What I have always found fascinating of Beatles (and, of course, Rolling Stones), were that they were heavily influenced by US rock and blues. However, the cover songs and original music that these British bands were playing had their own style to them, making their music their own unique take.
All of us grew up with The Beatles, and we all love them. However, for every "Love Me Do" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" hit song, The Beatles had at least ten lesser or unknown songs.... and it's these unknown songs that I think only true fans will know and appreciate.
Still, the band's musical output of Paul McCartney and John Lennon (and let's not forget producer George Martin) is legendary: thirteen albums in ten years, for a total of over 200 songs (600 minutes - yep, all of their songs are about three minutes).
Since I actually own many of these albums from their reissue in the 90s (with The Beatles Anthology), I didn't need to get the all of recent 9/9 release. I bought a few, mostly for collecting reasons or filling in a missing discography, and a few were sent in for review.
Overall, each remastered edition comes with a movie file on the disc, with the exception of Past Masters. The often brief video talks about the respective album, with voiceovers of the people involved (including McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Martin). While that's probably not going to be a deal breaker for most people, it's still a very nice bonus.
As for recommendation, if you are a casual fan and/or just looking to get a compilation, look no further than the two-disc Past Masters remastered. These were originally released in 1988 as parts one and two, but with this reissue, they are now one package. The album collects some of the Beatles' best-known singles, including "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "Love Me Do", "Day Tripper", and "Revolution". Plus, I got a kick out of hearing some of their hits in Germany.
What's interesting about "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand" (I Want to Hold Your Hand), was that the German vocals were basically overdubs over "I Want to Hold Your Hand" instrumental. I don't speak German, but Paul sounds pretty convincing to me.
The big draw for fans is that the audio's been remixed in stereo. I think sometime the remaster team of Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee, goes overboard - especially with some of the drums (it's hard to explain, but sometime the instruments sounds like it's in 3D, in four quadrant). The stereo mix does sound especially clear and organic... but for the purists, they are making the original mono editions as part of a boxset.
Also, I should point out that the packaging is gorgeous, all in digipack, with a big 32-page lyric booklet. The booklet has an introduction article about the album, a ton of rare Beatles photos, lyrics, and, also, the original album sleeve notes.
PS, all of these releases follows the UK track listing (hello, Rubber Soul).
BEATLES FOR SALE (1964)
Technically, the album was re-released in America as Beatles '65 and Beatles VI, but for the full release, I was happy to pick up Beatles for Sale and hearing it for the first time.
My favorite song off this album is probably "Eight Days a Week", a song that took only minutes to compose and write in the studio (this was often the case for many of the Beatles' masterpieces!)
|SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (1967)
I think the reason why he loved this album so much, is that, as a conceptual album, it's very different from the Beatles you were used to. Part of this was probably because the band had an idea of "an alter-ego" band. So, you started hearing more orchestral music, more experimenting (Indian sitars!), and just making this a very interesting work than standard rock and roll fair.
Most people will probably know "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "When I'm Sixty-Four" from this album.
THE WHITE ALBUM (1968)
The Beatles came back to "basic" music, recording a giant treasure trove of songs. They had so much music that the album was, for the first time, issued on double LPs.
Some famous songs on the double album are "Dear Prudence" and "Revolution". Personally, I love the all-out rock song "Helter Skelter" - which I'll have to admit the song was tainted after Charles Manson.
|LET IT BE (1970)
In fact, legends has it that Paul hated the Phil Spector mixes so much that they eventually released Let it Be...Naked a few years ago. Not a blow to Phil, but I felt that much of this album's recording shows off that the Beatles were a "live" band, and the songs feels like they were played live. Trying to make the album into a "studio" sound didn't help.
Some gems off the album, "Let it Be", "I've Got a Feeling", "The Long and Winding Road" and of course "Get Back" (which feels like it the recording was lifted from the infamous rooftop concert.
Have you ever listened to an album and every song on it is so great? That's what you get with Abbey Road. There's a bit of everything here. From revolution/freedom songs ("Come Together"), to silly/mental ("Maxwell's Silver Hammer"), to quickies ("Polythene Pam"), to epic ("I Want You (She's So Heavy)").
Some interesting thing to note about this album was that it marked that the stereo revolution (it was never released as mono). Also that Harrison was becoming more important as songwriter (although he's been doing this since Yellow Submarine in my opinion), and his classic song of "Here Comes the Sun" is still loved to this day.
PS, I never knew Ringo Starr actually wrote any Beatles songs, I know he eventually wrote solo material... but his song, "Octopus's Garden", is on this album (and it's really good).