My 15 Favourite Albums on the 16th

Reading through the most recent posts of my blog post feed this morning, I found many people had participated in the #top15onthe15th tag, and listed their 15 favourite albums. And I decided I’d add my opinion to the mix, too! Of course, it is well and truly the 16th in Australia, now, but anyway… This list certainly isn’t comprehensive. My full list of all-time favourite albums would probably only fit on ten rolls of toilet paper, and narrowing it down to 15 was certainly hard! But anyway, in no particular order…

Revolver (1966) The Beatles (1968): The Beatles

Revolver the white album

Revolver is easily my favourite album of all-time. Featuring everything from dark, mysterious psychedelic rock, to a garage song with searing hot guitar, to spellbinding, well-crafted ballads, it possesses a special kind of magic. It was the album that made me realise just how special The Beatles – and music, in general – are. ‘Genius’ is oft overused, but it certainly applies here.

Compared with the perfectionism of Sgt Pepper, The White Album isn’t technically good at all. But technicality and perfectionism has never been an essential requirement in good rock music, and the album is perhaps one of the best embodiments of this. Sprawling from proto-metal to soft folk to avant-garde musique concrete to vaudevillian jazz to good-ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll, it transcends genres. Whilst it’s certainly self-indulgent in parts, this contributes to the unconventional vibe of the album. And that – its eccentricity –  is what makes it so great.

Hunky Dory (1971) & The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972): David Bowie

hunky dory ZiggyStardust

Hunky Dory is a work of musical art. Displaying Bowie’s eclectic gift for songwriting – ranging from the pop of ‘Changes’, to the flamenco-infused folk of ‘Andy Warhol’, to the music hall-inspired ‘Oh! You Pretty Things, to the glam-rock of ‘Queen Bitch’ – each song is perfection. Lyrically, the album contains some of Bowie’s best, his unique imagery and way-with-words particularly evident on tracks such as ‘Life on Mars?’ and the aforementioned ‘Queen Bitch’. Utter genius!

There isn’t a single song I don’t love on Ziggy Stardust. Bowie tells the story of a rock star who takes it all too far – subject matter rarely broached by a popular musician – with surrealist imagery, his voice (ranging from the screaming passion of ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ to the almost-lazy tone of ‘Suffragette City’), thought-provoking lyrical matter and guitars, drums and saxes that absolutely rock. It’s easy to see why it affected teenagers so much at its original release, and why it continues to do so – myself included – today…

Tommy (1969) & Quadrophenia (1973): The Who

Tommyalbumcover quadrophenia

Tommy was my first Who album, and continues to be the one I listen to the most. Whilst its narrative is more disjointed and less plausible than that of Quadrophenia, this is definitely accounted for with the music. Containing everything from the falsetto beauty of ‘See Me, Feel Me’, to the hard rock of ‘Go To The Mirror!’, to the (successful!) ambitiousness of the album’s instrumentals, it is certainly one of the band’s best.

Quadrophenia is definitely my favourite Who album. With it, the band reached levels of emotion, passion and musical virtuosity that would be the highest they’d ever reach. The tracks are something of songwriting genius, again arguably the best of The Who’s career. And though the story is incredibly sad, it’s ability to move listeners only serves as a testament to its power and importance.

Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967): The Rolling Stones

their satanic majesties request

An unpopular opinion here: Satanic Majesties – The Stones’ psychedelic experiment – is almost universally hated, by both fans and the band themselves. And yeah – the lows are unarguably very low (‘On With The Show’, anybody?), but its highs are incredibly high, as well. From the driving hard rock of ‘Citadel’, to the baroque pop of ‘She’s A Rainbow’ and – my favourite – the hypnotic, hazy psychedelia of ‘2000 Light Years From Home’, it is moments like these that make it so good.

The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967): The Velvet Underground (featuring Nico)

the velvet underground and nico

The Velvet Underground and Nico was the first non-Beatles album to affect me, and it’s easy to see why. Incredibly edgy, yet with its share of exquisite beauty; the voices of Lou Reed and Nico delightfully nonconformist; the lyrical matter still controversial to our 21st-century ears, it was totally unlike anything I’d heard before. Ranging from out-of-tune protopunk to the prettiest ballads, it is truly a masterpiece.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967): Pink Floyd

PinkFloyd-album-piperatthegatesofdawn_300

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is – unlike the lengthy prog. rock of Pink Floyd’s later work (which, of course, are ‘gems’ as well) – is a psychedelic gem. The album patents a brand of wild, cacophonous psychedelia – heady and deeply rooted in the underground. Syd Barrett’s lyrics, too, are wonderful. Whimsical and naïve, they add a level of childlike innocence to the music. As much as I love the band’s prog era, it is – hands down – my favourite Floyd album.

The Doors (1967): The Doors

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover

The Doors’ self-titled debut is often regarded as their best, and my opinion is no exception. An intriguing mix of psychedelia and jazz, the music is mysterious and dangerous; Ray Manzarek’s organ, in particular, adds a layer of shimmery beauty to the tracks. And of course, Jim Morrison’s lyrics are as well-written and fascinating as usual, his voice a contrast to the trends of the time…

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970): John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

JLPOBCover

John’s first post-Beatles solo album is a stark contrast to Abbey Road, the last album the band would record together. Musically, it’s pared back to tough, basic hard rock (with a couple of exceptions); lyrically, it’s a mixture of realism, denouncement of authority and a recurring theme of his painful childhood. But it’s contrast to The Beatles is, again, what makes it such a great album. John had moved on, and he had begun to make great art on his own.

Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015): Courtney Barnett

sometimes i sit

Though only released in the March of this year, Courtney Barnett’s debut studio album quickly has become among my all-time favourites. I don’t know what it is about it – whether it be Barnett’s wonderfully witty and intelligent lyrics, her Australian accent, the music itself (a brand of grungy rock’n’roll rarely heard these days) – but it is impressively good, and will likely be listened to by indie fans alike many years from now…

Horses (1975): Patti Smith

PattiSmithHorses

I picked up Horses at a nearby record shop on a whim, a few months ago, to see if I agreed with all the accolade. I inserted it into the CD player, and turned it up loud. ‘Gloria’ began, with its serene piano chords and Smith’s famous lyric of “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine”. The music soon turned into unique arty punk, something which intrigued me. I felt a sense of liberation – maybe it was Smith’s lyrics, or her singing (which reminded me a little of my own), or her successful merging of bohemianism and punk. But anyway, I knew it was my kind of music. And I’ve loved it ever since.

Attack and Release (2008): The Black Keys

attack + release

Though The Black Keys have forever been plagued by comparisons to The White Stripes, it is with Attack and Release that they prove these claims blatantly wrong. Helped by their then-new partnership with producer Brian Burton (AKA Danger Mouse), it is the perfect mix between psychedelia, blues rock and punk, perhaps my favourite genres ever. Easily my favourite Keys album!

Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (recorded 1968, released 1996): various

Rolling_Stones_Circus

This one’s self-explanatory. There is so much to love: a John Lennon-fronted supergroup (featuring Keith Richards on bass and Eric Clapton on lead guitar) playing a searing version of ‘Yer Blues’, an electrifying Who performance of their mini rock-opera, ‘A Quick One While He’s A Way’, a set from The Stones themselves, featuring a spine-chilling slide performance from Brian Jones and a rendition of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ seven months before its release… Virtually my musical dream!

So, what are your favourite albums of all time? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

My 5 Favourite Albums of 2014

Or my opinion, anyway...

Or my opinion, anyway…

I thought I’d do a non-Beatley post today, and focus on some of my favourite music of last year. Last year was the year that I started to get into contemporary music, and I now foster an intense love of  modern indie music of all kinds, as well as my great passion for classic rock. (Though The Beatles will always be my favourite band.)  I’ve been meaning to do this post for a couple of months, but I’ve really only found a chance to write it now! (Next year, I will try not to do this post 2 months into 2016…) So today, I will list my five favourite albums — whether I judged them via an LP or a YouTube playlist or something in between — of the year that was. And let the list begin!

5.  Lost In The Dream, The War on Drugs

lost in the dream

This is The War on Drugs’ third album, and it was apparently recorded over two years and was rewritten many times! But it resulted in this wonderful album… According to main songwriter Adam Granduciel, Lost In The Dream was basically like a solo album for him. Some of the main influences for the album include Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and synthy ’80s pop, which I can definitely hear. A wonderful album!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Lost In The Dream’, ‘Eyes To The Wind’, ‘Disappearing’.

4. Morning Phase, Beck

beck morning phase

As I’m sure most people have heard by now, Beck’s latest effort won Album of The Year at The Grammys, and deservedly so! (And as for that Beck/Kanye West rubbish, Kanye is definitely the person who needs to “respect artistry” here.) I am very happy that it won! I only listened to this album a short while ago (on a plane, in fact), and it instantly became one of my favourites. I love the folky, “soaring” feel of the album, and Beck’s vocals are gorgeous! As written above, very much the deserved Album of The Year winner in a very mainstream-orientated Grammys night.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: ‘Morning’, ‘Say Goodbye’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Waking Light’, ‘Blackbird Chain’

3. Angus and Julia Stone, Angus and Julia Stone

angus and julia stone

According to my faithful triple j 2014 Annual (triple j is Australia’s radio station for all things left of mainstream. Also the home of the triple j Hottest 100, which you have probably heard of.), Angus and Julia Stone — two indie-folk-orientated siblings from Sydney — had decided to never play together again in 2012. But then, an American producer named Rick Rubin heard one of the duo’s songs and was determined to do whatever it took to work with the two. He managed to get them back together, and this piece of indie perfection was the result!

I particularly love the beautiful guitar-work, the keyboards/synths, the chiming indie-pop feel, the album’s air of danceablility and of course the exquisite vocals from both parties! (The familiar accents are also nice.) A great album to come out of a great country…

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Get Home’, ‘Death Defying Acts’, ‘Other Things’, ‘Do Without’, ‘All This Love’

2. Alvvays, Alvvays

alvvays alvvays

I discovered the debut album of Canadian indie-pop band Alvvays (pronounced ‘always’) after reading an interview with their vocalist and guitarist Molly Rankin in my favourite magazine. I checked them out on SoundCloud, and after listening to ‘Adult Diversion’ (one of the “better-known” tracks on the album) on repeat for months, I decided to listen to the actual album. Laden with jangling guitars, synths, thumping drums, a touch of distortion and beautiful, quintessentially indie vocals, I have a feeling that Alvvays will quickly become the next big thing in indie pop! I can’t wait for their second album.

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Adult Diversion’, ‘Dives’ and ‘Atop A Cake’. (Another song — ‘Underneath Us’ — was included in Australia as a bonus track. I would also include this song in here, if it were part of the core album.)

And, my favourite album of 2014 is [insert drum roll here]…

1. Turn Blue, The Black Keys

black keys turn blue

The recording of garage/blues/indie duo The Black Keys’ eighth studio album began in early 2013, during a break from the world tour corresponding with their previous album, El Camino. As with their previous album, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) had not written any of the songs before recording, and simply wrote them on the day of recording. The album was to be produced by Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). But Auerbach and Carney had different ideas on how the album was to pan out. Things got a little tense between the two and recording was put off for a few months. Later in the year, the duo recommenced recording in California, and until about March 2014, they — along with Burton — created what would be the most psychedelic, sprawling and self indulgent (in the best way possible!) album of their career. The album is based around the theme of a difficult breakup, which reflected the nasty divorce that Auerbach was experiencing in 2013.

This was the first Black Keys album I bought. In fact, it was the first album less than 30 years old that I had bought at all. I love it for it’s sprawling nature, the searing guitar solos on ‘Weight of Love’, the spiky synths on ‘Fever’, the chiming bells, the ringing falsetto counter-vocals, just everything… And it introduced me to one of my very favourite bands. So that, my friends, is why Turn Blue is my favourite album of that great big year that was!

FAVOURITE SONGS: ‘Weight Of Love’, ‘Fever’, ‘In Our Prime’, ‘Gotta Get Away’, ‘Bullet In The Brain’, ‘Waiting On Words’…

And my award for best film soundtrack of 2014 goes to…

Boyhood, various artists

boyhood music from the motion picture

Boyhood is definitely my favourite film at the moment, and its awesome soundtrack is good enough to rival the film itself. As the film was made over 12 years — spanning the life of main character Mason from ages 6-18 — there’s music from all the periods included in that time frame (plus more)! Whether it be a party backed by The Black Keys’ ‘She’s Long Gone’, or a six year old Mason trying his hand at graffiti to The Hives’ ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, visiting a club to Gotye and Kimbra’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, or the end credits rolling to Arcade Fire’s ‘Deep Blue’, with some Cat Power and Vampire Weekend in between — even a Beatle-related scene backed by ‘Band On The Run’ (!) — the soundtrack is perfect in every way. (Except for maybe the inclusion of ‘Good Girls Go Bad’. I hate that song.) A soundtrack-made-in-heaven to supplement a film-made-in-heaven, in my humble opinion.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: The entire thing (except for ‘Good Girls Go Bad’ and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley)!

And so, what were your favourite albums of 2014? Please send me a postcard or drop me a line, stating your point of view!

A few contenders  for my favourite album of this year have already come up! I have a feeling that Pond’s Man, It Looks Like Space Again will make my shortlist, and the tracks I have heard on triple j from Twerps’ Range Anxiety sound pretty good, too. But Tame Impala are releasing a new album this year. Though no-one except for Kevin Parker has actually heard it, I think I already have a possible Number One on my hands…

And we have an important Beatle-y celebration coming — it would have been George’s 72nd birthday this Tuesday! Happy birthday, Georgie! I shall post my birthday post for him probably on Tuesday (if I get a chance)! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

My Ranking of The Beatles’ Albums

The Beatles with four of their five first LPs. One would assume the photo was taken in between August (Help!) and December (Rubber Soul), 1965.

The Beatles with four of their five first LPs. One would assume the photo was taken in between August (Help!) and December (Rubber Soul), 1965.

A note to begin with: The sun is up, the sky is blue (it’s beautiful and so are you / dear Prudence — why won’t you come out to play?), ‘All You Need Is The Beatles’ is only one hundred and thirty six views away from its thousandth view (well, it’ll be even closer by the time you read this) and COMMENTS HAVE FINALLY BEEN ENABLED ON THIS BLOG! Yay! So be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view! 

I had this idea first a few months ago (about a month after I started this blog. It’s funny to think that it’s four months old — not that old in the scheme of things, I guess, but it feels more like last month that I created my WordPress account and posted my ‘Welcome’ post, as opposed to over a season), and I thought I’d do it today! I hadn’t actually listened to all of The Beatles’ studio albums at that point (well, I knew most of the songs, but anyway), and I’m listening to the only one I haven’t yet done so yet right now. I will not be including Magical Mystery Tour in this post as I believe it is not a proper studio album (instead a Capitol Records butcher job of the songs off the film and the band’s 1967 — that’s not to say I don’t love the album 🙂 ), and please remember this is only my humble opinion. Oh, and please remember that a worst ranking on a Beatles album ranking list in my case still makes it better than pretty much everything ever recorded (with maybe two or three exceptions). Pretty much everything. So I still love it dearly, but just not as much as number one!

Okay, okay, yes, yes — I’ll shut up now and get on with the ranking. Here we go!

12. Yellow Submarine

yellow submarine

I feel The Beatles (or Apple) really should have gone ahead with their original idea for the release of the Yellow Submarine track — a double EP, as with the Parlophone release of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. The songs ‘Yellow Submarine’ (whilst it probably needed to be included on the album for obvious reasons) and ‘All You Need Is Love’ (though I believe the ‘Yellow Submarine’ version is different from the better-known one) had already been included on different albums/singles/EPs, and did we really need the classical George Martin Orchestra bits on the album? This is, in fact, the only one I haven’t listened to in full before now (I opted for the better — IMO — Yellow Submarine Songtrack) — I have watched Yellow Submarine a billion-trillion (okay, maybe not quite that much) times, though, so I’ve of course heard them before. Actually physically LISTENING to the album does make me think that Apple didn’t need to follow in the direction of the Capitol butchers [insert certain famous R. Whitaker-photographed cover here] and create a soundtrack in the style of the US A Hard Day’s Night and Help! albums, but it also takes me back to that Spring day a year ago when I first watched Yellow Submarine. I remember sitting in our top room (the DVD player with the main TV wouldn’t actually work), absorbed by psychedelic masterpiece animation (‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘It’s All Too Much’ come to mind) and the middle-era Beatles tunes, many of which I hadn’t heard before (the only album I owned was 1, and I’d only listened as far as The Fabs’ other well-known hits and Rubber Soul).

Despite my criticism of the inclusion of the GMO soundtrack and songs which had already been on other releases, I absolutely love the originals! ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘It’s All Too Much’ and ‘Only A Northern Song’ are some of my favourite Beatles songs, and I don’t want to imagine life without them — thus I don’t want to imagine life with the Yellow Submarine album, either!

DID YOU KNOW? Yellow Submarine was the first album to feature the “devil horns” hand symbol on the cover.

BEST SONGS: ‘Hey Bulldog’, ‘It’s All Too Much’, ‘Only A Northern Song’

11. A Hard Day’s Night

a hard day's night

Despite the above being the background image of this blog, A Hard Day’s Night is far from my favourite Beatles album. Why, you ask? Here is my reasoning:

Those of you who know me will know I’m a alt./indie/folk/psych rock fiend when I’m not listening to The Beatles. The Beatles usually satisfy this love — much of their early/late-era stuff rocks really hard, and they were of course comprised of folk and psych rock in their middle era (my favourite). Their only album that I find too poppy is A Hard Day’s Night. Whilst the album is made up completely of Lennon/McCartney compositions, their songwriting hadn’t really started to mature yet, and it’s still all I-love-her-and-she-loves-me (excepting ‘I’ll Cry Instead’, which was probably The Fab Four’s first example of confessional lyricism). I’m not a huge fan of the title song, which I find too poppy in particular, and ‘And I Love Her’ doesn’t have the bluesy Lennon touch (though I think he contributed) that other McCartney ballads have (i.e. ‘Michelle’), and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ I feel needs more pizzazz (I do actually like these songs, though). So I’m probably being a bit controversial citing a so-called “leap” in The Beatles’ career one of my least favourite Beatles albums, but who cares? There are actually some songs on the above that I love dearly, which will be listed below.

DID YOU KNOW? A Hard Day’s Night is the only Beatles album to only comprise of Lennon/McCartney compositions. The next all-original album — Rubber Soul — also had two Harrison compositions.

BEST SONGS: ‘I Should Have Known Better’, ‘Tell Me Why’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘Things We Said Today’ and ‘You Can’t Do That’.

10. With The Beatles

with the beatles

Whilst I think this beats the album below in the covers department (except here in Australia. Ugh. The Australian cover is atrocious. EMI Australia is the Capitol of the record-cover world), I don’t like it as much  I actually rank it equal to the below (you’ll have to wait to see what it is), but one had to go before. I don’t think the covers are as electrifying as the ones on the below, but then my favourite Beatles cover is on With The Beatles (it’s ‘Money (That’s What I Want’). I do genuinely love this album, but I do prefer The Beatles’ later stuff, so unfortunately it ended up here.

DID YOU KNOW? With The Beatles includes the song ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, which was the Rolling Stones’ first hit. John and Paul finished the song off in the corner of a room whilst Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were talking.

BEST SONGS: ‘It Won’t Be Long’, ‘Not A Second Time’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, ‘Please Mr Postman’

9. Please Please Me

beatles please please me

This is what ‘the below’ is! Please Please Me! You can probably see what I mean about With The Beatles having a better cover. It certainly ain’t Revolver. And I can see why The Beatles were going to parody it for the cover of Get Back-turn-Let It Be. And Ringo has a quiff.

But seriously (without out-of-the-blue remarks concerning Richard Starkey’s choice of hair styling in the early 1960s), this album is a Beatlemaniac’s secret weapon whilst trying to point out that The Beatles were a rock band, end of story. They rock dead hard on this album. And no wonder – they had come straight from The Cavern and Hamburg!

DID YOU KNOW? Most of Please Please Me was recorded within a marathon 12-hour session. John had a cold that day, and promptly lost his voice after the recording of ‘Twist and Shout’ (the last song to be recorded).

BEST SONGS: ‘Please Please Me’, ‘There’s A Place’, ‘Baby It’s You’ (I have liked the Shirlees’ version for years, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered The Beatles did it), ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.

8. Beatles For Sale

beatles for sale

This is, personally, one of my favourite Beatles covers, but of course the stupid cover butcher-rers over here in the Southern Hemisphere had to ruin it by creating a rubbish replacement. More on that later, though.

This is actually one of my favourite Beatles albums, despite it being 8. If you asked me tomorrow, it could be in a completely different place. It’s got some of my favourite Lennon compositions (‘I’m A Loser’, ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’), some of the most beautiful harmonies John and Paul ever did (‘Baby’s In Black’) and of course the amazing drums in ‘What You’re Doing’!

DID YOU KNOW? Beatles For Sale (along with With The Beatles) was one of the two albums to have an alternate cover in Australia. Apparently John actually wrote a letter to EMI in protest, but alas to no avail. C’mon EMI Australia – listen to the artist!

BEST SONGS: ‘No Reply’, ‘I’m A Loser’, ‘Baby’s In Black’, ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’, ‘What You’re Doing’

7. Let It Be

LetItBe

I love this album, but it’s mish-mashy. And it has my least-favourite Beatles song (the Spector version of ‘The Long And Winding Road’. Despite the fact he is a crazed murderer who let off guns in recording sessions at John’s ‘Lost Weekend’, I love his work on John and George’s stuff and most of Let It Be. But ‘The Long And Winding Road’ should have been left as it was.) on it. But it has ‘Across The Universe’! And the album version of ‘Let It Be’ (which I think is far superior to the single)! And ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’! And ‘For You Blue’! And ‘Get Back’!

DID YOU KNOW? Though it was the last album to be released, Let It Be was the second-to-last album to be recorded. Abbey Road was actually recorded after.

BEST SONGS: ‘Across The Universe’, ‘Let It Be’ (album version), ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘For You Blue’, ‘Get Back.

6. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

sgt pepper

I know this is supposed to be The Beatles’ best album. But I beg to differ. I don’t feel it possesses the same magic that I feel a certain other Beatles psychedelic masterpiece does. But I still love this album. I listened to it the other day, and it was better than I remembered it. It did give me that euphoric feeling I get sometimes whilst listening to the Fabs, but not as strong as some other albums. But anyway, the thing is beautiful. Completely and utterly beautiful. And that is all.

DID YOU KNOW? The crowd of people on the cover include Bob Dylan, Stu Sutcliffe, Mae West and Shirley Temple. John suggested having Jesus and Hitler, but that didn’t happen. Gandhi was originally on the cover, but was painted out at the request of EMI.

BEST SONGS: ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, ‘Lovely Rita’, ‘A Day In The Life’

5. Help!

beatles-help-uk-cover-art

 

Help! was the second Beatles studio album and the first actual LP I bought. And yes, I prefer it to Sgt. Pepper — but as I said above, if you asked me tomorrow, it’d probably be a different story.

But however, The Beatles were maturing, and the film soundtrack side in particular is impeccable. Everything from ‘Help!’ to ‘The Night Before’, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ to ‘Ticket To Ride’ was of incredibly high calibre, and breaking boundaries like never before. The second side, not so much, but c’mon – it has ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’!

DID YOU KNOW? The song ‘Help!’ was actually a cry for help from John, who was depressed, trapped by Beatlemania and unsure of the path of his life at the time. He later called this period (going from about late ’64 to late ’65 — poor thing) his ‘Fat Elvis Period’. Some of his best work (i.e. ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, ‘Nowhere Man’) came from this period, but at a cruel cost.

BEST SONGS: The entire first side.

4. The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)

the white album

 

This would have been far from my favourite Beatles album if you’d asked me a couple of months ago. Then I went to the White Album Concert, and was utterly blown away! It came further and further to the top of this list, and it made it to here!

Everything (well, nearly everything) in this album is good. And the thing is that there’s something for everybody. Whether you like hard-rocking proto-metal (‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Helter Skelter’), Eric Clapton (‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’), soft and hypnotic fingerpicking (‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Blackbird’), satirical social commentary (‘Piggies’), Paul’s — quote John — ‘granny s**t’ (‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’) or even 9-minute experimental avant-garde-ness that involves a monotone voice reciting ‘number nine, number nine’ and Yoko Ono saying ‘You become naked’ (‘Revolution 9’), there’s something for you. And then there’s more!

DID YOU KNOW? The White Album includes John’s only solo Beatle track, ‘Julia’. Paul had been recording stuff by himself and releasing it as The Beatles as early as Help!.

BEST SONGS: ‘Dear Prudence’, ‘Long Long Long’, ‘Cry Baby Cry’, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Helter Skelter’, ‘Blackbird’– too many to list. That’s the beauty of a double album.

3. Abbey Road

Beatles_-_Abbey_Road

I used to always think of Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper as part one and part two. Both experimental, both ahead-of-their-time — but I have always preferred Abbey Road. As with below (you’ll see what it is), I first heard it on a plane. I now own it on CD, and I listened to it yesterday — for what seems like the first time, properly. The bass lines sounded impeccable, it sounded like The Beatles were actually in the room singing ‘Because’, The Abbey Road Medley was better than it was before (a feat I thought impossible!)! Just, wow!

DID YOU KNOW? The last song The Beatles recorded together was ‘The End’ (the second-to-last track on AR, if you count ‘Her Majesty’ as a proper track), rather fittingly. Apparently it was pretty much the only session after John got together with Yoko that he attended without her (according to Geoff Emerick).

BEST SONGS: ‘Come T Just do yourself a favour and listen to the entire album.

2. Rubber Soul

rubber soul

Words (not even THE word – pun intended) cannot explain my love for this album. I heard this dead early in my Beatles fandom — only a month after I bought my first album, 1. As I said above, I first heard this on a plane. I hadn’t heard any of the songs before (excepting ‘Norwegian Wood’), and was I in for a treat! Some of the band’s most obscure numbers quickly became some of my favourites. And let’s just say it changed my life almost as much as 1 did. It’s my goal, in fact, to cover the entirety of this album. So far, I’ve done ‘The Word’, and I should be doing ‘I’m Looking Through You’ next.

DID YOU KNOW? The undistorted, cropped version of the cover (possibly my favourite picture of The Beatles) resurfaced after over 47 years early last year. It is still unknown whether it is genuine, but I like to think it is.

BEST SONGS: See ‘Best Songs’ for Abbey Road — or in other words (coincidentally, ‘The Word’ is playing), do yourself a favour and listen to the entire album.

And now for number one (drum roll please, Ringo)…

1. Revolver

Revolver

From the ‘one, two, three, four’ mutterings of ‘Taxman’ to the trippy piano outro of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, Revolver is undoubtedly a masterpiece. And in my opinion, it’s The Beatles’ best album. I first listened to this album (after being mind-blown by ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ two months earlier) in February, after bribing myself with it as a treat at the end of a particularly probing school day. And I was hooked. But nothing — nothing in this world AT ALL — quite affected me like a casual listening to my mono 1st-edition LP of the above one Tuesday evening. About halfway through ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, something hit me. An intense feeling of insane, euphoric love. That emotion continued through the rest of the album, whether it be to the acidic overdrive of ‘She Said She Said’ (my favourite Beatles song), to the clavichord in ‘For No One’, the chorusing in ‘Yellow Submarine’, to the tight, harmonised ‘oohs’ in ‘Here, There and Everywhere’. Of course I had thought before that The Beatles were the best thing that ever happened to the music world, or maybe even the world in general if I was feeling particularly ambitious. But it was only then for the first time that I actually knew it.

DID YOU KNOW? Suggested names for Revolver involved AbracadabraBeatles on Safari, Magic Circles and After Geography. Revolver was decided on three weeks before the release.

BEST SONGS: I’m not even going to tell you to do yourself a favour. It’s essential to your existence that you listen to this album. Every single song on this album is mind-blowing, IMO. Every. Single. Song.

 

So there you go — that’s my opinion. And sorry, that was insanely long (and I’ve been writing this for nearly two hours). But I hope you read it, and I promise I won’t go that long again. Have a fab rest of your day, wherever you are, and good day sunshine! 🙂

Thank You Mr. Postman! Pt. 2

 

The latest edition to my Beatle-y merchandise collection!

The latest edition to my Beatle-y merchandise collection!

 

Rubber Soul – John, Paul, George and Ringo’s sixth album, released in Britain on the 3rd of December, 1965; what does it mean to you? To me, it means a few things – a) it was the first Beatles studio album I purchased, b) I remember listening to it on a plane flight from Melbourne to Adelaide (where it snowed, yesterday – not in my part (where it stayed just about 8 degrees all day), but it still snowed!) just under a year ago, and c) to me, it marks when the later years of The Beatles’ career start. But now, it means something more – ‘cos look what came in the mail at about 11 o’clock (AM – obviously…) today! The above book is a Rubber Soul ‘song album’ – a magazine that contains eight ‘already standard songs’ off the album, plus three pages of ‘fabulous photos’! I ordered it off Ebay on Monday (Ringo’s birthday!), and (since it only had to come down from Queensland – the state at the very top of Australia, if you’re not familiar with the geography of my country) it has arrived surprisingly quickly! I had a flip through the pages, and it looks as though most of the songs are in the correct key signature, so I shouldn’t have to do too much transposing to bring them up/down to the way The Fab Four played them! The songs noted in the book are – in case you can’t read the listing on the picture (it would appear quite small on, say, an iPhone) – ‘Michelle’, ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘Girl’, ‘Wait’, ‘If I Needed Someone’, ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Think For Yourself’, and are printed in that order. In the middle of the booklet is a double-page spread of pictures of The Beatles taken at various points in 1965, and just over 3/4ths of the way through, there is a image-page dedicated to the Shea Stadium gig. So as you can see, I’m quite pleased with my latest purchase!

Just one more thing before I show you some pictures of the book – the mystery of when the book was published, as this is not apparent at first view. When I purchased the book, I was under the impression that it was printed in 1965, but as I will show a little further down, the book was being sold at a price of 80 cents. In Australia in 1965, our currency was the Australian pound/penny – it continued to be so until the 14th of February, 1966 (when it was all decimalised, and we ended up with the Australian dollar/cent). Interestingly, until the release of Revolver, Australian Beatles releases were always a couple of months behind the UK. Because of this, Rubber Soul (the last record to have a delayed release date here) was put on shelves on the 17th of February, 1966 – only three days after decimalisation. I’d assume that my book was released around the same time as the album, so my guess is that it was released some time between February (the date of both decimalisation – hence the price of 80 cents – and the Australian release of Rubber Soul) and August (the world release-date of Revolver – involving Australia for the first time…), 1966. I don’t think it could have been any later, ‘cos – as far as I can see – these ‘song albums’ were released with every LP (making the previous one out-of-print), the price would be too little for something even released in 1970s, and the pages look too old to be something much later. But now, I’ll stop writing, and show you my pictures; enjoy!

The '80 cents' thing I was talking about (off the back cover - it was scribbled off the front, as you may have noted from my image at the top of the post).

The ’80 cents’ thing I was talking about (off the back cover – the price was scribbled off the front, as you may have noted from my image at the top of the post).

The publishing information - interesting from the point of view of an Australian Beatlemaniac...

The publishing information – interesting from the point of view of an Australian Beatlemaniac, but worth a look…

A page of music - 'Nowhere Man', to be exact. This image might be illegal (I don't know), so please look at my 'Disclaimers' post if you are thinking of suing me (though I doubt some Apple Corps. official would bother to read such blogs)...

A page of music – ‘Nowhere Man’, to be exact. This image might be illegal (I don’t know), so please look at my ‘Disclaimers’ post if you are thinking of suing me (though I doubt some Apple Corps. official would bother to read this)…

A double-spread of pictures (yay!)! Oh, and just look at that picture of John in the right corner of the left-hand page - oh my, was he attractive :-) !

A double-spread of pictures (yay!)! Oh, and just look at that picture of John in the right corner of the left-hand page – oh my, was he attractive 🙂 !

Another page of music - 'Girl', this time. I love this song - it will definitely make my next 'Favourite Beatles Songs' post, and I can't believe it didn't feature on the first one!

Another page of music – ‘Girl’, this time. I love this song – it will definitely make my next ‘Favourite Beatles Songs’ post, and I can’t believe it didn’t feature on the first one!

The Shea Stadium pictures I was talking about, plus the last page of 'Drive My Car'.

The Shea Stadium pictures I was talking about, plus the last page of ‘Drive My Car’.

The last page - 'Think For Yourself', the song that turned me on to how good a songwriter George was! Note the different title font - it appears to have been used on both the first and last pages of music.

The last pages – ‘Think For Yourself’, the song that turned me on to how good a songwriter George was! Note the different title font – it appears to have been used on both the first and last pages of music.

So there you have it – an insider’s view of my latest Beatle-y thing! And now for a couple of other things…

A Hard Day’s Night might just make its way onto Australian big screens! I was giving The Beatles’ official website one of my weekly looks the other day, and I came across a page titled ‘A Hard Day’s Night Screenings Info’. I clicked on it – for no apparent reason (a glimmer of hope, perhaps?!) – and proceeded to read it. And, guess what? The article said (quote), “In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of its world premiere in London, The Beatles’ epoch-making music movie will have an extended run of screenings across the USA and the UK from 4 July 2014, with more global dates to be announced soon.” So this means that it might – just might – make its way Down Under, and, good gracious, would I be the happiest girl on Earth if it did! If you (like me) have an account on the website, make sure you ‘Favourite’ the page and keep your eyes peeled. If you don’t, however, I’ve posted the link here. But if you’re reading this in the US/UK, I’d assume you’ve already seen it – I’d love to hear what it was like!

(And finally…)

Today is a special day for me, because it marks exactly one year since I purchased my first Beatles album! About six months earlier (after becoming a casual fan three years before – this being revived again in 2012), my then-best-friend turned me on to The Beatles’ music (after a playing of ‘All You Need Is Love’ one school assembly), and we spent our lunch-breaks singing tunes such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (her favourite Beatles song) and ‘Hello Goodbye’ (my then-fave – it’s the first Beatles song I have exact memory of listening to, so it’s a little special to me), and talking about our favourite Beatles (hers was Paul, and – as you will have gathered – mine is John). There was only one problem, though – I thought my parents didn’t like The Fab Four (I was very, very wrong), so I was too afraid to tell them about my new-found passion. So – about six months later – I found myself making up elaborate plots that would allow me to purchase a Beatles album without my mother and father cluing on too much. I remember scouring iTunes – which, at the time, was selling 1 and Help! at discounted prices – to try and find an album that I could start out with. I decided up on 1 – at this time, of course, I had no knowledge of their studio albums (would you believe it – I though Abbey Road was a Rolling Stones album!), so I unwittingly ended up with their best-selling, 2000-released compilation (not that I care!). But anyway, I plotted for about two weeks, and finally, my ‘B-day’ had rolled along. I’d purchased an iTunes card a few days earlier (as part of my plot), and bought a few other songs to make myself appear a little less ‘suspicious’ (as I thought myself at the time). But my plan fell apart (thankfully!), when Mum ended up going through a newly-purchased flute music book to try and find some music to recommend (all a part of my plot), she also ended up discovering I was a rookie Beatlemaniac – and I discovered that she also liked their music! Since then, my love has only blossomed, so I reckon the decision I made that day was one of the best (if not the best) decision I have made in my life! It’s funny to think that, a year ago, I didn’t even know what The Beatles really looked like (that was unfortunate for me 🙂 ) or that George sang (I soon discovered he wrote, as ‘Something’ is on 1) some Beatles songs, but now (a year later), I can recite their entire discography off in a matter of seconds, and I could tell you really obscure facts, such as the month and year that John got his drivers’ licence in, and how old he was (he got it in February 1965, and he was 24-turning-25)! I reckon I’ll love The Beatles for the rest of my life – and to think it’s all down to an album I bought exactly one year ago, today! So (to conclude this last paragraph), I’ve posted 1 – that life-changing album, for me – below. If you’re already a Beatlemaniac (like I assume most people reading this are), have a listen – who would pass up an opportunity to listen to a certain band that changed the course of the world?!?! But if you’re a casual fan, or haven’t discovered The Fabs all that much, yet, why don’t you listen to this album, too? Once you have, I guarantee you that your life will never be the same – all down to four talented musicians/singers/songwriters that changed so many other lives, too. I salute you, John, Paul, George and Ringo! So here is that album that changed my life, and I’d like to think that it’ll help change many others, too:

 

So now, on this sunny afternoon (to quote The Kinks) that is also an extremely valid candidate for the coldest day in our long-cold-lonely Winter (to quote The Beatles), good day sunshine! 🙂