The most significant thing about The Beatles isn’t that they have had the most number one albums and the most number one singles on the US charts or that they’ve sold more music than any band or single act in history (nearly three times that of their contemporaries, The Rolling Stones, who are still together) or that, according to Forbes magazine, The Beatles earned a combined $71 million in 2013 from work they completed over 40 years ago. In my humble opinion the most significant thing about The Beatles is that they accomplished most of this over an 8 year period before any of them had reached their 30th birthday, phenomenal, to say the least!
The core of the Beatles, i.e., John, Paul & George, started as a skiffle (blues, folk, country & jazz influences) group in Liverpool while the boys were in their mid-teens. They went on to work as a backing band for other more notable artists in the UK while trying to find a permanent drummer. After an extended residence as the house band at various venues in Germany in the early 60s they returned to England where they met manager Brian Epstein and eventually producer George Martin. The rest is history as they rode high on the crest of the wave that was the British Invasion.
My favorite Beatles albums from Kitsap Regional Library's collection are:
Abbey Road (1970)
The best-selling studio album and the last project recorded by The Beatles. In spite of being created during the band’s emotional nadir, it’s a masterpiece showing the breadth, depth and full musical range of the Fab Four.
Abbey Road was the next to last album released by the band. It had individual compositions on one side and medleys (mostly) on the other.
Highlights: All of side two beginning with Here Comes the Sun right through to Her Majesty. If I was told that I could listen to one album for the rest of my life Abbey Road would be it!
Let It Be (1970)
The second to last recordings and the last studio project released by The Beatles. Let It Be was held up because the band wanted to release a movie and book at the same time. Nearly all of the tracks were recorded before the Abbey Road sessions.
New manager Alan Klein (yes the same Alan Klein who’d stolen The Rolling Stones music rights) didn’t like Alan Parson’s engineering so he gave the tracks to Phil Spector to remix. Spector, famous for his “Wall of Sound”, proceeded to produce the album with overdubs, loops, choirs and strings.
Lennon thought Spector did a nice job with less than stellar material. McCartney was disappointed because he was going for a stripped down, back to basics sound. The public wasn’t aware of the difference until McCartney removed the Spector additions and remixed the album for the 2003 release, Let It Be…Naked.
Highlights: Two of Us, I Dig a Pony, Let It Be, I’ve Got a Feeling
This recording holds the distinction of being the Beatles album with the longest tenure in the number one spot (27 weeks).
In the summer of 1966 The Beatles retired as a touring band to focus on studio work. Now that they no longer had to worry about recreating the songs in live performance they were free to experiment with sound and arrangements.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band let's you hear the influences on The Beatles music, from the show tunes and pop music they heard over the radio as kids to the rockabilly, folk, blues and country that filled the airwaves of their teen years.
Highlights: With a Little Help from My Friends, Lucy in the Sky…, A Day in the Life
The library has many Beatles recordings in addition to the music of many other performers so stop by your neighborhood branch and check out a few CDs.