365 Things #11 - The Beatles' Discography

When I was a kid the only radio station I listened to was the oldies station. So my favorite music, as a genre or type of sound, has always been stuff from the 50s-70s. You may not know this, but the Beatles were something of a big deal; so I heard a lot of their stuff growing up. But I'd never listened to their whole studio discography; I set out to rememdy that. It was...rough going at first.

Their first few records are completely unremarkable. There are a couple decent songs there, but overall they sound like almost every other radio-friendly song of the era: mostly forgettable. They gradually improve, becoming more distinctive with Help!, until finally becoming the Beatles that people think about when thinking about the Beatles as musicians instead of pop icons with Revolver.

My rankings:

13. Yellow Submarine This is a complete waste of an album. "Yellow Submarine" is a fun song, but it'd already been released on Revolver; "All You Need is Love" is a great song, but it was on Magical Mystery Tour. "Only a Northern Song" is alright, but the rest of the album is made up of filler and the lackluster score from the weirdo Yellow Submarine film.

12. Please Please Me The Beatles' 1st album did nothing for me. I do like "Do You Want to Know a Secret," it's probably the best of their teen-pop efforts on the 1st 3 albums. The other remembered song from this one, "Love Me Do," grates on my nerves. Favorite Songs: "Do You Want to Know a Secret"

11. With the Beatles A bit better than Please Please Me, but not by much. Fun fact: Meet the Beatles was the 2nd album to sell over a million copies in the United Kingdom (the 1st being the soundtrack to South Pacific). Favorite Songs:  "If I Fell," "And I Love Her," "Can't Buy Me Love,"

10. Beatles for Sale A step back after the marginal improvement that was A Hard Day's Night. Fun fact: Beatles for Sale wasn't released in the US until 1987. Favorite Songs: "I'll Follow the Sun"

9. A Hard Day's Night A  fleeting glance at what the band might become. Fun fact: the title comes from a malapropism uttered by Ringo Starr that the director of the accompanying film overheard. Favorite Songs: "If I Fell," "And I Love Her," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Things We Said Today"

8.  Rubber Soul This album is where the sound change started. They're still hanging on to the original tone, but starting to experiment a little. Favorite Songs: "Drive My Car," "Nowhere Man," "Michelle," "I'm Looking Through You"

7. Help! Probably the best of the teen-pop albums, it has a decent number of good songs. Fun fact: the semaphore on the cover actually spells NUJV or NVUJ, depending on which version of the release you're looking at. Favorite Songs: "Help!," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Ticket to Ride," "I've Just Seen a Face," "Yesterday"

6. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band This is far and away the most overrated rock album of all time, never mind the most overrated Beatles album. They get props for basically inventing the concept album, and it certainly helped cement their change from teen heartthrobs to a collective of increasingly weird dudes making interesting music. But I think the weirdness overshadows the quality on this one. Favorite Songs: "With a Little Help From My Friends," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "A Day in the Life"

5. Let It Be Their final album released, but not their final album recorded. Some strong songs on here, also some bizarre ones. The "Naked" version of the album does make a couple, most notably "Let It Be," more interesting. Favorite Songs: "Across the Universe," "Dig It," "Let It Be," "The Long & Winding Road," "Get Back"

4.  Revolver This album is a lot of fun; also it's the one I'd heard the most of before starting this little project. While a lot of the songs aren't memorable, I dig the general vibe and sound of this one. Favorite Songs: "Taxman," "Eleanor Rigby," "Yellow Submarine," "She Said She Said," "Good Day Sunshine"

3. The Beatles That's a lot of songs, the Beatles. So many. Again, a significant quantity are forgettable, but not many are straight-up bad, and it's another solid vibe album. And it features my favorite Beatles song, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Favorite Songs: "Back in the USSR," "Dear Prudence," "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "I'm So Tired," "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?," "Helter Skelter"

2. Magical Mystery Tour Hands down this has the weirdest cover of any of the Beatles' albums; it looks like they're going to rape-murder you or something. Another solid sound all the way through, and the good songs are really, really good. Favorite Songs: "The Fool on the Hill," "Flying," "I Am the Walrus," "Hello, Goodbye," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "All You Need is Love"

1. Abbey Road Abbey Road was actually recorded before Let It Be, and it's their best. This is the most consistent quality displayed by any of their albums, and a near-perfect balance of weirdness and heart. Favorite Songs:  "Come Together," "Something," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Here Comes the Sun," "Carry That Weight," "The End"