Last week saw one of those milestones, an anniversary which made a certain generation sit up with a jolt. Wednesday marked 60 years since the Beatles released their debut single, Love Me Do, lighting the spark which ignited Beatlemania and changed music forever.
The milestone immediately transported a certain generation back to the Sixties, to a time of beehives, bell bottoms and even more questionable fashion choices. For those of us who grew up listening to their parents’ record collections, other memories bubbled up to the surface.
All I need to hear are the opening notes of a Beatles song and I am back in the car on long Saturday drives with my Dad behind the wheel, Mum in the front and my brothers and I fighting in the back.
For the better part of 16 years the Beatles were the soundtrack to my life and for this week’s Life in Songs justice I made a call to the man behind the wheel, the one who sat for hours making compilations “for the road”.
Russell Kyle (aka Paw), also spent the early part of his career as a music journalist, and, while he admits that his choice could be controversial, there are few better candidates to select the songs which made the Beatles.
Twist and Shout, 1963
“Taken from the much anticipated debut album from The Fab Four, Please Please Me. Of the 14 tracks, eight were original McCartney/Lennon compositions and it’s worth noting that Paul was the lead name on the writing credits. Proving they were an excellent rock and roll band at heart, the two stand-out tracks were I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout. On the latter John took the lead and had a heavy cold coming on. He told the band: “We have to do this in one take, my voice won’t make a second”. His rasping vocals make this a classic.”
All My Loving, 1963
“The band’s second album, With the Beatles, was released a few months later in 1963 and saw the band move into the Lennon/McCartney credits on the song writing. Again the album featured 14 tracks with John and Paul writing seven songs and George making his writing debut with Don’t Bother Me. For me, the stand out track was All My Loving which had number one written over it but was never released as a 45.”
If I Fell – 1964
“This track is from A Hard Day’s Night, the soundtrack from their first movie, where every song was written by John and Paul. This was a massive hit album and possibly the first in music history where everyone knew the words to every single track! The whole album is peppered with classics and If I Fell and I Should Have known Better were the cream of the 13-track crop. If I had to pick one, it would be If I Fell.”
No Reply – 1964
“This song comes from Beatles For Sale, where Ringo made his vocal debut with a rather weak Honey Don’t. The album saw them return to 14 songs, the pick of which were No Reply, I’m A Loser and Eight Days A Week. It’s difficult pick from so many good songs but No Reply edges it with good lyrics, a great hook and strong vocals.”
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away – 1965
“Help was the band’s second movie soundtrack and a brilliant listen, from the opening title track to the closing Dizzy Miss Lizzy. The elpee also includes the most covered song of all time with an estimated 1400 different versions of the McCartney classic, Yesterday. But ‘You’ve got to hide your love away’ is the standout, not only for the way the whole song is produced but, again, for John Lennon’s vocals”
In My Life – 1965
“Many believe that Rubber Soul is the greatest Beatles album of all time. Drive My Car opens proceedings with other highlights including Girl, Norwegian Wood and Nowhere Man. John Lennon’s stunning In My Life was one of his best-ever compositions. This one resonated even more strongly after John’s death, there was so much of him in the song and when he died it became even more poignant.”
Got To Get You Into My Life – 1966
“By 1966 the band had dropped the suits and the “Beatles Cut” was replaced with much longer and wilder hair but the sheer brilliance of the band continued. Revolver was yet another 14-track gem with Here, There and Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine and Got To Get You Into My Life, with the latter the hard pick of the best. You should also check out a great cover by Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, one of the few bands to really do a Beatles song real justice.”
A Day in the Life – 1967
“Now we get to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – the album consistently voted the greatest of all time. It is, undoubtedly, the most creative album the band ever produced and extremely difficult to pick a stand-out-song when you have the likes of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, She’s Leaving Home, Lovely Rita and Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!. A Day in the Life shades it and tells such a great story. While recording, the orchestra was told to play all their instruments to the extreme, not to worry about the tune. It almost becomes a rabble but builds to a great crescendo.”
I Am the Walrus – 1967
“Magical Mystery Tour was, in many ways a strange album and a lot of Beatles diehards didn’t get the idea of the band taking a tour on bus. But, it did provide some brilliant songs in I Am The Walrus, Hello Goodbye, Strawberry Fields Forever and the genius of All You Need is Love. What Beatles fan can forget the band singing All You Need Is Love with a world-wide live TV audience tuning in to see an impeccable John Lennon vocal performance while chewing gum the whole way through! I am the Walrus is my pick though, such an off the wall song, but a great one.”
I’m So Tired – 1968
“Did this band ever make a bad elpee? The White Album is bulging with great tracks including Blackbird, Sexy Sadie, Back in the USSR and Rocky Raccoon. John once allegedly said of Ringo’s drumming skills (with his tongue firmly in cheek) that he probably wasn’t the best drummer in The Beatles, but it is worth taking a listen to his playing on Don’t Pass Me By. But I’m so tired is my choice from this brilliant double album.”
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight – 1969
“When Abbey Road was released people were asking, “is this the end of The Beatles?” but they were back to their brilliant best. The quirky, murderous Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Here Comes The Sun, Mean Mr Mustard, and Polythene Pam make the album one to remember, but my favourite is actually two songs, Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight, which merge seamlessly into one perfect track.”
Across The Universe – 1970
“For the finale I am going with the old adage of leave the audience happy, which the band did with their final album, Let it Be. It is a magnificent record, from the opening Get Back to the closing Let It Be. Throw in John’s two beauties Don’t Let Me Down and Across The Universe and you have a production of some substance. The latter is a beautiful song, with John’s haunting melodies and wonderful lyrics.”
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