Half of their third album was comprised of songs from their first theatrical film and was released to coincide with the premiere of the film in July of 1964. The songs, like the film, encapsulated the height of the band’s freshness and novelty. ‘Beatlemania’ vibrated from the speakers as one listened. This is the only Beatles album to be comprised solely of Lennon/McCartney compositions.
Like 'A Hard Day’s Night,' their fifth studio album was released to coincide with a film, in this case their second, 'Help!,' released in August of 1965. Again, the first half of the album consisted of songs used in the film. Musically, however, the band was evolving at an extremely rapid rate, bearing the stamp of artists that influenced them, such as in the Bob Dylan-inspired “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” This is also the first of their albums to use outside instrumentation e.g. the flute solo at the end of “Hide Your Love Away” and the string quartet used for “Yesterday,” which became one of the most covered songs in pop music history.
Released in December 1965, 'Rubber Soul' is the Beatles’ sixth studio album. Again, it appeared as a giant musical leap for the band, including folk, R&B and Indian influences. “Norwegian Wood” is another Dylanesque song but it also represents the first use of the sitar on a Beatles recording. “Michelle” evoked images of French bistros and cabarets. “Drive My Car” could have easily been performed by one of the major soul acts of the time. “Girl” sounded like an Eastern European folk song or a song from a musical penned by Kurt Weill. Overall, the album is an example of a group of immensely creative young men expanding their musical consciousnesses and boundaries in vibrant and exciting ways.
With their seventh studio album 'Revolver', the Beatles reached the apex of their confidence and creative innovation. Bursting from the constraints of the basic conventions of pop combo instrumentation that they had previously been able to perform live, they augmented their sound with Indian instruments on "Love You To" and the string section on "Eleanor Rigby" as well as bold experiments with tape loops on "Tomorrow Never Knows". 'Revolver' was the boldest musical statement from the Beatles to date and probably the most creatively symmetrical album they ever released. 'Revolver' was a further bridge between the exuberance of their "Hard Day's Night" era and the ambitious soundscapes of 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' the following year.
This psychedelic masterpiece, the band’s eighth studio album, was released on 1 June 1967 and heralded the Summer of Love as well as an entire era of studio experimentation, chemical and spiritual exploration and a new awareness of the elasticity of rock’n’roll as a musical form. Presented by an alter ego, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the album is structured like a concert, with the introduction of the band, then the introduction of the first singer, then at the end a reprise followed by a mind-blowing encore. Other than the album’s opening and closing, as John Lennon said, the songs could have gone on any album. He said the album worked ‘because we said it did.’ In 1967, whatever the Beatles said was usually accepted as gospel from the premier cultural arbiters of the time.
This album, originally issued as two EPs, was intended to coincide with the release of their self-produced film, Magical Mystery Tour, shown on British TV in December of 1967. The American release, in which the film songs appear in the first half and the second half is comprised of their singles released earlier that year, became the definitive version of the album. Although the film was a popular and critical disaster, the music is still excellent, even if it fails to reach the ambitious heights of 'Sgt. Pepper'.
This mammoth double album, commonly known as the ‘White Album,’ was the ninth official album from the Beatles, released in November 1968. The sessions that produced it were fraught with interpersonal tension and discord and ushered the subsequent breakup of the following year. Musically, it covers a vast range of styles, including many moments of brilliance as well as some self-indulgent throwaway tracks. Lennon and McCartney were working almost exclusively independent of each other at this point and, in most of the tracks on which the entire group play, three Beatles are essentially side men for the singer/writer of the song. Despite the uneven nature of the album, it is an indispensable volume in their musical output.
This album, released in January 1969, is the soundtrack to the animated film of the same name. Not really a full Beatles album, it only includes four previously unreleased tracks by the group; the remaining tracks of the first half had all been recorded before the recently released ‘White Album.’ The second half is instrumental music composed by George Martin for the film.
Abbey Road, released in September 1969, was the last album recorded by the Beatles although 'Let it Be' was released in 1970. After the lack of cohesion of 'Let it Be,' the fighting members united long enough to decide to focus their energies on one more outstanding album, knowing that it would probably be their last. They also asked George Martin, who had thrown up his hands in disgust after the 'Let it Be' experience, to produce it for them like he used to do. What resulted was one of the most unified, polished and pristine albums they ever recorded. The singing, the playing, the songwriting, every aspect is outstanding. Whether they intended it or not, they ended their recording career with a perfect finish, a tremendous medley of song fragments miraculously stitched together to build toward a climax fittingly titled “The End.”
Recorded mostly in January 1969, 'Let it Be' was originally intended to be a ‘back to basics’ project recorded in front of cameras documenting the sessions for the next official Beatles film release. Tensions were strong and group unity was almost nonexistent so the resulting film actually documented the band disintegrating before our eyes. Although the sessions ended fairly quickly, fighting among the members delayed the release of album as well as film until May 1970. Although there are individual tracks that are excellent, the lack of enthusiasm and interest is reflected through the general tone of the album.
This collection of 27 songs that reached Number 1 in the U.S. and U.K. charts was released in 2000 and could be seen as a marketing ploy to get large portions of the public to buy something they already had in many cases. Nonetheless, for those casual listeners who simply want to experience most of the singles that received chart success, this collection serves as a good introduction.
This 2006 release is a collection of Beatles recordings and segments of recordings remixed and mashed up by Beatles producer George Martin with his son Giles to accompany the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name. Though some might scoff or take offense at this desecration of classic music, the skill with which the Martins meld, juxtapose and merge elements of various songs adds a freshness to tracks that could be seen to have become museum pieces. The rhythm of “Tomorrow Never Knows” forming the foundation for the vocal of “Within You Without You”; the opening of “Drive My Car” flowing as an undercurrent for the vocal of “What You’re Doing” with a guitar solo from “Taxman” inserted seamlessly before the “Drive My Car” solo arrives at a graceful finish with a refrain from “The Word” adding closure; the frenetic drum finish of "Strawberry Fields Forever" forming a clotheline on which elements of "Piggies," "In My Life," "Penny Lane" and "Hello Goodbye" hang—these are just a few examples of the studio ingenuity that the Martins weave throughout this magical musical tour.