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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Joel listens to The Beatles

The Beatles. We all know of them. They are considered by many to be one of the great musical groups of all time. I have been hearing their songs since I was a small child. However, Revolver is the only Beatles album I have ever listened to from start to finish.

I decided over the last week to finally take a listen to The Beatles albums. No hits compilations, no "lost tapes" compilations. Just their studio albums. I came away from the experience realizing that I had just listened to three entirely different bands.

The first band released a flurry of albums, from Meet the Beatles through Rubber Soul. This version of the Beatles was basically a 1960s equivalent of New Kids on the Block. They were told what to wear, how their hair would be cut, and in some cases, what songs they would sing. They were a pop band who relied on catchy hooks.

The second band starts with Revolver. Individually, the Beatles were discovering new music and new religions, but mostly, they were discovering drugs. Now, I'm not promoting drug use, but the period from Revolver through Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is my personal favorite, because it was the period that produced the most creative, experimental music. Many of today's bands that list the Beatles as an influence draw their inspiration from this period.

Finally, we come to the third band, the one who just didn't give a damn anymore. They had lives outside of the band, and had better things to do than release more Beatles albums. It shows. The white album is a double album that really should have been a single album. I'm sorry, but the world is better off without excess filler material like "Rocky Raccoon". As uninterested as I was, there are still many gems during this period from the white album through Let it Be. Just ask Oasis. They wouldn't have a career without these albums.

So there you have it, my take on the Beatles after listening to all of their albums. It was an interesting experiment. I wound up discovering some songs outside of the singles that I really enjoyed. I also picked out elements in some songs that other bands I listen to were clearly trying to imitate. I've come away with a better understanding of why people hold them in such high regard.

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