It's a tricky one. One of my favourite Beatles albums is A Hard Day's Night, which I think completely encapsulates the brilliance of their early songwriting (and is the only album of theirs to be all Lennon-McCartney songs, which somehow makes it sweeter).
However, there's no denying that they got far more exciting once they began experimenting in the studio. I remember Giles Martin saying that one of the reasons there are so few pre-1965 songs on Love is there's little variance in the rhythms, and the recording technology was pretty unimaginative and basic. Once they got the bit between their teeth they truly became a band that would live on forever.
That said, they had less creative times in the later period. Let It Be wasn't all that dazzling, and John Lennon had a particularly fallow period while he was on the smack in 1969. For me it's 1966-67 that is their most inventive time, when they were writing their best songs and recording them with real enthusiasm and innovation.
21 August 2009
While I love their earlier albums, I think the sound was a little generic- every hit song sounded somewhat like it at the time. They had a certain energy though then that can't be replaced.
In their later albums, man, they outdid themselves. I love them dearly. Sgt. Pepper is probably my favourite album- the songs are so dynamic, and I love that George gets to add yet another spell-binding hit to the Beatles collection. I have to say that I love the White album and Magical Mystery Tour about the same, and a few choice songs on Revolver. While I love Rubber Soul, no songs really stand out for me except for Norweigan Wood and Nowhere Man.
I think overall, I'd have to say later. But, anything between Please Please Me and Let it Be is genius. Period.
10 November 2009
It's A Hard decision.
Before his evolution and more complex and matured Beatles in Rubber Soul. There we're too many good songs, such as Help!, No Reply, A Hard Day's Night, And I Love Her, I'll Be Back, She Loves You, Thank You Girl, Please Please Me, Twist And Shout, I Wanna be Your Man, etcetera.
But, Rubber Soul marked a change in their lifes and compositions. Also the drug had some participation in this, as Bob Dylan too.
And Revolver continues his evolution.
Sgt. Pepper's is the culmination of his experiments, the best album they made.
Magical Mystery Tour, goes still on Psychedelic ways too.
The Beatles (White Album), are 4 solo albums united on one.
Yellow Submarine, such a compilation really with 4 new songs.
Let It Be, this version of Phil Spector is one of the albums i didn't like, but this show good songs that maybe we never heard if Spector never released it.
Abbey Road, The end of The Beatles as a group, the beginning of the legend, the other best album they made.
I'd like better post Rubber Soul albums.
It is an interesting question. As someone who was born in the middle of Beatlemania and raised in the Church of the Beatles, my tastes have changed a lot. When I was younger (so much younger than today) I really liked everything between "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help." I particularly hated "Little Child" which my older sisters would sing at me constantly. I liked some of the songs on "Meet The Beatles" and "Second Album" but since I was in the US, "Beatles 65" and "Beatles 6" were (IMHO) better albums.
But that was then. As I got older I adored the middle era. "Sgt Pepper" and "The Beatles" were my favs. I listed to the vinyl on headphones over and over. Although, I must say I never made it through "Rev. 9" with headphones. And interestingly enough, I never heard the play out line after "A Day In The Life" on SPLHCB until I got the '09 stereo remastered edition. When I heard it, it was like an electric jolt, and I jumped on the intenet to find out what the heck it was. Just goes to show, all these years later it is still having the effect that John and George Martin intended!
In college, I was definitely an "Abbey Road" fan. I never cared for "Let It Be" and I was burnt out on everything else except "The Beatles." If I had answered this question then, I would definitely have said post-"Rubber Soul" without hesitation.
But after getting the stereo remix box set, I started listening to everything all over again. I realized I never really understood the music or lyrics, I just took everything in a childlike way at face value. I got Bob Spitz's biography and read it cover to cover. It was definitely an eye opener. So much I didn't know, even though I had seen "The Compleat Beatles" and the "Anthology" documentaries. I listened to each album as it came along in the book and tried to evaluate it outside of my previous thoughts and feelings.
Since I am now middle aged and given to the normal middle aged interest in history and scope, I really felt drawn to the early albums. I really like old boogie woogie and rockabilly and I realized that I knew a lot of the songs that influenced the early Beatles. When I read that Paul played "20 Flight Rock" to John when they met, I realized I knew that song! I had done an end around and learned all about 40's and 50's rock, boogie and jive after I learned about the Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Zeppelin, Floyd, Animals, Zappa, etc. Suddenly, all of the early stuff made more sense to me. I understood "skiffle," I understood "Mr.. Moonlight," I could dig the difference in energy and style that the Beatles brought to these songs. I was old enough to understand the uniquely fortuitous place in history into which the Beatles had debuted, and why post war depression in England, and the Kennedy assassination in the US had been catalysts. I finally understood what made Beatlemania tick.
So now, looking back on it all, I have to say the early albums are my favorites. They are upbeat, youthful, vigorous, unpretentious, exuberant and full of artistic surprises. Even the early albums have some interesting and innovative songwriting. It helps if you understand the context and have some knowledge of 50's/60's rock and roll. For example, "No Reply" has a little bossanova swing to it, "What You're Doing" is a song that sounds like it could have come out of the Pub Rock scene in the 80's or the indie jangle rock revival of the last decade, and the use of the timpani drum on "Every Little Thing" has to be a first for a beat group. There are a lot of things to like on the early albums.
So there's my 2 (or 20) cents.
4 September 2009
14 October 2009
I'm going for early Beatles for a reason no one had mentioned so far. Up until Sgt Pepper they worked on songs together. John and Paul composed more with each other and I feel ther songs were a group input. By 1968 they had become almost session musicians to each other.
The second reason behind my thinking is pre-Pepper they were a guitar band predominantly. They rocked. In terms of real 'power' you cannot beat She Loves You, Ticket To Ride, Day Tripper, Paperback Writer to name but a few singles. How many songs between 1963-1966 were lead by a piano? Then you get Hey Jude, Lady Madonna, Let It Be….superb songs, but they were different – almost pure McCartney. Where was John's input on these? George wasn't even allowed to play lead guitar on Hey Jude remember!
4 March 2011
I would have to go with the later Beatles, which is really hard because I love all of their albums, but their later stuff was a bit more intresting and because a lot of their earlier songs sounds quite similiar, but they started experamenting more and songs didn't really sound all so similiar after that. Another reason is because Abbey Road and Revolver are probably my two favorite albums and they're both later, so yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
20 December 2010
Hi Stardog, I'm a similar vintage to your self and I agree almost verbatim with you. There was an amazing energy about the young Beatles that really set them apart and when you mixed that with the individual talent in the group the rest was history.
My other reason for preferring the earlier materiel now is John's voice. For some reason he stopped singing with the same authority after 1965. There was a confidence and swagger to his voice on the first four albums ( also very evident on Live at BBC ) that just is not there after. His voice was still a wonderful, expressive instrument but it was not the same.
9 June 2010
4 December 2010
14 April 2010
I am more inclined to listen to the middle years. One of my favorite "listens" of all time is starting with the Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out single and continuing through Rubber Soul, Paperback Writer / Rain, Revolver, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)** and Magical Mystery Tour.
To answer the original post however, I would have to chose "Later". I love the "Early" stuff, but the line was drawn at RS.
**I know that YKMN (LUTN) wasn't released until much later. But it was started during this period and just happens to be an awesome transition between the final run-out groove on Pepper's and the opening of MMT.
To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.
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