head on the White Album later in 1968. One thing for certain, they were the moptops no longer.

    Lady Madonna: This is Paul McCartney doing his best Fats Domino impression as the Beatles are getting back to basics here. The lyrics are clever and there is a great sax solo. I have to admit that, while I like the song, I can’t rate this among my Beatle favorites. Ironically, Fats Domino himself would cover this song later in the year.

    The Inner Light: The third of Harrison’s Indian inspired songs, it’s probably one of the Beatles' weaker flip sides and yet it’s probably my favorite of Harrison’s three Indian inspired numbers. As with the other two, there are no fellow Beatles on this track. As with Harrison’s other two Indian numbers, the lyrics are a bit cryptic in a cheesy way. This was originally conceived from Harrison’s Wonderwall soundtrack and would be used for the Beatles here. A surprisingly decent track.

    Hey Bulldog: Saved for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, this is my favorite of the four songs recorded in the Lady Madonna session and my favorite original track on the soundtrack itself. This is one of the Beatles’ heavier tracks with strong drumming by Ringo, Lennon’s pounding piano and a great lead guitar by Harrison. And of course the usual McCartney bass licks. Really great song.

    Across the Universe: This may have meant to be the flip side of Lady Madonna but Lennon was paranoid they were trying to sabotage his songs, so he left this for the World Wildlife Fund a year later. Shame really because this is a beautifully crafted song. As Lennon himself said years later, these are some of the best lyrics he ever wrote while the background acoustics are gentle and mildly psychedelic. Phil Spector would revive this track for Let It Be two years later.

    Hey Jude: The first Beatles single on Apple, this is the Beatles’ longest actual song at well over seven minutes. Amazingly enough it would not only get airplay without having to cut it short, it would become the Beatles’ biggest hit. This McCartney penned classic was inspired by a visit to Lennon’s son Julian right after his parents’ split. It is a song of hope more than anything else. Very good lyrics and a wonderful melody but the Na Na Na Na bit that takes up the entire second half of the song I could have done without. Still, a nice masterpiece.

    Revolution: One of my favorite Beatles tunes and probably the beginning of Lennon’s artistic peak. There are three versions of this song, the other two being on the White Album. This one is the heaviest and probably the most commercial. This is the best of the three versions with Lennon’s pointed lyrics that yearns for peaceful outcomes instead of violence. The song is backed by one of Lennon’s heaviest rhythm guitar licks. It also features a great instrumental electric piano break by session musician Nicky Hopkins. Misses my Beatles all time top ten, but just barely.

    So now we’re past any semblance of goodwill between the four Beatles. They will be in the studio for one of their most acrimonious studio sessions but it will culminate in yet another great album. So stay tuned for the next installment
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  6. #36
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    I never owned The Magical Mystery Tour, but other than Hello Goodbye, that's a great stoner album. There's so much variety in the song styles and genres that it kind of transports the listener to different places and time periods.

    Hello, Goodbye would have been a good song if not for the incredibly stupid lyrics... almost as dumb as McCartney's Someone's Knocking at the Door, which I think he did in the late '70s with Wings.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Irwin View Post
    I never owned The Magical Mystery Tour, but other than Hello Goodbye, that's a great stoner album. There's so much variety in the song styles and genres that it kind of transports the listener to different places and time periods.

    Hello, Goodbye would have been a good song if not for the incredibly stupid lyrics... almost as dumb as McCartney's Someone's Knocking at the Door, which I think he did in the late '70s with Wings.

    Let Em In off the Wings at the Speed of Sound in 1976. That album is also notorious for Macca's other masterpiece, Silly Love Songs.
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  8. #38

    And so here we are at the Beatles’ winter of discontent. Ringo would even leave the band briefly after a row with McCartney who, by now was becoming something of a perfectionist to the chagrin of the other three. In fact, there is a famous row that was filmed between McCartney and Harrison during the filming of Let It Be. In one sense, this double album set is a combined four mini solo albums as each Beatle wanted to do their own thing. With the exception of Starr perhaps, the other Beatles were essentially session musicians on the primary Beatle’s track. It is also argued that there is too much filler on this album, that maybe it should have been pared down to one amazingly great album. I’m not so sure. While there are certainly some throwaways (was Revolution 9 really necessary?), it still makes for a great album and a half at least. So even with all the acrimony, this will prove to be one of the Beatles’ best efforts.

    Back in the USSR: It starts off with one of McCartney’s better tracks, a rollicking Beach Boys influenced ditty about Russian girls, not unlike what the Beach Boys did in California Girls. Ringo is missing from this track as this is right after the disagreement with McCartney. McCartney ends up playing the drums. Nevertheless it has some great background vocals from Lennon and Harrison and a great instrumental break from Harrison. A very good opener.

    Dear Prudence: Like a lot of the songs on the album, this was written in India. Lennon wrote this about Mia Farrow’s sister who was apparently a bit reclusive during the Indian trip. The guitar is in a fingerpicked style that Donovan had taught Lennon. Indeed I notice two distinct styles by Lennon on this album, the fingerpicking you hear on this track and on Julia, and the blues numbers that Lennon would be writing such as Yer Blues for example. The White Album will be for Lennon what Revolver was for McCartney in my opinion, an artistic peak.

    Glass Onion: This is a bit of a whimsical piece of nostalgia by Lennon. It is driven by a string arrangement though not as out front as it was, say, on I Am the Walrus. One of the more interesting line is the song where he claims the Walrus was Paul. This would be one of the clues in the Paul is Dead rumors that would crop up a year later. Another great tune by Lennon.

    Ob La Di Ob La Da: When they talk about Paul McCartney and his “Silly Love Songs”, maybe they should point at this one. I think someone considered releasing this as a single at the time; thank God they didn’t. It’s an annoying little ditty in my opinion about a day in the life of Desmond and Molly (Maybe a precursor to Paul and Linda?). Capitol would release it as a desperation single in 1977 (I think) and would also become the theme song for the TV series Life Goes On. You guys can have it.

    Wild Honey Pie: Another annoying track from McCartney. I can’t believe they pulled Harrison’s Not Guilty for this. At least it’s not very long mercifully.

    The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill: This is Lennon’s scathing response to a big game hunter in India who would return from his endeavors for meditation. It’s a fun little sing along with Ringo rather prominent on this track. Yoko Ono is also evident on this track which I’m sure warmed the other Beatles all over. It’s a nice track where Lennon can channel his disgust (at the hunter) with a strong sense of humor. A cool tune.

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The last two tracks of side one is arguably the strongest part of this album. This Harrison composition is my favorite of all of his songs. It’s interesting that he wasn’t comfortable with his own guitar playing so he brought his friend, Eric Clapton, in to do the lead. And it’s a brilliant piece of work. Harrison claims that the Beatles all behaved themselves while Clapton was there to keep the fašade of harmony going. Harrison would use that revelation later when he brought in Billy Preston during the Get Back sessions. A fantastic melody, solid lyrics, and great instrumentation makes this a true Beatles top ten.

    Happiness is a Warm Gun: And this isn’t a top ten, but it sure is a top twenty. This time, Lennon takes aim at gun owners. I was thinking this was a play on Charles Schultz’ Peanuts books (Happiness is a Warm Puppy, etc), but, according to the Beatles Bible, Lennon says he saw that quote in a gun magazine. One thing for sure, this melding of four songs, all Lennon’s, really works on this track. Some great guitar work by Lennon and Harrison add up to one of my favorite songs on the album. Again, the White Album is Lennon’s peak with the Beatles I think.

    Martha My Dear: Yeah you could smell this one a mile away. This love song of sorts is about McCartney’s dog. I guess he wasn’t ready to sing love songs to Linda yet. Yes, it’s corny with the small orchestral arrangement, but somehow it works.

    I’m So Tired: Another one of Lennon’s really great tracks, it goes on with his continuing theme of always being sleepy (I’m Only Sleeping comes to mind). It has a bluesy feel to it. The bass is prominent at parts and some rather interesting lyrics (Sir Walter Raleigh, such a stupid git). Another favorite song on the album.

    Blackbird: A pretty acoustic tune by McCartney, this was done solo without help from the other Beatles. I guess in a way this was the precursor to McCartney’s first solo album. It’s a nice piece of lyrics. Honestly not among my favorite tracks on the album, but certainly a sweet tune.

    Piggies: This, sad to say, is one of the songs on the album that would inspire Charles Manson and his murderous spree in 1969. This Harrison track is another one of his diatribes against the greedy. I imagine given the mood of the time, some people may have thought it was anti cop. Whatever the case, the song has something of an renaissance feel to it with the harpsichord especially prominent. Not Harrison’s best, but still a nice tune.

    Rocky Raccoon: Not really a favorite song. McCartney here is writing a western story of sorts and it certainly is a good try, but I compare this to Bungalow Bill and, frankly, it doesn’t rate. I do have a personal story behind this. When I was working at a supermarket, someone borrowed my Beatles songbook so he could learn this song. He did a good job with it too. Still comes off as pretty average to me though.

    Don’t Pass Me By: Okay, first the good news- Ringo wrote this one and he gets a chance to shine on his own. Now the bad news- Ringo wrote this one. It’s a silly song for the most part with a pounding organ based piano. To be fair it isn’t really all that terrible, but it isn’t especially inspiring either.

    Why Don’t We Do It In the Road: It’s better than this one though. Obviously a throwaway by McCartney, it’s basically one set of lyrics over a monotonous verse. At least this one is a little more listenable than his Honey Pie messes.

    I Will: A simple acoustic piece by McCartney, this, like most of the songs on the LP, were written in India. They seemed to work a little too hard on such a simple song, but the final product comes out fairly well.

    Julia: Needless to say, this is Lennon’s love song to his late mother. After having lost my own mother last year, I can kind of relate to this one. This features the finger picking style Lennon had learned from Donovan in India. There are also some wistful vocals on this tracks. It’s a beautiful and one of Lennon’s best on the album.

    Birthday: This was basically the result of a Beatles’ jam in the studio. Many people are involved in this hard rock recording including Yoko Ono and Pattie Harrison. It was likely one of the Beatles’ few happy moments on the album. Honestly, though, it’s not one of my favorite Beatles tunes. I mean, it’s okay, but, honestly, I find the song to be a bit bland, even uninspired.

    Yer Blues: This is pure raw blues. Lennon is at his scathing best here and this is a precursor to his confessional primal scream era that would be evident in his early solo work,. It comes off as a typical blues song (I’m so lonely, wanna die…). Lennon would play this with Eric Claton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell at the Rolling Stones’ Rock n Roll Circus.

    Mother Nature’s Son: Another one of McCartney’s gentler tunes, this is reminiscent of Blackbird except there is some more instrumentation. I guess this could just as easily been on McCartney since he again recorded this by himself. A nice track but nothing that really says great song to me.

    Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey: This isn’t an especially great song either but you have to love how the track rocks on. It has something of a fast paced feel. Lennon claims he wrote this about his relationship with Yoko but of course there is that monkey reference (i.e. heroin- which both John and Yoko were taking in 1969. Not a bad song, certainly a lot of energy.

    Sexy Sadie: This rather angry song is probably my second favorite on the album. Of all the Beatles, Lennon was the most disillusioned after India. There were rumors that the Maharishi was taking liberties with one of the females at the retreat and Lennon was feeling a bit of betrayal. This resulted in this scathing rebuke. A strong piano based song with some great background vocals, this is one of Lennon’s most searing efforts and possibly the most underrated song in the entire Beatles’ catalog. Then again, that could be just me. One of the riffs in Sexy Sadie would be famously imitated on Radiohead’s Karma Police three decades later.

    Helter Skelter: And just imagine, the song that was said to be Charlie Manson’s inspiration to orchestrate the Tate-LaBianca murders was simply about an English version of a see-saw. Strange in a sense that this is one of McCartney’s great rockers, probably his best track on the album. He wanted this one loud and he got his wish. McCartney screams like never before and it would turn into one of the Beatles’ most remembered jam sessions although most of that would be cut. A very energetic track.

    Long, Long, Long: One of Harrison’s tracks, this one is essentially one of his spiritual songs. It is probably the quietest song on the album. In fact, there are parts where I can barely hear it. It does feature a rather wild finish.

    Revolution 1: This was the version of Revolution that was originally recorded. Not as heavy as the single release, this version has more of a bluesy feel to it with a little bit of brass to accentuate the song. There are also the shoo be doo wah background vocals from Harrison and McCartney, something they also do on the David Frost Programme where they played the hard rock version.

    Honey Pie: Well there isn’t anything wild about this one. Sometimes I think McCartney wished he was a child of the 1920s. He might as well saved this one for a deodorant commercial or something. Needless to say, I don’t like this track.

    Savoy Truffle: This is an attempt at humor from Harrison as kind of an inside joke to his friend, Eric Clapton. Not a bad song and some great saxophone work, but it’s pretty much par for the course in terms of the Beatles.

    Cry Baby Cry: This was influenced by a nursery rhyme of all things but somehow this one works, possibly because this is Lennon and not a piece of McCartney schmaltz. It’s a nice melody with some piano backing. Probably the best song on side four. The song is also noted for McCartney’s Can You Take Me Back tacked on at the end.

    Revolution 9: This is actually an experimental tape drawn up by John and Yoko. It is essentially an eight minute montage of tape loops dubbed over a jam session at the end of Revolution 1. I think it’s one of those tracks you either love or hate. I sense John and Yoko would go further with this on their Two Virgins disaster. As for this track, well, no, it’s not a classic Beatles track obviously, but at least I can listen to it.

    Good Night: Probably my least favorite of all the Beatles songs. Lennon wrote this and gave it to Starr and he’s about the only one who could have pulled this off. This is way too lush for me. It’s probably the poorest of all the Beatles end tracks in my opinion.

    And so, despite being at each other’s throats during much of the recording (and Spoiler alert: It’s about to get even worse), the Beatles come up with what I think is their best album post-Sergeant Pepper.

    Soon the dream will be over, but we still have a couple installments left at least as we cover the end of the Beatle dream. Stay tuned as we cover the acrimonious year that would be 1969.
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  9. #39

    This would prove to be a rather tumultuous year for the Beatles in both personal and business endeavors. First there was the budding romance between Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman, who would become newlyweds in March. Paul had at last become domesticated and, in some ways, his songs would become even more insufferable to the other Beatles. This ties in with the business issues as the Beatles had decided they needed a manager to fill the void left by Brian Epstein when he died in 1967. And McCartney had the perfect candidate, his new father in law, Lee Eastman. But wait a minute, the others protested, that sounds like nepotism. Thus they went with Lennon’s choice, Allan Klein, recommended by none other than the Rolling Stones, a band he was just about to stab in the back. Harrison and Starr sided with Lennon and there would be great resentment on McCartney’s end.

    And then there were the adventures of John and Yoko. They too tied the knot right about the same time Paul and Linda did. The two lovebirds celebrated by sleeping in bed where the public could see. In between, they recorded some obscure song called Give Peace a Chance. Essentially, Lennon had just embarked on a solo career. Yoko also remained a fixture in Beatles world, and John too would suffer his own resentments that his wife couldn’t be accepted. It would culminate in John finally asking Paul for a proverbial divorce late in the year.

    So how does this all play out musically? Incredibly well as it turns out. The Beatles' personal issues would not spill over into the music, which would keep its high quality. McCartney had a least one last gasp, Lennon was in the middle of a very creative period that would continue into his solo material in the early seventies, and Harrison was just hitting his stride. Even Ringo would have something to offer this year. So, buckle your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy, but wonderful, ride.

    Interlude: Yellow Submarine Soundtrack

    The original songs are covered in The Magical Mystery Tour and Lady Madonna recordings, but I thought the album deserved a mention as it also features a rather inspired soundtrack from George Martin. The soundtrack also made for a great animated feature. The Beatles themselves originally weren’t that keen on the idea of an animated film at first and actors would overdub the cartoon voices. After seeing the film and its rather original animation, the Beatles would warm up to it and they would do a live action cameo at the end., probably in early 1968 judging by how they looked, particularly Lennon. Anyway, if you like animated features, this is the movie to watch. There hasn’t been anything like this since.

    Interlude: The Get Back Sessions

    These were the sessions that would spawn the Let It Be album and movie of the same name. Hundreds of songs were rehearsed in this relatively brief span in January 1969. It’s a pretty good quantity given that the Beatles were barely on civil terms during this period. McCartney was seen as especially bossy and the infamous spat between him and Harrison is on for display in the Let It Be movie a year later. Lennon, at times, seemed rather distant, preferring to spend his time with Yoko in the studio. Harrison left at one point and returned with a promise to get out of the cold Twickensham studio where they were recording the proposed album. This was McCartney’s idea of a get back to basics album (thus the original title). There were some songs that were introduced that would appear on solo albums later such as McCartney’s Junk and Teddy Boy and Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, but most of the unreleased tracks would be covers, mostly of their favorite artists from the Quarrymen days. Honestly, as much as I love listening to Beatles alternate takes, these sessions don’t really impress me. They’re nice little jam sessions but that’s about it for me.

    Interlude: 1969 singles

    Get Back: A McCartney potboiler and a huge hit for the Beatles, this was one of the tracks that was released from the Get Back sessions. It’s a good choice as McCartney boogies about Jojo and Arizona. This is where Harrison brings Billy Preston in and it will be one of the few golden moments in Let It Be. He does a fantastic keyboard solo on this track. This is the studio version as a live version from the famous rooftop concert will be released on the Let It Be album a year later.

    Don’t Let Me Down: A Lennon blues standard and a great one at that. It’s a love song to Yoko as a lot of Lennon songs were at that time. I love the rawness of the piece and that was one of the best things about the Get Back sessions before Phil Spector would get his mutts on them, there was a certain raw quality to them and Don’t Let Me Down may be the rawest of them all.

    The Ballad of John and Yoko: The basic story behind this is that Lennon felt like it was time to record a song. Paul was visiting at the time, but George and Ringo were nowhere to be found. So this is essentially the one true Lennon and McCartney recording. McCartney would overdub the drums while Lennon supplied the guitars. The end result is a rather good song. Lyrically, it is a blow by blow account of John and Yoko’s marriage adventure and this would get the single banned in some areas. I really like this song. It proves that Lennon and McCartney could still cooperate with each other even in the middle of all the tensions.

    Old Brown Shoe: Harrison’s flip side to Ballad is kind of hard to categorize. He wrote it as a song about opposites and the recording itself is quite ambitious. It has a nice beat to it as the keyboards are prominent as well as Harrison’s lead guitars. It’s a decent song to be sure, not an absolute favorite, but certainly a solid track.

    So you see where we are at this late stage of the Beatles. Despite their issues with each other, they were still able to make some incredible music. And they weren’t done yet. Stay tuned for what will be the last album they will record together. One hint: They’ll go out with a bang (well, not really a bang but you know what I mean )
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  10. #40

    So the Beatles were in a lot of trouble by this time as we now know, so it was a bit of surprise that they decided to record one more album. There was a feeling, I believe, that they wanted to make one last great album as a group, hopefully with more group cooperation than they had had on the White Album, and what they had considered as a rather disastrous movie/album attempt earlier in 1969. So they got together for one more record and they would come up with a masterpiece to end the decade. This album had a little bit of everything from Lennon’s penchant for blues based rock to McCartney’s thematic tendencies. Add two classic tracks from Harrison and even a decent song by Starr and you have one of the great swan songs in rock history.

    I’m not going to dissect each track on side two as most of them are part of a montage that dominate most of the second side, rather I will combine those tracks as the Sun King-The End montage. Anyway, here we go.

    Come Together: Lennon was asked by Timothy Leary to write a campaign song and he came up with this one. He also used a line from a Chuck Berry song that would get him in trouble some years later. Nevertheless, this, along with A Hard Day’s Night, is the most powerful opening to a Beatles’ album. It’s typically heavy as per Lennon in 1969. Some great percussion and a bluesy feel overall makes this one of the great Beatles’ tunes and, arguably the last.

    Something: I did say arguably, didn’t I? Harrison comes up with this flip side to Come Together and it’s one of his best. It’s certainly his most acclaimed Beatle track to be sure. It’s a beautifully crafted love song. It has a fantastic melody with some nice chord changes and I really like the keyboards in particular. A very fine track that I really like.

    Maxwell’s Silver Hammer: The other Beatles would be very annoyed with this track as McCartney insisted on many takes with the 'bang bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer' part. It was kind of silly considering it’s one of McCartney’s silliest songs. In fact I’ll go as far as saying it’s the weakest track on the album. And, yes, that Bang Bang part is annoying.

    Oh Darling: This was McCartney going back to his roots to an extent. It starts out as a retro doo wop type of song then he really belts it in the middle eight. Needless to say this is head and shoulders better than Maxwell. Lennon would say later that he thought he could have sung it better.

    Octopus’ Garden: And this is the other song Ringo writes with the Beatles (I’m not counting What Goes On). It’s a charming ditty as only Ringo could do. It makes for a great children’s song and, honestly, I like this one a lot. I like the underwater instrumental break as well.

    I Want You (She’s So Heavy): And this is Lennon at his rawest. Two heavy guitars jangle throughout the piece. The lyrics are rather simplified but that doesn’t really matter. Lennon’s vocals are incredibly raw and the whole white noise effect makes this arguably the heaviest of all Beatle songs. Probably my favorite song on the album next to Come Together.

    Here Comes the Sun: This is Harrison’s other contribution and something of a classic in its own right. I honestly can’t call this one of my favorites though. This was the theme song of a local children’s show in Baltimore in the seventies and I think I pretty much got tired of it. Harrison wrote this in Eric Clapton’s back yard incidentally.

    Because: One of the Beatles’ most beautiful songs, this is perhaps the best vocals on all the Beatles’ songs. Backed by an electric harpsichord, Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison would record their harmonies three times to have an effect of extra singers. It’s a gentle song and one of my favorite tracks on the album.

    You Never Give Me Your Money (medley): The first of two medleys, this was McCartney’s comment on the business dealings of Allen Klein at the time. Amazingly no one took umbrage to it and it would prove to be a successful recording. There are some other snippets of songs in this medley and a great guitar break in the Beatles style after the one-two-three-four-five-six-seven refrain. A decent track.

    Sun King-The End (Medley): This is not only the grand finale of Abbey Road, it’s the grand finale of the Beatles as we know them. Of course Let It Be had yet to be released but this is the last album the Beatles would ever record. Like You Never Give Me Your Money, it’s essentially a montage of snippets of songs, most of them written by McCartney but three, Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, and Polythene Pam were Lennon tracks. Both Lennon and McCartney have their whimsical moments, but it is The End instrumental that proves to be the magnum opus as Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison play their guitar riffs in their own distinctive styles along with Ringo’s rare drum solo. And in the End the Love You Take is Equal To the Love You Make is a perfect ending to perhaps the most amazing career in the annals of music.

    Her Majesty: This is basically a twenty three second throwaway that McCartney used to puncture the pompousness of The End. This is a perfect postscript as it shows the Beatles haven’t lost their humor.

    So the Beatles succeeded in going out in style but there still is one more release to go. It was decided that they would resurrect the Get Back recordings after all and it would culminate in a film and an album, even though by then, the Beatles had all but broken up. We’ll cover that in the next installment though.
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