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Schrottrocker
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xx Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Thread started on: Apr 30th, 2017, 05:13am »

I was having a Beatles albums marathon last night, I listened to all albums up to Revolver in one go. Part 2 of the marathon will be this night, beginning with Sgt. Pepper. grin

So, a few thoughts here. As a late-born I used to the Beatles only by a few random songs, it was rather curiosity that made me ask my dad to show me his Beatles records when I was about 13 years old. My dad had all albums from Rubber Soul onwards, however for anything before this particular album he never cared much and was content with the "red" and the "blue" Best Of plus some so-called "Beatles Greatest", that latter one featuring basically the same early songs you will already find on the "red" album plus 2 or 3 more songs such as Twist And Shout and Long Tall Sally.

After this long time I finally got really curious about the first couple albums. I checked on wikipedia, to begin with the catalogue is really confusing with different albums in different countries with the same songs in different combinations tongue So my guess was the "canon" could be considered the UK albums as they were. Those would be the following:

- Please Please Me
- With The Beatles
- A Hard Day's Night
- Beatles For Sale
- Help!
and then on to Rubber Soul, Revolver etc.

Now, I was surprised how many of the most popular songs are missing on those albums (also on the later albums). That aside, my impressions were: naturally the band was growing with each album, still, 'Help!' was the first one out of these that stood out to me for songs that stay in mind. The first four albums aren't bad but the songs sound too interchangeable to me, they give me a hard time to tell them apart and keep them in mind. So with 'Help!' I can hear the band entering a new level of development, and again with Rubber Soul. I get why my dad tends to see those earlier albums as "unnecessary".

Nonetheless it's nice to get the full picture, if anything I can say the Beatles took an exponential development. The first few albums sound pretty much alike, then they were taking more and more steam. Pretty fascinating. smiley
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #1 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 07:21am »

With both The Beatles and The Stones, it seems they got better at creating LPs that were cohesive and designed to be enjoyable from beginning to end.
The albums released prior to Rubber Soul, or in the Stonesí case, before Beggarís Banquet, all seem similarly constructed around two or three strong tracks or hit singles, and then filled with not much else that I would consider notable or memorable.

I was introduced to The Beatles through my older brothers and heard all the albums that way. My Beatles collection to some degree mirrors that of your dadís, with the Red album adequately fulfilling any appetite I might have for pre-Rubber Soul Beatles music.

As an aside, my most listened to Beatles disc is actually a compilation, Past Masters Vol. 2, which is essentially a collection of non-album tracks and includes, among other things, all of the songs that were featured on the original Hey Jude album.

« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2017, 07:22am by Witchwood » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #2 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 09:17am »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 07:21am, Witchwood wrote:
The albums released prior to Rubber Soul, or in the Stonesí case, before Beggarís Banquet, all seem similarly constructed around two or three strong tracks or hit singles, and then filled with not much else that I would consider notable or memorable.


Wasn't that what albums used to be at that time? It has been told so many times that Sgt. Pepper was the first "real" album, meaning something that was intentionally created as a unity. My guess was those earlier albums were really not supposed to be anything more than a couple singles plus some filler material which was not good enough for single releases. That would also explain the many non-album singles and the lot of EPs with the same songs again.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #3 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 09:47am »

I love A Hard Days Night and Help!

Yes, the songs are shorter and seemingly more simplistic than what the Beatles later evolved to, but I adore the snippets of brilliance that are "If I Fell", "Things We Said Today", "I'll Be Back", "Ticket To Ride", "I've Just Seen A Face", and many many others. Practically the only pre-1966 rock-and-roll that I ever listen to.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #4 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 4:20pm »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 05:13am, Schrottrocker wrote:
Now, I was surprised how many of the most popular songs are missing on those albums (also on the later albums). That aside, my impressions were: naturally the band was growing with each album, still, 'Help!' was the first one out of these that stood out to me for songs that stay in mind. The first four albums aren't bad but the songs sound too interchangeable to me, they give me a hard time to tell them apart and keep them in mind. So with 'Help!' I can hear the band entering a new level of development, and again with Rubber Soul. I get why my dad tends to see those earlier albums as "unnecessary".

Nonetheless it's nice to get the full picture, if anything I can say the Beatles took an exponential development. The first few albums sound pretty much alike, then they were taking more and more steam. Pretty fascinating. smiley

Well, I would certainly disagree with the perception that the early albums by The Beatles are somehow less worthy of recognition. I think many folks tend to dismiss this period because it's deemed either less sophisticated or less inventive than their later material, but I don't believe that to be true at all.

Obviously their songwriting skills were developing early on, but they still managed to come up with inventive songs and their own sound. The first two albums contain a mix of covers and originals, which was common practice at the time, and it was also typical to save certain songs for single release only. So songs like "From Me To You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", and "I Feel Fine" did not appear on the original UK albums. This practice took place throughout their recording history.

A Hard Day's Night was their first album of all original material. It's one of my favorite albums by The Beatles, or anyone for that matter. Brilliant songwriting. The next album, Beatles For Sale, tends to get lost in the shuffle, but still contains some stellar songs.

What seems to get overlooked about this early period is the incredible amount of musical invention, craft, and stylistic development occurring during this time. What they were doing was quite unique in pop music and it deservedly attracted a lot of attention. These days what they were doing seems conventional, but at the time they were creating something that was distinctly new. IMO, to say that those early albums sound alike is a very superficial way to assess that material. When you consider the timeframe in which those albums were written and recorded, there's a heck of a lot of creativity packed into a very brief working period.

« Last Edit: May 1st, 2017, 01:35am by HENRY » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #5 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 4:41pm »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 09:17am, Schrottrocker wrote:
Wasn't that what albums used to be at that time? It has been told so many times that Sgt. Pepper was the first "real" album, meaning something that was intentionally created as a unity. My guess was those earlier albums were really not supposed to be anything more than a couple singles plus some filler material which was not good enough for single releases. That would also explain the many non-album singles and the lot of EPs with the same songs again.

No, Sgt. Pepper was not the first "real" album, not by a long shot. Since the 1950's many artists put together albums with deliberate themes, most notably Frank Sinatra.

As I mentioned previously, it was common practice to reserve songs as single releases. The 45 rpm record was a major source of music for many people (and a main music distribution product at the time). The Beatles themselves did not expect fans to buy a song twice by having single releases on albums as well. Also, recording sessions took place in spurts, a few songs at a time. When they had enough songs recorded and finished, they would release them. Sometimes, as with EP releases, it was a way to release songs in a less expensive format than a conventional LP. It had nothing to do with the perception of songs as "filler".
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #6 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 4:45pm »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 09:47am, Dust wrote:
I love A Hard Days Night and Help!

Yes, the songs are shorter and seemingly more simplistic than what the Beatles later evolved to, but I adore the snippets of brilliance that are "If I Fell", "Things We Said Today", "I'll Be Back", "Ticket To Ride", "I've Just Seen A Face", and many many others. Practically the only pre-1966 rock-and-roll that I ever listen to.


Agreed. I could write an essay on the early Beatles. They go from bar band to sophisticated songwriters in only a couple of albums. And although they did covers, their covers in many cases surpass the originals in my view (Money & Twist & Shout, especially).
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #7 on: Apr 30th, 2017, 7:17pm »

I definitely agree with the comments above that A Hard Day's Night is a stand out album among the early Beatles albums. "And I Love Her" is one of my favorite love songs, and the title track is good fun.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #8 on: May 1st, 2017, 01:44am »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 4:45pm, FeelItComing wrote:
Agreed. I could write an essay on the early Beatles. They go from bar band to sophisticated songwriters in only a couple of albums. And although they did covers, their covers in many cases surpass the originals in my view (Money & Twist & Shout, especially).

It's interesting how some people feel about covers these days. Back then, songs written by people other than the performers was a fairly standard practice. Heck, there were many artists who made their reputations on singing or playing songs written by somebody else. It's easy to forget that these performers had their own idols and were attempting to emulate them.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #9 on: May 1st, 2017, 06:13am »

on Apr 30th, 2017, 4:41pm, HENRY wrote:
No, Sgt. Pepper was not the first "real" album, not by a long shot.

This statement was not supposed to express my own personal view, rather something I kept on reading in lots of rock history books written by so-called experts. Sgt. Pepper keeps on getting referenced as the one album that changed music history because it was more than just a couple of songs lumped together. If this is really so might be debatable. Honestly, I am always a little sceptical towards this kind of 'carved-in-stone'-like truths that all experts copy from each other.

I only head these first five Beatles albums for the first time now, I have to listen to them again. I completed my marathon last night with Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour (only the EP version songs), the White Album, the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, Abbey Road and Let It Be. Now I need a little break from the Beatles but I'll come back to them soon wink
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #10 on: May 1st, 2017, 06:29am »

One thing about SGT. PEPPER: It marks the first time that a "canon" (UK) Beatles album was released in the US as basically the same album. (I think the only difference was the 2-second clip heard in the runout groove of the UK album.)

Even after that there was MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, the US LP that combined the UK double EP of the same title with 5 tracks from singles. (This was the only case where a US Beatles LP essentially became a "canon" album.)
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #11 on: May 1st, 2017, 10:56am »

I like both the early and later Beatles but I have to be in a certain mood to listen to either one.

John was the dominant Beatle in the early, more straightforward rocking sound. Paul became the dominant force in the later Beatles (mainly because John lost interest and was more into drugs).
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #12 on: May 1st, 2017, 7:04pm »

I love the pre-Rubber Soul albums. Each has their own character:

Please Please Me Great energy and excitement, all captured in a 1-day recording session. Not many bands can have a debut with at least two classic originals (the title track and I Saw Her Standing There) and a definitive cover version (Twist and Shout). That said, the other originals show a great gift for melody (Misery, There's a Place). And the harmonies on Chains are fab.

With the Beatles Still lots of fresh energy, but more sophistication musically. All My Loving has a fabulously natural melody, great melodic bassline, precise triplet strumming from John, and a great Chet Atkins-influenced guitar solo from George. All I've Got to Do transitions smoothly from moody minor-key verses to driving major-key bridges and back again. And the covers? Killer. Money takes a, let's face it, anemic original and makes it completely menacing and violent.

A Hard Day's Night All originals, many of them classics that have stood the test of time. Jangly Rickenbackers everywhere. But it is some of the lesser known gems that charm me the most. The great harmonies of If I Fell. The subtle shifts from major to minor in I'll Be Back (which to me, predicts where they'll head by Rubber Soul).

Beatles for Sale This is the album that many don't know because of the absence of classic hits except Eight Days a Week. But this is where Lennon gets more personal with his writing (I'm a Loser, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party). This is where Lennon and McCartney each tear into covers by their idols (Rock and Roll Music, Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey). It's a transitional album from their early days as a rock and roll band to their middle period of increasingly introspective songwriting.

Help! If the album was nothing but Ticket to Ride 14 times, it would still be worth it. Great drum pattern by Ringo too. There are other classics too, like the title track and of course Yesterday. There's more pre-Rubber Soul hints with You've Got to Hide Your Love Away and I've Just Seen a Face. And if you think they've forgotten how to rock and roll, Lennon shreds his larynx again with Dizzy Miss Lizzy (every Larry Williams cover he does is a classic).

I'll echo what was said about singles vs albums. Singles were originally distinct releases and thus didn't always show up on albums also.

Sgt. Pepper as noted was far from the first album conceived around a concept or theme. But because it was released by the most popular band in the world, it placed a spotlight on the idea of making an album more than just a collection of random songs and thus had huge influence subsequently.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #13 on: May 3rd, 2017, 12:05pm »

on May 1st, 2017, 7:04pm, Dr. John wrote:
Beatles for Sale This is the album that many don't know because of the absence of classic hits except Eight Days a Week. But this is where Lennon gets more personal with his writing (I'm a Loser, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party). This is where Lennon and McCartney each tear into covers by their idols (Rock and Roll Music, Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey). It's a transitional album from their early days as a rock and roll band to their middle period of increasingly introspective songwriting.


Strangely enough, this is the only Beatles album I've found in my parents' vinyl collection (from the original 1964/5 pressing too!) and I like it a lot, though not as much as Help!. I definitely prefer the Lennon-McCartney originals on here to the covers. "Every Little Thing" is one of my favourites; incidentally (and weirdly enough) Yes did a fun cover of it on their first album, which I do enjoy.
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xx Re: Beatles pre-'Rubber Soul' albums
« Reply #14 on: May 3rd, 2017, 2:14pm »

on May 1st, 2017, 06:13am, Schrottrocker wrote:
This statement was not supposed to express my own personal view, rather something I kept on reading in lots of rock history books written by so-called experts. Sgt. Pepper keeps on getting referenced as the one album that changed music history because it was more than just a couple of songs lumped together. If this is really so might be debatable. Honestly, I am always a little sceptical towards this kind of 'carved-in-stone'-like truths that all experts copy from each other.

You will find it mentioned here and there that Sgt. Pepper was the first "concept" album. That is, a collection of songs built around a theme, but that strictly isn't true.

The idea of an album which contained songs built around a theme was not uncommon ever since the LP was introduced in the late 40's. Sgt. Pepper gets noticed largely because it was probably the first of it's kind by a popular rock artist. However, it's debatable if Sgt. Pepper really holds to that criteria because the concept behind the album is a fairly loose one, and all the songs don't necessarily support a common theme. Soon afterward rock bands and artists started to make very deliberate concept style albums.
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