Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Masters: The Beatles - Top Five Studio Albums

RtBE loves listening to new music and prides itself on keeping tabs on up and coming artists but in 2019 we are also going to have a monthly spotlight on legendary artists who we really love. We are calling this series The Masters. It will focus on the best albums, live records, transcendent shows and other odd ways we appreciate the artists and their contribution to music, culture and our formation.

For February The Masters focuses on The Beatles.

RtBE focuses on Jazz in January, and that is the only reason The Beatles weren't first in our Masters series as they are the TnT of Rock n' Roll. While others were doing it before them, it took four lads from Liverpool to explode the genre onto a world wide stage. John, Paul George and Ringo are iconic on their own and a supernova when they were together.   
Moving from copying Chuck Berry and other idols into some of the best song writers in pop history the four piece (along with George Martin's production) were instrumental in evolving rock and roll and they did so by embracing the studio and full length LP's. Today we are going to talk about our picks for their top five studio albums, but it is hard to go wrong with any by this group. 
The scale and scope of the famous double album is legendary, for any new fan to the band the idea of getting a double album is pure joy as more is always better from The Beatles. This album is not perfect, and an argument could be made for pairing it down, but it is damn good as is. There are so many all-time great songs ("Dear Prudence" "Helter Skelter", "Revolution") that lesser known gems ("Cry Baby Cry", "Blackbird" "I Will") tend to get lost in the shuffle. the record rewards over and over again, and it contains perhaps my favorite Beatles tune, "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", it is interesting when young I was full on Lennon, then started dabbling in playing music and moved over to Paul, these days it is a pretty even split; strange how tastes evolve. While the Beatles seem to have always been in my life, the truth is this was the album when we truly realized back in Junior High that they were transcendent.

The one that started it all. From the opening notes of the stone cold classic "I Saw Her Standing There" to the screaming vocals on the so-good-they-made-it-their-own "Twist and Shout" the group is a fireball of energy and excitement. Going deep with covers and delivering some of their strongest originals the group loudly announced to the world that they had arrived. The title track is a monster and then flipping over and kicking off side two with "Love Me Do"? Talk about a 1-2 punch. Talk about a debut record...

From the debut to the last recording sessions the band completed and delivered. Abbey Road, proved even when they were barely speaking to each other they could still produce amazing music. "Come Together", "Something", "Here Comes The Sun" are gorgeous all-time greats and then we get to the medley which is prime McCartney; the best he has ever been. While the end was upon them and "Get Back" would be released after this, Abbey Road marked the end of the band and going out with "The love you take is equal to the love you make" is pretty perfect.

Now we get to my personal favorite Beatles record. This is the one I listen to the most, the one which I feel was transformative for the band and illuminating to fans about where they were going. I will mention here Revolver did not make RtBE's top 5 (It would probably be 7th on our list behind Magical Mystery Tour) and the major reason is this record; while people say Revolver was their watershed moment (and perhaps "Tomorrow Never Knows" specifically was) that record never spoke to me like Rubber Soul did. Splashes of country, rock, tough ass lyrics, mysticism, all color the tunes and everyone is a winner on all fronts. Top to bottom a masterpiece and would have topped our list if the band didn't go on to create perhaps the best record of the twentieth century...
The band at this point in 1967 was done with the live stage and retreated into the studio. What came out was pure magic, a thematic album where each song was strong and could stand on it's own while still part of the fabric of the overall whole. The amazing cover art, the monumental standing in the summer of love, the experimentation, the complete work is grand in scope and pretty god damn magical. I don't go back to Peppers as often as other albums on this list, but it is almost because it has been ingrained on my brain from listening to it so much growing up. The otherworldy-ness to the proceedings enchanted me from the first listen. Whimsical and serious combined to make rocks first true full length masterpiece and it continues to sound bright and excellent in 2019. 

How'd we do? Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment and as always thanks for reading.

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