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1960s album reviews
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24 August 2016
4.16am
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Joe
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Here's a sticky post to define the intention of this thread. It's for contemporaneous reviews of Beatles albums, singles, shows, events and so on. News reports, features, interviews, whatever, as long as they were in response to then-new Beatles activities. The thread title says album reviews, but let's broaden it out a little.

This is for 1960s (and 1970) articles only, to see how critics and journalists were responding to a phenomenon as it was unfolding. It's not a place for retrospective appraisals, because there are millions of those. This is for the occasionally insightful, sometimes ill-informed and often inaccurate responses to releases and unpredictable events from the act we've known for all these years, from the writers who were writing at the time. Snippets of history.

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13 October 2013
8.32pm
bucketoftongues
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I am looking for contemporary reviews of the albums - e.g. from the Mersey Beat, NME/Melody Maker/Sounds, regular UK media (Mirror, Daily Mail etc). Does anyone know if these are online somewhere? I have seen them in the Mojo Beatles book, but googling isn't bringing any results for them being online. Would be extremely grateful!

14 October 2013
7.02am
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vonbontee
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Sorry I can't help you...Those would be nice to see!

I understand that Rolling Stone's website updates old "original" reviews with newer ones if the old ones don't jibe with contemporary critical consensus.

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14 October 2013
2.03pm
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SatanHimself
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Here's a little something, new guy:

http://www.nytimes.com/package.....hn1968.pdf

E is for 'Ergent'.

14 October 2013
8.25pm
bucketoftongues
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SatanHimself said
Here's a little something, new guy:

http://www.nytimes.com/package.....hn1968.pdf

Many thanks, sir! Much obliged.

 

15 October 2013
3.53am
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Good post there SatanHimself (re the White Album). I still have my original NY Times review of Abbey Road. The reviewer said it was awful save the medley at the end.

Interesting that in both reviews the reviewer completely missed Harrison's greatest contributions.

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15 August 2016
7.27am
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Joe
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Can we resurrect this thread? I love reading the old reviews, and I'm sure others have been posted elsewhere on the forum (I posted some from The Times (UK) in another thread). Pasting the text with links back to the source would be good.

Here's The Guardian's review of Revolver from 15 August 1966. Particularly interesting for the mishearing of "the void" as "the voice", which suggests a sort of shamanism intent on Lennon's part:

“Turn off your mind; relax and float downstream; it is not dying. Lay down all thought; surrender to the voice: it is shining. That you may see the meaning of within: it is being.”

A curious sort of poetry, and the Beatles devotee might detect the hand of John Lennon. These are the words of the most remarkable item on a compulsive new record, the Beatles’ latest LP (Parlophone stereo PCS 7009; mono PMC 7009), called in typical punning way “Revolver.” The song quote, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” is musically most original, starting with jungle noises and Eastern-inspired music which merge by montage effect into the sort of electronic noises we associate with beat music. Then Lennon moaning out the words above, which in their sinister way define the real point of the song: pop-music as a substitute both for jungle emotions and for the consolations of religion. After all, teenagers are not the only ones who through the ages have “turned off their minds” and “surrendered to the voice,” whether to the tribal leader, the priest, or now the pop-singer. Thank goodness Lennon is being satirical: at least one hopes so.

In studying Beatles philosophy one does of course have to distinguish between the natural acquisitiveness of George Harrison in “Taxman” and Lennon and McCartney and their rather lefter-wing views. But all three creative Beatles habitually (as serious artists always must) in specific feelings and specific experiences. “Dr Robert,” for example, is a brilliant send-up of an expensive doctor-psychiatrist (which Beatle went to him one wonders?). “Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine,” the doctor is made to say, and the link with what the Beatles think of as prepackaged religion is underlined by the Victorian hymn-tune accompaniment below.

Even the already ubiquitous “Yellow submarine” is specific in its simplicity, and a number like “I’m only sleeping” brings a vivid picture of the pop-world: the late-sleeping Beatle being jolted into consciousness – nicely illustrated in the repeated jolting back to life of the music. “Eleanor Rigby” (with “square” string octet accompaniment) is a ballad about a lonely spinster who “wears the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” and about Father McKenzie “writing the words of sermon that no one will hear,” the verses punctuated by wailing cries of “Look at all the lonely people: where do they all come from?”

There you have a quality rare in pop music, compassion, born of an artist’s ability to project himself into other situations. Specific understanding of emotion comes out even in the love songs – at least the two new ones with the best tunes, both incidentally sung by Paul McCartney, the Beatle with the strongest musical staying power. “For No One” uses Purcellian tricks to hold the attention, gently-moving, seamless melody with characteristic descending bass motif, over which half way through there emerges a haunting descant, beautiful by any standards, Alan Civil, no less, playing the French horn.

It is not just a question of the Beatles and Paul McCartney in particular paying lip service to classical values. “Here, There And Everywhere” brings yet another Beatles tune that like “Yesterday” or the best of Ellington, Cole Porter or Sandy Wilson (taking highly contrasted examples) can be demonstrated by the most hide-bound analysis to be a good melody. After the unexpected success of “Yesterday,” I shall be interested to see whether this new “sweet” number with its rising fifths and sevenths (forbidden interval in “pop”) again vindicate the perception of popular taste. The Beatles’ whole success, based demonstrably on musical talent, is fair vindication in itself.

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15 August 2016
9.58am
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HMBeatlesfan
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Joe said
Can we resurrect this thread? I love reading the old reviews, and I'm sure others have been posted elsewhere on the forum (I posted some from The Times (UK) in another thread). Pasting the text with links back to the source would be good.

Here's The Guardian's review of Revolver from 15 August 1966. Particularly interesting for the mishearing of "the void" as "the voice", which suggests a sort of shamanism intent on Lennon's part:

“Turn off your mind; relax and float downstream; it is not dying. Lay down all thought; surrender to the voice: it is shining. That you may see the meaning of within: it is being.”

A curious sort of poetry, and the Beatles devotee might detect the hand of John Lennon. These are the words of the most remarkable item on a compulsive new record, the Beatles’ latest LP (Parlophone stereo PCS 7009; mono PMC 7009), called in typical punning way “Revolver.” The song quote, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” is musically most original, starting with jungle noises and Eastern-inspired music which merge by montage effect into the sort of electronic noises we associate with beat music. Then Lennon moaning out the words above, which in their sinister way define the real point of the song: pop-music as a substitute both for jungle emotions and for the consolations of religion. After all, teenagers are not the only ones who through the ages have “turned off their minds” and “surrendered to the voice,” whether to the tribal leader, the priest, or now the pop-singer. Thank goodness Lennon is being satirical: at least one hopes so.

In studying Beatles philosophy one does of course have to distinguish between the natural acquisitiveness of George Harrison in “Taxman” and Lennon and McCartney and their rather lefter-wing views. But all three creative Beatles habitually (as serious artists always must) in specific feelings and specific experiences. “Dr Robert,” for example, is a brilliant send-up of an expensive doctor-psychiatrist (which Beatle went to him one wonders?). “Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine,” the doctor is made to say, and the link with what the Beatles think of as prepackaged religion is underlined by the Victorian hymn-tune accompaniment below.

Even the already ubiquitous “Yellow submarine” is specific in its simplicity, and a number like “I’m only sleeping” brings a vivid picture of the pop-world: the late-sleeping Beatle being jolted into consciousness – nicely illustrated in the repeated jolting back to life of the music. “Eleanor Rigby” (with “square” string octet accompaniment) is a ballad about a lonely spinster who “wears the face that she keeps in a jar by the door” and about Father McKenzie “writing the words of sermon that no one will hear,” the verses punctuated by wailing cries of “Look at all the lonely people: where do they all come from?”

There you have a quality rare in pop music, compassion, born of an artist’s ability to project himself into other situations. Specific understanding of emotion comes out even in the love songs – at least the two new ones with the best tunes, both incidentally sung by Paul McCartney, the Beatle with the strongest musical staying power. “For No One” uses Purcellian tricks to hold the attention, gently-moving, seamless melody with characteristic descending bass motif, over which half way through there emerges a haunting descant, beautiful by any standards, Alan Civil, no less, playing the French horn.

It is not just a question of the Beatles and Paul McCartney in particular paying lip service to classical values. “Here, There And Everywhere” brings yet another Beatles tune that like “Yesterday” or the best of Ellington, Cole Porter or Sandy Wilson (taking highly contrasted examples) can be demonstrated by the most hide-bound analysis to be a good melody. After the unexpected success of “Yesterday,” I shall be interested to see whether this new “sweet” number with its rising fifths and sevenths (forbidden interval in “pop”) again vindicate the perception of popular taste. The Beatles’ whole success, based demonstrably on musical talent, is fair vindication in itself.

  

I was hoping this was a place where we can post our own reviews, not some place to reference someone else's review.

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15 August 2016
12.37pm
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meanmistermustard
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HMBeatlesfan said

I was hoping this was a place where we can post our own reviews, not some place to reference someone else's review.  

You can post your own reviews in the respective album threads, there are tons of threads already in existence that fulfill that requirement.

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16 August 2016
4.50am
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Joe
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I've amended the topic title to make things a little clearer.

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16 August 2016
8.30am
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HMBeatlesfan
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meanmistermustard said

HMBeatlesfan said

I was hoping this was a place where we can post our own reviews, not some place to reference someone else's review.  

You can post your own reviews in the respective album threads, there are tons of threads already in existence that fulfill that requirement.  

That's great for something like Revolver or Meet The Beatles, but what about if I want to review Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or A Night At The Opera or Dark Side Of The Moon or even Highway To Hell.

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16 August 2016
8.31am
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HMBeatlesfan
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Joe said
I've amended the topic title to make things a little clearer.  

All we need now is 1970's album reviews

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17 August 2016
9.45am
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Silly Girl
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@HMBeatlesfan said

That's great for something like Revolver or Meet The Beatles, but what about if I want to review Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or A Night At The Opera or Dark Side Of The Moon or even Highway To Hell.  

Then you're on the wrong forum. ahdn_paul_01

...There is always the 'All Together Now' section, but this is probably not the best place to review those sorts of albums. 

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17 August 2016
10.25am
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Ron Nasty
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Why would there be reviews of albums by other artists in the Beatles "albums" forum, @HMBeatlesfan?

And, tbh, I think what @Joe is asking for is contemporary reviews to an album's release. I'm sure, if someone were to post Hollywood Bowl reviews from 1977, or Anthology reviews from 1995/6, Joe wouldn't move them elsewhere.

Critics responding to releases as they happened, rather than in retrospect.

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17 August 2016
6.37pm
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Ron Nasty said
Why would there be reviews of albums by other artists in the Beatles "albums" forum, @HMBeatlesfan?

And, tbh, I think what @Joe is asking for is contemporary reviews to an album's release. I'm sure, if someone were to post Hollywood Bowl reviews from 1977, or Anthology reviews from 1995/6, Joe wouldn't move them elsewhere.

Critics responding to releases as they happened, rather than in retrospect.  

Sometimes popularity needs patience. For example, The Wizard Of Oz blew at the box office back in the 30's and it wasn't until 1949, when they removed the sepia tinting, that it started to get popular. A Whiter Shade Of Pale is the opposite, back in the day it was a big hit, but the last time I heard it on the radio was in 2004.

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17 August 2016
7.24pm
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Ron Nasty
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But you seem to be missing @Joe's intent for this thread entirely, @HMBeatlesfan. It's not about how albums are viewed in retrospect, but how they were responded to by the society they were released into.

We all know all too well the retrospective view of their recordings, what we are often ignorant of is the critical reaction of their times. From being familiar with the contemporary reviews in Melody Maker and New Musical Express, it is often surprising just how much journalists struggled to find a new language, and how often the initial impression, especially on singles, was that the latest wasn't as good as the last.

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17 August 2016
8.32pm
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meanmistermustard
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I don't understand what the difficulty is with this thread. Its for original reviews when the albums were released.

Reviews from subsequent decades or fans almost certainly go in the albums respective thread.

Reviews for non-Beatles albums that have no relevance to an ongoing thread or conversation aren't really fitting, it's a Beatles forum not Elton John, Twiggy or Billy J. Kramer.

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24 August 2016
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BluemeanAl
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So...any reviews to post? 

I know that when I pick up a vintage album I always go to the 1979 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide to see what the review looked like then...and then I look in the 2004 edition of the (now) Rolling Stone Album Guide to see how it compares (assuming that it is reviewed in both editions).  No surprise -- they often do not agree! 

I may have grown up with the Beatles, but I didn't start reading record reviews until the mid-'70s, so I've never read any contemporaneous Beatles album reviews, or not many.  Bring 'em on!

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