1001 Albums: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

#78

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Year: 1967

Length: 39:52

Genre: Pop Rock / Psychedelia

“We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We hope you will enjoy the show
We’re Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sit back and let the evening go”

 

I think I delayed writing this post for far too long. I initially listened to this album about two weeks ago and from then on have been trying to gather my thoughts about it and really put into words how I felt, which honestly has so far been the toughest out of every album I’ve listened to. It required me listening to the album a second time and discussing it with a good friend of mine who is a bit of a music connoisseur just to see if my thoughts could really fall into something decent and coherent.

Well… no more delaying, time to sit down and just crank this out for what it is, with the goal to not repeat myself from previous Beatles posts. Can’t promise anything.

So… this album… is a doozy of an album. It’s a big album and I don’t mean the music itself, I mean culturally. This album had such a huge impact on the culture at the time, being cited as painting a picture of the current trends and moods, considered one of the most influential and important albums of all time, seen as a sign of a clear maturation of the Beatles artistically, being one of the first albums to influence both art rock and progressive rock and single-handedly starting the album era and hanging rock music as we know it (for better or for worse depending what your feelings to the roots of rock n roll are). This was a lot to take in and probably heavily influenced my first reaction to the whole album, which was rather sour and negative. I mean it’s hard to really feel the full power of an album when all you’ve had were people yelling in your ear about how amazing it is, all you have left to really go is down. Too much hype always sets you up for disappointment. But I’ve been trying to keep an open mind. So I set my initial reaction to the side and decided to listen to it a second time without any of that pre-existing hype, which helped.

Here’s a interesting thing about this album. There’s no denying that it definitely had a significant cultural impact when it first came out. People loved it and were taking it in, soaking up Beatlemania like never before. This was it, The Beatles were peaking and getting better and better for the population. This was the greatest thing around… or was it? It’s really easy to get lost in all the positive reviews of the album that you might not realise that critics at the time were really torn about it. Either they loved it or hated it and there seemed to be no in between. Richard Goldstein at the time wrote a scathing review of this album in the New York Times calling it “Ultimately Fraudulent” and was met with an onslaught of letters and hate mail, aggressive, abusive and even down-right scary, responding in disagreement to his review (Considered one of the biggest responses to a musical review ever). Even the retrospectives don’t seem sure about this album’s legacy, claiming that people’s reasoning stands more on the side of it’s cultural impact rather than it’s actual music. (I realise I’m only sharing the negative reviews, but come on, you all already know all the positive criticism said about it that I feel I don’t need to say it). So what’s the truth? Is this really the most influential and greatest rock record of music history or is it incredibly overrated?

To be honest, who knows. There’s no truth to the matter, that’s the beauty of art critiques, it really boils down to subjective feelings explained in smart and nuanced ways as to why their opinion is what it is. So whether you believe one side or the other, that’s a perfectly valid opinion of this record because… it really is a tough one to crack, leaving people very divided but with no real answer.

Ok, that was a bit of a cop out on my part. Enough of all that… what do I think of the album? Which side of the fence do I sit?

I think it’s going to come as no surprise that I do feel this album is incredibly overrated. I’m just going to say that right away so I’m not beating around the bush. That being said, do I think it’s horrible? Absolutely not. If anything this might have been the Beatles Album I enjoyed the most. And here in lies the problem. The big issue I had when gathering my thoughts. How could I feel so negatively towards an album I really enjoyed? Why is it I found myself loving the music and enjoying every moment yet still left it feeling dissatisfied? It didn’t make any sense to me and I had to figure this out.

So, the positive. There’s no denying that The Beatles were artistically at their most mature and grounded in this album. They managed to finally create an album that was incredibly cohesive and flowed beautifully from one song to another. The concept of the album definitely helped with that. Creating the fictitious Sgt Pepper band and treating this album as if it were a live performance by said fictitious band allowed for the Beatles to create a steady flow and even experiment musically and evolve even more from their last album. The sitar is back and better before, they take on influences from vaudeville and circus themes (most apparent in “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” which breaks out into a delicious circus tune that I think I enjoyed a little too much) and work with special effects (for example backwards tapes in “Day in the Life”). They continued to grow their psychedelic sound and managed to create a solid album that had a uniform sound but still managed to make each song it’s own unique entity. You can distinguish between each one very easily.

There’s no denying that The Beatles are incredibly talented. There’s no denying that they really showed off that talent on this album. There’s no denying that the music on this album is very well-crafted and played.

So what’s the problem?

It took me awhile to figure this out. That feeling that something… just… wasn’t right. Talking to my friend I grew to realise what didn’t sit well with me despite my enjoyment. The album felt fake to me. It felt shallow and hollow. At the surface we experience the artistic integrity of The Beatles but with nothing under the depths. It’s pure show and razzle-dazzle, The Beatles showing off how well they can play music and take you in without really putting any soul into it (With the exception of “A Day in the Life”). When Frank Zappa critiqued this album as saying The Beatles were only in it for the money… he wasn’t really that wrong. You have to remember to, concept albums like Freak Out! were very alienating to the population. It was music made for the musician himself, music he believed in and felt and wanted to create with a message to be told. Sgt. Pepper is a concept album made for the masses, easily accessible and digestible, an album that literally anyone can put on and enjoy… but that’s all it is, just a show that they’re performing for your pure entertainment. Music that is heavy in artistic integrity minus any of the transcendence, almost like they created an illusion to trick you into thinking there was more. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, not at all. Music is entertainment and a lot of great bands create music with that in mind. They don’t want you to think, they just want you to have a great time. and that’s what this album is. A fun time for the whole family.

Obviously a lot of people are going to disagree with me and that’s good, that means you have your own opinion and won’t be influenced by mine. However, I do feel I’ve been a little hard on The Beatles and it does sort of boil down to I just don’t get it. So, I decided to do something a little different this time around. I got someone who does get and love The Beatles to write out their opinion of their favourite album to hear the voice of the other side of the metaphorical Beatles fence.

Here is my good friend, Luis:

“I never thought The Beatles could be a polarizing subject. No, not for a beatlemaniac. I just assumed that not everyone love them as much as I and other millions of die-hard fans. But for a long time I was under the impression that everyone at least liked them. And it’s good to encounter those rare people that not necessarily dislike them (which would be fine too), but just don’t see them as the most exciting music phenomenon ever, like I do.

Why is it good? Because it’s different. Because if it is especial for everyone, then there’s nothing truly especial about it. And the other reason is that for the longest I can remember, I hadn’t had to explain to another person why do I feel that way about The Beatles. Until I made a new friend: Jonathan P. Bosco (who claims that just doesn’t see them as greatest, but it’s not a dislike).

And that what’s great about diverging opinions. ‘Cause that conversation got me here, guest writing for his very well written music journey experience. And here I am for a big one, the legendary ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Deemed by many (like yours truly) to be the best album by the best band in the history of music. Like my good friend Bosco, I don’t see any of what I’m writing here as the final word, for I’m just a music lover. Not a connoisseur of music history, theory, metric and etc. And even if I was, I find it music to be such a subjective matter, that in the end, no one has the final saying of what it’s best. We just know what’s best for ourselves.

But saying that, I for long believed (and still kinda do) that The Beatles are, if not the most important, at least the most accomplished band that have ever been. This album is no different. If you go after lists of best albums ever, best rock albums, most sold albums, most well reviewed albums, 1001 albums to hear before you die (nudge nudge wink wink), you’ll definitely find Sgt Pepper’s among them. And often in the first positions, if the list happens to be ranked.

And as a die-hard Beatles fan, I just agreed, and saw no error whatsoever on placing this masterpiece “virtually”everywhere as the no.1 album, by the no.1 band. I believed that wholeheartedly. Until Bosco got me thinking, with a simple “Why?”.

When you love something so much, you never bother to ask why. You just do. And The Beatles have always been in that untouched pedestal for me. Until my man Jonathan got me thinking. And I’m not saying I’ve changed my opinion, I don’t think I have. But try and analyze just why I think ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ is the best of the best actually made me even more in touch with the album and with what it means to me.

I apologize in advance, for you won’t find in this text factual reasons of why The Beatles are the greatest and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ is their piece de resistance. No theory, no long lectures on sound designing, instruments usage, notes, chords, singing, tempo. Nothing technical that guarantees The Beatles are truly above all.

Because as I said firstly, I face music as subjective. It evokes emotions, memories, sensations. It’s a personal journey, so it has a personal impact on each of us. For example: The Beatles remind me of a simple time; car trips with my family; singing drunk with my dad; rehearsing with my band. They’ve always been with me for those moments and others. Their music calm me, and almost bring me back to that happy place. Or a sad memory, we all got those bittersweet ones, but The Beatles been there for me too.

They speak to me, like my dad does. I share this whenever I can. That I inherited my taste for music from my dad. The Beatles are his favorite band, and Sgt. Pepper’s is his favorite album. So, what a surprise! You must be thinking I can’t think for myself. But, see, when it comes to music it’s not about thinking at all, it’s about feeling.

And I feel everything in all of Sgt. Pepper’s songs, because it’s part of my history, like I said. It’s one of the only LP’s I own, which I got from my father. And I used to listen it with him all the time. So much, even my mom got sick of The Beatles for a while. We sang all the songs together, in particular ‘She’s Leaving Home’, from this album. One of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and also my dad’s favorite.

I love everything in it. The Sgt Pepper’s themes, full of energy, like a concert opener. The ode to friends sang beautifully by Ringo in ‘With A Little Help from my Friends’ (Shout out to my friend Bosco here). The well acclaimed ‘LSD’. The perfect circus song that is ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’. George’s spiritual take on ‘Within You Without You’, with the brilliant incorporation of the sitar.

That’s just to say a few about my favorites. But I even love the seemingly generic tune which is ‘Getting Better’. The not-so clever ones: ‘Lovely Rita’ and ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. And the ever forgotten, but not by me, ‘Fixing A Hole’. All of them hold a very special place in my heart.

I haven’t heard the album cover to cover in a long time. Why? I don’t know. But the feelings are still the same now that I’m hearing it again. So thanks Bosco, for the invite, and to reaffirm my faith and love in the lads of Liverpool. Did that explain to anyone of you that the Beatles are indeed the greatest and so is Sgt. Pepper’s? I doubt it (I warned it wouldn’t). But it makes perfect sense to me.

P.S.: My dad just conveniently called me by the end of ‘A Day in The Life’ (of course it’s a masterpiece, and no I didn’t forget to put it there among the others, I was just saving it for this post-scriptum), just to talk about his day, how much he misses me and loves me. So yeah, I haven’t changed my mind. Except for one small word. I don’t think The Beatles are the best band ever. I feel The Beatles are the best band ever and that Sgt. Pepper’s rule.”

 

Song of Choice: Fixing A Hole

-Bosco

P.s. Lennon says “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is NOT about LSD. I am willing to believe it isn’t but I’m sure LSD had a huge part to play in creating the song.

1001 Albums: Revolver

#60

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Revolver

Year: 1966

Length: 34:43

Genre: Pop Rock/Psychedelic Rock

“We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine”

Oh Boy!… The Beatles… Again… I’m so excited…

As you can tell from my blatant sarcasm, I’m still not sold on The Beatles. As usual, I don’t hate them, I don’t even dislike them, I actually do enjoy them, I’m just not crazy about them. I guess you can say the ever popular comeback to this, I just don’t get it. It’s true. I don’t. I thought I was starting to get it when Rubber Soul went by, but then Revolver hit and I have no idea what to think any more.

I can already hear you saying: “But Revolver is the greatest Beatles album, even the greatest album of all time period. How did this one not turn you? HOW COULD YOU LIKE MUSIC IF YOU CAN’T EVEN SAY THE BEATLES ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BAND?”

You think I’m exaggerating, but someone actually told me that last one and yes, they even yelled it rather angrily at me.

I guess they bring up a fair point. The Beatles and especially this album, are widely considered to be the greatest music of all time. It’s become almost common sense at this point. There’s absolutely no way I can listen to Revolver and say that it’s bad because it’s been called the greatest album of all time by literally almost everyone.

So what does that say about me?

Well, a lot of factors go into how I felt about this album. It was over-sold being the main one. Everyone’s been in that position where someone praised something to the high heavens to them and told them they must enjoy and love it now like everyone else because it’s sooooooo amazingly amazingly amazing, only to finally experience it and go… that was it? That was the amazingly amazingly amazing thing I was supposed to find so amazingly amazingly amazing?

Don’t get me wrong, like I said above, I do enjoy a good Beatles tune. I liked Rubber Soul and was ready to be wowed by this one. But instead I found myself with mixed feelings. I din’t really know how to feel about it. If anything the whole thing left me more confused than anything. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t get it. Who knows, maybe one day It’ll finally hit me and I will have the revelation of a lifetime and I’ll finally understand it all. A Beatles tune will pop up on the radio and in that moment it will all come rushing into me and I’ll snap fingers and go EUREKA! But until then, I’ll still be confused.

I actually wonder what it is that people who love The Beatles think. So far, in my search of understanding, I’ve come across two types of answers to my question of why are The Beatles the best?

The first is the ever useful: ” Because it’s The Beatles duuuuuh”. Unfortunately, that’s doesn’t give me much insight into… well, anything. Other than being completely useless as a statement it also proves that this particular person is probably just jumping on The Beatles bandwagon and doesn’t want to be judged for saying anything other than their the best.

The second, much better, response I usually get is usually a in-depth look at their collection of greatest hits. This makes more sense and I definitely get some good insight into how The Beatles were incredibly influential and the impact they made on rock, pop, psychedelic and just music in general. When I have this kind of in-depth conversation with someone, I usually tend to agree with them. But it’s easy to when all your examples are some of their greatest songs. Like any fanbase, it’s easy to show off their strengths when you pick and choose which songs to talk about. You’ll obviously pick the best of the bunch and leave the weaker ones to rot in the basket. It makes sense, you want people to be on your side, not convince them you’re wrong. That being said, I will say it is hard to find a really shitty and awful Beatles song because they were very talented blokes and actually made the effort to write decent music.

So what do I think of Revolver?

Well, it’s ok in my opinion. There’s a lot that’s there to really strengthen the idea that The Beatles are the best, but for the most part the album ranges from Spectacualrly Good to Mildly Mediocre. That’s still very good for an album to achieve especially since every album always has that one song that it could have done without (this one included) but in their case they managed to never go under the belt and write something awful, which that deserves mad respect.

The Beatles were definitely evolving and trying out new things with this one. Things that were unheard of in rock… ever. From playing tracks backwards, to incorporating an octet of strings, to using sound effects, perfecting their harmonies, creating memorable melodies and just all-around creating both a rocking  and mellow vibe at the same time. This marked the beginning of Psychedelic Music in popular culture and opened the door for bands of the genre to really go all out. Only The Beatles could have paved the way for such a mind-bending genre and if it weren’t for them opening the door to the mainstream, Psychedelic Rock might have easily stayed in the counter-culture. But that’s pure speculation.

I know it sounds like I contradicted myself there, but where I got confused wasn’t the musical expertise on the album, but was the songs themselves. It’s hard not to listen to the beautiful strings of Eleanor Rigby, that support the themes of loneliness, and not react emotionally in some way. It’s a really sad song that gets to your heart strings and really tugs at them as if they were being played by the violinist instead. George Harrison’s Sitar work was incredible on Love You To and it’s nice to see them incorporating their hindi influences from their escapades in India. Even songs like I’m Only Sleeping (despite it’s almost grating vocals), Here, There and Everywhere and For No One manage to evoke some decent feelings (whether it’s eerie, mellow, transcendental or even cheery) and shows of their musical expertise. I even found myself really enjoying She Said She Said, which despite the dark lyrics almost felt like an ode to their older pop style. Funny coming from me after disliking that pop sound so much, maybe it was due to the mix of the lyrics or maybe I’m just full of shit (Hey, I’m only human, we’re all full of shit at some point).

But then, there’s the other songs. The album opens with Taxman, which to this day I still have no idea whether to call this a great Beatles song or an odd miss on their part. It was an odd way to start the album (except maybe the obvious countdown at the beginning) and almost felt like it should belong on another one of their albums. And then there’s the lyrically lame Good Day Sunshine and the rather mediocre Doctor Robert, which I feel both do nothing to really show off the progress they’ve made as musicians. Almost like music they could do in their sleep, as if they were on auto-pilot when writing it. Even Got To Get You Into My Life feels a little forgettable as far as The Beatles go. And then, close to halfway through the album we’re met with Yellow Submarine.

I want someone to tell me with a straight face that this song is the epitomy of amazingness. I want someone to seriously tell me this is a fantastically great song. This song is awful. Let me rephrase that. This song would be great, if this was a an album for children. It’s not. It’s an album with adult themes and dark, melancholic vibes. This song does not fit at all. Other than the fact that it just sounds incredibly stupid, especially when compared to the rest of the songs on the album, it’s also laughably dull. Even the vocals sound completely bored of the song, as if the spirit of Ben Stein overtook them when recording it. Everytime the chorus hits they sound so enthused to be singing it that the monotone delivery really packs a punch. This is a song that we used to sing all the time as kids and when we did it was always to mockingly imitate that damn chorus line. At least it managed to make us laugh. But of all The Beatles albums it could have been on, it was on this one to my astonishing surprise. Did they put this on as a joke? Or were they just incredibly high when making this album.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they were. They became notorious for their LSD taking and were definitely on some sort of substance while recording in the studio. That’s what this album feels like most of the time, some weird LSD trip, as if they were able to capture what they saw into their music (which that in itself is an amazing feat). And this all culminates into the final song of the album: Tomorrow Never Knows. A song so absurd, so trippy, so deep into psychedelia that I honestly can’t tell if they just lost their minds and created noise or this is a fucking masterpiece. It’s so easy to get lost into the song and depending on your mood it’ll either be in a good way or bad way. Either way, it’s one hell of a song to end the album with.

So, what can I conclude from all this? Is this really the greatest album of all time? Maybe… who am I or anyone to say, really? Objectively they were doing a lot of new and interesting things musically that really set a whole new standard of what rock and pop should be. It impacted the musical world so hard that most artists look back to this as the one that really started it all for them. But then again, considering something great is a very subjective thing. What a lot of people might have loved about this album, I might have disliked and vice verse (me liking, you disliking). I really feel The Beatles were a product of their time. A vessel into music history. A portrait of what it was like for music in the 60s. I don’t think it stands the test of time as well as some say, but it definitely gives good insight as to what was going on at the time. There’s no doubt that they were trailblazers, setting stones, paving ground, opening doors for everyone to come and that in itself deserves all the respect that it gets. But is that factor alone enough to call something the greatest? Chuck Berry redefined guitar playing in rock n’ roll (The Beatles and The Stones were both heavily influenced by him), but people rarely cite his work as the best. Heck, classical composers like Mozart and Beethoven really set a standard for music and melodies, but people more readily talk about modern musicians than the classical ones.

But who am I to judge, I’m only one person with one set of opinions. I can only add to the conversation, not sway it.

 

Song of Choice: Eleanor Rigby

-Bosco

 

 

1001 Albums: Rubber Soul

#55

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: Rubber Soul

Year: 1965

Length: 35:50

Genre: Rock Pop/ Folk Rock

“He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

Big things are happening. Not only in this list but in life. Again it seems that the list is paralleling what’s going on in a wave of yet another strange coincidence. This time it’s not as specific and they are similar in much vaguer ways than with some of the past coincidences. But to put it briefly, Rubber Soul was a big milestone in rock history and this week I’ve reached a big milestone in my life.

Let me start with me (because I’m selfish like that). Remember how I was talking about getting ready to move to Toronto? Well, it finally happened. I’ve made the move. As I sit to write this, I am sitting in the basement of my cousin’s house in the big city of Toronto. With my new room, new bed, new city and new life, I begin a new chapter in my life. This is big for me. Mainly because A) It’s the first time I’m living on my own (only having moved out of my parent’s house now) and B) It’s in a completely different city. Cutting the chord, snippety-snip, in one swift motion and throwing myself out there. Jumping head first without a parachute. Monday I start back to school, which I haven’t done in almost two years… so that will be an interesting experience. With this is the added burden of a insurmountable amount of anxiety and pressure thrown onto my shoulders as I try to find a new apartment (so I don’t annoy the shit out of my cousins) and finding a job so I can have a steady flow of income entering instead of always exiting. It’s overwhelming, but I realise everyone goes through this and if everyone has been able to do it… well, I can too (I guess… we will see).

Now to the main attraction: Rubber Soul. The Quartet themselves. The Mother Fucking Beatles.

I know what you’re all thinking, so please… don’t kill me. Let me speak first!

I actually… kinda liked this one… yeah, I did. I’m not joking, not at all. Ok, I wasn’t crazy about it, it didn’t really engage me as much as I would have hoped but I have to say… they’re getting better and better. This was definitely a huge step up from their last album. As a whole they’re maturing and maturing fast. Lyrically they’re delving into much more personal and adult ideas, swinging away from the puppy love goop that I personally hate and tackling relationships with a more mature gaze. These aren’t the strapping young lads we knew before. No, now they’re men. They’ve grown up and it really shows.

It doesn’t stop there, musically they’ve matured quite a bit as well, incorporating much more complex melodies and even including a Sitar in their music (I believe Norwegian Wood was one of (if not the) first western rock song to include the instrument and this album can be hailed as the one to introduce the instrument to western audiences and the rock n roll genre). The sitar is a pretty fucking sweet instrument. Every time I hear it it really puts you in a this weird groove that you can’t help but feel calm. It’s an oddly soothing instrument and if I ever get the chance I’d love to learn it. But alas… I probably won’t… This was also right after the famous meeting with Bob Dylan, where they convinced him to go Electric and he advised them to try harder with their lyrics and write something more meaningful. They must have listened because this is that album.

So here’s where things get interesting. It’s time for me to separate subjectivity and objectivity and look at the album for what it was in history. If I’m going on my impression alone I find it’s really just OK. A solid album all around that has some really strong points (Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man) and some weaker, but still worthwhile moments (Michelle). They’re really trying hard here to create something that will be remembered and they succeeded very well. Of what I understood it was the first album where they got full creative control and you can tell they’re going all out to do the music they really want to create. They’re playing has improved by 200 percent and their three-way harmonies are actually quite beautiful when they hit at the right moment. Here is an album that showed the true talent that they were missing from their previous ones.

Historically, this album seemed to leave a huge dent in rock n roll. It seems every big artist cites this album as a milestone of sorts, a highly influential album they all look back too as being what pushed them to up their games. Brian Wilson says that this album was so damn good to his ears that it influenced him to try and top them (creating the famous feud between The Beach Boys and The Beatles as they constantly tried to one-up each other). Brian Wilson would go on to create Pet Sounds thanks to this album (Which I do think is a much better album, but wouldn’t have existed without this one being made).

A lot of critics also cite this album as being the beginning of albums as a cohesive entity. Before this instance we have encountered a lot of albums that took extra care for each song and even some early examples of concept albums (Heck album #1 on this list was the very first concept album to be conceived). But I can see where these criticisms are coming from. The Beatles were big and everyone was listening to them, compared to some of the other albums which were more well known within the musical world but not to the general population as a whole. Most albums usually put focus on creating singles that would sell the album while the rest would be filled with filler to fluff up the album and make it full. This is (once again debatable but I can see why) the first instance where every song on the album was treated as if it were going to be a hit single. They didn’t care about selling specific songs but selling the album as a whole. There may have been other albums before them that did the same thing, but they were the ones that succeeded in getting everyone to think differently about albums. They were the ones that managed to get other artists to rethink how they create their albums. Others did it before but they were the ones that left a mark and that’s what truly counts here.

I find this album is a nice transitional album when it comes to their discography. It marks the departure from their pop songs and entrance to their more artistic side. This draws the line right in the centre and is a good bridge between both. The album wasn’t my thing, but I finally get it. I finally understand the phenomenon that is known as Beatlemania.

I finally do.

The Mother Fucking Beatles.

Song of Choice: Norwegian Wood

-Bosco

1001 Albums: A Hard Day’s Night

#42

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Artist: The Beatles

Album: A Hard Day’s Night

Year: 1964

Length: 30:13

Genre: Pop Rock

 

 

“If you’re feeling sorry and sad, I’d really sympathize.
Don’t you be sad, just call me tonight.”

Ah The Beatles, we meet again for the second but not the last time. I knew our second meeting might be an awkward one after the things I said about you last time. It was tough, you know? It wasn’t easy saying those words, I really wish I could have been a little nicer because I know how many people adore and love you. I’m sorry you couldn’t connect with me the way you did your millions of fans, but I promise I won’t say anything controversial or mean-spirited this time around, I’ll try to make peace with you guys.

What do you say?

Well, seeing how half of you are dead and the other two are god knows where at this moment and I’m basically talking to a computer screen (yes, I speak my words out loud when I type, got a problem?) I can’t really get an answer. So, to show you I’m trying this time, I want to share a song I wrote inspired by your albums… well, the early years.

It’s called Everything’s Just Right. I hope you like it.

Here goes:

When times get lonely
I just remember
All the times I’ve spent with you

Holding hands
As we walked
Felt that feeling that I feeeeeel

I’m not too hot or too cold
I’m not too timid or too bold
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right when I’m with you

You told me once
That you loved me
And I told you twice
That you’re my lovely

Holding hands
By the beach
Knowing these feelings that I feeeel

It wasn’t too light or too dark
It wasn’t too fuzzy or too stark
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right  when I’m with you

Yeah yeah yeah x7

Oh oh oh x4

When we were together
You told me
You’d always be by my siiiide

I believed you dear
And now I look back
At those feelings you had me feeeeeeel

I was never too dumb or too smart
It was never bad when I cracked a fart
Nothing’s old or brand new
Because everything’s just right when I’m with you

Yeah, because everything’s just right when I’m with you

I said everything was just right when I was with you

 

Well? What do you think Beatles members who will never read this? I mean, it’s definitely a work in progress and no where near your masterful musicianship, but I think I’ve got something pretty solid in the making here. Given the right instruments, backing band, practices, sound and time period for me to release this and I’m sure it could be a hit like you guys, right? If I travel back in time to 1964, I could probably tap into the same youthful love that all the younguns were connecting with in your music. That’s what this whole album was, I get it now. You guys didn’t hide behind pretense or poetry, you guys were just a fun band making head bopping music that sang about love and feelings that every young adult could relate to. I get it now, I really do and I see what you’ve done. I can’t believe I was so blind all this time, when it was so obvious. I mean, you’re The Beatles for christ’s sake! There’s absolutely no way in hell I could call myself a fan of music and not be fans of you! I was so stupid for thinking otherwise and having mediocre feelings towards you guys, I really was.

So what do you say? I’ve finally done it. I moved to your side of the pond and said things I thought I’d never say. I’m finally going to say: “I am a fan”. There, you happy? Now no one can jump at me or attack me any more for not being crazy about you guys. You’ve won.

So, how about that song?

Oh… I see. I get it. Right, right. I hear your criticism. But to be frank, around 1964 you weren’t really making anything that far off. I mean sure, this was a nice step forward for you guys from With The Beatles. You are really starting to make big steps towards your future. I always admired that about you. You were constantly trying to grow as a band, challenge yourself, take risks and keep getting tighter and stronger and better. And it really shows as you progress through your discography. But… let’s be honest, you’re not quite there yet. Lyrically, you’re still a little lame. You’re doing more things with your lyrics than in the last one and we can see a nice glimpse of where you guys are heading as song writers… you’re just not quite there yet in 1964. Even musically, you’re not really doing anything that complex or… interesting. I mean, I’ll give you credit where it’s due, you’ve definitely fallen into your instruments now and have really made your music you’re own. This is your first album with only original material, that’s a huge milestone. And that opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night? Brilliant, you know to this day people are still trying to figure out how to play it? I heard somewhere you did it by banging a hammer on the piano chords or something, is that true? Well, if it is, we definitely see you guys starting to experiment with your sound like you would do in our later albums. But for the most part, you’re still just catchy pop music and… it’s ok.

What? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to drop some criticism on you. I know I said I wouldn’t… but I couldn’t help myself. I mean, you turned down my song… I felt a little angry… maybe even a little envious. I mean, you’re big and famous for singing love songs. How did you do it? It’s amazing. You really connected with a large audience in a way that I could never comprehend. Because I still don’t get it.

Oh… uh… haha… yeah, I guess the cat’s out of the bag… I still don’t get it. I mean, historically and within context of the 60s, I get it. You were new and fresh. The British Invasion was coming and you were right there in the front leading the way. People hadn’t seen bands the way you were a band. The whole get-up, Guitarist, bassist, singer, drummer. Man, what was that??? Everyone was in complete awe at what you were doing and what you created. But this was 1963, we’re 2017. I hate to break it to you, but this album sounds dated. It really is a product of it’s time because if you released something like this today it would be hated. Harsh words I know, but I really can’t understand why you’re early stuff is still held with such high regard. It’s honestly nothing that great and I know, I know, I’m in the huge minority here when I say this. People love you guys, they really do. They listen to all your music and buy all your records and can’t stop talking about you and how you’re the greatest band of all time.

I feel like I’m missing something, standing in the crowd confused as everyone happily runs by me singing your songs. You know what it’s like being the outsider in this situation? People judging you and putting you down. It’s not easy having the point of view from someone who isn’t part of the popular opinion and it’s even harder to defend my position. Honestly, I wish I liked you guys, I really do, at least it would make me blend in the crowd. And… don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate you, I actually do enjoy your music and think you’re all very talented (even you Ringo). I just… I just can’t get into you guys. I just can’t be a fan. I know it’s crazy, I know. But I can’t force myself to be a fan of something that I’m not crazy about. Who knows, maybe one day it’ll finally click. Maybe relistening to your discography will make me realise the challenges and steps you took to really become who you were and the journey will be enough for me to say “I’m a fan”. Maybe my eyes will open and my mind will expand and I’ll finally see what everyone else does. Maybe I will finally understand exactly why everyone to this day is still talkign about you and I will be there with them, saying all the same things they say. I really hope because I really do want to. Maybe it will all happen. Maybe…

But probably not.

Song of Choice: Hard Day’s Night

-Bosco

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