Thursday, June 9, 2011

What is Your Favorite Beatles Album?

Karen: I've been listening to the Beatles lately - it's a cyclical thing, I go away for awhile and then come back - and I've come to the conclusion that my favorite album of theirs is Revolver. Released in 1966, it's a beautiful thing with a variety of sounds, eclectic even. I don't think there's a bad track on the album. My favorites would be "I'm Only Sleeping," "Taxman," "Doctor Robert," and "Here, There, and Everywhere."

Karen: My two other favorite albums by the lads are Rubber Soul and Beatles for Sale. I prefer the music they made between about 1964-1966 over everything else. I'm not a real fan of the Sgt. Pepper album -it kind of leaves me cold. I much prefer their more stripped down, straight-forward rock/pop sound.

Karen: So now I throw it open to you: name your favorite Beatles album!


J.A. Morris said...

Something about summer always makes me want to break out Beatles music.
Revolver is also my favorite, just about a perfect album start to finish. I'd say Rubber Soul and Abbey Road are tied for 2nd and 3rd place on my Beatles list. Hard Days Night is my favorite "early" Beatles album.

I like Pepper a lot too, but it's not something I can listen to more than once of twice a year.

FWIW, my wife and I are huge Beatles fans and had a Yellow Submarine-themed wedding. Here's the cake:

The groom's cake had a comic book theme:

J.A. Morris said...

Meant to add this to my last comment:
I'm afraid any discussion involving the Bronze Age and the Beatles isn't complete unless this beautiful comic is mentioned:

Doug said...

J.A. --

Love the cakes!!


Anonymous said...

My favorite Beatles album is...which ever one I'm listening to at any given time. I gave up trying to pick a favorite decades ago. They're all great. I've never climbed on board the anti-Pepper bias myself. I see it as a reaction to the "Greatest album ever" tag that it carried into the 80's, before Revolver supplanted it. A Day In The Life alone is enough to keep me coming back to it.

Also, I loved Free As A Bird and Real Love. I was a minority among my post-modern doofus friends when they came out, but I really think the three survivors kept the brotherhood intact for those songs.

Now, picking a favorite Ringo album, that sounds do-able.

James Chatterton

ChrisPV said...

I don't have much to add either, as I prefer to look at the Beatles catalog as this great, remarkable journey through four guys just being brilliant. I will say that when I got the Beatles 1, I played it in my car, and only it, for a good solid seven months. This is when I had a forty minute round trip to school every day.

However, I felt that I should spread this around. Mightygodking is a great comics/film/politics blog, but every once in awhile he busts out something like this. It made me cry the first time I read it.

Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, we have pretty much exactly the same taste in Beatles albums, Karen. Revolver is my favorite, with Rubber Soul coming in a really close second. Abbey Road and the White Album are tied for third...

Doug said...

Tangential topic:

What's everyone's opinion on Sgt. Pepper's being a response to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album? While one can't deny the popularity of the California Sound, was Brian Wilson really the visionary that Lennon and McCartney were?


david_b said...

Wow, Karen, ya hit one out of the park here, didn't cha..?? Nice, but thought-provoking question..

Typically, Revolver (UK version, better than the US version) is up there. There was always a slightly different mix of "Doctor Roberts" on the UK Revolver than the US "Yesterday.. And Today" (if you listen, the harmonies on 'Well, well, well, you're feeling fine' were brought to the front more than the tapes given to Capitol for the US compilation release..), so the UK release (the current CD version..) was always preferred.

"With the Beatles" ranks high for pure adrenaline (I had the German import as a youngster.., with the rare hi-hat intro added to 'All My Lovin', so engrained that I cannot enjoy the song without it..). I'm still trying to get George's "Roll Over Beethoven" intro riff down for my gigs.

The re-release of the White Album made me a big fan of it again. Despite the hate towards "Revolution #9", I'm in the minority who believes the album NEEDED something phenominal as that to bring the album to a natural, yet dramatic conclusion, instead of just four sides of hit/miss quality songs.., similar to what "I Want You (Shes So Heavy)" and the Macca suite of songs does on Abbey Road. I loved Revolution #9, because it is so avant-garde and an adventurous experiment in soundscape.

Pepper can get a bit boring in contrast, but I was always trying to hunt down the mono version, since Lennon always claimed that you never really heard Pepper until you heard the Mono version. I LOVE the differences you hear in the mix, stuff not heard on the stereo version, but there's plenty of websites out there that'll highlight all the differences.

In contrast, I was never a big fan of "Abbey Road". Harrison didn't like it much due to the new mixing boards used (see Emerick's book for in-depth information), which made the album seem less warm in nature. I would agree, along with the over abundance of polish.

I'm a big fan of "Hey Bulldog" so I liked the Yellow Sub album, as well as "I'm Down", "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" on the Past Masters albums.

Finally, the last released album I really enjoyed was "Live At the Hollywood Bowl". You can FEEL the energy surging on this.

david_b said...


"While one can't deny the popularity of the California Sound, was Brian Wilson really the visionary that Lennon and McCartney were?"

Yes, yes, of course, yes..

Case in point..: The ONE song McCartney still claims not to be able to finish without choking up is "God Only Knows"..

Macca was and still is a huge Wilson fan, and mentions several times that his "Ram" album was an ode to Wilson. What Wilson did that really resonated with Paul was both their daring vocal harmonies, and more importantly his juxtaposition of instruments together in a distinct way that really caused them to complement each other. While not a commercial success, 'Pet Sounds' did something FAR more important..: It was influential to folks like Macca, the Byrds, etc.

'Course Wilson was influenced by Rubber Soul by creating a 'suite of songs' which all contributed to a central theme, or elsewhere not considered strong enough outside the collective album whole to really stand on their own, much like Rubber Soul's tracks. So not only was Macca busy in his 'one-uppance' with Lennon, he was also competing (in a positive, innovative way) with Wilson.

The only limitation I feel with Pet Sounds is it's in Mono, purely because Wilson was deaf in one ear. But industry-wise, it was not out of place, since Mono recordings were still out-selling the Stereo releases back in '66.

starfoxxx said...

Tough call, but I'd have to go with Abbey Road, the side 2 medley is just so incredible.

Doug said...

By the way, loving all the thoughts in this thread!

I loved the variety on Revolver, and enjoy the character-driven songs on Sgt. Pepper's. I've always thought "She's Leaving Home" was an overlooked track on that record -- quite emotional and I've come to appreciate it more and more as my boys have aged, as well as while watching some of their friends and their families from afar.

Starfoxxx is right about the B side of Abbey Road, too.

Were the so-called "Red Album" and "Blue Album" the first "greatest hits" collections for the Fab Four? I had both of those records and played them to death!!


david_b said...

Yes, the Red and Blue albums were released by Klein to combat the bootleg album "Alpha Omega" which was being advertised on television in 1972 (I remember the TV ads...). Klein's tactic was hugely successful, earning top Billboard slots, huge sales, and opened the doors for more Capitol compilations.

These Klein albums had some worth from featuring some stereo mixes that were previously unavailable on the US Capitol releases. It was also touted as being the first 'authorized' compilation following the group's demise, although the selection criteria was questioned by some at the time..: Some albums (like Rubber Soul) had more tracks featured than other albums.

Doug said...

If you haven't taken the time to read the link ChrisPV posted above, it is well worth your time. And it may bring a tear to your eye. Great prose.


Redartz said...

Great topic; and kudos to Karen for pegging a frequent favorite. I too love Revolver. It features a great range of wonderful songs,from the lighthearted Yellow Submarine to the still-edgy Tomorrow Never Knows. Personal picks are Taxman, I'm Only Sleeping and She Said She Said.

My wife (who is a huge Beatles fan also; indeed they helped cement our relationship) would choose "Help" as the best. Yet another album loaded with's truly hard to believe the quality of their output; especially 64-66.

Oh; a brief Beatles/comic book note: check out Strange Tales 130 wherein the Torch and Thing meet the Fab Four. Although the group had no dialogue to speak of, seeing Ben Grimm in a Beatle wig is reason enough love this tidbit!

Anonymous said...

My favorites are Rubber Soul and Abbey Road. I can remember when I was five or six listening to my uncle's copy of Rubber Soul. I agree about the Side Two's just incredible. I think Harrison really hit his stride as a songwriter on Abbey Road.

I still listen to all of them, whenever I'm in the early Beatles mood, mid Beatles mode or late Beatles mode. Sgt. Pepper rarely hits my stereo though....just never really dug it.


Fred W. Hill said...

Sgt. Pepper was the first album I ever bought, shortly after I got my first record player back in 1976 -- ok, so I was a bit late to the "Summer of Love". Still love that lp, but overall I agree Revolver is the better album and my favorite by the Beatles although for some odd reason I never saw it at the Navy Exchange where I did most of my shopping in the small town with a big Navy base where I spent my high school years. Aside from Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine and Taxman, which all got regular airplay on the local rock station, I wasn't all that familiar with most of the songs, but wow! Sgt. Pepper was much more showy, a sort of communal experience, but Revolver was a moodier affair, more something to take in private, with a touch of Ringo slapdash & Paul cheeriness to keep things from getting too somber. I'd actually gotten Let It Be first and was a bit disappointed with that one -- Lennon's wisecracks were amusing but otherwise the production wasn't quite what I was used to on a Beatles' song and it was a few years before I read why the lp version of Get Back got cut off short -- the police had pulled the plug on their rooftop gig while they were recording it!
Otherwise, I'm another one of those freaky guys who actually enjoys Revolution #9 and the rest of the White Album too, David B, and that's despite having never listened to it while stoned! It was so fitting that they followed that with Ringo singing a lullaby -- after all that chaos, yes, children, things are gonna be all right, go to sleep now.
Otherwise, Please Please Me, A Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road are all great, but all their original studio albums have great tracks, and can't leave off those Past Masters cds with all the singles that never made it to a studio album.
I don't sound too much like a Beatles freak do I?

Brett said...

Mine is A Hard Day's Night, followed by Revolver. While I am partial to 64-66 era Beatles, Abbey Road is possibly my third favorite.

I never got into Sgt. Pepper, in fact I'd rather listen to Magical Mystery Tour.

david_b said...


TOTALLY AGREE with your comments..:

"It was so fitting that they followed that with Ringo singing a lullaby -- after all that chaos, yes, children, things are gonna be all right, go to sleep now."

Wow, you totally get it..!! I love the humor and warm intent of that song sequencing. It was so fitting to end with a cheesy Hollywood song by John, with Ringo on vocals.

And Brett, great comments on Mystery Tour. I always felt Side One (technically the 'actual album') is Pepper condensed into 6 songs. I didn't think the television special was all that bad ('cept for the stupid bus race, which was so unnecessary), and like Paul's proud to say, features the only video for 'Walrus'.

Actually, I've come to really enjoy Cheap Trick's excellent rendition of 'Mystery Tour'.

(Karen, Doug.., we should do fave Beatle movies next time..).

As for the 'Help!' tracks, they're awesome. I always thought 'The Night Before' was the best, but no one ever mentions that song.

Incidentally, ANYONE wanting the BEST live performances for 1965 need to check out the Blackpool concert on Youtube. Same song list as their later appearance on Sullivan, but MUCH more fun to watch, especially Lennon's intro banter with the audience on 'Help!'.

Karen said...

Chris: Thank you for that link. What a beautiful story. I too got a bit misty reading it.


ChrisPV said...

I thought everybody was in full agreement that A Hard Day's Night was the best Beatles movie. It's so terribly quotable!

"What would you call that haircut?"


That, right there, was the moment I decided I loved George Harrison.

david_b said...

Ah, Chris,

I said 'favorite' movie, not 'best'.

I actually liked 'Help!' growing up more than AHDN, more for the color and being more a 'director's film' with it's artsy camera angles and style, although the silly plot gets tiresome pretty quickly. I'm sure Lester was trying to compensate for all the laxed pot-smoking the best he could, but I still find it a very attractive film, if only for it's music sequences, luxuriously filmed, like seeing the four hamming it up trying to ski..

NOT to hijack the thread, this can be yet another topic for future opinions.

Joseph said...

I love the insights of the posters on this site - I always learn new things (and it's always a bonus to get good cake ideas)!

My favorite Beatles albums, based on how often I listen to them, are:

White Album, then Abbey Road, followed by Sgt. Pepper's.

Help! is my favorite of what I consider the "earlier" albums, and I have a special soft spot for Let It Be.

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