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The Beatles - Yellow Submarine CD (album) cover

YELLOW SUBMARINE

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

2.44 | 242 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Beatles had an animated film made based off the song Yellow Submarine towards the end of 1968 and the beginning of 1969 (yet they actually didn't lend their voices to the film). The first half of the album is dedicated to the Beatles songs used in the film (all of which presented here are new songs except for Yellow Submarine and All You Need Is Love). The second half is comprised of George Martin's orchestral scores for the album, and for the most part they are really underwhelming for someone expecting two sides worth of Beatles songs. Still, the first side makes up for the second side with some really killer tracks.

For the two older songs, you can expect unchanged versions (in fact, they are the original versions), so there's nothing to really say about that. Only a Northern Song is a song that George Harrison wrote originally for Sgt. Pepper about how everything can go wrong in a song (the title is a pun on his then company, Northern Songs, before he started Harrisongs). It has a great hammond organ theme and some dynamic drum/bass interplay as well as some interesting leads and double tracked vocals from Harrison. Some out of tune horns and mixed percussion/sound effects are also played, and in the end the song is just brilliant. All Together Now is a simple and playful piece with extremely simple lyrics. It's a great sing-a-long song, especially for the younger listeners. Hey Bulldog has a really cool unison pounding piano/guitar motif and some precision drumming from Ringo as well as some great underlying bass work from McCartney. It's All too Much is another George Harrison track that was unused in the Sgt. Pepper sessions (as far as I know). It begins with some wavy feedback and some modulated organ/keyboards and it really has this nice trance feel to it. Add in some great horns and light strings and you have yourself one of the best longer songs from the Beatles (this is the only song of theirs that is within the 6 minute range).

The second side is a much more contrived and mainly boring affair, but there are some ok moments that save it from being a complete failure. There are majestic pieces, there are dissonant and somber pieces, and in the end a whole range of moods are reflected at specific times in the film. For the most part the tracks are concise and to the point, but often they meander around the same motif for a little too long. They aren't bad pieces, but they aren't even Beatles songs, so why are they on a Beatles album? Tracks worth mentioning are the majestic Pepperland, the mysterious Sea of Holes, and the triumphant yet forbidding March of the Meanies. They also have a definite Zappa feel to them in the orchestral bits, with odd percussion interludes and bombast and majestic melodies intertwining into a cohesive whole.

Overall, Yellow Submarine is half gold and half fool's gold, but there are some redeeming factors in the second half that raise the overall rating of the album from a 2 to a 3. It's an interesting soundtrack with some high quality Beatles songs, so that would be the main draw for this album. If you're interested in orchestral soundtracks, you'll also like the second side as well. As for me, well, I'm in the middle. 3/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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