Invalid characterset or character set not supported Concerning the Beatles...

Concerning the Beatles...
September 11, 2009

What's your favorite album? You already know that 09-09-09 marked the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, the first rhythm game to incorporate Beatles music, but of course that game is missing a lot of their music despite having a generous track list.

You probably already know (or maybe not) that they've digitally remastered all of the albums from the group and are releasing them individually or as part of a box set throughout North America (and, I would presume, other regions nearer and dearer to the hearts of many Beatles fans). This looks like the best time in the last 30 years or so to collect and enjoy Beatles music.

My personal hope is to own all 14 releases (the 14th is a two-disc collection of Beatles music that didn't make it to albums, as far as I can tell), but that'll be awhile yet. I am a man of limited resources. Thanks to terrific sales locally and some coupons I had lying around, I have most of the discs and will be going through them over the next few weeks, most likely. There's no point in rushing things.

As I get ready to do that, I wondered what some other folks here are doing, if anything. Will you be buying some of the remastered releases--which come with original cover art and liner notes, by the way--or do you already have the Beatles music you care about? Do you have a favorite record? I'd love to hear!

Most recent blog posts from Jason Venter...

jiggs jiggs - September 11, 2009 (05:24 PM)
i own nearly all the albums on CD from the 1987 issue. my favorite period of the Beatles was from 1965-66 when they started getting artsy and experimentive. Rubber Soul and Revolver are really great pop albums. my personal favorite however is The White Album. it was just raw, messy and at times dark. i may buy a few remastered versions, namely Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road and the White album. i've heard a rip of the remastered Abbey Road and it's much much better. i don't think i could go back to the old cd.

i bought a Rickenbacker Rock Band guitar but don't have the game yet, which i will be getting really soon!
Genj Genj - September 11, 2009 (05:26 PM)
I don't like The Beatles :(
bloomer bloomer - September 11, 2009 (08:37 PM)
I only own the White Album, the CD version (ala 1987 first releases on CD). I guess that's just cos the Beatles music has been so omnipresent in pop culture, I've heard most of it in other venues than the records themselves. I couldn't pick an album because I know tracks individually rather than have a sense of albums.

As a music producer, I am super interested in this particular remastering. 'Digitally remastered' has been an extraordinarily abused term over time (sometimes they do next to nothing, sometimes they make things worse...) but these Beatles reissues are likely to be the best example of the full and valid implications of it you will ever hear. It's unlikely there will ever be a time and technology gulf like this between the orig recordings of any particular music and their remasterings again, excepting as a result of potential future world wars and culture changes.

I plan to get the mono box set, assuming they make some more of them - the mono sets sold out faster than anything and demand for them was underestimated.
jiggs jiggs - September 11, 2009 (09:27 PM)
i've heard the mono versions. those rock harder than the stereo versions. sgt. pepper in mono was definitely interesting..
honestgamer honestgamer - September 11, 2009 (10:17 PM)
I think that you're right, bloomer, in that Beatles music permeates our culture so thoroughly that we've all heard a lot of their music without really listening to an album. Certainly, that's the case with me.

What happens from there is more optional, though. I know that I've heard 10 or 15 Beatles songs something like twenty or thirty times apiece, it seems. But they actually put out closer to 200 tracks, and that gets a person thinking. Their stuff is permeating our culture--has been for years--yet we've only heard a certain amount of it.

That means to me that either the rest of their stuff is crap--unlikely, given their rabid following--or it's really good and I just haven't heard a whole lot of it. I'm guessing the latter is true, and that's the reasoning behind my experiment in venturing into other Beatles music that maybe--probably--I've never heard before.

So far, just a few songs into their first album (chronological is best, I figure), I'm loving what I'm hearing. I know their early stuff is about half covers for the first three albums or so, but they really do good performances together and on this collection the sound is about as crisp as I could hope for. I'm looking forward to enjoying a lot of music in the weeks ahead, and probably for many years to come after that.
Halon Halon - September 11, 2009 (10:21 PM)
I'd rate them:

1. Rubber Soul - a "mid" Beatles album and probably my favorite. Has the catchy pop hooks of their earlier stuff and delves into new areas, giving a sample of what they would go on to do. BTW EU version > US version

2. Abbey Road - very close second, not as much Lennon but the other band members really step up here.

3. Sgt Peppers - really deep stuff, get something different out of it with each listen. Some psychedelic, some poppy tunes, a bit of heavier stuff, this one has everything.

4. White Album - it's a double album, so naturally there's some not so great stuff here. On the other hand it contains some of the band's finest songs and there are far more hits than misses.

5. Revolver - probably their most popular release up there with Abbey Road. I didn't find it as remarkable as some others but it's still a great listen.

6. Magical Mystery Tour - not the most listenable Beatles album but very psychedelic and interesting listen. Probably the most creative Beatles album, though on most days I'd rather listen to one of the previous five.

Those are the essential 6 and Help would be a distant 7. I don't enjoy the stuff they did in the first half of their career (pre-Rubber Soul) nearly as much as the stuff in the second half. But if you plan on getting them all eventually start from the beginning and work your way towards the end. Some albums are classics, some are very good, and some are only alright but they're all worth listening to except for maybe Yellow Submarine.
jiggs jiggs - September 11, 2009 (11:01 PM)
if you are going to listen to the Yellow Submarine album you must listen to Hey! Bulldog! yip.

sportsman said it, those are the quintessential albums to dig through, doesn't matter which order. the early stuff isn't so bad either but is no comparison to their later work. i thought i would be disgusted with the teenybob image associated with the early Beatles, but they actually wrote some decent catchy rock music for that time period. "I Saw Her Standing There" rocks period. I liked A Hard Day's Night album from that era. that album was the beginning point to expanding their sound. Let It Be wasn't a bad album either. it has some great gems but shame that it has such a sad history behind it that nobody knew what to do with the direction of that album but to release it as an afterthought. have fun Jason, 10 fun hours. it may seem long but actually it isn't and you wished they were around to make 10 more albums. i'm sure you'll be giving your ears a break in between. :)
JANUS2 JANUS2 - September 12, 2009 (02:48 AM)
I'm a fan of The Beatles, but I do think they recorded a lot of rubbish. Of course this is partly due to the fact that between '63 and '70 they were releasing around two albums every year.

My favourite is Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I think it's the most cohesive -- the one that stands up best today as an "album" rather than a collection of songs. I'm not crazy about Within You Without You, but other than that I can happily listen to the album all the way through without feeling the urge to skip songs. The songwriting is warm, funny and often very clever, the concept works as an underlying theme and musically it's very tight. It contains probably the best executed "experimental" song the Beatles ever recorded ("A Day in the Life") and also the one that probably sums up why the band worked so well, particularly in light of their ordinary solo careers ("With a Little Help from my Friends"). I gave it four stars on RYM (I would class four stars as a "great" album, to give you an idea of what that means).

Second best is Revolver. I see it as a sort of preparation for Sgt. Pepper in that it works as an album, as opposed to previous Beatles albums that were basically a few hit singles and a collection of forgettable B-sides. It's an energetic pop album that's enjoyable to listen to. Having said that, I couldn't pick out any of the songs as being individually very memorable because they tend to blend into one (I think it's telling that only "Taxman" and "Eleanor Rigby" ever get selected for compilation albums). It's not great lyrically, but it's a fun album with few obviously bad tracks.

After those two I would class Help!, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road, Let it Be and Magical Mystery Tour as albums that are very inconsistent with a few excellent songs amidst a lot of rubbish that I really don't care for. Help! has Help!, Ticket to Ride, Yesterday and nothing else. Rubber Soul has Drive My Car, Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, In My Life, and nothing else. Abbey Road has I Want You (She's So Heavy), Something, Here Comes the Sun and well you probably get the idea. I remember reading an interview with George Harrison where he said that he felt frustrated that he had to wade through millions of Maxwell's Silver Hammers before he could get to one of his. I think a lot of us would echo those sentiments. Given how tired the Lennon/McCartney partnership seems on some of those later songs it's a shame that George didn't get to write more. He was obviously itching to do so, although All Things Must Pass (the best Beatles solo album) probably benefits as a result of this stifled creativity.

As for the pre Help! stuff, I don't really remember which songs are on which albums. But they did write some good stuff (I Saw Her Standing There, Do You Want to Know a Secret?) that could probably fill one album, or maybe two at a push.

I'm not sure how I feel about The White Album. It's exhaustive, incredibly interesting but very, very inconsistent. "Dear Prudence" is probably my favourite Beatles song but the same time I can think of a couple others on the White Album that qualify for the title of worst Beatles song. I suppose at the very least it was a daring and creative album for a group in their position to make.

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