Monday, March 24, 2008

Un-Butchered Beatles: 1967-1968

Before we begin, I'd like to dedicate this post to the Beatles' road manager, Neil Aspinall.  Rest in peace.  And now, some highlights of the Beatles' work from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band up until Let it Be.
"Strawberry Fields Forever" - This song was a major turning point for the group.  The band was suddenly crafting music radically different from anything they'd done previously.  This track boasts some impressive production from George Martin, who took a slow take with just the Beatles and a fast one with an orchestra and combined the two into the final product.
"Hello Goodbye" - Can you say "power pop"?  This song is chock-full of riffs, from the backing vocals during the chorus, to the killer guitar motifs, to Paul's melodic bass line.  Cheesy?  Sure, but a well-crafted tune nonetheless.
"I Am the Walrus" - Proof of my obsession with this band: during the ski club's trip to Waterville Valley back in January, this song played on the lodge speakers, and I might have been the only person in the entire resort singing along.  Who but a fanatic would know every nonsensical lyric?  Hell, I also might be the only one in the world who likes Jim Carrey's cover, where he's hammy to the max, making the song every bit as silly as John intended it to be.
"Helter Skelter" - Enough psychedelia.  Let's go back to rock, starting with this White Album cut that put blisters on Ringo's fingers.  It rocks THAT hard.
"Hey Jude" - Sadly, John never spent much time with his first son, Julian, who was closer to Paul than to his father.  Here, Paul assures Jules that life is good, even after the nasty divorce of John and Cynthia.  Blast this anthem while waving a lighter.
"Revolution" - John was both a friend and a foil to Paul, countering Paul's optimism with cynicism.  Perhaps nowhere else is this more evident than here, John's B-Side to Paul's "Hey Jude".  Whichever personality you prefer, they are both legends, two of the greatest musicians there ever were, and these two titans made their band the greatest of all time.
Next: The band makes two classic rock albums, then...NO!  SAY IT AIN'T SO!  IT'S ALL YOKO'S FAULT!

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