As sonically starved Beatlemaniacs the world over count the minutes until 09-09-09’s LONG-overdue upgrade to the digital Beatle legend, and those under the age of fifty prepare to do battle with the Beatles Rock Band,
I count down instead my own personal fab fave tracks from a catalog practically as deep and wide as it is expensive.
Your mileage will vary, of course,
but if you ask me…..
1) PLEASE PLEASE ME
…and, with the supreme Beatle ballad “Ask Me Why” on its original flipside, perhaps the greatest one-two career launcher in poppy-rock history.
2) IT WON’T BE LONG
As you’ll soon realize, John is my unapologetically favorite Beatle, and he was positively on fire throughout my fave Fab album, With The Beatles. Elsewhere upon same, “Not A Second Time” and “All I’ve Got To Do” were pure Smokey Robinson-worthy young Lennon gems, while Paul’s “All My Loving” – not to mention George’s first-ever (!!) ditty “Don’t Bother Me” – also helped make the band’s second album an end-to-end unbeatable beat group classic.
3) STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER
Arguably the very pinnacle of the band’s studio concoctions …BEFORE they started getting altogether too magically mysterious for their own good, that is. And still the greatest fade-out(s) ever committed to vinyl to boot.
4) I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE PARTY
Both Everly Brothers notwithstanding, The Beatles hear-by invent alt. country and, coupled as it originally was in North America with “Eight Days A Week,” produce in the process their first of many 1965 chart-toppers.
5) TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS
If you hadn’t already realized during its previous thirteen songs, Revolver had just forever re-written musical history right before your very ears.
6) A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
The undeniable State of the Art, 1964-model. Listen closely for the driving bed of bongos, not to mention that stellar George M. vs George H. piano-guitar solo (…and not a bad li’l movie they stuck after it either!)
7) HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN
Lennon truly was pop’s Picasso, compositionally-speaking, and only The Beatles could’ve made it successfully thru this dizzying mini-History of Rock ‘n’ Roll with the help of only three or four tape splices.
8) GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING
Stripped of all its Pepper down to the rhythm track alone, as the Anthology 2 version demonstrates, we realize how great a tight little band The Beatles really were …even AFTER a whole year off the road!
9) EVERYBODY’S GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE EXCEPT ME AND MY MONKEY
…and this totally Pepper-free hum-ringer must’ve been even more fun to record than “Birthday,” “Hey Bulldog,” or maybe Lennon’s Ninth (“Revolution”).
10) I’LL BE ON MY WAY
Along with “Hello Little Girl,” the nascent Lennon and McCartney’s keenest Buddy Holly re-write ever …though you must admit Billy J. Kramer, as opposed to them Beatles, recorded the definitive rendering.
11) I FEEL FINE
The first feedback on record, as John once claimed? Link Wray might just have something to say about that. But there certainly was nothing finer to be heard over Christmastime 1964 …and that’s the truth.
12) I SAW HER STANDING THERE
The album-opener to start all album openers …or, as producer-extraordinaire Sir Big George Martin would so aptly characterize it, “a potboiler.” Why, even the other George’s wholly-Hamburg-drenched guitar solo lives up to Paul’s proto-Dee Dee Ramone count-in!
13) I’LL BE BACK
Add the lads’ always-shimmering three-part barbershop chorale atop John’s loving tribute to the late, very great Del Shannon’s trademark major/minor way with a song structure, and you have the album-closer to end all albums. At least.
14) I’M DOWN
Meanwhile, Paul gamely wrestles Little Richard to the studio floor …whilst telling Jerry Lee Lewis the news.
15) THANK YOU GIRL
This raw diamond, which along with “Misery” Squeeze particularly built a whole vocal career after, truthfully deserves much more notice after four decades spent languishing upon the underside of that original “From Me To You” single.
16) BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN
And on the subject of Great Lost Beatle B-sides, this big-bass and Clavioline-driven sing-along has aged so much better than its Summer of Love topside, “All You Need Is…” …now what was that word again??
17) COME TOGETHER
Wherein Lennon caps his Fab career with a slyly-subtle slice of Liverpool funk. And, as always, Ringo positively SHINES. So much for the rest of Abbey Road…
18) LOVE ME DO
So frequently poo-poohed coz Brian Epstein could only buy its way up to Number 17 on the hit parade. Yet as no less an authority as Raymond Douglas Davies has always attested, The Beatles’ vinyl debut nevertheless pricked up all the right ears all over Britain during that otherwise uneventful winter of ’62.
19) IT’S ALL TOO MUCH
…and I guess it is, clocking in as the not-so-quiet Beatle’s long long longest Northern Song ever. Still, I can so much more easily hear it closing Sgt. Pepper rather than that other epic production “A Day In The Life,” can’t you? No?? oh, well…
20) THERE’S A PLACE
Somehow telepathically (though monophonically) linked since ’63 with Brian Wilson’s “In My Room” as two of the most deeply touching agoraphobic studies of all time.
and I’ll be back in this room next week with another fab twenty, absolutely.
but until then,