Ranking The Beatles: 40 Years Later
This week marks 40 years since the release of Let It Be, the 12th and final studio album produced by The Beatles. A lot has happened in almost a half-century, but the music of the Fab Four is standing the test of time and John, Paul, George and Ringo are just as popular now as they were in May 1970.
What follows is a comprehensive list of the band's original 12 UK albums that would normally be referred to as "Worst to First," but in the case of The Beatles, we're gonna go with "Good to Best."
12. Yellow Submarine
The Beatles tenth offering is also their weakest. With only four previously unreleased songs and a B-Side featuring just instrumental tracks from George Martin, Yellow Submarine served as the soundtrack to the film of the same name. As far as soundtracks go, this one falls close to the bottom of that list, too.
Best Song: "Only a Northern Song"
Worst Song: The entire second side
11. Beatles For Sale
By the end of 1964, The Beatles were just worn out. Coming off of three albums in less than two years, their first feature-length film, and constant touring, the band came out with Beatles For Sale. With this album, The Beatles retroverted to the "8 Original/6 Cover" track listing... Which, on its own, is not exactly bad... But, coming off of A Hard Day's Night, which featured NO covers, something seemed to be lacking in Beatles For Sale. On a good note, The Beatles got a number one song out of it in "Eight Days a Week," which, coincidentally, was their eighth number one. In the case of Beatles For Sale, they were tired... and it showed.
Best Song: "I'll Follow The Sun"
Worst Song: "Mr. Moonlight"
10. With The Beatles
While this one might contain, arguably, one of the most iconic record covers of all time... The Beatles' second album, With The Beatles, is merely a platform to showcase their love for American R&B. Six of the fourteen songs are covers... Including a very rocking version of "Money (That's What I Want) and Paul's sweet rendition of "Till There Was You." As for the originals, most of them are pretty generic Rock N' Roll, but the bright spots include "All My Loving," George's song writing debut "Don't Bother Me," And the Ringo-lead "I Wanna Be Your Man," a tune later covered by Beatles "Frenemies" The Rolling Stones.
Best Song: "Don't Bother Me"
Worst Song: "Devil in Her Heart"
9. Please Please Me
For a debut album, Please Please Me is extremely strong. Recorded in just one day, it contains a few classics (See: "I Saw Her Standing There," "Love Me Do," Lennon's take on "Twist and Shout") as well as a few duds (See: "A Taste of Honey," and "Chains"). The album features plenty of the early Beatles' signature skiffle-type sound, with simple guitar riffs and a driving harmonica. I'm not sure how many people in 1963 got the subtle sexual innuendo in the title track. With a phrase like "I know you've never even tried, girl. But come on, COME ON! PLEASE please me... Like I please you," what else could the greatest song writing team in history have been speaking about?
Best Song: "I Saw Her Standing There"
Worst Song: "A Taste of Honey"
Just one year after A Hard Day's Night, it was time for another Beatles movie. Unlike its predecessor, Help! was in color and had a bit of a plot. This album serves as both the fifth release by the Beatles and the soundtrack of the film. This is the last Beatles album to feature whole cover songs: Lennon's version of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" and Ringo's "Act Naturally." This album features three number one songs: "Yesterday," the most covered song in the world, "Ticket to Ride," and the title track, "Help!"
Best Song: "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
Worst Song: "Act Naturally"
7. A Hard Day's Night
Hands down the best "Early Beatles" album. A lot of accomplishments came with both the film and the album A Hard Day's Night: John was both solidified and had his last real hurrah as the leader of the group, writing most of the songs (mostly) himself. This was also the first Beatles album to feature all original songs, two of which ("A Hard Day's Night" and "Can't Buy Me Love") became number one hit singles. Most of the 13 tracks are pretty rocking, but the harmony on "I'll Be Back" seems forced and uninspired. And if you want to trace back the birth of the modern music video, one must look to Dick Lester... The man who directed the film, A Hard Day's Night.
Best Song: "And I Love Her"
Worst Song: "I'll Be Back"
6. Rubber Soul
With Rubber Soul, we enter the "Middle Beatles" era, which only lasts two albums. It's 1965 and The Beatles were ready for something new, something different. They went into Abbey Road studios in October, churned out 14 tracks and by November, it was ready for a Christmas release. This is also the first album to be recorded in its entirety without being interrupted by tour dates... A precedent that would follow with each subsequent album. With songs like "Girl," "Michelle," and "I'm Looking Through You," Rubber Soul shows The Beatles looking at the downbeat side of love, a subject rarely, if ever, touched upon in previous releases. Rubber Soul marks The Beatles turning a soulful corner in their maturity... Both as individuals and as musicians.
Best Song: "In My Life"
Worst Song: "What Goes On"
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