The folks over at Ultimate Classic Rock published their ranking of the Beatles’ albums a couple of weeks ago. God bless them, they tried, but they got it all wrong. So I’m here to set them straight with my ranking. Enjoy!
13. Yellow Submarine (1969)
#13 on UCR‘s list
Yellow Submarine is really only half a Beatles album — the other side is George Martin’s score for the lackluster animated film. Even the half that belongs to the Fab Four contains only four original songs joined by two tunes that appeared earlier. The Yellow Submarine soundtrack really only has value to hardcore Beatles fans.
12. Beatles for Sale (1964)
#12 on UCR‘s list
You can tell on Beatles for Sale that the demands of Beatlemania had taken their toll on John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The weary, somber faces on the cover and the tunes produced on the quick within demonstrate how weary the Fab Four must been at that time. Even though a subpar Beatles album beats most any other artist any day, Beatles For Sale is a noticeable drop from “A Hard Day’s Night,” which preceded this album by a mere 21 weeks.
11. Please Please Me (1963)
#10 on UCR‘s list
Here is the beginning of the Fab Four in all their sweaty, frenetic glory. Soulful, immediate, and exciting, Please Please Me shows the promise of so many great things to come. It’s easy to see how Great Britain — and the rest of the world soon after — would succumb to the charms of the lads from Liverpool.
10. Let It Be (1970)
#8 on UCR‘s list
It’s obvious without even seeing the movie that the Beatles had fractured beyond repair. Graceful moments like the title cut and “The Long and Winding Road,” the band’s final two number one hits, and other magical songs like “Across the Universe” and “Two of Us” fall in between odd tracks, creating a record that’s uneven as a whole. At least closing the album with “Get Back” allows the Beatles to leave on a high note.
9. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
#9 on UCR‘s list
For the Beatles’ 1967 television special Magical Mystery Tour, the band released the soundtrack in an unusual format in the UK — a double-EP consisting of two seven-inch records with three songs each. The U.S. release appeared on an LP with five singles that hadn’t appeared on an album previously added. The TV special songs range from the infamous, inscrutable “I am the Walrus” to the elegant, nostalgic “Your Mother Should Know,” and the addition of the singles prevents the soundtrack songs from being too uneven. Magical Mystery Tour is a pleasant little collection.
8. With the Beatles (1963)
#11 on UCR‘s list
This album is a perfect snapshot of Beatlemania. With the Beatles captures the R&B drenched, ready-for-live-performance vibe of the Fab Four’s early work. The soul covers blend in well with the spirited originals. I dare you: try not to tap your foot or clap your hands. And if you close your eyes, you can almost hear the teenage girls screaming.
7. Help! (1965)
#6 on UCR‘s list
The Fab Four’s second film soundtrack serves as a nice bridge from their lighter-weight early days to the deeper, more experimental stuff to come. Only the first seven cuts appeared in the movie Help!, but the other songs — including the two cover tunes — fit nicely with the soundtrack songs. The Beatles rock nicely on hits like the title track and “Ticket to Ride,” while leaving space for more delicate, acoustic moments like the Simon & Garfunkel-esque “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and the eternally beautiful “Yesterday.” It’s a fine effort for a band at a turning point in its career.