Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Beatles top10


Top 10 Beatles tunes

To pick your favourite Beatles tunes is a difficult one because of how huge their catalogue is and how many great songs they made in the 7 years that they released material as a performing group. They weren’t without their disappointing tunes though, Harrison’s nasty song, Piggies, McCartney’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and the two Honey Pies are rubbish and could easily have been scrapped for something much better especially since the amount of tunes they wrote and were either released as B-sides or were used later for their early solo albums.

As most people would agree the Beatles were not a singles band, like I feel the Rolling Stones are, in fact most of my favourite songs are not singles. The Beatles were an album band and the material they released between1965-1968 was the most inventive and consistently brilliant a band has ever accomplished. Much of the tunes on the albums were on par with their best singles, if better. So this list I compiled is my favourite Beatles tracks, not necessarily their most technically outstanding tracks (Tomorrow Never Knows, despite how great it is does not appear on this list) but the ones that stick out for me and resonate with me. Enjoy.

Rain

CD: "Past Masters", Volume 2, Track 4
Recorded: 14th April 1966, Abbey Road 3; 16th April 1966, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 10th June 1966 (Double-A Single / "Paperback Writer")


How many bands can you claim have B-sides that can be put alongside their best? Not many, and of course the Beatles are an exception. What I love most about this track is the surreal quality, the obvious LSD influence that was going on around the time of the tracks recording. This is actually created by both the vocals and instrumentals having different speed changes between original recording and the mixdown for mastering. The fantastic vocals from Lennon are not just the highlight but the McCartney/Starr rhythm section is awesome. Just listen to that bass!

Yer Blues

CD: "White Album", Disc 2, Track 2
Recorded: 13th, 14th August 1968, Abbey Road 2; 20th August 1968, Abbey Road 3
UK-release: 22nd November 1968 (LP "White Album")


This song is seen as a parody of the British blues music with lyrics such as:
‘The eagle picks my eye/The worm he licks my bones/I feel so suicidal/Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones.’ Not to be taken seriously I hope, especially when you know that it is in fact a John Lennon song with his dry sense of humor. It’s a song that somehow fits into the White album though couldn’t possibly anywhere else in the Beatles canon. I love the intensity of it, something which became more apparent in Lennon’s songs in the later Beatles years.

I’m So Tired

CD: "White Album", Disc 1, Track 10
Recorded: 8th October 1968, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 22nd November 1968 (LP "White Album")


Lennon sure does love his sleep. He not only wrote this song for the White Album about being sleep deprived but also the song I’m Only Sleeping for the 1966 record Revolver. Not only that, he did the famous protest with Yoko Ono in bed, and even recorded Give Peace a Chance, his first solo single, in bed. This is one of my favourite Lennon songs, it’s moody, paced perfectly and has some of Lennon’s best vocals as he goes from being weary to enthusiastic. It’s this which is key to the effect of the song and what makes it so appealing.

I've Just Seen a Face

CD: "Help!” Track 12
Recorded: 14th June 1965, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 6th August 1965 (LP "Help!")


This song is a great example of what the early Beatles were like, before the dope driven Rubber Soul LP or the LSD mind expansion of Revolver and Sgt Pepper with their limitless inventiveness and tricks. This song is fast paced, bursting with energy and I can’t help but feel enthusiastic after listening to it. Surely perfect Macca ‘pop’?

Helter Skelter

CD: "White Album", Disc 2, Track 6
Recorded: 18th July, 9th, 10th September 1968, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 22nd November 1968 (LP "White Album")

This is McCartney’s experiment with the Beatles attempting heavy rock supposedly because they wanted to compete with the music scene at the time where the Who and Led Zeppelin were creating the heaviest music ever heard. Many think this song is actually a failure and that it drags on too long but I completely disagree. In recent times the song has grown on me so much so it’s now one of my favorites on the White Album. It might not be as successful as Led Zeppelin at taking heavy music into new places but it’s by far one of the grooviest Beatles songs; it’s also rather sinister, with an undercurrent of obsession and possible violence. Or it could all be a metaphor for sex. One other reason for loving this song, it has Ringo shouting ‘I got blisters on my fingers’ at the end which is always funny.

Something

CD: "Abbey Road", Track 2
Recorded: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 30th, 31st July, 15 August 1969, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 26th September 1969 (LP "Abbey Road")


Something is one of my favorite George Harrison songs, I usually find his music to be rather pretentious but this one really did blow me away and still has its hold on me whenever I listen to it. It’s unabashedly romantic yet the love seems destined not to last. The fact that the protagonist is ignited just by her moving is possibly one of the most passionate Beatles imageries. I think it’s the bridge that always seems to catch me off guard though, and one of the many reasons why I love this song.

I Want You (She’s so Heavy)

CD: "Abbey Road", Track 6
Recorded: 22nd February 1969, Trident Studios; 18th, 20th April 1969, 8th 11th August 1969, Abbey Road 2/3
UK-release: 26th September 1969 (LP "Abbey Road")


7 minutes and 47seconds of intense experimentation from John that goes beyond anything the Beatles had done up to that point but has many of their later career trademarks. For one, it’s another Lennon song about a protagonist’s state of mind. Secondly it’s an experiment in form, something the Beatles were interested in immensely. The song ventures into the depths of love and obsession and possibly insanity. The abrupt ending is genius, leaving the listener cut off and disorientated from the music. It’s long but always leaves a great impression on me.

Happiness is a warm gun

CD: "White Album", Disc 1, Track 8
Recorded: 23rd-25th September 1968, Abbey Road 2
UK-release: 22nd November 1968 (LP "White Album")

This is a song I come back to often, especially since it’s on the White album which is my favorite of their albums and probably my favorite of all time. I love the vocals in this song as they change along with the varied styles and meters which never cease to be exciting. Also those surreal lyrics are just so John circa 1968.

It’s all too much

CD: "Yellow Submarine Songtrack", Track 15
Recorded: 25th, 26th May, 2nd June 1967, De Lane Studios, Kingsway
UK-release: 17th January 1969 (LP "Yellow Submarine")

One of the only Beatles songs that sound like it could have been released recently from the opening guitar sound to the rock beat, the droning harmonies, and the spiritual Harrison lyrics. It’s like drug euphoria, full of surreal sounds and imagery. Though it’s also the only song on this list I’m not sure belongs here. Sometimes the song really enthralls me while other times I’m not in the mood for it, a bit like Sgt Pepper I suppose which they recorded the same year.

‘All the world is birthday cake/
So take a piece but not too much.’

The Ballad of John and Yoko

CD: "Past Masters", Volume 2, Track 11
Recorded: 14th April 1969, Abbey Road 3
UK-release: 30th May 1969 (A Single / "Old Brown Shoe")

I think this is a much overlooked single, maybe because it’s about John and Yoko? After all she’s not the most popular woman in the Beatles legacy. Yoko was a great inspiration for John, especially since it created this enjoyable tack which basically bounces along at such a fast pace no wonder it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. Fact: It was only John and Macca on this track.

Phew that was tiring.

Possible contenders:

For No One-Revolver
Drive my Car- Rubber Soul
All I’ve got to Do- With the Beatles
I Should have Known Better- A Hard Day’s Night
I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party- Beatles for Sale

1 Comments:

Blogger Paul Fuzz said...

Great list, Ash. Loadsa stuff that I coulda gone for, She's So Heavy, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Yer Blues...and of course we agree on Rain and Helter Skelter. I notice there's a bit of a dark, heavy vibe to your list, as I think there is to mine. While I like The Beatles enough as cute 1963 era mop-tops, I think they get REALLY interesting when they get a little deeper and funkier. Glad to see you back blogging, Ash.

July 08, 2007 3:38 PM  

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