The Beatles is easy.
Get all their records, they're all good. Doesn't matter where you start. You already know all the songs already.
Hunting has been part of our society since the first Europeans came over and shot buffalo and Native Americans and whatnot.
The Dive Poets
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Please Please Me (1963). Opens with "I Saw Her Standing There" which is my favorite of the old Beatles rock and roll stuff, and closes with "Twist and Shout" which is a great cover. In between those two are "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" which were big hits at the time but now seem a bit dated. The other songs are mostly mediocre covers. Grade: B
With The Beatles (1963). "I Wanna Be Your Man" and "All My Loving" are the only Lennon/McCartney tunes of any note, but there are some incredible covers here. "Please Mister Postman", "Roll Over Beethoven", "You Really Got a Hold on Me", and "Money" show that the Beatles were rocking harder than anybody else at the time. Grade: B+
NOTE: In the US this was released as Meet the Beatles which added "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (originally just a single) and "I Saw Her Standing There" and deleted some of the great covers. My advice is if you are into early Beatles rock n roll, buy the British albums and also pick up the Beatles 1964-1967 compilation.
A Hard Day's Night (1964). This is the Beatles' first masterpiece. The title cut, "I Should Have Known Better", "If I Fell", "And I Love Her", "Can't Buy Me Love" -- and that's just Side 1. Grade: A NOTE: The US version of this album deletes a lot of the good songs and adds three instrumentals by "George Martin and His Orchestra". I swear I am not making this up. The US was really uncool in 1964.
Beatles For Sale (1964) "No Reply". "I'm a Loser". "Eight Days a Week". This is the album where you can really see Lennon/McCartney's songwriting start to take off from good to great. Also more cool covers: "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey", "Rock and Roll Music", "Honey Don't". Grade: A
Help! (1965). Soundtrack. More classics: "Help!", "Ticket to Ride", and "Yesterday" which was the first L/M song that wasn't really a rock song. But this album, being a soundtrack, is a bit inconsistent. Grade: A-
Rubber Soul (1965). Along with Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited in the same year, the first great modern rock album. No covers, just Beatles compositions, and really stretching the musicality of their work. "Drive My Car", "Norwegian Wood", "Nowhere Man" are three of the first four songs. If the Arcade Fire put out an album with songs this good you people would all be shitting yourselves to death. Grade: A+
Revolver (1966). Considered by many to be the greatest Beatles album, this is the bridge between the early rock and roll Beatles and the later studio-experimenter Beatles. The songwriting is wonderful, in full bloom, and the Harrison Indian ragas start now. But to my ears this album has a few flaws -- "Got to Get You Into My Life" is the first real example of the shit Paul would start tossing our way, and frankly I find John's contributions to be a bit weak compared to his other stuff. My controversial grade: A-
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) in which the Beatles stopped being a rock band for a while. You know this record. I personally don't like it as much as some of their other stuff, but at the time it was a revolutionary record. Grade: A
Magical Mystery Tour (1967) more experimental pop, and often downplayed as not being a 'serious' Beatles record, but I love it for "I Am the Walrus" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" which IMO are John's two best songs ever. (I'm talking about the US album; in the UK this was released as a double-EP; it's one of the few instances where the US version is better than the UK one). Also contains "All You Need Is Love", the last great true collaboration between Paul and John. Paul contributes "Fool on the Hill", which is really good, and "Hello Goodbye" and "Penny Lane", which are drivel. Grade: A but really it's 2/3rds an A+ album and 1/3rd a B- album.
The White Album (1968). This album is freakin' weird. They were all totally drugged out by now, John having moved on from acid to smack, and it shows. This is by far the hardest Beatles album to get to know but the most rewarding if you make the effort, especially for disc 2, where relatively unknown songs like "Long Long Long" and "Cry Baby Cry" really show John's understated genius. Grade: A+
Yellow Submarine (1968) an "official" Beatles album in name only. Side two are all George Martin composed instrumentals. Grade: D (would be an F but I like the Yellow Submarine song -- but it's on the UK version of Revolver anyway.)
Abbey Road (1969) John sort of disappears but George takes his place and then some. But this is Paul's album to shine and he really does. I guess he was a genius too, much as I am disinclined to admit it. Grade: A+
Let It Be (1970) this is a soundtrack from the Beatles' attempt to "get back" to their rock and roll roots, and was actually recorded before Abbey Road. The band hates each other at this point and it shows. There are some good classics (title cut, "Get Back", "Across the Universe", "Don't Let Me Down"), and some good, relatively unknown ones ("One after 909", "I Dig a Pony" are both good). But it's overall kind of a lifeless album and also contains the worst Beatles song ever, "The Long and Winding Road", for which Paul should be bitchslapped for betraying his genius. Grade: B+
Tom I like what you done here. The grading thing Is wonderful.
I was mostly kidding Tom, but thanks...that's awesome.
wow tom. nice. but revolver is still>rubber soul song for song. true, got to get you into my life is shit. well, just the chorus mostly. and yes, diminished john here, but "i'm only sleeping"? the quality of this track alone makes up for the lack of quantity. one of my all time favorite beatles songs. and what about "and your bird can sing?". no goddamned SPOON without this song buddy. just saying. oh and let's not forget "tomorrow never knows" predating modern electronic dance music by a good twenty five years or so. jeez, don't you think these things out?
kidding. rubber soul is great too. some of john's bitchiest anti-women screeds here. girl, norwegian wood, run for your life, etc. what a character. what a piece of work. they'd call him a misogynist today. though understandably so, what with the absent mother and all. and yes i'm a nerd for knowing this but eh? fan for LIFE yo.
Do you mean that one band in it's current incarnation is better than the other band? Because in that case, the Beatles do not currently exist as a band and therefore Daft Punk wins automatically, because they do exist as a band. Therefore, Daft Punk is better simply because Daft Punk is an existing band, while the Bealtes is not a band that is currently together.
Or, do you mean whose music is better? The music produced by the Beatles while they were together as a band, or the music of Daft Punk? In this case, YOU'RE A FUCKING MORON IF YOU SAY DAFT PUNK.
Sorry for being like Bill Clinton there for a second. But yeah... I get your point. This board in general treats DP like saints... I thoroughly enjoyed their performance last year too, and I'll see 'em again this year... But come on. GET OVER IT. It's over. Will I still be listening to DP in ten years? Probably, just for kicks, for memories of my youth. But I'll be listening to the Beatles for life.
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Not really. Classical music is different--I don't go see classical music performed live. And Mozart was a composer anyway.
I don't really like to get into bands that are not able to perform live anymore. (this is why I don't listen to Elliott Smith or Jeff Buckley, etc). That's just my personal philosophy and you can attack it as you will or shake your head in disbelief or whatever.
Tom, you give Beatles for Sale an A? And Please Please Me only gets a B? I feel like Please Please Me is an A album if there ever was one. Beatles For Sale was their weakest album; despite a few interesting songs (No Reply, I'm a Loser) it contains the worst thing the Beatles ever did (Mr. Moonlight) and they tend to sound really tired on the whole thing. The covers are lesser versions of songs they had done earlier (Rock and Roll Music, Words of Love). Also, Revolver is an A to A+. I'm a John boy, but I still love Got To Get You Into My Life. It shows where Paul would fail later, but I feel like he got it right on this album.
Also, if you are completely ignorant of the Beatles (Shame on you, but there are people) then I think the best starting place, for an overview, would be Past Masters Vol. 1 and 2. This gives you an overview of non-album tracks from the entirety of their career. Given that many of their singles weren't on the albums, you get some fantastic music (Love Me Do, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Lady Madonna, Rain, Hey Jude, Day Tripper, Get Back, Etc.) Plus, you get the Beatles strangest song, You've Got My Name (Look Up My Number). I think it's a great career overview, and you can hear all the different Beatles styles in one place.
The Anthologies are for the true fanatic. 1 and 2 are mostly outtakes and unreleased covers, and they vary in sound quality quite a bit. It's fun to listen to to hear the development of their style, and you get a few unearthed gems. If you're going to pick one up, I'd go for Anthology 3. It starts with a few acoustic versions of White Album songs from a practice session that they had before they went to India and got all crazy. These acoustic takes are revelations, almost every one. The take on Helter Skelter rivals the released version. The collection ends with outtakes from the Let it Be sessions, which are cool to hear.
On that note, there are many bootlegs of these sessions. The two essentials are recordings of the rooftop concert and Get Back: The Glyn Johns pressing. The concert has been remastered online a few times, and you can get it with really good sound. This was the last time the Beatles played live, and, despite some false starts, winds up pretty awesome. Get Back is what they originally intended Let it Be to be, before they decided to scrap that and turn the tapes over to Phil Spector. It's an awesome album and would have been a great way to end their career. If you're feeling extremely (Note: EXTREMELY) obsessed, you can get Thirty Days, a bootleg of the Let it Be sessions. It contains 30 discs worth of recordings from these, which were meant to be in studio live takes. It ranges from awesome to painful, but there are some really cool takes. i've gotten thru about 15 discs on it.
Despite the fact that Daft Punk are clearly superior in every regard (Robotness, Frenchness, Dancability) I'm the sentamentalist, and I'll go with those old fogies the Beatles. I guess they released a few good songs...
Also, concerning the Beatles, Nirvana, any-band-who's-overplayed, I get kind of sick of listening to their music after a while.
Yeah the overexposure thing is a problem, I agree with that. Really that's part of the reason I pay so little attention to the mass media anymore. But still it's hard to avoid going to the grocery store.
that reminds me, I heard Muse at Safeway the other day, I guess they're pretty mainstream now.
Actually bmack (just re-reading your longer post) if someone were completely ignorant of the Beatles I'd point them to the 1962-66 and 1967-70 anthologies. Yeah you lose the album feel that's so important to much of their work but it still seems the logical place to start.
Beatles for Sale sans covers = A+
Beatles for Sale as is = B
If someone feels like it, I'd love suggestions for Leonard Cohen.