*Credit of today’s Subtitle goes to the Avocado user “Merve.”*
Good morning Avocados and welcome to my fourth artist spotlight on this new website. If you haven’t read a M-AM Artist Spotlight before, I like to discuss a little history about the artist and/or my own personal connections to. From there I then transition to which songs I like best from them from each album or I list the ones I do together under a “Best Of” compilation of my creation. So, rest assured you’ll be reading a review that comes from a place of love. I usually focus on musical artists that are huge or well known in the music world but get a lot of what I feel is undue hate. So, I write these spotlights with the hope I can convince the haters to give said act another chance or introduce the uninitiated into a band that I really love. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t sometimes talk about an unknown act in the effort to expose them to as many new people as possible. I may also do an artist spotlight on a well-known and well-liked band just to give my own reasons for liking them.
But for today’s review, I thought it would be fitting to focus on an artist whose impact still can be felt to this day. From the simplest of melodies to intricacies of making pop music that stand the test of time, most famous artists and musicians can trace their success to the legacy that The Beatles left behind. They opened up the door for the weird counterculture voice of the 60’s to not only be accepted, but embraced by mainstream Americana. And yes, this artist spotlight is a redux of one that I’ve done before in the past reworked to fit the standards I hold myself to today. This will be the case for the first 25 artist spotlights I post on this website as they all will be reuploads of my old work. Now with that out of the way, let’s begin in earnest.
The band’s origins date back to March of 1957, when a sixteen-year-old named John Lennon decided to form a skiffle group with some Quarry Bank friends. They briefly called themselves the Blackjacks, before changing their names to the Quarrymen. In July of that year, Fifteen-year old Paul McCartney joined the group as a rhythm guitarist. Later on in February 1958, McCartney invited his friend George Harrison to watch the band. Harrison immediately impressed Lennon with his guitar skills, but John thought George was too young to join their band. After a month of Harrison’s persistence, John relented and three of the four Beatles were now together.
By January of 1959, Lennon’s Quarry Bank friends left the group leaving only Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. While in the Liverpool College of Art, John Lennon met Stuart Sutcliffe who eventually joined the band as a bass guitarist. After struggling for years to think of a band name that stuck, it was Sutcliffe who thought of the name “Beatals” as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Eventually after some more name changes, the group eventually settled on calling themselves “The Beatles” in August 1960.
At the time, Allan Williams (The Beatles unofficial manager) arranged a residency for the group in Hamburg, Germany. After auditioning and hiring Pete Best to be the band’s first drummer in mid-August 1960, the band left to Hamburg four days later and arrived on August 17th. The Beatles stayed in Hamburg for only 3 and a half months, as they were deported back to England after McCartney and Best were arrested for arson. In case you’re wondering, they set fire to a condom in a concrete corridor. Why did they do that? Weed is a hell of a drug…
During the next two years, the Beatles continued to tour and hone their skills as artists. In 1961, during their second Hamburg engagement, Sutcliffe’s met and got engaged to photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Now Sutcliffe’s fiancée, Kirchherr decided to cut her hair in the new “exi” (existentialist) style, later adopted and made famous by the other Beatles. Sutcliffe decided to leave the band to resume his art studies in Germany. He wanted to make sure he could provide for Kirchherr and thought having a degree would make him more money at the end of that day. This left Paul McCartney to take up the bass in a four-piece group consisting of Lennon, Harrison and Best.
All throughout 1961, The Beatles popularity began to soar as the Merseybeat movement started to gain traction with English audiences. However, the group was growing tired of going to the same clubs night after night as a part of their contract obligations made previously that year. It was during this time they met Brian Epstein, a local record-store owner and music columnist. He later recalled: “I immediately liked what I heard. They were fresh, and they were honest, and they had what I thought was a sort of presence … [a] star quality.” Eventually he became their manager in January of 1962 and he worked tirelessly to get The Beatles out of their contract. After successfully negotiating an early release, the boys from Liverpool were ecstatic about their career moving forward.
Tragedy struck them on their return to Hamburg Germany in April 1962, when Astrid Kirchherr met them at the airport with news that Stuart Sutcliffe died. Autopsy showed that his death was the cause of a brain hemorrhage but at that point it was too late. His death sent a shock wave through all of The Beatles, and played a major part in their development as not only musicians, but people as well. Sutcliffe dying at only 22 showed them that life comes at you fast, so it’s best to make the most of it when you can now. Because you’ll never know when it will end.
Epstein soon began negotiations with record labels for a recording contract. After a New Year’s Day audition, Decca Records rejected the band with and said, “Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.” This didn’t stop him or the band, as just three short months later, producer George Martin signed the Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone label.
Martin’s first recording session with the Beatles took place at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London on June 6th, 1962. Martin immediately complained to Epstein about Best’s poor drumming and suggested they kick him out. Already contemplating Best’s dismissal, The other Beatles decided to kick him out of August of that year. His replacement? Ringo Starr. The four Beatles that would make music history were now a band. And their story has just begun.
The following excerpt comes from the comment section of my old Beatles artist spotlight on the Disqus website and comes from the Avocado user “Cookie_Monster.” So, everything that is italicized is straight from his post.
“Favorite Beatles story is one me only heard recently, from Malcolm Gladwell. He explain Beatles success with this: during that 3 1/2 months in Germany, Beatles played at strip club. Back in Liverpool, they did what most bands in history have done—played 45-minute set once or twice weekly. So they hone 45 minutes of material and that their act.
But in Germany, they play strip club, where band is decidedly not main attraction. Club owner just wants background music while dancers do their thing. So they hire Beatles to play eight hours a night, seven days a week (which Ringo mangled into “Eight Days a Week”). That insane amount of time for band to be on stage, but it also intensive boot camp, likes of which virtually no band in history ever went through. Everyone had to sing, because no one’s voice could hold up that long. Not enough rock songs had been written in 1960 to fill set that long, so they covered songs from every genre, and just played them like rock songs (which is what “skiffle” music essentially was). John and George liked rhythm and blues, Paul liked pop standards, Ringo liked country — they played it all, but played it loud and fast.
By time Beatles returned to England few months later, these 20-year-olds had spent more time on stage together than most bands do in whole careers. They had deconstructed hundreds of songs, which ended up being master class in songwriting. So by time they went into studio to cut first single, they were seasoned pros, and when they started writing songs, they had incredible musical education to draw from.
Not get me wrong, they were also four very talented guys — not everyone put in same situation would have spun gold from it. But it was that situation that made Beatles best band of all time instead of just pretty good band.”
When it came time to record their first record in 1963, the band agreed that all four members would contribute vocals to their albums – including Starr, despite his restricted vocal range, to validate his standing in the group. Lennon and McCartney had established a songwriting partnership, and as the band’s success grew, their dominant collaboration limited Harrison’s opportunities as a lead vocalist and tell stories he would of liked to.. Epstein, in an effort to maximize the Beatles’ commercial potential, encouraged them to adopt a professional approach to performing. Lennon recalled him saying, “Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you’re going to have to change – stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking …” Lennon said: “We used to dress how we liked, on and off stage. He’d tell us that jeans were not particularly smart and could we possibly manage to wear proper trousers, but he didn’t want us suddenly looking square. He’d let us have our own sense of individuality.”
On March 22nd, 1963, The Beatles released their first LP titled “Please, Please Me.” The rest as they say, is history.
Just to remind everyone, I do things a little differently in my artist spotlight’s. I like to go through each album an artist did in chronological order, and list the songs that I like from it. Just because I don’t list something doesn’t mean I don’t like that particular song. It just means that it’s not a track that I can put on shuffle and always like it. But if you feel like I have oversighted a good song, let me know down below.
Please Please Me
1.) I Saw Her Standing There
2.) Twist and Shout
I’m just going to say right now, I don’t really hate any Beatles album (except Yellow Submarine, but that’s not even a real LP). It’s just that the only Beatles songs I list are what I deem to be the best of the best. I can tell you right now that there are exactly 100 Beatles songs that I have listed here in some form or another (And, no. That wasn’t intentional. It’s just how it turned out). Considering they wrote 237 original songs and 72 cover songs, that is a pretty good ratio if you ask me. If you a have a better ratio of songs you like from them than my 100:309, than let me know. In case anyone cares, I once sat down and listened to each and every Beatles song to figure out which ones I like and which I don’t. These are the songs I can unequivocally say I like no matter what.
In my opinion, Please Please Me was a product of the times. It was a pop album with a lot of good songs. And if all the Beatles released was this one album, then I think I would unequivocally love all of these songs a whole lot more. But that isn’t the case, and the band went on to make much better and tighter pop music. And unfortunately, I think that impacts my opinion of Please Please Me for the worse. The only standout tracks to me that can stand proudly with the rest of their catalogue are the ones listed above.
Regardless of what I think, the Beatles first LP was an unparalleled success. It began a streak of #1’s for The Beatles on numerous lists that are still in place today. The album helped spark the beginning of Beatlemania, a period of time when the Beatles were the biggest thing in the world. Words can’t properly describe just how BIG The Beatles were. Imagine being the first act in music history to play pop rock music and happened to have 4 very attractive young boys. Imagine coming in the wave of the boring 50’s and spoke to a generation of youths the world over. That just gives you a little scope of their influence and just how well known they would become.
While Please, Please Me helped sparked the flames of Beatlemania, the band’s second LP “With The Beatles” was an even bigger success. It was released on November 22nd, 1963.
With The Beatles
1.) It Won’t Be Long
2.) All My Loving
3.) Don’t Bother Me
4.) Please Mister Postman
5.) Roll Over Beethoven
I really, really like these 5 songs a whole lot. It may be unapologetic pop music (which I argue isn’t an offense in it of itself. Pop music can be great pieces of work). The album itself was an even bigger success becoming the 2nd album ever in U.K history to sell over 1 million copies. When writing the sleeve notes for the album, the band’s press officer, Tony Barrow, used the term “fabulous foursome.” The media then widely bestowed the moniker “the Fab Four” to The Beatles.
While the Beatles were becoming a huge story in England, The United States was largely kept in the dark. There was a huge licensing distribution argument at the time for stupid reasons and I really don’t feel like going into it. I’m sure there are books on this subject, but I don’t feel like talking about it. Just know that us Americans didn’t get a proper Beatles LP until 1967’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
In any case, Beatlemania defied any obstacle that tried to slow it down and the “British Invasion” could not be stopped. That invasion of British pop music and senses into North America pop culture began on February 7th, 1964 when The Beatles touched down on American shores. The band figured if the Yankees couldn’t listen to the band proper on a LP approved by them, then they’ll bring their act to the states. Two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles performed live on a telecast watched by approximately 73 million viewers in over 23 million households, At the time, that was 34 per cent of the American population. Biographer Jonathan Gould noted that, according to the Nielsen rating service, it was “the largest audience that had ever been recorded for an American television program”. The next morning, the Beatles awoke to find a negative critical backlash in all the newspapers across the US. But after two shows in Washington and New York in the following days, Beatlemania was officially running wild and no stuffy old white man could stop it. The band then flew to Florida and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show a second time, before another 70 million viewers, before returning to the UK on February 22nd.
The Beatles released their 3rd studio album “A Hard Day’s Night” on July 10th, 1964.
A Hard Day’s Night
1.) A Hard Day’s Night
2.) I’m Just Happy to Dance With You
3.) Can’t Buy Me Love
4.) Any Time At All
5.) I’ll Cry Instead
6.) Things We Said Today
This album is yet another evolution for the band, as you can see them develop further as artist’s. The songs have more depth and meaning to them, all the while keeping their pop sensibilities. During this time, Beatlemania was still running wild with no signs of stopping anytime soon. The band released a movie during this time and were at the top of the world and in the hearts and minds of youths the world over.
The band released their 4th studio album on December 4th, 1964 titled “Beatles For Sale.”
Beatles For Sale
1.) I’m a Loser
2.) Eight Days a Week
This album featured a growing conflict between the commercial pressures of their global success and their own creative ambitions and where they wanted to go as artist’s. It’s a dark and moody album and definitely shows them maturing as musicians in their own right. For me it doesn’t work as an album the same way Please Please Me did. But that’s just me. But I must relent and agree that the album cover for this LP is the stuff of legends.
In early 1965, while they were his guests for dinner, Lennon and Harrison’s dentist secretly added LSD to their coffee. Lennon described the experience: “It was just terrifying, but it was fantastic. I was pretty stunned for a month or two.” He and Harrison then became regular users of the drug, joined by Starr on at least one occasion. McCartney was initially reluctant to try it, but eventually did so in late 1966. He became the first Beatle to discuss LSD publicly, stating in a magazine interview that “it opened my eyes” and “made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society”.
In June of 1965, Queen Elizabeth II appointed all four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) after Prime Minister Harold Wilson nominated them for the award. The honor at that time primarily was only given to military veterans and civic leaders. As a result, some conservative MBE recipients returned their own insignia.
The band then went to work and released their 5th studio album “Help” on August 5, 1965
2.) The Night Before
3.) You’ve Got To Hide Your Love
4.) Ticket to Ride
5.) Act Naturally
6.) I’ve Just Seen a Face
Oooooo this is a good one. It is tied for my favorite Beatles album pre-Rubber Soul with A Hard Day’s Night. All the songs listed are amazing in ways that the words can not properly describe. Just know that these songs are pop perfection and are just… perfect. It’s really interesting to see just how they became just a regular boy band to pop masters in the span of only 4 years. If the Beatles’ career had ended right here, they would be regarded as legend’s in the music industry and remembered for ages to come. But of course, they went on to make even BETTER albums and works of art.
During this time, The Beatles went on to perform another U.S Tour in famous venues all throughout the country and meta all the famous stars and politicians at the time. I could go into more detail here, but I’d prefer to move on. Plus, I’m sure you could read and watch movies that give you a better idea elsewhere.
The Beatles then released their 6th studio album “Rubber Soul” on December 3rd, 1965.
1.) Drive My Car
2.) Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3.) You Won’t See Me
4.) Nowhere Man
5.) Think For Yourself
6.) The Word
8.) In My Life
10.) I’m Looking Through You
Alright this is when shit gets real. This album was the first time since Please, Please Me when the group sat down to make a dedicated album rather than just a collection of songs. Don’t get me wrong, there were some really good songs the band released in the early years, but Rubber Soul marked a totally new route for The Boys from Liverpool. Their thematic reach was beginning to expand as they embraced deeper aspects of romance and philosophy into their songwriting.
Biographers Peter Brown and Steven Gaines claim the new musical direction the Beatles was due to their frequent use of marijuana. An assertion confirmed by the band – Lennon referred to it as “the pot album.” Harrison called Rubber Soul his “favourite album” and Starr referred to it as “the departure record”. McCartney has said, “We’d had our cute period, and now it was time to expand.” Or to get serious in other words.
However, recording engineer Norman Smith later stated that the studio sessions revealed signs of growing conflict within the group – “the clash between John and Paul was becoming obvious”, he wrote, and “as far as Paul was concerned, George could do no right”. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Rubber Soul fifth among “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
I’m going to be honest. I don’t know much about music composition or what elements are needed to make music great in critics minds. I’m just a casual music fan that likes to talk about the songs that I like to listen to for some reason or another, so if I don’t go in depth with The Beatles catalogue, that’s why. If that’s what you were here for, than I apologize.
Before touring for Rubber Soul, John Lennon went on record “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
Needless to say, this did not go over very well at all to say the least. They would get heckled during shows and it just wasn’t fun anymore for the Boys. It got to the point that George Harrison threatened to quit if they went on tour again. Combined with the fact that the band felt the technology was not there to provide a proper performance in an arena setting, the band decided there August tour would be there last.
On August 5th, 1966, The Beatles released their 7th studio album “Revolver” on August 5, 1966.
2.) Eleanor Rigby
3.) I’m Only Sleeping
4.) For No One
5.) Doctor Robert
Pitchfork’s Scott Plagenhoef identifies it as “the sound of a band growing into supreme confidence” and “redefining what was expected from popular music”. This album needless to say was another tremendous success, and its unconventional album cover is also something to note, as it was revolutionary at the time.
I like Revolver as an album fine, but I do think it’s unfairly sandwiched in between the excellent Rubber Soul and Revolutionary 8th Beatles Album “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” released on June 6th, 1967.
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
1.) Stg. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2.) With A Little Help From My Friends
3.) Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds
4.) Getting Better
5.) Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite
6.) When I’m Sixty-Four
7.) Lovely Rita
8.) Stg. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
9.) A Day In the Life
The idea for Sgt. Pepper was made by Paul McCartney, who suggested an alter ego persona for the band in order to experiment musically without the fear of ridicule. This concept album was one of the first of its kinds and was truly historic in music history. This album broke so many norms at the time: With its iconic album cover and the fact the band released the Lyrics for their songs along with the album, the album broke countless number of records. It’s important to note that this album was the first ever to be released by the band in the States as it is intended to be listened to. Given my lack of knowledge on music analysis, I’m sure I’m doing the album a disservice in someone’s eyes. And for that I apologize. Just know that I like it. I like it a lot.
The Beatles then went all in in psychedelia with their next release: “Magical Mystery Tour” released on November 27, 1967.
Magical Mystery Tour
1.) Magical Mystery Tour
2.) The Fool On the Hill
4.) Your Mother Should Know
5.) I Am the Walrus
6.) Hello, Goodbye
7.) Strawberry Fields Forever
8.) Penny Lane
9.) Baby, You’re a Rich Man
10.) All You Need Is Love
The praise the Beatles received from critics and fans alike from Sgt. Pepper continued here, as Magical Mystery Tour is definitely an experience that was never seen before in the music industry. I have no idea what else to say other than that I love it a whole of a hell lot. I even like it more than Sgt. Pepper. Yup, I went there. Why? Because it’s a full-blown psychedelic fantasy.
Magical Mystery Tour was the peak of their drug inspired work, as there is a famous story of the band going to an Hindu Indian temple and being led astray by a crazy dude. That’s a story that I encourage you all to look out if you are truly curious, but for the purpose of this review, just know tensions between the band members worsened during this time. Relations between John and Paul reached a boiling point (Lennon called Paul’s songs some “granny shit). Ringo even left the band for 2 weeks, shit was crazy. But most important to note is that during this time John met and fell in love with Yoko Ono. Honestly, I have no idea why fans hate her. Let me know down below why this is.
In the backdrop of this drama, The Beatles released their 10th album: The White Album on November 22, 1968.
The White Album
1.) Back In the U.S.S.R
2.) Dear Prudence
3.) Glass Onion
4.) The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
5.) While My Guitar Gently Weeps
6.) Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
7.) Everybody’s Got Something To Hide
8.) Helter Skelter
9.) Cry Baby Cry
Personally, while I really love the songs I listed up above, the album had way too many clunkers on it for me to rank it to high. This album is a mess and unfoucused as it had all the members trying to tell their own stories and tales, at the expense of a tight listening experience. Critics panned the album, and things were not even clear if they would stick around for one more album. Well despite all odds, they did (big surprise). Before making their famous last two albums, the Beatles released a soundtrack for the “Yellow Submarine” movie under the same title.
1.) Yellow Submarine
2.) All Together Now
3.) Hey Bulldog
This is a soundtrack and not an album. And it shows. I am curious to know who likes this soundtrack and likes to listen to if from front to back.
Now for the last 2 albums, The Beatles released them in a weird order. While Let It Be was released before Abbey Road, it was recorded before the latter. It’s for that reason I list “Let It Be” before Abbey Road.
Let It Be
1.) Let It Be
2.) I’ve Got a Feeling
3.) The Long and Winding Road
4.) Get Back
I don’t hate this album. It’s just I don’t think it stands up as a complete listening experience, but that’s just me. Now, Abbey Road on the other hand…
1.) Come Together
3.) Oh! Darling
4.) Octopus’s Garden
5.) Here Comes the Sun
6.) Mean Mr. Mustard
7.) Polythene Pam
8.) She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
9.) Golden Slumbers
10.) Carry That Weight
11.) The End
Amazing. This album was simply amazing. I’m not sure what else to say. At this point, if you have an opinion of The Beatles you already have an opinion. If you haven’t heard this album yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
The Beatles then all went their separate ways. I wish I could see they lived happily ever after, but as we all know this isn’t the case. John Lennon was assassinated near his New York home by an insane lunatic and I feel terrible for all of those who knew and loved him deeply. My condolences. The other members went on to have long and great careers. George Harrison died on November 29, 2001 while Paul and Ringo are still alive and kicking.
The Beatles did release a compilation of songs and singles not on any official album in 1988 under the title “Past Masters.”
1.) Love Me Do
2.) From Me To You
3.) She Loves You
4.) I Want To Hold Your Hand
6.) I Feel Fine
7.) She’s A Woman
8.) I’m Down
9.) Day Tripper
10.) We Can Work It Out
11.) Paperback Writer
12.) Lady Madonna
13.) Hey Jude
15.) Don’t Let Me Down
16.) The Ballad of John and Yoko Ono
While this album may just be a “collection of singles” I am not afraid to go on record and state: It is my favorite Beatle album. Everything about the songs I’ve compiled up above are just so perfect together that I unequivocally love Past Masters as a piece of art. But that’s just my opinion.
I feel like this is a good time to mention that the Beatles are the best-selling band in history with an estimated 600 million records sold worldwide. In the United States alone, they have sold 178 million certified units. They have received ten Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. Collectively, the Fab Four were included in Time magazine’s compilation of the twentieth century’s 100 most influential people. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and all four were inducted individually from 1994 to 2015.
Being 20 years old, I unfortunately never got to see the Beatles perform. But I did go see the Beatles show In Las Vegas.
During the show, there was a performance done to the tune of this song, and I felt really emotional watching it that I wanted to cry. The memory of that experience will always be with me and I just wanted to include that here.
And that’s it. The Beatles. One of the most important acts in music history. I tried to give this band the respect that it deserves, and I hope I did them justice. There is so much more that can be said about this band, but this spotlight originally took me 9 hours to put together and this revision has taken me another 3 just to make it fit that standards that I have today. I normally would link music videos to show the songs that I want to spotlight from the ones I listed, but you can hardly find Beatles videos on YouTube. It sucks :/
If you have any memories or stories to tell of this band that you want to share, please do. This 21-year-old would love to hear how The Beatles personally affected your lives. Whether you were there when Beatlemania happened or someone like me who discovered them after they were together, I’d love to hear your stories.
Also, what are your favorite albums? Mine are
1.) Past Masters
2.) Rubber Soul
3.) Magical Mystery Tour
4.) Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
5.) Abbey Road
7.) The Beatles (White Album)
8.) A Hard Day’s Night
10.) With The Beatles
11.) Please, Please Me
12.) Beatles for Sale
13.) Let It Be
14.) Yellow Submarine
Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.