Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Beatles "The White Album"

After the psychedelic excesses, particularly of Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles return to a more rock based sound. They have not completely abandoned excess though, as this is their only double album. Many have often argued that this would work better as a single album. I will admit half the album is superb while half is often near parody and sometimes downright silly. I don't know in my opinion even the seemingly throwaway songs are quite enjoyable. In fact this is my second favorite Beatles album, after Abbey Road.

As history has shown us the group was splintering and wanting to go in their own directions by the time this album was being recorded. Ringo quit the group for a period during the recording sessions. The album does have a bit of a scattered feel as the Fab Four perform in every style they can think of from rock to country to 1930s pop. The four Beatles individual musical tastes really come through and many of the tracks seem like they were recorded without the input of each other. Many of the songs feature one Beatle on lead and it is hard to discern if the others were involved and if the others are involved they often act as backup. A number of McCartney's song seem to be him alone with an acoustic guitar. Most of the songs are Lennon and McCartney tunes but Harrison gets in four tracks, including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and Ringo gives us his first song writing with "Don't Pass Me By."

I think that is why I like this album each member gets to show his own interests and they run all through the face of music. There are also some spectacular songs here. Heck I recommend this album I think its great.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Considered by many, including Rolling Stone Magazine, to be the Greatest Album of all time. Well, it is certainly a valid title for this album. Though it is probably my third favorite Beatles album there is no ignoring Pepper's cultural and historical importance as well as just being a bunch of great songs.

John Lennon once said, in regards to this album being heralded as a concept story album, that aside from the first two tracks and the Reprise near the end all the songs are individual and could have appeared on any album. Lennon is right to a degree, but because the concept story is about a long time band that play all different styles it pulls the varied musical ideas together.

Paul McCartney's brain child, inspired by The Beach Boys Pet Sounds, he writes and sings a number of the lead vocals. Lennon and Harrison also get in some fine tunes as well. Also since there were on singles taken directly from this album, these songs do not appear on any other compilation (aside from The Blue Album compilation). Listing good songs would be pointless. People will forever argue whether or not this is the Greatest Album of all time. Sgt. Pepper broke all the rules and made way for more adventurous music and bigger concept albums. If you need me to tell you this album is good or if you have never heard of it, you probably don't like this type of music or have been hiding under a rock.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Beatles "Revolver"

Back in the early 2000s VH1 had a week long TV special which chronicled the 100 Greatest Albums of all time. The special listed The Beatles album "Revolver" as number one, the greatest album of all time. As I mentioned in a previous post there was a time when I was really obsessed with The Beatles, I had not heard of this album. Since it was listed as the greatest album of all time I was interested in hearing it, so I picked it up on sale at Tower Records.

Personally I don't think this is the greatest album of all time, its a really good album but personally my favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road. However, this is a major stepping stone for the band. Revolver is really the album where you see them transitioning from their earlier style to the more eclectic style of their later years. The cover is definitely a precursor to Sgt. Pepper's famous cover that would be seen about a year after this album's release. The Beatles here expand from writing only love songs to include slice of life stories, "Eleanor Rigby" and "Doctor Robert," and pure fantasy songs like "Yellow Submarine." Lennon also forays, for the first time, into tape loops and sound collages with the album's disturbing closer "Tomorrow Never Knows." Harrison begins his forays into the indian music that would forever impact his art and life. McCartney also writes a number of gems like "Good Day Sunshine," "Here, There and Everywhere" and "Got to Get You into My Life." Revolver has great historical importance as the beginning of the Beatles abandoning of rules and styles and creating new music, it also has some great tracks along the way.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Beatles "Rubber Soul"

There has been so much written, said and documented about The Beatles that it is hard for me to know where to begin, let alone what to say.
Let me start by saying that I purchased this album at Tower Records on sale. I was going through that Beatles discovery period that many (if not all) teenagers go through. Where we find out musical identity whether it be rock, pop, classical, jazz, or something else or some combination. Anyway at this point in time I was really into The Beatles, reading books about them, wearing a t-shirt with John Lennon's picture and the phrase "Give Peace a Chance" scrawled across the bottom.

Anyway back to the album, Rubber Soul was actually one of the last Beatles albums that I purchased. I enjoy their later album much more, particularly Abbey Road and The White Album, but this is still an excellent album. I think I originally purchased this because my Dad and I really like the song "Drive My Car" which is the opening track here. But basically every track is a highlight including George Harrison's first great song "If I Needed Someone." Their lyrics were getting more complex and this was where they began to expand their context and musical ideas outside of just straight love songs. All in all I have passed my Beatles phase, I still love their music but it is not the only music I listen to. I will always be glad to have their albums as part of my collection.