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The Beatles

How Many A+'s, Ryan? HOW MANY FUCKING A+'s, RYAN!!!!!?!?!?!?!?

Introduction
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help!
Rubber Soul
Revolver
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
Yellow Submarine
The Beatles (White Album)
Abbey Road
Let It Be
1962 Live at the Star Club Hamburg
Past Masters Vol. 1
Past Masters Vol. 2
Live at the BBC
Anthology 1
Anthology 2
Anthology 3

The Lineup Card (1962-1970)

Paul McCartney (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals) also of Wings

John Lennon (guitar, keyboards, vocals)

George Harrison (guitar, vocals)

Ringo Starr (drums)

The Beatles represent everything good about rock music as a form. They pioneered every music form after 1962 and before, ohh 1976 in some direct or indirect way. The vast majority of their songs are excellent. Their production, care of George Martin, is superb and imaginative. They were extremely original. They were great musicians. They couldn't play live very well.

The Beatles are the best rock 'n' roll band of all time whether you like them or not. I happen to like them. Big, obese, sweaty, slightly-bologna-smelling bunches.


Please Please Me - EMI 1963

OooooooEEEEEE! This album is so much damn better than anything else released in 1963 that it's not even funny. No, it is funny...about as funny as the episode of 'What's Happenin' when D-wayne (I think that was his name...it's been a long, long road, you know) wants to go see the Doobie Brothers and calls their hotel room and asks 'Which Doobie You Be?' and it was HILARIOUS for a 10 year old such as myself who'd only just recently exhausted the humor content of boogers. Except for this joke...and watchout, 'cos this ones a doobie:

Q: How Do You Get 1000 Ethiopians Into A Car?

A: Put A BOOGER on the DASH!!!!

Oh...ooeee....*snort!* that's SO FUNNY. Much much funnier than how much better this record is than any other album released in 1963. Why's it so darn fine of a plastinka, pray tell? Well, because these fine three Scouser lads (and, right, one Londoner, Ringo) sure are happy to be singing these songs for us! Besides the fact that they're already aces on their instruments, and by that I mean they play tight and snappy rather than ripping off solos and shit, but you know....I think that's something that's become lost in the past 35 years or so. Often times, whenever I listen to a record recorded in the early 60's I have an overwhelming happy feeling that the folks on the other side of the microphone are having a GREAT time making a record for me. Quite a bit different than in the early 70's, when it seems almost as if artists are doing me a favor. Well, The Beatles put together a fine, fun record of 50's rock covers and originals that sound, well, like 50's rock covers. And a bunch of lovey-dovey 'you can make contact with me if we both wear gloves' makeout tunes that are so safe for children its a wonder they aren't actually considered to be pornographic code for dirty sex. Like 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'? Little Richard was telling everyone 7 years earlier that his woman 'sure likes to ball'! I know the US was one conservative joint in 1963, but puh-LEASE! We all know what you really wanna do to her hand, John!

Okay, songs...More than half are originals, which means that something approaching 50% are covers, but like I said, it's not like the cover material and original material are miles apart. It's quite an achievement...you see that on their very first LP record, the Lennon/McCartney team are already equal to their influences. For originals, we've got the country tune 'Love Me Do' (which has very little to do with Little Richard-style rock 'n' roll), which was their first single. Despite the less-than-Shakespearian lyrics (you know what I'm talking about) it still charms my pants off faster than a freshman co-ed at her first fraternity party. 'Misery' is basic mid tempo beat, but little touches like the dancehall piano and the slightly ragged vocal doubling keep it interesting. And 'Chains' is almost identical to 'Misery', minus the piano, and gets a bit too sing-songy for me. The slow-dance 'Ask Me Why' has yet another cool non-rock groove (this is waltz, or something...but not rock!) that shows that the boys have musical ideas in their heads far beyond the simple 3 chords. I'm not saying they're ready to write a multi-part symph-rock opus or anything (they're songwriting still emphasizes the simple) but they're definitely not your run of the mill rock group, in case I needed to remind you of that.

But in Hamburg the Beatles rocked, and in the Cavern Club the Beatles rocked and put toilet seats around their necks, and no amount of Epsteinian polish is gonna grind off all those months of ragged rock 'n' roll woodshedding. Witness 'Please Please Me', 'I Saw Her Standing There' and the rockin' missile launch of 'Twist and Shout'. All of these, but especially the last one, present the kind of energetic rock machine the Beatles could be when they (John) put their minds to it. Even better is that they wrote the first two songs, and wrote them to sound different than anything churned out in the 1950's. Its a new way to rock 'n' roll, maybe more mannered, certainly more white, but a tad bit snotty and a lot bit tight. I like 'em. I like 'em a lot. But as a 'rock' guy rather than a 'cute melody' guy, I feel like this isn't enough.

The album taken as a whole, though, seems to me to have too few rockers on it, lots of innocent, wide-eyed love pledges that come off sorta insincere (like I said, these guys were grown men, not 12 year old puppy lovers), and lots of stuff that sounds like it was ripped from some Fabian movie soundtrack ('A Taste Of Honey' is cute and melodic, but limp, and 'P.S. I Love You' is the same way. I love 'Do You Want To Know a Secret', though...that song is great.) but we have to blame that on their (and Brian Epstein's) desire to be as big as possible as fast as possible. I think that, if you accept it that this album has very few genius or even particularly interesting parts on it, and listen to it when you simply want to hear some cute near-rock 'n' roll tunes performed by a group of guys who are at their happiest, Please Please Me might be for you.

Capn's Final Word: Their originals are already better than the songs they cover. Except for 'Twist And Shout', tho...that's better than sex (with your mama).

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Nazar     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Can you say "good pop music?" This is the first Beatles album I got(shoplifted), and it had me hooked. It's awesome in it's own right, regardless of the quality of pop music in 1963. I actually think it's as good as Abbey Road, but nostalgia may have something to do with that.

P.S. I like the layout of your site.
 


With The Beatles - EMI 1963

I'm writing this nearly three years after I wrote the other Beatles reviews, most of which must seem positively diminuitive compared to my three-page examinations of crap like Keepin' The Summer Alive, and I doubtless would've devoted no more than four lines to this album back then.  It's too similar in structure and feel to Please Please Me to be too interesting to anybody who isn't just in it for 'more of the same of that old stuff'.  They're already sounding a lot more professional and controlled than they did on their debut, even coming across a bit 'grown up' on stuff like 'All My Loving', one of the original travelin'-man songs.  But since this is the early 60's and not 1971, not once does Paul say he's 'ramblin' on' or that 'babe, I'm gonna leave you'...and shocking as it may seem, he doesn't once mention either Gollum or the 'back door', but rather, you know, talks about writing love letters home and stuff.  It's easy to see why so many musicians reacted with ambiguity when presented with the overwhelming success of the mania-peak Beatle band...they really don't play 'rock' very convincingly, when you get right down to it.  Oh, they're brilliant songwriters, great singers, excellent, effortless musicans, sure.  But even then, but they sing pop songs in the same tradition as their forebears from the 40's and early 50's, and don¬ít much draw their inspiration from the noisy black folks like their scruffier British followers did.  The thing is, I'm not sure whether they just couldn't rock and roll with the authority that the Stones or the Animals could (to hear John tell it, they most definitely could, and could've even shoved the Stones right off the stage if they'd had the chance, but something tells me to take this with a grain of salt.) or they just chose not to. Rocking and rolling just wasn't their responsibility the same way as acting as highly respectable pop-music icons was.  See, in 1963 they hadn't yet begun to rebel against their matching outfits and cleaned up language, and were more than happy to continue with the 'we're just four lads from Liverpool 'come to play some of our tunes, awright?' dog-and-pony act as long as it kept the big bucks and the endless string of number ones coming.  And part of this image that would help them break into America (which was their primary focus at this time) was an imminent, unquestionable politeness (some would say 'whiteness') that allowed them to come in and set up shop in the pop consciousness until it was time to break free a little in a couple of years. The only time they get really really loose is on the proto-punk blues land speed record 'I Wanna Be Your Man', written for and covered by the Stones, but presented in it's premier version right here.  While the Stones got nasty and leering, the Beatles get ecstatic and laser-tight.  Hearing the two versions right next to each other is a great way to hear just what the exact damn differences were between these rock Titans, from the earliest of ages.

As for the rest of the material here, despite a string of some very good non-rock tracks, there's still a big tendency towards cover tunes, though it's hard to argue with 'Roll Over Beethoven' or 'Money', both of which sound like the band's been running them through their setlists for years (which they were), very hard to like John's miscast 'Please Mr. Postman', and very hard not to see Paul's reading of the Miracles' 'Til There Was You' as being one of the first in a long, long line of stately, slightly-moth-bitten crooner tracks that he'd be obsessed with throughout his career.

Otherwise, we're smashed full by a second side that is dominated by John's oddly non-rocking tunes, all of which are good but none of which are much of a kick in the fun bag 'Not A Second Time' and 'Devil In Her Heart' are two sides of the same coin, as are Paul's 'Hold Me Tight' and John's cover of Smokey Robinson's 'You've Really Got a Hold On Me' leading to two unintentional mini-suites of songs about snuggling and evil females, and sometimes even snuggling with evil females.  George's 'Don't Bother Me' is one of the better tracks here, an efficient and moody rocker with a chord sequence with more guts than most of the rest of the originals here.  With the Beat-less is an interesting, enjoyable listen, but I'd say it holds a very small niche within the band's catalog.  They weren't yet good enough to write an album as consistently stupendous as, say, Hard Day's Night, so they instead take an easy tack and just end up improving on their debut.  Which they do, but they're also operating within a bubble created by their massive success, connecting with the masses of housewives and hipster middle-aged folks while the kids went out and got nice and dirty with the Stones and the Animals.

 Capn's Final Word: So they don't rock that good...they do write that good. Busily bringing pop music out of the gutter.

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Robert Grazer xeernoflax@jack-the-ripper.com     Your Rating: C
Any Short Comments?: Despite the general acclaim With the Beatles gets simply because of the band it happens to be by, I personally think this is the worst the Beatles ever fell into simply padding down their singles with enough music to make a full album. Maybe working through the band's albums chronologically this may seem a bit more impressive, but I fail to see how With The Beatles makes even the slightest lasting impression for those who came down from such giants as Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour. It just sounds so timid and typical, and when it comes down to it, I don't see how any of these songs aside from maybe "All My Loving" are just THAT much better than those from any given release in
1963.
 

dver     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: That was the first Beatles album I heard and I must say that I always regarded "It won't be long" as one of the best songs I have ever heard though most people in the business would take it as a good "she loves you" copy. Well, it is a copy, but man, what a copy! Technically better though, chord speaking, simpler. What an energy did these four lads put in! And these vocals (plus the backing ones), this beginning! May I refer to some other points too. "I wanna be your man" is very much based on Ringo's drumming and it simply wins over the Rolling one. The live version just can't reach the studio one. As you said live was not the strong Beatle point. "All my loving" with these great Lennon triplets again is one of those songs the Beatles could not reproduce live. "Roll over beethoven" is a great tight rocker. One of the best album tracks. "Money" has backing vocals you think ten people did. I think they were only two. The whole feeling of the album is about "being happy". You just can't get albums like this anymore. Teen music for the next 5 hundred years.
 

Nazar     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: I feel that this album is a step down from the debut. In addition to some lame covers, it has Hold Me Tight, which is the worst Beatles song ever recorded, and probably one of the sappiest and most pathetic pieces of music I've ever heard. On the other hand, It has some gorgeous tunes which more than compensate, like Not A Second Time and All I've Got To Do. Roll Over Beethoven takes a little while to get used to.

 


Hard Day's Night - EMI 1964.

Their songwriting is growing by leaps and bounds, and their sound is improving almost as fast. This album (if you get the British version, that is), is the first to contain 100% Lenin/Trotsky toons. And boy, after having a bit of 'cover lag' with Please and Wit' Da, I, for one, am ready for it. Thank God and Whoever Else that allowed this to happen, because these songs, naive as they still are, are fantastic almost to the extreme. From the 12-string (a first!) weird chording of the title rocker (one of my all-time favorites), or the acoustic harmony balladeering of 'If I Fell' to the juuuuust slightly Latin-tinged acoustic ballad 'And I Love Her' to the desperate John rocker 'Anytime At All' Hard Day's is a perfect sampling of what made the early Beatles so grand. Even the worse tracks aren't that bad. Take the George-sung 'I'm Happy Just To Dance With You'...the melody is just slightly inferior to the monsters, and the sentiment is a bit too naive to buy, but it's still melodic and still interesting. The beat helps, and that sinister strumming does too. And all the songs have something along those lines...a 12-string flourish, a great singing job by John or Paul, or something that makes it smell just like magic. And even 'When I Get Home' hints at having lots of actual sex rather than, you know, hand jobs and stuff. And it ends on a perfect note with the Everly Brothers-style folk-rock ballad 'I'll Be Back'...I tell you...without thinking too hard they made a classic. In 1964 I get the impression that a lot of this stuff was just effortless for John and Paul to do...they make it look easier than stealing Social Security from a gramma. And the songs are nice and compact, too, lots of 'em under 2 minutes even. And not because they'd become boring at 4 minutes, but because they had twice as many cool melodies to put down on tape than the usual perfect rock album. And 4 times as many as most decent rock albums. Oh, maybe its a bit too positive and smile-plastered (that was part of the charm, so I hear). But then Beatles For Sale is too depressing, so let's agree it comes out equal in the end. With the Beatles it always does.

Gosh...this album is really great, and they hadn't even heard Dylan yet. They just take the original Beatles pop formula (before it got all mixed up with Zimmerman and soul and all those other mid-60's artists that influenced them) and hit home run after home run with it. If that sounds a bit boring for you, you're probably just thinking too hard. It's rock 'n' roll!

Capn's Final Word: Just a bunch of excellent pop songs for you to love. Is that too difficult for you, chump?

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nazar     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: This is THE  first true masterpiece by the Beatles. The melodies are beautiful beyond words, and every has song has at least something good about it. Actually, this is probably the best place to start your Beatles collection since later they would get kinda complicated, which could make their music hard to understand.

 


 Beatles For Sale - EMI 1964.

The bummer flipside to Hard Day's, this album is almost identical in style (mid-60's jangle-pop, with slight incursions from blues, country, soul, and croon) to that one, but where's all the goofy happiness gone to? Lookit those sad sack motherfuckers on the record jacket! All these songs are about losing your love and being a loser yerself! Who farted in their collective faces this morning? Well slap my ass and call me The Midnight Cowboy but these Beatle boys were good at what they did. They can even make feeling shitty sound, well, like something you can write really great catchy songs about.

Take a gander at the song titles: 'No Reply' 'I'm a Loser', 'Baby's In Black', and that's just the first three songs. Yeah, like they weren't trying to send some message that maybe releasing 3 albums and a movie in one year on top of touring and being interviewed nonstop is a bit too much for their perennial sense of humor to withstand. And more often than not, they refer to having 'the blues' or the like, just in case you missed the point. Something like 'Eight Days A Week' or 'Every Little Thing', which have nothing lyrically to indicate they're anything but a usual love-song rocker, have a tired, slightly sluggo feel that's interesting, if not necessarily better than a song done in the Hard Day's slaphappy-style. ('Every Little Thing' even seems to predate the Byrds...man that's some kinda coolness on that track...boom BOOM! I wish it were longer!)

The covers return here, but at least they're doing better shit than on Please...like 'Rock 'n' Roll Music' by Charles Berry...that's a good one, and John's super-hyped, slap-backed delivery is some sort of landmark in rock history or something. I dunno...I just think he sings well, but not that well. The Paul-sung piano pounder 'Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey' is much better, I say. It's even more ass-to-the-wind, and I like that jazz. See, the Stones did covers like they were sexually predatory black folks. The Beatles do covers like they're ecstatic and spastic black folks. There's a time and place for both in this great big blue world of ours, thanks be. The Stones cover 'Not Fade Away' and make it into jungle boogie. The Beatles cover 'Words Of Love' and make it into some sort of proto pot-smoking incantation.

Now the album as a whole breaks no new ground other than, you know, the whole feelin' down thing, but that don't mean that even the trifles aren't superb. The Ringo sung 'Honey Don't' makes me think that maybe his voice is perfect for country music (a thought that his first solo albums would go a long way to disproving!) and all the covers are good stuff. Hey, hey what can I do?

Capn's Final Word: Give it another high grade, Captain!

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Nick     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Your review gives this neglected album some much deserved praise and respect that virtually all other online reviewers neglect. This is my favorite Beatles album, not their best, but my favorite. The depressing song 1-2-3 punch that starts things out is fantastic. Yes there are 6 covers, but all of them are at least good, and some ("Words Of Love") are great. The Dylan influence and the burnt-out feel to this album is fantastic. I actually improved the album on my Ipod by downloading the Capitol album stereo versions of these songs and mixing in some session-contemporary songs like "I Feel Fine", "She's a Woman" and "Leave My Kitten Alone". Oh, and I banished my least favorite song, "Eight Days a Week" to the end where I will seldom here it again.

 


Help! - EMI 1965

The Meatwhistles started smoking the debbil's weed round about late 1964 (that's right kids! tell 'em the BEATLES sent ya!), so by the time of the filming of Hep! they were truly herbal cowboys (have you seen it?)...which explains partially why this album seems to have been mostly tossed off when compared to recent triumphs. I get a real 'it's okay, man...here's a melody, here's some words....be a dear and roll another, wouldya?' message from this one. But, see, there's these monsters on the first side. Real, huge, teeth bearing monsters masquerading as rock 'n' roll songs. Like, say, 'Help!'...quite a song and quite a plea from Beatle John, probably a clearer look into the window pane of his soul than anything else before 1968 or so. Plus it rocks! Thanks, George and Ringo, for keeping it rocking. Sometimes, you see, us rockers get a bit let down with the early- to mid-period Beatles because they sometimes don't rock enough for, you know, a rock band. But this one keeps the juice on, thank you, and John's hanging-by--a-thread vocals, erm, help. As does his fair Dylan aping on 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away'. As does the cool ever-so-experimental way that Paul sings 'The Night Before'. But just when you think this is the Beatles' 'Vocal Album', they thrown in some cool new instrumentation (no doubt with George Martin's assistance...or, if you will, HELP! ahahahahaha!!!!) like the strings on 'Yesterday' or the flute solo on 'Hide', or, well a few other examples hidden throughout. Buy it and make your own treasure search.

The main bulk of the songs are still great, and actually get more interesting thanks to their willingness to take it easy, like Peter Tosh would've wanted them to do. My dad says this is the point at which he began to think the Beatles weren't much fun any more, and I sorta grok on that sentiment, because really they aren't as much fun as on Hard Day's Night and are even less fun than on the gigglefest Beatles For Sale. John was a fat fucker after all that tour food, and quite depressed, and since a lot of these songs come from him we get to share the misery. Eh...it's still great. It's the Beatles!

 And they're also busy assimilating their influences, Folk Rock for the most part. Take 'I've Just Seen A Face', which predates Simon and Garfunkel chronologically, but copies their songwriting style to a tee! And, of course, there's loads of Dylan influence as well, but that's more easily concealed (mostly because neither John nor Paul could write lyrics like Dylan's...they were just too conventional and market conscious at this point to be that weird.) George also finally tries his hand at wiritng his own tunes, and as usual the focus is on some interesting instrumental gimmick paired with an okay, sub-Paul melody and some sorta cranky sub-John lyrics. On 'I Need You' he uses....his volume knob! And on 'You Love Me Too Much' he uses...a really simple piano! Maybe still miles away from the sitar-and-tabla fiestas he'd grace us with a couple of years later, but still, for first efforts in a band with two major-league songwriters (no pressure!), they're fine.

The bummers are the songs that don't do anything new, like 'You're Gonna Lose That Girl', which sounds like a Hard Day's outtake, 'Another Girl' is rote, and 'Tell Me What You See' is just simplistic, and 'Dizzie Miss Lizzie' is okay, but we've heard the likes of these covers before. Give us more of that great new stuff, boys!

Capn's Final Word: Creeping forward ever so slightly, and you'll be glad you spent the dough. Those lesser songs don't stay with you, trust me.

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Dave     Your Rating: B-
Any Short Comments?: My least favorite Beatles LP, it has almost all their wussiest songs on one disc. I Need You, It's Only Love, Another Girl, You're Gonna Lose...,You Love Me Too Much, etc etc I think I'd rather listen to the Monkees Greatest Shits or Hermans Hermits than this gagfest. I think my rating may be too generous because it is THE BEATLES
after all. They are my favorite group of all time anyway. I loved the movie though.

While I'm at it, I just want to make a general comment about your website. I don't always agree with your opinions, but your reviews are always entertaining to read. More so than any other review websites I've visited. Nice work, dude!

 

Brendan Tnahpellee@yahoo.com.au   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Help! is an interesting one. The first side is a bit routine, mainly because of the fact they had to be songs to fit the concept of the movie. The second side is a wonderful adventure down a rustic road, full of fun, up-tempo C&W numbers with great melodies. The songs that I don't really like are You're gonna lose that girl and especially ANother girl. But they're OK. This is a brilliant album nonetheless from these guys. Every track has a different guitar tone. How cool is that? Although it doesn't get much credit, I need you is a masterpiece. It's George at his sweetest, his most artistic and his most melodic. The melody to the song is beautiful but slightly eerie, the guitar tone is ghostly and the beat is fun. It's such a briliant song. My other favourite song is HEY! You've got to hide your love away.  I do like Tell me what you see, it ahs such a cool, exotic, fun beat and it has such a soothing tone. Yesterday is brilliant and Dizzy Miss Lizzy sho!ws they could still rock like Teens, even if they were starting to get a bit older. I can never understand the bashing of poor old Ringo's Act Naturally. It's a briliant song, plus it fits in with the rustic theme
of the second side of this album. It's only love is also a haunting folk-rocker with a haunting guitar tone, excellent melody, exuberant
chorus and briliant vocals. Of the others, Ticket to ride is very infectious and Help! is a banging rocker.


dver/Greece     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: I disagree with the "you re gonna loose" opinion. I think it's a beatle beat classic with these wonderful backing vocals and the unusual bridge change. And the solo. Simple but so fucking nice. Is it George? The memorable-riff & solo genius. Of course Help is also a great Lennon song. Great melody, backing vocals, guitar playing, different snare sound. You can easily see that even in their worst times they could make very good music. Tight production. Who the hell had this stupid idea putting an echoed Dissy Miss Lizzy on the CD? Who did this? Or is it my copy? I have to say here a lot of Beatle work has been serioysly damaged when passed on CD. Please please me is destroyed. 
 


Rubber Soul - EMI 1965.

Rubber Soul, in case you can't read, refers to Soul Music, which was currently plaguing Britain so many moons ago in 1965, causing small children to do the 'popcorn' and the 'mashed potatoes' instead of their 'homework' as you and I well know they should be. And The Beatles got caught in the Soul Fog themselves (thankfully!) before going home down Folk Rock Way and ending up on Ballad Avenue like they'd planned. And dig that new car they're driving around...it's got all these bells and whistles on it like sitars and organs and stuff. That mechanic of theirs, that George Martin sho nuff is a mechanical wizard, you know. But thank God the Beatles know how to use all those aftermarket parts correctly. God knows what would happen if the Herman's delinquents got ahold of that stuff.

Soul? 'Baby You Can Drive My Car', 'You Won't See Me', 'The Word', 'Wait'

Folk Rock? 'Norwegian Wood', 'Nowhere Man', 'If I Needed Someone'

Soulful Folk Rock Crossover? 'I'm Looking Through You'

Cute Old-timey songs with Frenchy words in them? 'Michelle'

Cool Ringo Country Music? 'What Goes On?'

Ultra Pretty Tear-Jerker Sincere Ballad? 'In My Life'

Filler, but with interestingly cruel lyrics? 'Run For Your Life'

But, really, see, Rubber Soul is the first time the Beatles begin to really expand their sound palette. The first two songs are the best illustrations of this. They actually try to sound sorta like black folks on their soulful songs! They never sounded black before, and here they are on 'Drive My Car' actually getting down and funky. And on something acoustic and folky like 'Norwegian Wood', they throw on this twangy (but not alien-sounding) sitar to double the beer-hall melody. What a nice touch! And these instances of 'maturation of sound' are on every song on here. And since every song is an original, (the norm from here on out) you really get a snapshot of what the Beatles were really like at this point in time.

And what about maturation of lyrics? John had his famous 'writer's block' episode around this time, and finally broke out of it with the clever children's song 'Nowhere Man' (which I don't get as Dylan-y at all...where'd that come from?)...but then went on to hit one of his career highs with 'In My Life', which combines introspection and nostalgic longing with a slight camouflage of love song to appease the fans. But fuck that...who hasn't looked back at his friends and lovers throughout his life and realised that yes, you do indeed love the one your with best. I do! So did John (assumedly)! So did Josef Stalin!

And what about the slight cruel edge on 'Think For Yourself', a putdown song with lines like 'although your mind's okay, but try thinking for yourself...' or the not-so-well veiled violent threat of 'Run For Your Life', the wifebeater's anthem? It sure does put me off. Freaks me out. Gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Lord, this one is fine. You really should buy it today. And don't worry that it's 'uncool old lame stuff' because it's not. You realize how many bands would kill to sound as melodic yet interesting as this?

For one example: W.A.S.P.

Capn's Final Word: The'yre winning on all the traditional fronts on RS, and are ready to come home and claim their drugs as payment. Bring them their chemicals, slave! Chop chop!

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Revolver - EMI 1966.

Ha! They don't remember recording this one! Wheeeeeee! Our parent's generational poster-boys begin their long and winding trip through the newspaper taxis  and the first taste is a dark one. The cover for this record is just about a perfect representation of what's inside...kinda confused and morphing, but still recognizable as coming from the throbbing melodic centres that the previous stuff was excreted from. Take, what I consider to be the quintessential Revolver song, 'Elenor Rigby', which contains nary a single normal rock instrument. It's all done by strings! That's right! The things your 5th grade orchestra class couldn't stop sounding like cats having their dermis torn from their subcutaneous muscle! And its all about sad and lonely old people and the weird rituals they go through to keep from feeling useless. Happy!

Now they do something interesting here (like they ever don't) ona few tracks, and take their Rubber Soul R&B/folk mix and fuse it! What a great idea! Like 'I'm Only Sleeping'...that strumming is pure folk rock (just slowed waaaaaaaay down) but that singing is pure Motown, man. 'Here, There, and Everywhere' does a lot of the same thing, but this time the singing is from the mid 50's doo-woppers rather than the mid-60's dancehall champions. Oh, 'Good Day Sunshine' is pure Lovin' Spoonful-esque cute optimism (thanks for the ray of light, Paul) folk rock, and 'For No One' is pure bummer folk-rocking, and 'Got To Get You Into My Life' is just 100% honkin' soul, so not everything undergoes 'the change', and really, all those songs I just listed are equally triumphant in my book.

For the songs that go way out to the Oort cloud, I shall nominate, but of course, 'Tomorrow Never Knows' as the top Beatles psychedelic song ever. And one of their top songs ever, period. And why? Take those backwards bird caws, that perfectly insistent, heaving funk beat, John's 'turn on your mind, relax, and float downstream' and 'love is all and love is everyone' and I see, IMHO, that all of their further psychedelia was simply attempting to recapture this peak. They never did it this cool again, not even on 'Strawberry Fields' OR 'A Day In The Life' OR 'LSD'. There's also 'She Said She Said', about Peter Fonda's acid trip, and its okay...but it's sorta just another song, you know? And 'Dr. Robert' is even more MOR than that. Bo-ring. For the Beatles. A highlight for 90% of the bands out there.

George's opening 'Taxman' is interesting, though, for besides it's itchy rocking nag, it also holds a sort of conservative social message (a Beatles first, both the social message and the conservative part, which was probably also a Beatles last). Weird huh? Maybe George should have run for MP on the Tory ticket. George's other weird tune on here is 'Love You Too', showing how far he's coming with those raga lessons on that sitar. But you know what? It rocks too, and not in spite of its Indian fetishism but because of it. Quite unlike his later 'Within You, Without You', which just laid there, patiently waiting to be booted in the skull for its dated fuzzyheadedness. Ringo's turn, the best and most famous song ever about undersurface watercraft, is cute, memorable, and really melodic. And I just love to imitate those really British ship-captain announcements. It makes my wife giggle with delight.

Capn's Final Word: Garsh. This is an album of some sincerely dizzying heights for our Beatle folks, and luckily there's still just a smidge of that old Beatle feel to link them with their old selves. A masterwork.

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Sharad  sharad777@hotmail.com   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Revolver has the best , perhaps the only true love song there is . The best shit anyone has ever written love .

  That's true love - not a happy jingle about wanting to hold hands , or gifts from me to you . This is real love . ONe of Sir Pauls' best .

  In my most humble opinion , only one song comes even close to HEre there and eVerywhere in being a love song - God Only Knows .

  Now I read somewhere ( on Brian Wilsonss website I think ) that SiR Paul actually cried when he heard that song ...inspiration for Here , there ... ? Or did Pet sounds come out only after revolver ?

G. J. Donnelly Piranha_1@MSN.com  Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: THE greatest, most sonically expansive and lyrically complex album EVER. The Beatles inhaled the eclectic aroma of Brian Wilson melodic melancholia, Yardbirds Indian White Noise, Burt Bacharach tin-pan alley songcraft, Dylanish cynicism and Moroccan hashish (with tabs of LSD on the side) and exhaled a record so fucking visionary that it makes SGT PEPPER look like an anti-climax---which it was, frankly. Every song is a marvel, even George's  hypnotic "Love You To" raga, which shows just how effective Indian noodlers can be when they're kept to a strict time limit. "Taxman" is the best rocker Harrison ever committed to tape, and "I Want to Tell You" isn't far behind. Lennon doesn't just brilliantly merge his acid paranoid with fuzz-guitar Brit-pop (hello Yardbirds), he also conjures up a whole new universe with "Tomorrow Never Knows," a blurry, bleak dreamscape that reveals something fresh and dazzling with each listen. McCartney finally emerges with intel! ligent, adult lyrics to compliment his melodic sophistication. Even his corniest ideas ("Good Day Sunshine") have some meat on the bones, and he turns in a killer Jeff Beck impression on "Taxman." Ringo anchors the whole thing with his cool timekeeping, and only a Meanie could detest the charm of his unassuming vocal on "Yellow Submarine." A plus is too puny a score, and if you've read any of my Eric Burdon & the Animals reviews, you know I'm not given to superlatives.
 

Alan Brooks     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Along with Rubber Soul this is the summit of pop. She Said She Said is my favorite pop song of all time.

Robert Grazer     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: One of the most widely appealing albums I've ever come across, Rubber Soul captures the Beatles at their best as a single band, even if this is the point where everyone likes to conveniently separate the tracks into "John songs" and "Paul songs" (and, of course, an occasional Harrison entry for good measure). But it's still captures them before the "Greatest Band Ever" pretension (which for me hurts almost every subsequent release, to varying degrees) had quite sunk in, and after the "Beatlemania" that oozed out of every album since A Hard Day's Night had settled down (and I suppose it goes without saying that their first two records still haven't found a very broad audience).
Rubber Soul is fill with so many tracks that are so irresistably and quintessentially Beatles, classic after classic, even "Run For Your Life", which I've actually always felt among the better tracks here. And "In My Life"? Quite possibly their single best tune there. So many of these songs have already become immortal, probably more than are on any other single Beatles release. One look at the track listing is evidence enough of this album's quality.

Slappy Wilson     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: What are you talking about Willis?  "Dr Robert" is a  great song.  Those ringing, droning, buzzing yet snappy-where-they-need-to-be guitars, and then the angels sing:  the part that starts "Well well well you're feeling fine...".

It's frigging great.  Go listen to it again and correct your review.

nazar     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I think this one is a bit too overrated, although it does have Harrison's best song, Love You Too. The problem with this album is that it loses steam towards the end. After all, no one can deny that I Want To Tell You and Got To Get You Into My Life (and a few others) are just generic filler. At least it goes out with a bang.

 


Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - EMI 1967.

The Big Cheese. The Head Honcho. The King Rat. The Leper With The Most Fingers. Sgt. Pepper's has such an enormous, hulking historic value that to even approach it objectively is more or less impossible nowadays unless you live on a desert island. A whole generation of newly-freaky-in-1967 folks still get misty-eyed about this one, it's still a sort of coming-of-age record for a lot of young folks even today. Okay...I started on this road, and now I'm a gonna finish it.

So, see, the kids who were 13 or 14 when the Beatles first arrived, had their first date with Hard Day's Night (probably went to see the film), had their first heartbreak along with Beatles For Sale, started getting teenage angst with Help!, got wasted for the first times with Rubber Soul, turned 18 or 19 when this record came out and were totally open to the invitation to get 'turned on'. As the Beatles matured and went through their changes, the 60's and the kids did the same. And to explain what it felt like when this album was released, try to imagine your favorite band not releasing an album (not even a compilation!) for nearly 7 months, an unheard of length of time in the 1960's, during which time exciting and scary changes were happening to music, the world, and yourself at such a rapid pace that anything was possible from the Beatles in 1967. It was like the anticipation for the followup to Dark Side Of The Moon in the 70's, or to The Joshua Tree in the 80's, or OK Computer in the 90's, but even bigger...because in the 1960's, the Beatles were something that everyone agreed on. Nothing has happened like that since. According to the old folks I know, The Beatles were just the top of everyone's list. The Rolling Stones were for greasers, the Who was unknown, Dylan was for arty flakes, and who else was there? But everyone loved the Beatles, and everyone was waiting for Sgt. Pepper's.

And you know what? They delivered on their hype. The unforgettable, colorful album cover, the moustaches, the cardboard cutouts, the lyric sheet. It had A CONCEPT!! Image that! And the music...oooh, that music just hit all the right spots. Just ditching your square parents for an adventurous life on your own? You get 'She's Leaving Home'. Just taken your first LSD trip? You get 'Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds'. Just getting in the communal groovin' mood with your freaky friends? You get 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. Ruminating on the meaning of life and the falsity of 'normal' lifestyles? You get 'A Day In The Life'. It was an unstoppable machine. Everyone was talking about it, everyone was playing it, everyone was trying to understand it. And everyone else in the music world tried to imitate it. It was what everyone had wanted, and more.

Now you might see at least a little of the reputation this album has built up around it. Nominally a psychedelic record, but in truth a sort of proto-symphonic mishmash of different styles, from true acid rock ('LSD') to 30's nostaligia ('When I'm 64') and most points in between. Most points, that is, that don't have much electric guitar in them. Sgt. Pepper's is, first a foremost, not a hard rock album, and those of you looking for one would be much happier with the White Album. It's also not much of a concept album, with the concept being limited to the cover photo and the version and reprise of the title track. I dunno what else could've been done with a concept as obtuse as 'the village pickup band does a variety show', anyway. Sounds sorta dumb if you ask me, but then again that cover is simply a masterpiece, so maybe it's excused.

What bugs me about this record is that it follows the Standard Formula For Making An Album Seem Better Than It Actually Is (see my review of Led Zeppelin's fourth album for another example). Let's review:

First: Open with a flourish (title track), lead in to two of the other best tracks on the album ('With A Little Help From My Friends', 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds') so the first side seems extraordinarily strong, even though it sorta progressively drops off in quality after that ('Fixing A Hole', 'She's Leaving Home').

Then: Hide all the substandard songs at the beginning of side 2, so everyone is still too wowed by the first side to truly notice. ('Benefit Of Mr. Kite', 'Within You Without You', 'When I'm Sixty Four')

Last: Finish with the biggest, most serious bang you can possibly make. As a result, the weak tracks are forgotten, and everyone thinks this album is simply infallible. (title track reprise -> 'Day In The Life')

Now, about the monstrously good tracks, the album starts off with three of them in a row, bang bang bang. The title track introduces the 'theme', and its interesting use of stereo dropouts really does give the feeling that the band is just setting up. The Billy Shears (Ringo) sung 'Little Help' is about the poppiest (as in rock-pop, not 30's-pop) and most 'Beatle-y' song on the record, and is not surprisingly one of the best. I dig the words, thee neet melodee, and boy that bass is fantastic. John's 'LSD' (supposedly not a play on the name of the drug but the name of one of little Julian's first paintings, but obviously about and influenced by the drug, and not the painting, which is more important, anyway) is home to one of the few moments on the record that truly rocks, which is the chorus (especially the drumming). But mostly the song is about the words, which are slightly off-putting fables of hallucinogenic imagery straight out of the Yellow Submarine movie. The resulting effect of these three tunes is powerful, clear, and enjoyable, and about a million miles away from the trashy, messy psychedelic albums that everyone else was putting out.

To press on, the rest of side 1 is really quite fine. 'Getting Better' is a weird sorta-rock (but not rocking) song about how life used to be so awful before 'you were mine'. The weirdest thing here is the tabla-and-sitar bridge about beating my woman, but if you think that's strange apparently you've never heard Rubber Soul or Revolver. Paul's (aren't they almost all Paul's?) 'Fixing A Hole' is the first semi-misstep on the album, for musically and message-wise it does little for me despite the catchy melody. It's just not all that pleasant for me, but more naggy and annoying (the *plank!* *plank!* *plank!* *plank!* noises that keep getting passed around are a major reason). 'She's Leaving Home' is just and icky, preachy remake of 'Elenor Rigby' that I wish would go away. Ugh! I hate that song. Need a reason? Take those strained 'Sheeeeez Leeeeeving Hoooooome!' backup phrases. Fuck! Worse than 'Revolution 9', almost! 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' is a circusy song about a circus, and it's silly and clanky and nearly MIA musically. If you're in life for the melodies, you might dig it, but I'm in life for more than that. George's 'Within You Without You' is near unlistenable for those who don't dig the whole Indian harmony theory (which I don't) because G decides to excise all of the cool rocking that 'Love You Too' had and replace it with simple sitar/tabla. And It's The Longest Song On The Album! Ick. Paul's 'When I'm 64' is another in a long line of his 30's pop songs, and while it's cute and cuddly, it's still a 30's pop song. Why can't these guys write more 60's pop songs on here? Less Indian. Less 1930's. Less 1890's.

Good Lord I'm always glad when 'Lovely Rita' comes on and at least makes a game attempt at being snappy. See, some folks can thrive on a song as long as the melody is engaging. Not me. I need rhythm, see. And 'Rita's got it. So does 'Good Morning, Good Morning', which also has a good deal of rocking in it too. So, maybe they're both throwaways, they're rocking throwaways. (Some people claim the Beatles don't have throwaways. Sure, just keep waiting for Santa to appear, alright?)

The ending, though, is worth all the misplaced praise that's heaped on this record. From the opening 'hup, two, three, four' to the final piano chord, the last 6 1/2 minutes of this record are simply fantastic. The reprise of 'Sgt. Pepper's' is one of the tightest rock songs the band ever wrote (dig that beat! that to and fro riff! that 'seargant pepper's oneandonlylonelyheartsclub band'!) but leads into the super-serious sounding (but ultimately meaningless, besides an incantation that they'd love to turn us on) 'A Day In The Life'. But if a song ultimately about nothing can sound as if its about everything and more, it's this one. There's more meaning in that Ringo drum fill (you know the one) than the entire Yes catalog. And who can't be impressed with how cool that bouncy Paul section fits in with the oppressive John section. What a song.

So, in short, this album is far from being their strongest effort (Abbey Road has a better 'concept', The White Album is better at doing the 'variety of styles' thing, Magical Mystery Tour is better at psychedelia, and all of these, plus Revolver and Rubber Soul have a stronger collection of consistent tunes, (yes, the White Album is much more consistent than this.)) but no Beatles album hits as hard as this one does. After that piano chord rolls away you feel as if you've just heard the best album in your life, when in actuality you've just heard one of the better ones.

Capn's Final Word: A fine record, but unfortunately, not equally fine front to back. What an ending, though.

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Robert Grazer  Rating: B+

I used to conisder this album weaker than the others surrounding it, but I could never figure out why. Eventually I realized that if this wasn't THE Sgt. Pepper, I'd like it just as much as the others. Unfortunately, it is 'THE Sgt. Pepper', and even if I understand why I consider it weaker, it doesn't change the fact that the overwhelming hype has prevented some people from fully enjoying this one, myself included. Nevertheless, "A Day In The Life" is one of their best tracks, and it still is an excellent album.

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net    Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: This is clearly one of those albums you just "had to be there" for.  I'm not just mindlessly feeding the anti-hype; as a kid I used to listen to the Beatles classic albums (Rubber Soul onward) constantly on car trips, and even before I learned about the huge impact this one had, I found it to be generally weaker than the others. So what if it has a theme? Even the closer, A Day In the Life, never really appealed to me that much, and I still don't see it as the pinnacle of their career that some people claim it is. I'll take better songs over a theme any day. I think the Beatles actually realized this, and that's what led to the White Album.

JOJOJO     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Sgt. Pepper, hype or no hype is still the ultimate Beatle album. It is the most experimental and act as a tribute to the history britian (th cover, the elizabethan aspect of the songs). McCartney shines brightest here, giving us two of his most introspective works (getting better, fixing a hole) and gives a homourous vaudivillian (when im 64) and two sizzining rockers (the sgt. pepper reprise and the th title track.), Lennon is less volumumous but 'LSD' and A Day In The Life are masterpieces.

p.s Within you, wothout you is interesting but ulimatley preachy rubbish. you suck George!

 

Alan Brooks kerry_prez@yahoo.com Your Rating: C

Any Short Comments?: The first five tracks are as good as anything, anytime. The title track: awesome chamber music Rock; A Little Help From My Friends, gorgeous psychedelic soul-rock; Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, indescribably good art-rock; Getting Better, beautiful pop-rock with clangy guitars; Fixing A Hole, another indescribably good art-rock track. But I'm totally bored with the rest of the songs. A+ for the first five tracks, D+ for the eight remaining = C

 

nazar  nazariusrudius@yahoo.com   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I know this might be cliched, but this is my favorite Beatles album, period. I like the first three songs a lot, and also I like Paul's Fixing A Hole. It has a pleasant, snappy, melody to it. Getting Better and She's Leaving Home are the only ones that approach mediocrity, but Ryan, how can you not like Within Without You?!!!! This is the best song by far on the album!!!Just listen to that bongo-sitar-organ interplay!!!And that solo in the middle!!! This song is simply beautiful beyond words and anyone who denies that deserves to be burned at the stake by stupid Christians!!!!!
Here's some more exclamation marks for you viewing enjoyment
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(Capn's Response: How can I not like it? Just watch THIS!! *Sits at computer twiddling thumbs and not liking 'Within You Without You'*)


Magical Mystery Tour  - EMI 1967.

The difference between Sgt. Pepper's and this album is that Sgt. Pepper's attempted to be a single groundbreaking chunk of great songs and turned out to be a jumble, and this album attempted to be a jumble and turned out to be a single groundbreaking chunk of great songs. This album, and the movie of the same name (which I've never seen, bummer) were simply the Beatles having a bit of fun with their new freaky selves, and the heavy vibe of Sgt. Pepper's is lifted here, and thankfully so. What I get is that this is, front to back, packed with wonderful songs and not an annoying or dated or heavy-handed one in the bunch. And only one that's not a rock or pop tune! (Paul's requisite 30's pop tune 'Your Mother Should Know', which, surprises of surprises, sucks really bad. What is Paul's obsession with his parent's music?) But, you know what, all the other songs rule!

The first half of the album is the soundtrack to the film, originally available on EP (the first release of this record was as a double EP) and surely enough, begins with the theme song to the movie and the title track for the proceedings. It's a fine one, close to the title track of Sgt. Pepper's but more, you know, rocking. And Paul's vocals are great. Paul's other songs (besides 'Yo Mama') are just great, too. 'Fool On The Hill' is the best Paul ballad in awhile (maybe since 'Yesterday', but maybe not) and is melodic as hell. The second side is a collection of singles and and EP from 1967, and here Paul's 'Hello Goodbye' rocks normally, like it could've been on Help!. Plus the 'hello goodbye hello goodbye!!!' with the ascending line are just more of that genius Paul melody.

John, luckily, isn't nearly AWOL like he was on Pepper's, and contributes some of his best ever work to this record. After this he tended to cultivate his simpler song-writing, but here he's still writing those great weird psychedelic anthems. And a John anthem is a world anthem. 'I Am The Walrus', 'Strawberry Fields Forever', 'Penny Lane', 'Baby You're a Rich Man', and 'All You Need Is Love' are everything from semi-nutso chaos to sweet melodies to Paul-esque nostalgia to Between the Buttons-era Stones rocking to, well, his simple anthem writing.

Heck, I even love George's semi-weird 'Blue Jay Way', which kicks the Kix outta 'Within You Without You' PLUS it has a neat dark vibe that matches it's 'fog on LA' lyrical imagery. Of course, he's still far from the pop sense of Paul or John, but his stuff is the spice on the salad. Too much of it can be a drag, but in this dosage it's just perfect. And the instrumental 'Flying' is another highlight for me: catchy, dreamy, and smooooth...I love it. I wish it were longer.

Boy, I just can't find more than one bummer on here. The rest of it is just fantastic.

Capn's Final Word: For a soundtrack toss-off, it sure sounds like a world-shattering perfect record.

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Steve steve.blanchard@mswalker.com    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Just in response to your comments on Lennon's songs:  Penny Lane was written (and sung) by Paul.  Otherwise, my views mirror your own.


 


\

Yellow Submarine  - EMI 1968.

Really, really, really unnecessary soundtrack album to the goofy cartoon of the same name, Yellow Submarine collects a side full of George Martin orchestrated soundtrack music (with monikers like 'Pepperland Laid Waste', giving you some idea about the content of the cartoon if you don't already know. Eh, the movie is cool.) which is okay but, you know...its sorta like watching a movie with your eyes closed. Actually, it's exactly like that. The original songs on here, and by that I mean 'Beatles '67-'68 outtakes', aren't any great shakes neither. Paul's 'All Together Now' is 'All You Need Is Love' with a helmet and a drooling problem, the George songs are long and worn out ugly psychedelia like 'Blue Jay Way' without the charm, and 'Hey Bulldog' is, well...it's Quite Allright! But, c'mon. You don't need to shell out $15 for four new Beatles songs when there's starving children and Flaming Lips out there for you to buy.

Capn's Final Word: 50% orchestral soundtrack music. 40% throwaways, 10% 'Hey Bulldog' and 10% 'Yellow Submarine', again.

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Mark     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Buy the DVD and crank up the home theatre instead. It takes you back...

David Elliott      Your Rating: D

Any Short Comments?: I have a comment. Why don't you go and get fucked, George Martin. Yeah, you heard me. With your endless crappy anecdotes abou John tripping on the Abbey Road studio roof, and only agreeing to produce AR if The Boys would agree to play nice. Like you had a career after the Beatles. America? The Bay City Rollers? Robin William's cover of "I Am The Walrus"? Fuck you, you old fool. Oh, this album. Half of it is outtakes from something. "Hey Bulldog" is the best song that isn't about bulldogs ever written. "All Together Now" is a unique device used to tame those who have become known as "Rain Men". "It's All Too Much" really IS all too much, ceasing to be interesting at roughly the 70th hour. And the second side is a bunch of muzak from the irritating animated movie of the same name, involving our favourite roast potato eaters in a wacky, acid-drenched adventure battling the "Blue Meanies", or some such horseshit. Makes me pine for the Antonioniesque splendour of "Magical Mystery Tour". Your Email (optional): beavis78@optushome.com.au
 

Brendan  Tnahpellee@yahoo.com.au   Your Rating: C+
Any Short Comments?: I always wondered why when you buy a Genesis album everyone praises the instrumental bits and the instrumental bits are the bits that everyone seems to like the most [home by the seas par two, anyone?]. I wondered because whenever I review a Beatles album it was always the instrumentals that got the bashing. So, here I go, I stand up for Flying, I think that is a brilliant song, and I think the instrumental side to this album is great. I like Sea of time, Pepperland laid waste and March of the meanies. Side one has six Beatles songs, two you already have and four that are all, in my humble opinion, not good songs. Oh, okay, I like 'It's all too much', that's a great song.

(Capn's Response: The Beatles don't play the instrumental part of this album. You may as well be listening to the Sears & Roebuck Christmas Party Marching Band.)


The Beatles (White Album)  - EMI 1968.

Eeeeeeee! There I just screamed like your little sister because finally the Beatles put together an album (a double one!) full of more or less normal songs! For the first time since, sheeit, I dunno when, we've actually got the Beatles playing real instruments all the way through here, without any electric boingers and multi-necked twangers. And I'm glad, because one more sitar-fest outta George and I was gonna quit the Beatles for Grand Funk Railroad or something equally as non-sequitur. But after their bummer trip to kiss the Maharishi's feet in India they more or less got over their psychedelic tendencies and just wanted to write some songs. Cool with me, man. Let's go get a beer and listen, eh? Actually make it 4 or 5 of 'em, for this is a long haul.

I mean sakes alive this is one massive document. I'm not even gonna try to describe each song, but here's what you need to know in a nutshell. Firstoff, it's really long, being 2 full CD's with like 15 songs on each one. And you know what? A quick count says I've got 19 super-high-banana fudge urinal cake classics on here and only 3 bummers (2 of which are more of Paul's fucking STUPID 30's nostalgia crap, and one is John's intentionally horrible sound collage). Oh yeah, taking this all in one bite makes even me begin to hate the Beatles, and the songs on Disc 2, already not quite as great as the ones on Disc 1, begin to really suck. But if you listen in parts, you've got yourself a wiener. If you're already a boy, that is. And Paul is still the Beatle to Beat songwriting-wise, contributing the most songs, the most varied songs, and the worst songs. Ooops!

As I said, Disc 1 is the superior alpha-dog here and, taken by itself, is probably the best Beatles album since Revolver. The boys tried to take on as many genres as possible on this album, so a quick rundown results in: Beach Boys ('Back In The USSR'), children's songs ('Obladi Oblada' fuck the hyphens, 'The Continuing Adventures of Bungalow Bill', and 'Rocky Raccoon'), weird boingy turn-of-the-century vaudeville ('Wild Honey Pie', which my wife hates), jammin' Cream-style hard rock ('While My Guitar Gently Weeps', which is George's announcement that he can write real songs), doo wop mishmash ('Happiness Is A Warm Gun'), 30's nostaligia ('Martha My Dear', which both my wife and I hate), Ringo country ('Don't Pass Me By'), blooze deconstruction ('Why Don't We Do It In The Road'), and really really pretty ballads ('Julia' and 'Blackbird'). And also a bunch of filler-type songs which still rule! On the whole disc there's only 'Martha' which sucks, eh? Sounds reet-petite to me!

Disc 2 is a lot more scattershot. The first thing ya do is take out John's 'Revolution 9', worth a listen once or twice but not even as good as most noise collages are (take Funkadelic's at the end of Maggot Brain...that one's pretty okay), plus it's loooonnnggg. Push the stop button, John. Do it, motherfucker!

The second thing is that there's a lot more basic rockers on here, ranging from great ('Birthday', the proto-metal 'Helter Skelter', and 'Revolution 1') to pretty good ('Everybody's Got Something To Hide...', 'Savoy Truffle' which is about candy!) What? You think I was gonna say a Beatles basic rocker sucked? No way, man. Some are just really great and some are pretty good. John gets his whine on with 'Yer Blues', ushering in the new 'stripped' John style song with nothing more than basic instrumentation and a lot of confession and spleen-bearing. There's also Paul's 'Honey Pie' (yet another nostalgia exercise for the guy. What, was he in love with Betty Boop or something?) and the dull-ass 'Long Long Long' which I wish would just end end end. And, boys, thanks for giving Ringo the 'Good Night' song. It is sorta nice to be bade good night by the man. Honestly.

This is a faulty masterpiece. I'm soooo close to dropping it to a simple A but I'm not gonna. It's too good for that. And too important. And I'm not even mentioning the following: Charles Manson, Yoko Ono, Mike Love, Eric Clapton, Ringo quitting and coming back. Just buy the album already. You have enough reasons to do so.

Capn's Final Word: You're gonna find so much on here that everyone will be satisfied. Amazing depth of songwriting, y'know?

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Sarah        Your Rating: A

Any Short Comments?: This is my all-time favorite by the Beatles. Not all the songs are great, but the great songs are absolutely brilliant. Happiness Is A Warm Gun is extremely underrated and Dear Prudence is one of the best Beatles songs ever written. I love it, flaws and all.

Kake     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: As George Starostin says, this is "The" Quitessential Album by the Fabsters. To me it is the Quitessential Album to beat all Quitessential albums ever released. The real highlight, IMHO, is the atmosphere on "Dear Prudence". That beats all the atmospheric efforts ever attempted by artists lesser to the Bealtes (Like Pinky Floyd and the Zepsters). And yeah, we all know about the beauty of "While my Guitar", the power of "Helter Skelter" and the intelligence of "Revolution 1". It rules, but we know that already, don't we.
 

Ben ben@wkdoors.com     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: This album has way too many filler tunes to deserve an A+.  Compared to an album as consistently good as Abbey Road, this monstrosity needs to be at least a few notches lower.  Also, when you have a "song" that is so intensely unlistenable as Revolution 9, that it virtually guarrantees that every listener will stop what they are doing to hit the skip button, I think the whole album should be dropped half a grade just on principle.  It was the height of arrogance for Lennon to subject his listeners to such worthless crap and the Beatles should be held accountable.  Otherwise, I rarely listen to this album because there are just too many songs that are mediocre.  If they had editted this thing down to a single album then it would be the classic that every Beatles lover says it is.  As it is, it is merely good.

Alan Brooks kerry_prez@yahoo.com   Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I like "Revolution 9' the best, because you hear something new every time. Unlike all the other Beatle tracks they ever did, you never get to the point where you know everything on 'Revolution 9' by heart.

dver/Greece     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Ok, Monday, let's write She loves you. Wednsday, now let's write Everybody's got something to hide except from me and my Monkey! You can't beat them, right? They are so good it makes me wanna cry. You do not have to get a hit out of their albums. You just want to hear them from start til the end and get the whole thing. I mean the White Album is such a good rock album, it's hard and soft, a little dark but high powered. Sexie Sadie, what a song. You certainly HAVE to listen to the Anthology outtake of this one. Lennon's morning (or something) voice is MAGIC. That should be the album version. Ok, skip that Lennon #9 shit. And the Warm Gun? Man, I wanna shout. Makes me crazy. And lots of others. Egos were strong enough so no song was left out. I want them all.  
      
 

George Bush     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Hey there, y'all! When I'm not at church, or scheming which Muslim countries to invade or eating grits at my Texas ranch, I like to listen to this album. This, my fine Americans (except for you liberals) is simply the greatest Beatles album ever recorded! Only a few songs suck, but most of them are masterpieces of pop music. Especially Martha My Dear. Not liking this song is unpatriotic, unamerican, and it only emboldens our enemies, who hate us because of our freedoms. Why do you hate America, Ryan?

(Capn's Response: The POTUS, a Bonanzaddict! I always personally thought of 'Martha My Dear' as dangerous left-wing agit-prop, like Mao's little red book or the Atom Heart Mother album.  You getting a little lefty on us, Mr. President?)
 


Abbey Road - EMI 1969

Actually the last album they ever recorded together. Let It Be was released later but recorded earlier. Don't worry, those kind of details don't matter that much. What does matter is that the Beatles were definitely in the advanced stages of busting apart at this time, and therefore there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of fragmentation on this record. While previously Beatles records were divided into John songs, Paul songs, John and Paul songs, and sometimes George songs, now the John and Paul songs are no more. If you need more of those, check out Let It Be, because there isn't any of it here. Also, George has so come into his own 100% by now. So much so that his songs are almost the best on the record. And, well, Ringo plays a mean drum, as usual.

Song by song because I'm not feeling very creative: We kick off with John's stripped psycho-rocker 'Come Together', deep-down-body based on Chuck Berry's 'You Can't Catch Me' but complete with lyrics like 'hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease' and 'he shoot coca-cola' which Berry couldn't have thought up in a million years because he was too busy asking drunken whores to poop in his mouth. George's 'Something' is the best (pre-All Things Must Pass) ballad I've ever heard from the guy, as melodic as Paul and as serious and no-bullshit as John. Paul's first salvo (god, I hate that critic word. I hope I never use it.) is the murderous children's song 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer', which is based around the refrain 'Bang bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer came down...upon her head (doop da doo da doo!)' and probably qualifies as one of the weirder songs by that guy. And the most likely to be paranoically banned at a modern high school dance. 'Oh! Darling' is more like it, sounding sorta like 'Something' but much rougher (more like a John song, really...and John wanted to sing it no less, but the megalomaniac Paul wouldn't let him) and...not as good. Ringo's only singing moment here is 'Octopus' Garden', a remake of 'Yellow Submarine' in theme, and yes, by far the worst thing on the album. Not to say it's particularly bad, but geez. Do I need a second children's song about the ocean from the Beatles? Isn't one enough?

John chimes back in with his second happy ballad of the album, the droning and unforgiving 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)', which boasts Dylan-y wordplay and sweet McCartney-esque melodies. No really. When the heaving dark cloud of 'I Want You' finally blows past at 8 minutes or whatever, and the chiming acoustic intro to 'Here Comes The Sun' breaks through, I really feel like it's the first day of spring. What a wonderful effect. Plus, 'Here Comes The Sun' is joyous and bright all the way through. I love that little song. Well done George, you really don't have to be all harsh (think 'Taxman' or 'Blue Jay Way') to make a great tune.

Side 2 is Paul's Big Statement, taking a load of unfinished song fragments and grafting them together into a long suite that goes everywhere from massive choral chanting ('Because') to balladeering ('You Never Give Me Your Money', 'Golden Slumbers') to soulful rock ('She Came In Through The Bathroom Window) to hard rock ('Polythene Pam') to British drinking songs ('Carry That Weight'). It all gets tied up in 'The End', complete with a really genial sounding guitar solo-tradeoff section (even though the boys were probably not in the studio at the same time as each other) and even a short Ringo drum solo! (which rules...and the man hated drum solos. Okay, so its really just an extended fill rather than 'Toad II'). And of course, it all gets tied together, 1962-1970, with some of the best lyrics of Paul's career, a memorable line that's both simple and meaningful and I think should be applied to your life:

'Her Majesty's a Really Nice Girl But She Doesn't Have a Lot To Say...Her Majesty's a Really Nice Girl But She Changes From Day to Day....I Wanna Tell Her I Love Her A Lot But I Gotta Get A Belly Fulla Wine...Her Majesty's a Really Nice Girl Some Day I'm Gonna Make Her Mine'

What, were you expecting me to be serious?

Capn's Final Word: Ooh yeah, professional as hell but somehow really interesting as well. So good I'm gonna go and destroy my guitar so I don't try to learn the songs and screw them up.

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David Elliott   beavis78@optushome.com.au   Your Rating: A

Any Short Comments?: Did you know that Paul McCarteny is dead? The Abbey Road cover is the proof! It is the proof that he... is....DEAD. If the cover doesn't convince you, then "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" will. I refuse to believe that such scrotom-tightening tripe emanated from the same pen of the man who only a year earlier inserted a socket-wrench into the colon of rock with "Helter Skelter". Oh. Right. It's a Beatles album, so it's amazing. Yeah, I know. "Come Together" is so good that it gives me joo-joo eyeballs, and makes my hair grow down to my feet. "Because" is Bleat-oven's nine-hundredth symphony played backwards, or some such tosh. Whatever. It's really quite nice. And "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". John claimed it was about Yoko. Lying bastard. I checked her shit out on the cover of "Two Virgins", and she doesn't look very heavy at all. Unless you count her pendulous breasts, which must weigh abou five stone each. Which would make the song title "I Want Them (They! 're So Heavy)". That, obviously, is not the case. Oh, and it has the spankathon that is "The End". "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Huh? Who does this Mr. Paul McCarteny think he is? Jon Anderson? Only The Dwarf could spout such tosh and make it sound deep and meaningful. Oh, and The George gives us "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun", both of where were never covered by Throbbing Gristle. A fine album, and a fine end to a fine career that I'm sure everybody is sick of hearing about by now.

 

Sarah      Your Rating: A-

Any Short Comments?: Maxwell's Silver Hammer is absolutely one of the worse pieces of shit the Beatles (or Paul, for that matter) ever wrote. It is ridiculously childish, aggravating, stupid...if someone who knew nothing about he Beatles music (living in a cave somewhere) heard this song after reading about this group's unparralleled, legendary status in rock and roll, they'd puke. But anyway, its a brilliant album, sans that Sesame Street jingle. For that, I have to knock off some points.

Ilya Grigoriev negative_creep@gmx.de  Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Great album John/Paul at their peak, in my opinion this worthless piece of plastic shit is even better than that fucked up trash called "Revolver"! Oh yeah, guess what's the best song on here...? "Octopus' Garden"!...really!

Justin     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Your really are such an ass.  And a funny one. But I keep coming back anyway, so maybe its not you it's me.  Anway, Abbey Road is one of the best musical statements of all time.

And to answer your question, "Do I need a second children's song about the ocean from the Beatles? Isn't one enough?" The answer is "No, we need as many of those songs as the Beatles decide to give us."

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I think the Beatles' psychedelic trilogy is a bit overrated, I would place this one as their third best, behind Abbey Road and Rubber Soul. It's still an A+ though. Frickin amazing. My favorites are For No One, Got to Get You Into My Life, She Said She Said, and Eleanor Rigby, and the last track is probably their best psychedelic song. So it's still an amazing albumand i'll admit that it's more diverse than Rubber Soul, but right now I see this as their third best.

 

irrelevant     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: you said when "'I Want You' finally blows past at 8 minutes or whatever, and the chiming acoustic intro to 'Here Comes The Sun' breaks through, I really feel like it's the first day of spring. What a wonderful effect," but on the original record Here Comes the Sun was the start of Side 2, and I Want You ended Side 1. by the way - best album ever, but it took me years to realise it.



Didier     Your Rating:  A+
Any Short Comments?: "Maxwell's silver hammer" is not that much a bad song. You must remember that the first quality of the Beatles -among many others - was eclecticism.Even if John Lennon used to say it xas music" for grannies to dig" ,it does not lack humour noir.

dver/Greece     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Oh I wanna make love to this album! And that meddley...


nazar nazariusrudius@yahoo.com    Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: To me, this album is nowhere as good as every critic seems to describe it. I Want You is way too long and boring, the medley is the worst piece of crap I have ever heard on a Beatles record. I usually take this disc out after You Never Give Me Your Money, which is a great song. See, none of these songs suck per se, except I Want You, but there's not that many high points and the medley really kills this album for me. Now feel free to flame me for my heresy. :7)


Let It Be - Apple 1970.

As the Good Ship Lollypop began to experience some trouble against the Gumdrop Icebergs, Paul McCartney, no doubt feeling he was the most capable and hardworking member of the group, began to take serious control of the group conceptually. First it was Sgt. Pepper's, which Paul seemed to nearly will into being, then it was the MMT film project, and lastly it was this one. It was Paul's idea for the group to 'get back' to their roots and record an album live in the studio with little or no overdubbing, like in the ol' days before they went and got all complicated. Just a perfect for a bunch of guys who really couldn't stand each other (couldn't stand Paul and/or Yoko, that is) by the time of the 1969 recording sessions. Imagine YOU being in a room with a megalomaniac songwriter who keeps dictating to everyone what to play and sing, and being forced to do take after take after take because it was his idea to do this all together now. Pbblt.

The film (which I, again, have sadly never seen, being more inclined in my youth to watch The Song Remains The Same a 400th time instead) apparently shows many more signs of stress than the resulting album does. As it stands, Let It Be (the record) sounds genial, friendly, and full of good humor. It also does complete its mission to sound more 'lifelike', possessing a real nice rough edge on a lot of the tracks. But that doesn't mean the songwriting isn't top quality! It is! The songs are just less slickly arranged and complex than the stuff we've come to expect from the Blattles, especially after something as obviously 'put together' as Abbey Road was. I happen to like both approaches, and both of them have their place at my dinner table.

Songwise, John is happy to be writing more 'song-y' songs than he was on either TWA or AR, contributing one of his best reflective ballads since 'In My Life' and 'Julia' with the outstanding and ultra-melodic 'Across The Universe', also one of my favorite songs ever by the guy. He also brings us 'One After 909', the first song he ever wrote (when he was like 14 or something) and a nice Berry-ish basic rock song. For his others, 'Dig A Pony' is quite complex for a John mid-tempo rocker, and 'Dig It' is but a short rap. Still, it's nice tho to hear the guy give us things other than the 'fuck you's' he wrote for Abbey Road, White Album, and the later singles (think 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' and 'Yer Blues' for examples of the less cuddly John). George is a tad less genius as he has been recently, giving us only 'I Me Mine', a cool basic rock tune with lyrics that must've been quite indicative of the recording atmosphere, and the toss-off boogie 'For You Blue', snappy but lightweight. Maybe if this album were more 'of a piece' this thing would fit in as a great album filler track, but right now it's just a filler track. John and Paul's jolly camaraderie on 'Two Of Us' almost sounds like they still care a lot for each other, and have you checked out those lyrics? How prophetic are they? 'You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches up ahead...'. Considering that John and Paul had known each other since the late-50's, and John would only live another 11 years from this point in time. I wonder why no one ever notices this?

Paul's stuff is, as usual, top notch and is all crammed on the later parts of the album. First is the gospel ballad to end all gospel ballads, 'Let It Be'. (Check out how the background 'ahhs' fade from left to right...that's cool.) 'The Long And Winding Road', unfortunately, is all gopped on by Phil Spector's orchestral bullshit, but then again, the backing song isn't that good anyway. Melodic, yeah, but...ecch. Leave this kind of slop to, oh...Dean Martin or whoever else sings this kind of stuff. Oh yeah...Paul sings this kind of stuff. Oh well.

 The fonky 'I've Got A Feeling', featuring Billy Preston's keyboards (which are all over this record...a good thing), is another great return to dual lead-singership. Same goes double for the Berry-ish (again) 'Get Back' (except for the dual lead singer thing), recorded live on the studio roof and rocking on with a nice deep 'warm' tone on the instruments. A fine simple rocker in an album full of fine simple rockers.

This album almost screams out 'throwaway', at least when compared to the big 'statement' albums the Beatles released before it. I always have such a great happy time listening to it that I can't help but give it an A+. It makes me happy every time, is that so wrong?

Capn's Final Word: Happy happy happy. I wish they'd done more records, but then again they'd probably have sucked. For the Beatles, anyway.

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Kake     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Nice album...very relaxed feel to it...and I really did not anticipate that I would enjoy it as much as I do...

Anyways, just one comment on "I've got a feeling": The early Beatles had Lennon taking the more agressive route to singing, such as ripping his throat out on "Twist and Shout"...But in this particular part, it's Macca who does the screaming and Lennon does the nice cool lines right at the end...Anyways, what a song...


dver?Greece     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: The Beatles breaking up is one of the most unfortunate things to happen in the Art History (or the history of Mankind). By that time, they  couldn't stand each other but look what they ve' done! I really like Spector's job here. Yeah, violis, why not. I love the Winding road. Choir on the back. A dramatic addition that fits fine and increases Paul's feelings. The question is why all these groups today can't write a Dig a Pony? I ll tell you why. Because they would MISS THAT TEMPO (I miss it too)!!!. And beacuse they can't put a melody upon a clever guitar riff (like in I feel fine). Most of the time they won't even make a guitar riff. Which brings us to my first sentence and Ryan's Beatles text intro. 

 

Mike     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Track by track we go on this 'un.

1 Two of Us - Brilliant acoustic song w/dual vocals. Sweet and heartfelt with a funny pasted-on intro at the beginning.
2 Dig a Pony - Mostly I'm digging the guitar solo, a great rocker with an amazing half-sloppy solo attached.

3 Across the Universe - Unbelievable lyrics and singing, the orchestration is gloppy, but really it doesn't matter.
4 I Me Mine - Probably it's accurate of how George felt, but those falsetto vocals are just whiny. No thanks, and the orchestration blows.
5 Dig It - This went on for 12 minutes 'r so originally...they then cut it down to about 8 minutes...Spector cut it to 50 seconds. Bastard. I love this track, well, as much of it as I can hear. Just John free-association.
6 Let It Be - Do I need to say anything here? This version's inferior to the single, but still...
7 Maggie Mae - Too short, but I always love it when it's on.
8 I've Got A Feeling - The song that makes me think that if God existed, he very well may have written this song. Perfection, total perfection.
9 One After 909 - Silly, sloppy, fast '50's rocker with tons of fun and charm to spare.
10 Long and Winding Road - Can you say sappy? Good, I knew you could. Like a shitty Elton John outtake.
11 For You Blue - Well, if "I Me Mine" sucked, which it did, then this doesn't. Fast fun boogie with giggly lap steel from John.
12 Get Back - The single was better, but this version still kicks also.

Great album. The album is very flawed but still brilliant; this is late-period Beatles, after all. The album could have cut "I Me Mine," replaced it with "Don't Let Me Down," included the single versions of "Let It Be" and "Get Back," also included "The Ballad of John and Yoko," extended "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae," and maybe included "Cold Turkey" (ok, I know the Beatles didn't record that, but one can dream...one of Lennon's best songs ever) along with "The Long and Winding Road," "Let It Be" would have been just as brilliant as any of the other titles in the late Beatles discography.

 

The album should also have included George's ungodly great "Old Brown Shoe" instead of "I Me Mine." So my version of "Let It Be" would be:

1 Two of Us
2 Dig A Pony
3 Across The Universe
4 Old Brown Shoe
5 Dig It (three minutes of it 'r so)
6 Let It Be (Single Version)
7 Maggie Mae (hey, why not)
8 I've Got A Feeling
9 One After 909
10 Long And Winding Road (Unspectorized - might as well make Paul
happy)
11 The Ballad of John and Yoko
12 For You Blue
13 Cold Turkey (if they'd ever recorded it...)
14 Don't Let Me Down
15 Get Back (Single Version)

I can't say my version would be all that better, but it would be longer at least.


 


1962 Live at the Star Club - K-tel 1977.

I suppose you could count Star Club as proof that the Beatles were, even in the final days of their incarnation as a Hamburg house covers band, standing on the verge of getting their collarless suits on, a slick gang of rockers willing to become as slick as necessary to bust into the wide open. You could also count it as proof of the caveman nature of most field recordings in 1962, as this is a boomy, clammy, woofy, far-off-down-the-hallway-down-a-flight-of-stairs-past-the-350-lb-moustachioed-German-drag-queen-then-thirty-paces-straight-to-the-stage sort of live recording that takes the ears a couple of songs just to confirm that, yes, this is the Beatles playing these songs and not a recording of a dog hacking up a half-digested shoe or a malfunctioning boiler clanking around for nearly an hour. I call it proof of the greed and shamelessness of record companies when presented with material they know most rabid fans would sink their claws into if released legitimately, no matter how crappy, unauthorized, or illegal it might be. It's one thing to be a bootlegger...a slimy profiteer operating beyond the fringes of the law, making no claim to legitimacy or guarantees of quality, but clear about their purpose. It's another thing to pull a little legal sleight-of-hand and get major chain shops to sell your ill-gotten booty by misrepresenting their origins and legality. I'd say that crosses the line somewhat, and as such I think Star Club is probably one of the more odious bootleg releases of all time. It came out in the depths of the 'will they reunite or not?' fever of the mid-70's (back when it was still possible), surely duping folks who were expecting the pristine sound and peerless quality control of the legitimate Beatles material.

The idea here is that a friend of a friend of the band, who probably knew they'd gotten a recording contract with EMI but sure as fuck wasn't 'friends' with the group, brought a tape recorder and a hand mike to one of the band's last Hamburg gigs. The tapes languished for years until, beginning in 1977, a succession of shifty record companies (K-tel probably being the least scummy, which is sort of like saying Blanche is the sexiest Golden Girl) began releasing the damn thing over and over again.  Since the Beatles were under contract at the time (they'd already released their first single), this was completely illegal.  However, EMI didn't do anything serious to stop the release, most likely because they heard it and realized that most people would figure it out on their own that they'd bought what amounts to a Dictaphone recording of a bunch of covers the Beatles wouldn't have made any royalties off of anyhow. Plus, it sucks ass.

Yup. Sucks ass. Not that the Beatles weren't professional or serious about what they were doing (shows performed with toilet seats 'round their necks were long gone by this time), but come on...cover after cover after cover (done in Please Please Me minimalist beat style, but in absolutely horrendous sound quality. And despite John's later claims to the contrary, the Beatles were not much of a hardcore rock 'n' roll band. Sure, some of the fastest, most spirited rockers like 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby' are awesome, but so many of these songs descend into either tired 50's rock formula or faux-moody croon schlock that listening to 24 of them in a row recorded like this is an absolute chore. They do covers of just about all their heroes - Berry, Holly, Perkins, Orbison (and several hundred others), but unlike the Rolling Stones or the Animals, the early Beatles didn't infuse any sort of spirit or atmosphere into the music they covered - everything was played the exact same way in one of their two forward speeds - blazing boogie or dripping crawl. This album would sound samey even if it did have listenable recording quality. Not that the Beatles ever turned out to be any good as a live band anyway, and jettisoning live performance in 1966 was probably not too hard of a decision. Still, who needs live performance when you were responsible for some of the best melodies of the last two hundred years? Suffice it to say that any old jackass with a guitar can do covers - the Beatles sure as hell didn't earn their glory playing stuff like this.

I say pass this nasty greedbooger by and get Live at the BBC to satisfy any of your early-years live Beatles joneses.  And score your bootlegs the manly way - steal 'em right back off of Soulseek like I do. It's no sin to rip off a con man, is it?

Capn's Final Word: Pop pop hiss hiss...no replacement for Wonderwall this is.

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Past Masters Vol. 1 - Capitol 1988.

When Capitol rereleased the Beatles catalog on CD in the mid-80's, (only in their original British forms, thus once and for all killing the weird differences between the British and American releases) they found that there were a bunch of single B-sides and EP's and junk that was left behind. So, they did the right thing (as they tend to do now with the Beatles catalogue in general, which is a nice change from the usual) and released the two Past Masters sets with all this stuff, rather than milking folks by sticking little bits on various greatest hits and rarities packages as they used to do in the 70's. This first one is from the 62-65 days, obviously not as interesting as the second one for us hairy classic rockers, but still worth your attention if you care at all about albums like Please Please Me or Beatles For Sale. I made some comments about how I would've liked to have more Beatle originals on PPM, and here I go. Count me a little bit happier on this planet to have heard 'This Boy' and 'I Call Your Name', and who, I ask, who would not want to have 'I Wanna Hold Your Boob', 'She Loves Glue' and their German scat port equivalents 'Komm, Gibt Mir Deine Scheisse' and 'Sie Liebe Dick'? And I don't care who y'are, you gotta own 'I Feel Fine' with that zoooomin' feedback opening and that zippy hook line and you gotta own Paul's 'I'm Down', which is one catchy sonofabitch. Like syphillis.

Capn's Final Word: Complete Your Collection Today!! Janklier than a boatload of epileptic Tutsi warriors armed with Rick 12-strings.

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Shannon     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Sure, Vol. 2 is even better, but how can you go wrong with a collection of some of the Beatles' greatest hits?  The German language versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" are quite unnecessary and end up detracting from the overall mood of joyful enthusiasm.  Still, a must purchase! 

 


Past Masters Vol. 2 - Capitol 1988.

Now if the first disc of the Past Bastards set was for Beatles fanatics, this one's for rock fanatics of all kinds. I see this one as being just as necessary to own as any of their post '65 studio albums. It starts off with my Dad's favorite song of all time, the John riff rocker 'Day Tripper' (and wotta riff, eh guv'nor?). The next one...oh fuck it. They're all just so goddamn great. You get their introduction to psychedelia 'Rain', their deeply psycheledic 'Strawberry Fields' (about nothing at all! Dylan-y! Catchy!) One of the most rousingly gorgeous songs ever 'Hey Jude'...oh man. Just buy it already. It's at least equal to Revolver, if not better than that.

Capn's Final Word: Oh yeah. Complete your collection and your friends as well. Be generous, man!

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Steve Knowlton knowstev@umich.edu    Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: "Strawberry Fields Forever" is not on this CD, it's on "Magical Mystery Tour"

 

Kake      Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: I bought this album simply for the psychadelic "Rain". I had heard so much about it and as usual in India, I could not get it as an mp3. (Most Indians still believe that Michael Jackson and Bryan Adams are the greatest artists in Pop and Rock music is all about sweaty, long-haired blokes trying to pull your ears out with a guitar. Oh well!!!!).  And really, I now feel that this has to be an essential part of everyone's collection. The single edit of "Revolution" along with Led Zep's "Rock and Roll" and The Doors "LA Woman" is my favourite rockin' number. And then you have "Day Tripper", "Paperback Writer", "Get Back" and ....well. Just buy it, and forget what I have written here!!!
You will probably figure this all out by yourself.

PS - Hey Ryan, how bout something on The Byrds??

Gabriel Alfaro     Your Rating: A+
Any Short Comments?: Buy this album! 3 reasons: Lady Madonna, killer piano. Paul was the Beatles. Fuck John. Old Brown Shoe, one of George's underrated songs, great bass line. And finally "You Know My Name, Look up the Number" fucking brilliant. There's a bunch of other good songs on here too!

Nathan Harper nator9999@comcast.net     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Idunno about this one, for some reason a lot of the Beatles' singles just sound like crappy album outtakes to me. Paperback Writer sounds like something they cut out of Rubber Soul. Rain, Get Back, and Old Brown Shoe are just crappy. Day Tripper has a really cool riff, but it's hardly one of my favorite Beatles songs. Of course there is some excellent stuff here. Hey Jude, Let It Be, Lady Madonna, We Can Work It out, and Revolution are all on here, and they all kick ass. I don't think Strawberry Fields Forever is on here though, which you put in your review for some reason...
(Capn's Response: Drugs. Both legal and otherwise.)

Didier     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Anyone who thinks Ringo is a lousy drummer should take time to listen to "Rain" .Really stunning. This song was covered by Todd Rundgren on his "faithfull " album and by U2 in concert (It segues into "A hard rain 's gonna fall" at the end of the performance!)

(Capn's Response: Awww...Now you had to go and mention U2. I was all with you on the Ringo and Rundgren stuff, and now...BZZZZTTTT!!)


Live At The BBC - Capitol 1994.

The first truly non-essential Beatles release I can think of (since Yellow Submarine, anyway). Now, not that having two discs full of live versions of early Beatles doesn't make some sense, but isn't this a bit too much of a good thing? 50 songs recorded live in the BBC studios? Eesh!

So, a little background first on the Beatles live releases: After the breakup, of course, there was a large demand for more Beatles product, any Beatles product. The demand was mostly for the alternate versions and rarities later found on the Anthology series, but also for live stuff. This demand created a market for stuff, some of it legal, some of it not, with names like Live At Shea Stadium, At The Hollywood Bowl, and Live At The Star Club '62, and others. Now, the Beatles not being particularly live-inclined, a lot of this stuff left a lot to be desired in both recording and performance quality.

Enter the BBC, (whose paranoia about recording quality leaves great sounding archive tapes) who released this set and destroyed any need most people have for any more live Beatles. I don't know if I personally needed any live Beatles, but if I ever want any, here it is. 50 songs. A shitload of covers. Some decent unreleased stuff. A bunch of ads/jingles/announcements. I find it tiresome after about 30 minutes, precisely the length of an early Beatles record album, but you may have a larger tolerance to simple jankly pop.

Capn's Final Word: Too much, man...too much. It is mostly real fine though. They weren't that bad live.

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Michael Bleicher     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: The second disc just feels a little much, but the first one is pretty good. They were a nice tight little rock and roll combo in the early days≈listen to "Memphis, Tennesse," "Some Other Guy," "Too Much Monkey Business," etc.≈they tore it up decently for 1963. Remember they were the only ones doing this at the time in Britain; the Stones hadn't come along yet.

 


Anthology Series - Capitol 1995-6.

Simply too much of too bad for most normal folks with both halves of their brain in full working order, the 3 volume, 6-CD Anthology series was released, well to be perfectly snotty, as a shameless cash-in on folks who don't know what 'alternate version' means. You remember: you saw the TV special, you bought the first set, you listened to half of a disc, you sold it back to CD World. Now CD world is overrun with copies of Anthology 1, 6 years after the fact. No one can ever sell any decent discs back to CD World because their racks are full of Anthology 1.

Now, if you truly feel that nothing would make your life happier than having work tapes and rare takes of almost every song in the Beatles catalog, then I'm not holding you back from buying these sets. But be forewarned that the vast majority of these, especially on the first 3 discs of the series, are simply a twonking piano, a planking guitar, and some really half-assed vocals over the top. It may be truly fascinating to search out your favorite Beatles songs ever and see how they sounded before they were finished and polished up, but listening to all of the Beatles songs in this manner is grounds for committal in some States of the Union. Sure, these guys were geniuses, and nothing here takes takes even one iota away from that fact, but even Michelangelo had his study sketches and Shakespeare his wadded up pieces of parchment. The Beatles have the Anthologies.

Oh, and the 'new' songs ('Free As A Bird' and 'Real Love') totally blow.

Capn's Final Word: This collection is a little bit too much like studying the dirty frying pan to see why the meal tasted so good.

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