Being A Continuation of My Albums You Should Own: Beatles Special

Ok, so you’ve read and digested the first part. You’ve been out to your local record emporium, or been internet shopping, or (through gritted teeth) downloaded the albums in their entirety from that well-known bunch of bastards with a fruity name.
Now, I’m going to tell you why you need to buy the next phase of Beatles recording gold. By now, The Beatles were growing up. Both in life (John was now a father; Paul was heavily involved with Jane Asher; George had nabbed Patti Boyd, who would later be the subject of two truly awesome love songs, and Ringo had his girl, Maureen) and artistically. They’d moved on from the simple love songs aimed directly at the screaming fans, and were now writing more philosophical, personal songs. Yet the constant work-load never let up. By now, the tours were getting huger, even America was struggling to find a venue big enough.
Then The Beatles took live performance to the next level (size-wise at least). Shea Stadium in New York hosted the first ever stadium gig. 55,000 screaming American kids. And The Beatles in the middle of it all. They could hardly hear themselves, let alone the fans hearing them above all the din. They also starred in their second film, ‘Help!’ and were fitting in the time to write and record new material. And it is here that my continuation, er, continues…

Help!
So then, another movie, another soundtrack. While the film lacked a certain something, the soundtrack album that accompanied it lacked nothing. The blistering title track ‘Help!’ enabled John to hide his low morale, self-confidence and self-worth behind an upbeat pop song guaranteed to sell millions. From this to a totally acoustic ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ demonstrates their growing versatility as a band. Other stand out tracks include ‘Ticket To Ride’, ‘I Need You’, George’s second recorded song, which signalled how far his craft had come, yet not necessarily signposting the quality yet to come, and ‘You’re Going To Lose That Girl’. The other outstanding track on the album which went on to become the most played on radio and most covered song is ‘Yesterday’. The story goes that Paul woke up with the melody already in his head from start to finish, played to all his friends an family trying to find out what it was, not believing it was his own creation. Eventually he was persuaded that it was all his own work, and set about putting some lyrics to the tune. Then, when it came to the recording, no other Beatle was able to add anything to it, so it was virtually a McCartney solo recording.

Past Masters Volume 1
I’ve chosen this point to insert the first of The Beatles singles, b-sides and rarities compilations as the track listing ends with the b-sides from the ‘Help!’ singles. There are the 4 non-album singles, ‘From Me To You’ (a little piece of local interest here, this was written on the bus journey from York to Shrewsbury in 1963, a show one of my parents went to at the old Music Hall), the awesome ‘She Loves You’, the single that broke America ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and it’s equally wonderful B-side ‘This Boy’, and the world’s first feedback record ‘I Feel Fine’. Then you’ve got the single release version of ‘Love Me Do’ (not featuring Ringo on drums), tracks from the ‘Long Tall Sally’ EP: ‘Long Tall Sally’ being Paul’s rendition of Little Richards rocker, and ‘I’m Down’, the B-side to ‘Help!’, itself a McCartney attempt at emulating the energy and noise of Little Richard’s song. Finally, as a curio, you have the two German language recordings of their biggest singles of the time: ‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ and ‘Sie Liebt Dich’. (Answers on a postcard!!)

Rubber Soul
When they reconvened to record the first of what I like to call the “Beatles’ Holy Trinity” (ie the three albums which are generally considered to be the most creative and consistently top the ‘Greatest Album Ever’ polls), drugs were beginning to play a bigger part in the mood and writing of the band. By now it’s getting harder to pick just a few strong songs to highlight, given the quality on offer: ‘Drive My Car’, ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘Michelle’, ‘In My Life’ and George’s ever improving writing talent this time showcased with ‘If I Needed Someone’.

Revolver
Revolver consists of 14 genuinely brilliant songs. Not one can be considered below par (well, maybe one or two, but that’s being overly harsh).
We begin with ‘Taxman’, George Harrison’s first true classic. Written as a riposte at the incredibly high tax rate that they were being forced to pay, it served to give George the image of being overly money conscious. Before you know it, we’re on to ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Another virtual McCartney solo piece, and the first example of Paul’s ability to write songs about other people that don’t really exist or have any meaning. But didn’t he do well?!! From there to ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, John’s way of saying “hey, slow down, or just leave me be, I’m taking my time”.
‘Love You To’ is George’s first really Indian inspired song. ‘Here, There And Everywhere’ goes together with ‘Good Day Sunshine’ and ‘For No One’ as further examples of Paul’s genius at this point in time. We all know ‘Yellow Submarine’, of course. Written specifically with Ringo in mind, and all-out fun with the recording process. ‘She Said She Said’ and ‘Doctor Robert’ are a useful duo of drug influenced songs (‘She Said She Said’ based on a comment made by a tripping Peter Fonda, and ‘Doctor Robert’ being the well-connected doctor who could get their hands on a plethora of substances for the rich and famous).
‘I Want To Tell You’ is an unprecedented THIRD Harrison song on a Beatles single album. Which leaves the last two tracks. ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ is Paul’s song, it could easily be taken as a love song about accommodating a woman, yet it’s merely expresses his developing love and use of Marijuana.
And so the album finishes with an aural explosion of sound and effects. Intended to sound like a group of monks chanting on a mountain-top, studio trickery and experimentation gave it the other-worldly sound John hoped for. The lyrics were taken and inspired by the ‘Tibetan Book of The Dead’ which was being used by the acid generation as a guide for the mental experiences encountered during an acid trip. To listen to this track and then appreciate that this can be produced by the same mind that just two years earlier gave us ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ takes some doing.

And so we come to the end of the second instalment of my Beatles extravaganza. Stay tuned for more…

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