Which Beatles Album goes down as the greatest of all time?
Fifty years ago this month that well known beat combo The Beatles (You may have heard of them) split up and went their separate ways. They left a legacy of unforgettable albums and singles.
With this in mind I thought it would be great timing to try and rank their body of work. As with all music this is a very personal opinion. So with that being said let’s begin this tough task.
13) Yellow Submarine (1969)
I’ve put this here because obviously it’s more of a soundtrack album. It does however contain one of their best tunes in my opinion “Hey Bulldog”.
Play it once and it will be stuck in your head.
12) Beatles For Sale (1964)
As with a few of their early albums this contains a lot of cover versions and with the bar they would continue to raise I think this a fair position.
Original Lennon/McCartney compositions “No Reply”, “I’ll Follow The Sun” and “Eight Days A Week” make this a great album.
11) With The Beatles (1963)
Once again a few cover versions. They are brilliantly done but once again based on the output of the albums to come I can’t rate it any higher.
One of the original compositions “It Won’t Be Long” just exudes energy and hunger though. Superb.
10) Let It Be (1970)
It pains me to rank this album so low when you consider the legendary tunes on it. “Across The Universe”, “The Long and Winding Road” and the title track are genius.
However this album always seemed to lack flow and you could tell the band were never 100% happy with the end product.
The naked version of this record released 30 years later seems to validate this.
9) Please Please Me (1963)
An incredible debut recorded in just a day. It says so much about their back catalogue that a great album would be ranked only 9th in this list.
“I Saw Her Standing There” is the perfect opener. Lennons vocals are shot by the time of the final track “Twist and Shout” but in a weird twist of fate it makes the song even better.
8) Help (1965)
A great album. Confession time. I was never that keen on the title track and to be honest the film is a bit silly but good fun. Maybe familiarity can breed a little bit of contempt when it comes to the title track.
With that being said the album has classic after classic and shows what development McCartney, Lennon and Harrison had made as songwriters. It’s a mind bending to think that Paul McCartney was only in his very early 20s when he penned “Yesterday”.
7) A Hard Days Night (1964)
I really wanted to rank this album higher and this was the first album to have 100% of original compositions.
Side 1 contains songs written for the film in 1964. Side 2 contains tracks not included in the film. My personal favourites are “I Should Have Known Better” and I’ll Be Back”
6) Rubber Soul (1965)
Again another album I was in two minds of where to rate. It was the beginning of the change of direction of the Fab Four. I touched earlier on McCartneys reflective tune “Yesterday” being written when Paul was in his early 20s. Lennon does reflecting of his own on “In My Life”.
When you hear these tracks it’s hard to believe that they have been written by very young men. I love the menace in closing track “Run For Your Life”
5) Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Just wow. I think this is the underrated record when people discuss great Beatles albums. A great title track and I love the charm of “Your Mother Should Know” and “Fool On The Hill”
Plus if you’re after a mind benders give “Blue Jay Way and “I Am The Walrus” a spin.
4) Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Arguably the most famous album cover ever. I challenge you to name every person on it although in the current climate I don’t think there is much social distancing going on.
McCartneys vision was that he wanted to send the album on tour rather than the band and turn the record into a live performance.
If truth be told though apart from the opening two tracks any of the other songs could have been on any other album.
She’s Leaving Home is one of my favourites on this record. McCartneys art of telling a story is second to none. The album also finishes with arguably the greatest song ever “A Day In The Life”
3) The White Album (1968)
I actually listened to this earlier today.
What struck me was how disjointed this album really seems. However the tracks are sheer quality. You could argue that they could have condensed the album into one record and get rid of some tracks. Sir George Martin certainly felt that.
However as McCartney said “It’s the bloody Beatles”
“Back In The USSR” is the perfect tune to kick off the record. Revolution 9 is bonkers but even that drags you in. It’s classic after classic. “Helter Skelter” has a heavy metal vibe to it and closing track “Good Night” is sheer beauty.
2) Revolver (1966)
They had signalled the start of the change with Rubber Soul. This album which preceded the big change which was Pepper cranked it up a notch.
“Taxman” kicks off the record and once again shows how Harrison’s song writing had evolved. The sheer beauty of love is shown “Here, There and Everywhere” An old friend of mine actually got married to that.
The album closes with the most radical change of direction thus far with “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
14 tracks and 35 minutes of sheer joy.
1) Abbey Road (1969)
The medley, oh the medley.
It’s a great album start to finish and my personal favourite. “Come Together” is sublime, “Something” is one of the most beautiful love songs ever, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” in its daftness is charming, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” could go on for ever and ever.
Choosing your favourite Beatles album is one of the most subjective choices you can make. My running order could even change by the time tomorrow comes. I haven’t even mentioned The Past Masters albums which consisted of non album singles and B sides.
One of the greatest back catalogues ever which will be enjoyed by future generations to come.
Words by Lee Bellfield
Born in Manchester, live now around Heaton Moor. A football, boxing and snooker fan and support Manchester City(even before the glory days)
A big fan of gigs, music and all that come with it. I used to write for a boxing website and have previously worked for Music Zone, a job that involved listening to new releases, speaking to labels and keeping the schedule updated.