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The Beatles LPs: Great Music from Lennon, McCartney, Harrison & Starr!
When you listen to The Beatles, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are a very eclectic and sometimes somewhat derivative band, and in that you would be right. But more often than you might think, what sounds like, say, The Byrds is really The Byrds sounding like The Beatles. Similarly, just about anything with a backwards guitar probably owes its existence, not to JimiHendrix, but Lennon on Revolver.
Recorded over a period, not of years or months, but hours, Please Please Me is a characteristically eclectic collection of upbeat, drum, guitar and harmony, one or two gentler songs, all a mixture of covers and Lennon/McCartney originals.
The final track is about as exciting as it gets for a three-minute pop song. Already somewhat hoarse from the recording session, Lennon belts out this 'filler' track as if it might be the last time he ever sings it. Twist & Shout is one of the standout tracks, as is the The Beatles first number One single, Please Please Me, just as George Martin the producer had predicted at the recording.
With The Beatles features a similar mix to its predecessor, with at least three really outstanding tracks: All I've Got To Do (a subtle, foot-tapping love song), All My Loving (a lively rocker) and Money (another powerful cover by Lennon).
Harrison knocks out a driving version of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, joined by Lennon on Smokey Robinson's You Really Got A Hold On Me.
Hold Me Tight features McCartney momentarily but memorably singing out of tune. Well worth a listen!
A Hard Day's Night features all the songs from the film of the same name, including two Number Ones and several other outstanding tracks. The title track, and Can't Buy Me Love are both notable for innovative guitar intros, driving rythms and compulsive harmonies. The rest of the albumn is infectiously cheerful, exciting, tuneful and very accomplished.
I Should Have Known Better is characteristically upbeat, with tight harmonies and a foot-tapping beat; And I Lover Her is gentle and melodic. Any Time At All echoes All I've Got To Do in its energetic, romantic confidence.
Beatles For Sale is rather downbeat, almost melancholic in places, and while it it is a worthwhile album, it contains no truly outstanding tracks.
Neverthless, it's worth listening to: What You're Doing , McCartney's laid-back lament is enjoyable enough and the whole band gives Mr Moonlight a throaty seeing to.
Help! is leap forward from the rather lack-lustre Beatles For Sale, with a typically eclectic mix of highly original songs varying in tone and style. Help! is an impassioned plea, while You've Got To Hide Your Love Away is sad and haunting, but confident and upbeat all the same. Ticket To Ride is rockier but in much the same vein, while Yesterday sounds like McCartney's elegiac response to Lennon's You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.
The film, unlike A Hrad Day's NIght, is only worth seeing for the songs, but they are performed with the same cheeky insouciance you would expect from the already super-confident Beatles
Wait and In My Life are the two most outstanding tracks on this album that also includes Michelle, Norwegian Wood, Girl and If I Needed Someone.
In Revolver The Beatles hit the ground running with Harrison's Taxman (compare The Jam's Start!), and barely pause to catch their breath as one outstanding track follows another.
Taxman, like a lot of the songs, features a fairly hard guitar sound with innovative rhythms and harmonies. Lennon's She Said, She Said, And Your Bird Can Sing and Dr Robert are in the same vein while McCartney explores a number of musical styles in the almost classical Eleanor Rigby and in the brassy and soulful Good Day Sunshine and Got To Get You Into My Life.
Elsewhere Lennon experiments with Tomorrow Never Knows and It's clear that the drugs are finally kicking in (Dr Robert tells the tale of their purveyor).
As the cover suggests, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a carnivalesque album with songs that fit as easily in the circus ring as they do in the Ghost Train.
Standout tracks include the psychedelic Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the apocalyptic A Day In The Life and the lively, singalong Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends.
The album must have been mind-blowing to its first listeners and is still remarkable. Nevertheless, I think it's fair to say that its whole is greater than its parts, although some of the parts are simply great.
The Beatles (otherwise known as The White Album) shows just how super-confident The Beatles are at this stage in their career. This double-album barely advertises itself at all - white, with only The Beatles name in raised lettering on the cover, the music does all the talking.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is a Warm Gun and Sexy Sadie are the tracks that really stand out. On the first Harrison produces a moving, slide guitar based song that will surely stand the test of time. Happiness Is a Warm Gun combines halucinegenic lyrics with a spare guitar and vocals rock classic. Sexy Sadie has something of a honky-tonk piano feel to it with a hard to forget vocal hook (not fogetting wonderful guitars and drums).
Back In The USSR is McCartney's jaunty, tongue in cheek, rocker; I'm So Tired and Yer Blues are Lennons dyspeptic bluesy contributions; More hallucinogenic, but just as rocking are his Glass Onion and Dear Prudence.
Let It Be was last to be released, but was the penultimate recording, and it is better to think of its successor Abbey Road as their final flourish.
The plangent The Long & Winding Road and Let It Be are great songs, as are the rockers Get Back and Dig A Pony. Lennon is very mellow in Across The Universe.
The rest of the album is a bit below par and the Film shows why.
Abbey Road feels like a whole, but its stitches are quite loose. Nevertheless, it contains some great tracks, not least Harrison's Something, a flowing, impassioned love song.
Lennon's Come Together is a great piece of psychedelic-inspired rock; Oh! Darling a great Rock'n'Roll standard manque, aided and abetted by McCartney's throaty vocal.
I Want You/She's So Heavy is a lesson on how to squeeze out some bluesy variations from a rock'n'roll theme: a rumbling, throbbing track to be reckoned with.