Some true believers will be along in a bit to put us straight.
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It's difficult to say what is the best Beatles album because they're all different. From 63 to 69 the band went through amazing changes (and hairstyles). Each album reflected this with increasing sophistication and studio time.
It's a very long and winding road from Please Please Me to Abbey Road and it's hard to believe it's the same band only 6 years later.
In general terms you could say there's the Beatles before and after hallucinogens - basically the years of Beatlemania 63-66 up to and including Rubber Soul.
This is still the favourite period (and the lasting image) for many people when their lyrics were straightforward and generally upbeat. The 1964 A Hard Days Night album might be the peaking of this Beatlemania phase.
From Revolver onwards their music become increasingly more experimental and introspective and this probably peaks with the trippy Sergeant Pepper (Lucy in the Sky, Benefit of Mr Kite, Within Without You, Day in the Life) and the White album (Revolution 9, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Long, Long, Long etc).
My personal favourite is Abbey Road because it's the one I'm most likely to play without skipping from start to finish.
Side 2 (on vinyl) for me is a good a side of music as there has ever been, and side 1 is not too bad either.
As for the concert/ touring years (62-66), I think Ron Howard's Eight Days a Week DVD is great place to start.
Beatles '65. They sound fresh and wonderful. They're having fun. They may not be experimenting yet, but the songwriting is ever more secure & natural. Yeah, the stereo quality is 1960's clumsy and prehistoric, but the overall sound quality of my bought-the-first-week-it-came-out Capitol Records disc is a pleasure -- fresh, clear & punchy.
yeti42 yeah.. I've always kinda thought Beatles fanatics were really more nostalgic and like to think that because a band was a "first" that makes them better. I never fallen in love with most of their music and didn't / don't understand the hype... But I see myself kinda coming around..
Songs I don't like and don't get why others like them:
-Strawberry Fields Forever
-Tomorrow Never Knows
-Lucy in the sky with Diamonds -Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Those are just from the Rolling Stone top 50.. However, as I was reading through the top 50, there's alot more than I gave them credit for.
There are "camps" when it comes to Beatles albums. While Sgt. Pepper was proclaimed the best in the late 60's, I don't know anyone who thinks that now. For some it's Abbey Road, for others (like Mazzy at The Vinyl Community on YouTube) Revolver. For me it's Rubber Soul.
As for good live concert DVD's, no, there are none. Well, maybe the rooftop concert, if you like that sort of thing. The problem is, they weren't all that good a live band (honest. I saw them in '65), and nobody was doing good live recordings when they were still performing. The sound at their live shows was a joke.
The Let It Be album was originally being mixed by the great Glyn Johns, but Lennon changed his mind and gave it to Phil Spector. Bad idea. I have heard the album is being readied for a boxset reissue, and I sure hope we get the Glyn John's mixes. Are his mixes what are heard on the Let It Be Naked album? I gotta check out that album; I've always hated the original, by far their worst album. Grim, depressing. The movie too.
"I think both the red and blue “greatest hits” additions are must haves for a great overall Beatles mix."
The Blue album was where it began for me. It’s a great compilation and apparently the tracks were chosen by the band themselves.
The 1970s UK pressing of the Blue album (67-70) on vinyl is just awesome. Everything vinyl should be.
I don’t think its vivid exhuberance has ever been matched on CD though the 1993 remaster is acceptable.
I am currently re-reading the book " The Beatles Recording Sessions ".
What makes it so interesting is reading about how an album was recorded and then go listen to it , especially now that my system is good enough to reveal the details described in the book .
"In general terms you could say there's the Beatles before and after hallucinogens - basically the years of Beatlemania 63-66 up to and including Rubber Soul." from cd318
This is kind of true , but a more applicable description would be
the touring years and the studio years .
As for my favorites , I'd say the studio years and to my own surprise
the mono versions rival the stereo is listening enjoyment .
The "Let It Be Naked" and the anthology recordings are really good
at showing how good the band was .
This is a good time to " Stay Home and Listen to the Music "
as my Cardas Audio T-shirt says .
For what it's worth it seems that the critics largely believe Revolver is their best. I prefer not to look at a body of work that way. What fascinates me most is listening to their evolution and how everything organically grew along the way through creative experimentation and challenging themselves while reacting to the world around them.