1001 Albums: With The Beatles

# 35

Album_35_Original.jpg

Artist: The Beatles

Album: With The Beatles

Year: 1963

Length: 32:24

Genre: Rock Pop / British Invasion

 

 

“She’s got the devil in her heart
No she’s an angel sent to me”

Brace yourself, I’m about to say something completely controversial. I don’t think you the reader are ready for what I have to say. I mean, I’m terrified of saying it because we live in a time where having differing opinions is apparently a bad thing and you can easily get shit on for being in the minority of it. So make sure you’re in complete control here before I say it. are you good? You sure? Ok, here it goes…

I’m not a fan of The Beatles.

Yeah, I know. Horrible. How could I not be a fan of the greeeeeaaatest band to ever walk the earth? Do I not know music? Am I stupid or something? It’s the Beatles how can anyone not love The Beatles just because they’re the freaking Beatles?

It’s absolutely crazy I know, practically blasphemous that I would say such a thing. Me, not a fan of The Beatles. I can already picture people foaming at the mouth for having heard me say that (and believe me I’ve seen it happen to as if The Beatles are completely immune to criticism just because they are The Beatles, give me a break). So before you raise your torches and pitchforks, let me explain.

I am not a fan of The Beatles and it’s not for lack of trying. Believe me I’m very familiar with their music. I know their catalogue. My dad has this large compilation CD of The Beatles he used to play on repeat a lot when I was a kid, so trust me, I am not in the dark when it comes to their music. So you can’t tell me I haven;t given them a chance. Heck just last year I listened to their entire discography from their first album to their last, I’ve heard it all.

I am not a fan of The Beatles, but I don’t dislike them.

Wait, what?! You… but you just said… I… WHAT?!

Yeah, confused you there? That’s right, I don’t dislike them, I do think they’re a fun band and I do find myself singing along to their songs when they come on. I will never actively seek out their songs to listen to, but if they are playing I won’t mind and cans till enjoy them. I think they’re good, but are they best? Probably not. Who is? Well that’s an impossible question to answer, and who knows I might get a bunch of us together and try to answer it, but for now let’s talk Beatles.

Some people might be confused at this point. How is it that controversial that I like them but am not a fan? Big whoop I’m not a fan, right? At least I still respect them and can understand why people are fans. You would think it was that simple. But meet anyone who has jumped hardcore onto the Beatles bandwagon and you’ll see how quickly they get defensive and attack you for simply not being a fan. As if you have two choices, either be a hardcore fan because they can’t comprehend why people have their own tastes and opinions on things or you hate them and you’re an idiot who doesn’t know music. Now, I’d like to believe you reading this are not one of these people and you’re a rational human being who can understand that we may not all disagree on things and can respectively talk about why some of us may or may not like things. If you are, fantastic, I love you. But, these other people exist in the many… let’s hope I haven’t struck a nerve with them.

If ever there’s an album of theirs that pushes me away rather than pulls me closer, it would probably be this one. If it was great in the 60s, then I can safely say it has aged horribly. For people calling The Beatles the greatest band on Earth, I would not suggest showing non-fans this album as a starting point, because it’ll be a major disappointment.

“Really? This is it?”

This album doesn’t have much to offer both musically and lyrically. It’s pure pop rock music that is simple and accessible and for the most part, easy on the ears of the casual listener.

HERESY! I hear you say.

Well, don’t believe me just watch.

(I am not including a pic of Bruno Mars)

Here’s the lyrics to the song that opens the album:

“It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Every night when everybody has fun
Here am I sitting all on my own
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Since you left me, I’m so alone
Now you’re coming, you’re coming on home
I’ll be good like I know I should
You’re coming home, you’re coming home
Every night the tears come down from my eyes
Every day I’ve done nothing but cry
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you
Since you left me, I’m so alone
Now you’re coming, you’re coming on home
I’ll be good like I know I should
You’re coming home, you’re coming home
So every day we’ll be happy I know
Now I know that you won’t leave me no more
It won’t be long yeah, yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, yeah
It won’t be long yeah, till I belong to you, woo”

Brilliant. Truly the words of high-grade poets. I’ll give credit to them though, as their albums went on they definitely improved their song writing and wrote lyrics that actually had some effort put into them. Unfortunately, we’re not on those albums, we’re on this one.

Look at it. It’s incredibly repetitive (which I guess helped getting their songs stuck in people’s heads), way too simplistic (I’m alone because you’re not here… brilliant once again) and honestly, doesn’t really leave a lasting impression as a song. You would think this is an exception to the album, but it isn’t. This perfectly sets up what you’re in for the entire album as each song basically copies this pop lyrical formula of simple themes and repetitive words.

But you have to remember this, at this point The Beatles were still in their early stages, merely a pop sensation that was sweeping the nation. they hadn’t grown into their actual talent yet and were still just trying to make hits to get noticed and appease their large female fan base who probably just wanted to hear the cute boys sing about how much they loved them. It was capitalising on puppy love and I guess they did that very well. It wasn’t time for them to experiment just yet.

Actually, while I’m on the subject, why don’t I make another controversial statement, or in this case more of an observation. This one will probably get more people against me and start using them fighting words. This observation is what has made me understand why I can’t get into the Beatles as much as most people, especially when it comes to their early albums. Are you ready?

I believe that Justin Bieber is the modern day equivalent of The Beatles… to a certain extent.

There you go, I know I’m going to be tarred and feathered for that one. Time to get the mob out and lynch me. But give me a second here. I just made a bold statement here, I at least should be given the chance to explain it.  He is the modern equivalent to The Beatles… to a certain extent. Meaning, there are a lot of similarities between the two, but also few big differences, which I will get into. But first let’s look at the similarities.

-Both had music that hit the top of the charts.

-Both had a legion of screaming fan girls that were completely obsessed with them in a creepy way.

-Both could sell out big venues for their shows.

-Both had simple lyrics with simple ideas of love, girls, loving you, don’t leave me alone, holding hands and yeah, yeah, yeahs.

-Both had stupid haircuts.

-Both can play their own instruments (Justin Bieber can play the drums, piano, guitar and the fucking trumpet).

-Both needed producers to make them sound halfway decent (The Beatles had George Martin to thank, especially for their later sound that people love).

-Both redefined themselves as artists (The Beatles when they went to India and tripped acid and Bieber with his last album, where he tried to show off a more mature side to him. Which believe it or not people accepted as being pretty decent. People I know who hate Bieber actually found themselves saying “It’s not actually not that bad.”)

-Both were apparently nightmares behind the scenes to work with (Bieber goes without saying thanks to the media, but there’s tons of stories of The Beatles being childish and immature behind the scenes and just, overall, difficult people to work with).

So there’s no denying that the two had some pretty large similarities. You might find it hard to accept, but the similarities in a lot of ways are pretty striking. But now for the differences, and this is where I’ll win you back probably.

Other than the obvious one that The Beatles were a whole band that actually wrote their own music, there’s the one big difference that really separates them:

Historically The Beatles made an impact and Bieber didn’t. Years from now people will remember Bieber as this one off pop sensation that came and left and hey that was a thing, while The Beatles made a lasting impression to the point that people still talk about them today, still love them today, are still listening to all their songs and know them by heart.

If their early albums were just some simple pop rock, then why is it they made such an impact? Here’s what I think: They were a product of being in the right place at the right time. The Beatles were big not because they were a pop sensation (although that helped) but because they were also new and fresh. The idea of a boy band wasn’t really known and especially since rock n’ roll was still developing, The Beatles had a sound that sounded completely different than what the American Audiences were used to. Remember, The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show was what opened the door to the British Invasion in the US. People tuned to their TV’s and saw these four cute boys, who were incredibly tight as a band (from already playing together for years) and were laying a style of rock they had never really heard before. People’s ears exploded with glee. Step aside Elvis, these were the guys we needed to hear. And although they weren’t the best (The Who, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds definitely had more artistic integrity than they did), they were the first to reach the American airwaves.

And that’s really what this album is, a product of it’s time, historically a milestone in American music. This was their first album released in the US and already sold over half a million copies before it was even released. Justin Bieber may have sold as much, but he will never go down in history like The Beatles did for the main reason that Bieber wasn’t anything new. The idea of the boy band and pop icon goes way, way back, and although some have managed to make an impact, like Michael Jackson, King of Pop, most have fallen through the cracks (Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, come to mind?). They weren’t really doing anything new, just copying what made their “ancestors” so great and that is why they didn’t leave a mark like The Beatles did.

So, I’ll give you this, you can have their later work as arguments to why they’re so great. You can have your Revolver, Sargeant Pepper, Abbey Road, White Album and Let it Be. But there’s no denying With The Beatles is pure pop rock that is truly a product of it’s time that hasn’t aged well at all. Heck, they’re best songs off this album are covers… so they can’t even be credited for writing those.

But I do have a lot of respect for them, they grew as musicians and artists, really got themselves to a high standard and kept pushing to be better and better, which is an admirable thing. A lot of artists kind of get stuck in the same loop of their own music, but The Beatles tried to do away with their old teeny bopper pop music and grow into more mature sounds and lyrics.

So I may not be a fan, but I can see why they’re as big as they are.

Except this album… god.

Song of Choice: Roll Over Beethoven

-Bosco

 

 

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13 thoughts on “1001 Albums: With The Beatles”

  1. Hey mate, this was an interesting read. The Beatles are my favourite band but I wouldn’t dream of screaming abuse at you for not liking them, each to their own music tastes!

    I would say this though: when I read the lyrics for ‘It Won’t Be Long’ here I instantly started singing it in my head – which shows what’s great about that song is the melody, not the lyrics. The Beatles wrote more insanely catchy songs than anyone else, in the hundreds, which I think is a huge achievement and is why they’re so celebrated. The amazing thing is that when they became more experimental they kept on producing amazing melodies, so it was both difficult and easy to listen to. This is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off (see Bowie, Marvin Gaye, Radiohead etc.).

    Bieber only seems like a fair comparison to me because they were both insanely popular and slept with a lot of chicks. Lennon and McCartney are much more accomplished singers and, as you say, songwriters. If Bieber covered ‘Help!’ or ‘Hard Day’s Night’ it would sound terrible because he doesn’t have the rock n roll power I love about the Beatles.

    I would also say that Beatles sounded great even before George Martin, they were insanely popular in the Liverpool underground circuit and a legendary live act before they were polished into a studio act. Check out their Live at Hollywood Bowl album – they sound tight, exciting, really amazing.

    Anyway that’s just my opinion. It was very interesting to read a different perspective. Thanks 🙂

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    1. Hey man, thanks for the respectful comment! I really appreciate that! Those are all very fair points! And funnily enough I do agree with all of them! You’re very right about the Beatles just being way better than Bieber, which I sort of glossed over really quickly because I wanted to focus on the cultural impact especially on American audiences. And I very briefly did mention they were an incredibly tight band too, but in a one off comment haha. I know for their later albums I have way more of an enjoyment for them and. Most of my comments related purely to this one which unfortunately does fall flat for me and comes off as pop kosher more than artistic . Which is totally fine if you’re into it, personally it just didn’t really do much for me. But hey to each our own!like I said this album did have much more of a cultural impact than an artistic one and I definitely see why people loved it, who knows maybe one day I’ll look back on it and my opinion will change!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah totally fair enough, I understand all of your points too. This album can sound a bit simple and dated, but ‘All My Loving’ and John’s vocal on ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me’ give me goosebumps every time, I love ’em. Yeah I see now you said they were tight, my argument was in response to your saying they weren’t up to scratch without George Martin which I thought was a Bitchy unfair even though his studio contributions were amazing. I’m following your blog and will be interested to read your comments on later Beatles albums, and other classics 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yeah the George Martin thing wasn’t meant as a bitchy thing at all! I réalisé it came that way but it was more for Bieber than the Beatles haha. For Martin I meant more that he helped them get to a higher standard than they already were and definitely had a hand in developing their sound people grew to love. Wasn’t implying that they sucked at all, because I do think they’re good, just this particular album was disappointing to me. But I do réalisé how it could have been interpreted like that, my bad for not being clear with that one haha

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      3. ‘Bitchy’ was a typo, I’m really sorry! Your tone was not bitchy at all, I meant to say it was ‘a bit unfair’… couldn’t seem to edit it, damn autocorrect haha

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      4. Yeah I saw that after I wrote my comment! Whoops embarassing typo haha! But what I said still works for being unfair as well, which I wasn’t trying to be at all, but I could see how it came across that way (keeping it brief so I don’t repeat what I said in my last comment Haha)

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  2. Most of their output before ‘Rubber Soul’ is unexceptional, and of course the lyrics are shit, but they were more interested in creating a feeling than poetry. Ian MacDonald’s ‘Revolution In The Head’ is highly recommended reading for an accurate summation of the Beatles place in history. When Beiber comes up with his version of the White Album then I will pay attention. Otherwise there really is no comparison.

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    1. I guess I never thought of the idea that they were creating a feeling more than poetry. I’ll keep that in mind for when they’re next album comes around (which is number 42). And in terms of Justin Bieber (haha) you never know man! He just started to sort of redefine himself so who knows what he’ll throw at us next (i for one hope absolutely nothing and hope my comparison ends at floppy haircuts and legion of screaming girls)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If they broke up before they recorded their last half dozen albums then they would be remembered more for Beatlemania and a handful of neat songs. The Beiber comparison would be ok then. It’s just that they went on to pretty much redefine pop music entirely with their post ’66 output.

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    1. Which is true, I agree. My comparison was more for their early stuff and didn’t reflect their later stuff. I probably could have been way more clearer on that front, but I was really just talking about the early stuff up until they really set themselves apart from their early pop stuff. So unless Bieber brings out one hell of an artistic album, my comparison ends there

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