I have a friend, born in 1973, who just wrote a number of reviews of Beatle records:
HIS FIRST REVIEW WAS FOR "BEATLES FOR SALE"
The popularity and importance of the Beatles, as opposed to any other mid-century performer, has always bewildered me. I've tried many of the albums, and come up short of an impression each time. This one caught my eye mainly because of it's unfamiliarity. I've also been meaning to try one of the remasters, to see if there's something in the sound that I'm not getting.
This is definitely one of the best sounding albums I've listened to lately. I'll chalk that up to the already deified George Martin. But really, I've never heard so much attention and work spent on something so mediocre.
There are a few great songs on here, all of them Lennon/McCartney originals. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party, in particular, surprised me. The vocals aren't even as bad as they would later become. The only really cringe-worthy moments come when the boys try to harmonize, which only accents their nasal tone. Also, I hear an out-of-tune guitar every now and then, but that may be an intentional attempt to play "bent" blues notes.
What brings this album down for me are all the covers. They just sound like a bunch of guys sitting around playing their favorite songs. Which is all right, but nothing I'd want to put on repeat. Covering other performers also highlights their position as vocal imitators more than singers. I can't imagine anyone picking these versions of Kansas City or Rock and Roll Music as improving on earlier versions.
As a final note, I was surprised to hear Every Little Thing, having become accustomed to the Yes version. It holds up as an original song, but it will forever sound weaker to me somehow in comparison to Yes' prog rock bombast.
HIS TAKE ON "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT"
All right, I liked this one, but Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour are both pretty godawful.
I'm finding that most of their albums have one or two really good songs, some filler and three or four travesties. "Doctor Robert" sounds to my ears as just lazy songwriting wrapped around a in-joke. "And Your Bird Can Sing," however has been one of the highlights of my trip to the library's B section.
HIS TAKE ON "MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR"
I thought this would be the Beatles' album I would enjoy the most, instead it's turned out to be the biggest disappointment. Perhaps this is a part of becoming an older, more experienced listener. Songs like Strawberry Fields Forever, after becoming familiar, sound very adolescent. The mood this album exudes is that of a teen-ager who has just discovered "alternative" voices to those they have grown up with. Of course, the mistake that follows is the assumption that the rest of the world is ignorant of these points of view, rather than just disinterested. So, we end up with the standard rock'n'roll need to shout out bad poetry.
As always, the production on this album is stellar. Penny Lane's almost monotone melody is rescued by the outside musicians brought in to add layers to the song. All You Need Is Love moves up to a brilliant crescendo that makes up for any lack of content (and the mocking trumpets are a bit creepy.) And of course I Am the Walrus is a triumph of studio work; without the production crew this would be an embarrassing proto-rap chant.
The real surprise for me was Flying. What a wonderful instrumental! It expresses the theme of a "magical mystery tour" much better than the schmaltzy McCartney-isms or detached Lennon-esque lyrics elsewhere. And let's not get into Blue Jay Way. I never thought George Harrison would let me down.
I would add that Ringo is the real hero of this album. I keep going back to the great drum fills and interesting time changes.
MY RESPONSE IS BELOW, but I really wish Roger O. Green would write something about this topic so I could erase and delete and burn the travesty that I have written
R------------, I am going to give you my conclusion first and that might save you some time. You can decide I am a pompous windbag and not read any further.
Kim is right that you were born too late to really appreciate them, although I would place it at 20 years too late rather than 10.
I noticed that you appeared to be a classical music fan and that you were happy about RYM's new system so you could separate out the original tenor notations from the modern baritone thereby putting the music in context.
You have to place the Beatles within the context of the times to see why they and their music are so important.
The context of the Beatles music is that they existed at a pivotal time in our modern culture and the evolution of popular music. Some say they directly led the way in both and others say that they merely became the face of the change. Whichever it is (or more likely a combination of the two) they are linked to changes in content (there is the story of how they met Dylan and asked him why he didn't use electric instruments and Dylan said why don't you actually say something in your music? So Dylan goes electric and the Beatles started saying something), recording techniques, fashion, hairstyles, introduction of different instruments (sitar) and cultural elements (meditation and more). AND the big thing is that this all happened incredibly quickly.
The Beatles 1st album (Please Please Me) is released on February 11. 1963 and their 6th album (Rubber Soul) is released on December 3, 1965. That's 6 albums in 35 months. In 1965 They had 5 #1 hits on the charts for 12 weeks. Rubber Soul is considered to be the big changeover from the earlier type of rock to what we consider the rock of the 60's. The were a big F---king deal. There were a couple of constants in the 60's: The Vietnam War at 7pm and 11pm every night listing the number of Vietcong killed and the number of Americans killed, The Ed Sullivan Show, Walter Cronkite and The Beatles.
Here is the chart for 1965. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Billboard_Hot_100_number-one_singles_of_1965
By the way none of these songs are from Rubber Soul, but it does give you a glimpse of the beginning of the evolution of rock.
The Wikipedia article on them is not horrible a short explanation of the Beatles and is worth a look see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles
I have a friend who is a humongous Springsteen fan. When Springsteen did the Seeger Project albums and showed his respect to Pete Seeger, Brian ran out and bought some Pete Seeger. He came in the next day and gave me the CDs and said "This stuff is crap. Here take these." Now Brian loved the Springsteen albums, but didn't like the music that inspired them. That's ok, but it doesn't make Seeger's work any less.
I dunno crap about whether the original tenor parts or the modern baritone ones are better. Chances are that some folks prefer one over the other and that some folks like both because they can appreciate them within the context of the whole.
I dunno if the Beatles did it best or even did it first, but what they did was memorable, at the time and even now, 50 years later.