This is a part 2 of the short series “My Favorite Albums by The Beatles.” You can read part 1 here, which also gives a short back story to my love of the band.
My Favorite Albums by The Beatles (continued)
9. Help! (1965) – The second album to be attached to a movie, this album truly bridges the first two parts of The Beatles’ career. Not only is this the last album by the group to include any covers, it is also, in my mind, the last album before the group’s songwriting really takes off. Now don’t get me wrong, this record is chock full of fantastic songs, specifically the first seven songs, which all come from the movie, Help!. Songs such as “Help!,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” and “Ticket To Ride,” are well beyond most any other songs that were recorded at the time, and really give a glimpse at where the band was heading in the years to come. While I absolutely love the first half of the album, the second half is not nearly as good, though it does include “I’ve Just Seen A Face” and “Yesterday,” which is thought to be one of Paul McCartney’s best songs ever.
8. Let It Be (1970) – This was the last album Beatles album that was released, and it is usually regarded as the weakest album the group ever made (besides Yellow Submarine, which is barely an album by the band, as mentioned earlier). However, while I definitely feel it’s not their best album, I also think the best songs on the album are some of the best the group ever recorded, including “Let It Be,” “I’ve Got A Feeling,” and “Get Back.” It also helps that the weakest songs aren’t that weak, but only seem that way because the records the group made during the latter half of their career were so incredible and groundbreaking. I also think the album gets a bad rap because the production is a little all over the place and very un-Beatles-esque, since Phil Spector added his signature “Wall of Sound” to a few of the tracks. Yet, I love the rawness of most of the tracks, since a handful of them were recorded live, both in studio and during the infamous rooftop concert. The thing to really remember about this album is that it was recorded during the group’s most tumultuous time period, basically during the initial phases of their breakup, and it was all being filmed for the film that it eventually became Let It Be (the album is really the soundtrack to the film). But like I said, the songs on the record are still stellar and showed that even though the band was breaking up, it could still make amazing music. (Just a note, I actually prefer the Let It Be…Naked version of the record, but since that was released in 2003, I couldn’t include it in the list.)
7. Beatles For Sale (1964) – Recorded directly after A Hard Day’s Night and right before Help!, this album is where the group takes a massive leap forward in their songwriting. Though it is half-filled with covers, like the few albums that preceded it, the original songs that the group produced for the record are much darker and talk less about love in a jovial way, and more about the pain of losing someone you love. Even the album title, Beatles For Sale, indicates that the overall mood and feeling of the band was changing. Yet, this darker turn yielded amazing results and probably the best overall crop of original songs the band recorded up to this point, including “No Reply,” “I’m a Loser,” “Eight Days A Week,” “Every Little Thing,” and “What You’re Doing.” Where the first few albums showed that the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team could write songs that rivaled any other songwriting teams, this album announced that they were at the top of the heap and would be setting the bar for the foreseeable future.
6. Magical Mystery Tour (1967) – This record is a tale of two sides. Though originally released in the UK as a double EP made up of songs from the movie, Magical Mystery Tour, the record was released in the US (and every subsequent worldwide release) as a full LP, with the tracks from the film on side 1 and five previously released singles on side 2. The first six tracks were all recorded after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and after the death of their longtime manager, Brian Epstein. Essentially they were completed during the most inventive and trying time for the group. Though the majority of those songs are not the band’s best material, the side opens and closes with two phenomenal songs, “Magical Mystery Tour” and “I Am The Walrus.” But the album really explodes with the second side. Since it’s made up entirely of singles, this should not be surprising. But we’re not just talking about any bunch of singles. We’re talking about some of the most innovative, well crafted, and influential songs the band ever released. “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “Baby, You’re A Rich Man,” and “All You Need Is Love,” are the songs that make up the second half of the album. Yea, pretty amazing, and the main reason the album is as high as it is on my list.