The Beatles were only actively recording for about 8 years. Their first recording session at Abbey Road was on June 6, 1962 and the final Beatles recordings were made on January 3, 1970. Although they were really only an active band for rather short period of time, they recorded many of the greatest albums in rock history. In fact they recorded so many great albums that I will have to shave off some really good ones to keep this list at a mere seven greatest albums. #1 The White Album The Beatles self titled double album quickly got the nickname "The White Album" upon it's release in 1968 and the name has stuck even 40 years later. While many find fault with this album due to it's sprawling nature and experimental tracks like "Wild Honey Pie" & "Revolution #9," I find the album endlessly enthralling because of these very same points.
It has so many great songs in so many different styles. It's like taking a walk through popular music history at that time. And when you get to "Revolution #9" it's like falling into a black hole or opening up a secret pathway to some strange alternate reality.
I think it's a distant future we cannot yet envision. Some look at the stranger, more difficult tracks on this album as a fault. As reasons why it's not as great as Revolver or Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I look at them as a strength. But certainly the album has a lot more going for it than experimental music. It's got beautiful ballads like "Blackbird," "I Will," & "Julia.
" It's got great rockers like "Everbody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me & My Monkey" & the ground breaking "Helter Skelter." It's got one of George Harrison's most powerful songs in "While My Guitar Gentley Weeps" which features a young Eric Clapton on lead guitar. It's got "Dear Prudence," "Happiness Is A Warm Gun," "Cry Baby Cry," "Back In The USSR," & "Sexy Sadie." So many truly great songs in so many differing styles.
It's a truly mesmerizing record that only gets better the more you listen to it. In my view it's the pinnacle of rock music to date. #2 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band While The White Album is sprawling landscape, Sgt Pepper's is more like a trip to the carnival. It's a far more cohesive album. But that's not to say it's without it's unexpected turns, in fact every song on this album is quite different than the one that came before it.
The difference is that on Sgt. Pepper's the songs all somehow feel connected despite being so different from each other. While the album has more than it's share of great songs, it's really the overall feeling of the album that keeps me going back to it. I know it's become hip to hate on this album and to say it's overrated but I really feel that the people who say that aren't truly listening. This is a special album. Every song fits into the whole and more than any other Beatles album in my view, it has no weak tracks.
Even Revolver (which I think is their second most consistant album) has "Yellow Submarine" which while a fun singalong does grate my nerves with it's placement right in the middle of the album. As far as being "overrated," in my view any album that ends with the greatest song of all time cannot possibly be overrated. And "A Day In The Life" is exactly that, the greatest song of all time.
#3 Revolver Revolver is a lot like Sgt. Pepper as far as song quality and the variety of styles without the same feeling of album cohesiveness. It feels more like a collection of great songs. And there's certainly nothing wrong with a collection of great songs. Some of Paul McCartney's most unforgetable songs are on this album including "Eleanor Rigby," "Here, There, & Everywhere," & "For No One.
" It ends with the mind bending "Tomorrow Never Knows" which even 42 years later, still sounds like the future. My one gripe with Revolver is that at this point I am a bit sick of "Yellow Submarine." Don't get me wrong, I like the song for what it is. But it doesn't work very well as an album track, it grows tiresome with repeated listening. I feel the same way about Ringo's rewrite on Abbey Road, "Octopus's Garden." #4 Abbey Road Abbey Road's second side may be The Beatles greatest achievement.
It's an incredibly smooth but exciting ride. What I like about the suite is that it's not overdone. It's not heavy handed. It's all connected but they don't beat you over the head with that fact. It's more subtle and I think that makes it more enjoyable. But there's more to the album than the celebrated second side.
The first half has some of The Beatles greatest songs such as "Oh Darling," "Something," "Come Together," & "I Want You (She's So Heavy.)" #5 Magical Mystery Tour Magical Mystery Tour was originally released as an EP in the UK but is now officially an album release in the Beatles discography. It was released as an LP in America using some previously released singles (the great "Strawberry Fields Forever" & "Penny Lane" most importantly) to pad the British EP into a full length album. Because of this background many people don't consider it when ranking the albums, and I do think that history does somehow take away from the album somewhat. Psychologically it makes it feel more tacked together.
But when forgetting all of that, it's really an incredible trippy journey. It's The Beatles at their most purposefully psychedelic. To many they probably took it too far with some of the songs on this album ("Flying" & "Blue Jay Way" for example) but I love the "studio as an instrument" ideal. These songs still hold up today as great pieces of psychedelic music. #6 Rubber Soul Rubber Soul has a rather ridiculous amount of stunning songs on it.
"Girl," "In My Life," "Nowhere Man," "Michelle," "I'm Looking Through You," & "Norwegian Wood" are just some of the great tunes on this album. But that being said, it doesn't rank quite as high as the albums above for me because of a few clunkers (by Beatles standards anyway) that bring down the album. In particular I'm talking about "What Goes On," "Wait," & "Run for Your Life." #7 Let It Be Let It Be is often looked upon as a failure or as one of The Bealtes worst albums. You know you are doing pretty good when an album that has songs like "Two Of Us," "Across The Universe," "Let It Be," "I've Got A Feeling," & "Get Back" is considered a disappointment.
But it was never really the songs that I think disappointed people about Let It Be, but the rag tag sort of sound it has. Personally, I now think that's very endearing. But with "Dig A Pony" not being among The Beatles greatest and "One After 909" actually being one of The Beatles most annoying recordings in my opinion along with George Harrison's somewhat subpar offerings this time around ("I Me Mine" & "For You Blue") the album does indeed not stack up as high as the albums I've ranked above it.
Marvin J Markus is a longtime Beatles fanatic who loves to write about The Beatles and other great music at Music By Day. Markus recommends that you Learn To Play Piano like The Beatles instead of like Chris Martin. Markus recommends ear training to become a better musician and/or music appreciator.