The Beatles

Apple, 1973


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


In my review of the "red album," 1962-66, I discussed why the Beatles were so difficult to compile and why these two collections have stood the test of time. Apple has yet to release any sort of new official hits package outside of 1, and it's because they don't need to, as proven by that one and especially this disc, 1967-70.

The "blue album" starts the story with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and ends with Let It Be, showcasing the period when the Beatles captured the zeitgeist of the culture even as the band was beginning to crumble. The landmark Sgt. Pepper's is represented by the title track, "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds," with the band's best song, "A Day In The Life," the essential fourth choice. "Penny Lane" and Lennon's timeless, trippy "Strawberry Fields Forever," the first two songs released in 1967, round out the story.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

From Magical Mystery Tour we get the title tune, "The Fool On The Hill" and the other compelling 1967 singles "Hello, Goodbye," John Lennon's nonsensical "I Am the Walrus" and the band's simple calling card "All You Need Is Love." The first disc ends with "Lady Madonna" and then possibly the greatest single of all time, "Hey Jude" backed with "Revolution." This is fantastic music that retains its luster year after year, and hearing so many great songs back to back solidifies why this collection – at least, the first disc – is necessary.

The second disc falls short for the simple fact that the four band members had grown as artists and were no longer truly working as a collective. Picking songs from the White Album is tricky enough; other than George Harrison's masterful "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," everything else is too idiosyncratic to reach a wide audience. "Back In The USSR" and, sadly, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" get the nod, though the latter song should have been jettisoned for "Helter Skelter."

Let It Be is represented by the title track, Lennon's plaintive "Across The Universe," Paul's dull "The Long And Winding Road" and the rocker "Get Back." Rounding out the first side is Lennon's "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" and "Don't Let Me Down," the latter a B-side that never ranked with his best work. On the second side, George gets "Old Brown Shoe," another shrug-worthy B-side, but it is redeemed by his two Abbey Road cuts, "Here Comes The Sun" and "Something." That final album (the last one recorded, not released) also offers the wonderful "Come Together" and, for some reason, "Octopus' Garden," simply to show that Ringo wrote songs, too, I guess. Throwing that out in favor of "The End" would have been wiser, simply to complete the story.

Still, a couple duff songs and questionable choices do not sully the greatness that is 1967-70, as perfect an encapsulation of what made the Beatles' later years so great as can be expected. If you need one release that truly tells the story of the band, or you need to introduce someone to this timeless music, this collection remains indispensable.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A



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