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Desert Island Discs and The Beatles

You know it’s really funny how stories pop up like the one found below.  Just last night a friend and I were talking about the awesome Purple Chick bootleg sets that have been coming out over the last few months.  For those of you who don’t know, or aren’t into the bootleg scene, these are deluxe editions of the Beatles albums in both stereo and mono format (where available) and also includes a disc of the most complete session/studio takes from those albums.  These sets are among the most impressive that I have seen come out… period. 

They have been releasing these deluxe albums sets chronologically, and they have forced me to go back and relisten to these early albums, which I often overlook.  I have been able to reexamine them, and hear them again for the very first time.  It has been a great, much to my delight.  I have almost forgotten how great these early pop/love songs are.  These sets had led my friend and I to a discussion about the inevitable–our favorite Beatle albums.   Can you pick a favorite album?  I’m not sure that I can…

We had broken down the career into three distinct eras, and allowed ourselves to pick one from each era in an attempt to narrow things down.

We were unable to come up with a clear distinct favorite.  These albums had become so vital to our own personal fabric, that it was not possible to pick one clear favorite.  I tried to break it down, and force myself to decide, making the ultimate choice, but I was unable.  Everytime I would try to pick a favorite album my friend would give me reason to not list it.  We kept talking each other out of our picks. Each album holds a different meaning for me entirely, and I simply cannot choose.  If I had to, I think my head would explode.  My desert island pick would be all of them, not one, but all of them.  I think the beaty of The Beatles as a working band is the fact that you have this fluid, changing, beast that adapted and evolved its creative output with the release of each album. 

It seems though that another blogger over at blogcritics had the same idea on his mind.

Here’s what we’ve read.

Any conversation about the Beatles inevitably leads to one place: The Desert Island Disc. (Well, actually, it passes through Which One Is Your Favorite — somebody else can deal with that one — but it ends up, inevitably, with this eternal question.)

Too often, if you ask me, the answer is 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s, which to my mind is too much of a period piece (and doesn’t have any strong work from George); or the more obvious Abbey Road, which (as good as it is) is too Paul-heavy and is just too darn ubiquitous.

There was a time when I said 1968’s The Beatles, more commonly known as The White Album. After all, it has so many song styles, so many turns for each of the Fab(ulously fractured, at this point) Four to express their own individuality, that it not only makes the title seem sadly ironic… but ensures any future generation on your little island will be exposed to everything from air-tight and ironic pop (“Back in the USSR”, “Savoy Truffle”) to country (“Don’t Pass Me By”) to experimental music (“Revolution No. 9”) to hard-rockers (“Birthday”, “Helter Skelter”) to classic Beatles flower power (“Dear Prudence”, “Mother Nature’s Son”) to the truly unnameable (“Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”, “Bungalow Bill”) to the group’s best collaboration (with Clapton, on While My Guitar Gently Weeps) to Wing-esque artistry (“Martha My Dear”) to sweet orchestral reverie (“Good Night”), and so on.

But, that seems like a cop out. This was, after all, no Beatles album — but a series of solo tracks featuring some or none of the fellow group members.

So, I give my nod to 1966’s Revolver, a triumph in every important way for any Beatle fan.The album is both sublime (“Got To Get You Into My Life”, a tune so inherently funky that Earth, Wind and Fire covered it) and fun (Ringo’s timeless “Yellow Submarine”).

It’s folky (“Here, There and Everywhere”), but never hokey: “Eleanor Rigby” is a tune of effortless artistry. George’s contributions are finally measurable, as his “Taxman” kicks off the album with a snotty, rocking blast of perfect pop.

There is also the romantic release of McCartney in “Good Day Sunshine” — and the cool-rocking Lennon side, “And Your Bird Can Sing”. I love the genuine wonder in George’s “Love You To”. This is his best Indian-influenced tune of all, and his first.

There is the expected mid-60s psychedelia from Lennon, with more humor (in “She Said”) and so much more genuine alienation (“Tomorrow Never Knows”), than in all but the best of the rest. (That being “Strawberry Fields,” of course.)

Lastly, this is the band’s first genuine foray into something outside of their already comfortable pop-song structures, so it must be recognized for that.

“The biggest miracle of Revolver, wrote Stephen Thomas Erlewine, “may be that the Beatles covered so much new stylistic ground and executed it perfectly on one record, or it may be that all of it holds together perfectly. Either way, its daring sonic adventures and consistently stunning songcraft set the standard for what pop/rock could achieve.”

For pure artistry, off-beat innovation and pure giddy fun, it’s the ultimate pop experiment

Source: Blogcritics


3 Responses

  1. I owe much of who I am and how I see the world to the SGT PEPPER album. Just last year and had the Sgt Pepper drumhead logo tattooed on my right arm to symbolize it’s impact on my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at it and remember how it changed me.

  2. A good friend of mine (and fellow fanatic) often ponder the same question of our three favorite Beatle albums. We always name the same three (or four) but often debate the order. Keep in mind we are talking about the US versions as these are the albums we first heard and adored.

    Sgt Pepper
    Rubber Soul

    If you were to break them down to the best of three eras I would have to say:

    Early Pop: Help! (UK)
    Mid Peak: Sgt Pepper
    End of the Road: The Beatles (White)

    With the exception of Pepper, I could be talked out of these choices.

    It is alwasys good to give a fresh listen before embarking on such a debate.

    And by all means, have fun.

  3. The Love Soundtrack.

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