Best Beatles Albums - What is the Beatles Number One Album of all time?
Is it possible to choose a best Beatles album?
"The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door"
Over their illustrious career The Beatles produced twenty seven studio albums - twelve of these albums were released in the UK, with numerous different albums released around the world. In addition they release four live albums and a multitude of compilation albums. Their ability to produce quality albums in a few weeks is legendary and arguably they are the most prolific group of all time.
One of the most difficult questions to answer is ‘What is the best Beatles album?’ With so many classic albums crossing many different genres it’s very difficult to pick a top 5 list let alone a top album. Some albums will consistently appear on most top album lists, however with the variety of albums, no list will be the same.
It can be argued logically that there are at least half a dozen albums that could compete for this worthy title, and there are a lot of different opinions. It should also be noted that with so many fans worldwide still enjoying their music there is never going to be a definitive answer to this question.
This article is not going to give you the correct answer nor will it settle the argument; the list of albums I provide below are in my opinion the greatest Beatles albums. I base my opinion on several things: the popularity of the albums, the individual songs, the influence of each album and ultimately my own personal preference.
You will not agree with all the albums I list - as an example A Hard Day's Night is an album that I consider to be the most influential album on The Beatles road to greatness. As a standalone album it's probably nowhere near the best, but without it albums like The White Album, Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would not have been written. A Hard Day's Night represents the birth of the creative force that became Lennon and McCartney; without this diversion from 'pop music' things could have been very different today.
Please feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of this article or take time to vote for your favorite Beatles Album in my poll.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The “Paul is Dead’ conspiracy.
According to urban legend Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966. The band covered up his death and hired a look-alike and sing-alike to replace him. Over the subsequent albums they began to hide clues to Paul’s death. Perhaps the most famous Paul is Dead references come in their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band:
- The Beatles formed a new band featuring Billy Shears – obviously Billy was the real name of the new Paul.
- The song ‘A Day in the Life’ had the lyrics “he blew his mind out in a car’ and when played backward has the phrase ‘Paul is dead, miss him, miss him’
- At the end of ‘Strawberry Field Forever’ John Lennon clearly mumbles ‘I buried Paul’ – doubters claim he actually said ‘cranberry sauce’
This is the best Beatles album without a doubt - well that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
What is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band like?
This 8th studio album was heavily influenced by Revolver; it took the experimentation to a different level by combining jazz, rock, Indian music and other sounds to create a cornucopia of sound that was more orchestrated than any other Beatles album. It arrived at the very beginnings of psychedelic music helping to shape a sound that would influence multiple bands and ultimately help create the genre of progressive rock and the idea of concept albums.
The album came out at a time when the Beatles were changing; they had stopped touring and their individual music styles were beginning to take over the groups sound as each member tried to find their own way in life; the album was very experimental and yet it is possibly their culminating achievement as it melds everything that was their sound into one glorious album.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band essentially became a commentary on the change of the Beatles from a pop band to an art band – a band that used music, production, lyrics and sounds to create a feel for each song that in most cases is subtle and profound – it moved music into the realms of being considered art.
What is Abbey Road like?
Even though Let it Be was released after Abbey Road, Abbey Road was the final piece of collaborative work for the Beatles. Many will argue that they left the best to last as the album, recorded in 1969, featured some of their most popular music, and in the opinions of many several of their masterpieces.
Within this album we began to see the talents of the individuals emerge; Harrison moved away for the shadow of Paul and John and created the song ‘Something’. John began to show his individual talents and direction with the classic ‘Come Together’, while Ringo’s character became clear when he wrote Octopus’s Garden. The whole album is sheer class, delivering hit sounds and a flawless 16 minute song that is among their finest achievements with several songs melding together seamlessly to create a production that was near perfection.
Within this album you see the genius of the Beatles as a group together with the emergence of the individuals. This collaboration was a final swan song for the group but provided the world with 4 solo careers that were as diverse as the sound the Beatles produced during their careers.
What is Revolver like?
Revolver is on everyone’s list of top albums of all time. Revolver was raw; it was an album that experimented with new sounds and new techniques, and perhaps more-so than Sgt. Pepper introduced the world to artistic music that ultimately would become psychedelic music. The album was a mixture of experimental sounds and more complex materiel (such as Eleanor Rigby) that defined how the Beatles are seen today. With social commentary, an edge that wasn’t evident in their earlier more commercial music and their ability to make something new sound so good they blew away the ‘stereotypical’ Beatles sound and with the help of Rubber Soul began to show their true genius.
Revolver was almost a transition album that saw them move from a managed band into a band that set their own destiny. The music was theirs, the use of new techniques was theirs and the subtleties of the thought provoking lyrics propelled the Beatles into a different level, one that would see perhaps their greatest period of creating music. Revolver was the catalyst to the change that happened towards the end, one that would filter into every song they ever wrote after this.
The White Album or The Beatles
What is the White Album like?
The song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is one of the most haunting Beatles songs I have ever heard; with other great hits like Dear Prudence and Back in the U.S.S.R the whole album seems to mirror the pain, anger and separation that the Beatles were going through during 1968.
The White Album is considered by many to be the best Beatles Album of all time; written just after Brian Epstein died it was created during a retreat where the band met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and embarked on a spiritual journey.
While some amazing songs were written during the retreat the album didn’t really come together until they went to the studio in 1968. The calm of the retreat was replaced by discord and the diversity of the two different creative sessions is very evident in the music.
The White Album was perhaps the most diverse and experimental album of their whole portfolio. It combined sheer rock madness in songs like Back in the USSR, fun and levity with the great Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and haunting ballads like Dear Prudence and While my Guitar Gently Weeps.
Like many of their later albums, the deep divisions and differences in styles within the band, and the evidence that all four would end up going solo actually helped create an atmosphere that bought out their best collaborative music even though many of the songs are attributable to each member.
It simply is a class album.
A Hard Day’s Night
What is A Hard Day's Night like?
A Hard Day’s Night was the first ‘original’ Beatles album containing no covers. It moved the Beatles from being just another pop band into an era where Lennon and McCartney began to drive the music and sound of the band, with a lot of help from Ringo and George.
While the style that catapults The Beatles to greatness was still being developed, the transition of the music from pop to a harder and tighter pop that had rock undertones was very evident throughout the album.
The musical maturity of the band started to grow with the introduction of harmonious songs such as And I love her. This style would continue to develop as they experimented with later albums, but the signs of greatness were very evident, and this album is perhaps the most influential on their own careers.
Some will argue that A Hard Day’s Night wasn’t that great, but without it the sounds of The White Album or any of their later experimental albums simply wouldn’t have existed – without this first collaboration between Lennon and McCartney songs like Yesterday may never have been written.
Let it Be
What is Let it Be like?
One wonders what would have happened if The Beatles had managed to find a way to work together despite their musical differences; as they approached their last album, the band were essentially moving their separate ways and Let it Be seemed like a failed lifeline.
Let it Be was released and the murmurings of Spector’s over production, the discord of the band and the failure to produce a classic album seemed evident. And yet the album produced some classic songs.
Let it Be was orchestrated to death and yet it is a simple classic. Across the Universe was poorly received but is considered by many to be Lennon’s finest work. Long and winding road is a beautiful song that almost seems to be talking about the band.
What perhaps elevates this album is the fact that it’s one of the only albums where the breakdown of communication and the anger that surrounded the band seems to be very evident in the discord of the album. It is one of their least cohesive albums of all and yet it somehow works. It’s as if the whole album represents the Band’s history; musically it is diverse bringing in rock, ballad, and many other genres to provide a cornucopia of sound; lyrically it is retrospective at times and direct at others; personally for me the whole album simply provokes memories of their entire collection.
It was the last work that the Beatles would do together, and while not their best as many will say, it is a worthy album because of the history it contains.
While no one will ever agree what the greatest Beatles album is, we can all agree that The Beatles influence on modern music is profound and without their different and varied albums, today’s music would be totally different. Their work influenced many different genres; rock, the blues, jazz and many more sounds of the day probably wouldn’t be the same without them!
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