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THE BEATLES

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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The Beatles biography
It goes without saying that the Beatles were one of the most important, influential and progressive bands in the history of rock and pop music. There are many places on the Internet where a full biography may be found, and their history has been covered so many times that here we consider only their place as a progressive band.

The music of the Beatles was notable mainly for the songwriting partnership of Lennon/McCartney, which bucked the trend of bands going to songwriting houses for their material and helped to convince other bands to write their own songs. On their earliest albums, it was the quality of the Lennon/McCartney songs that stands out from the covers that were also included.

The other aspect of the Beatles music that remained a constant throughout their carreer as a band is the wide range of influences and styles that they assimilated into their own. Their hunger for experimentation in style and sound was to last and expand right up to their swansong album, "Abbey Road".

A frequent speculation is that it was the Beatles who finally swayed Bob Dylan in 1964/5 to use electric instruments, and in so doing brought about the fusion of folk and rock that would lead to the development of psychedelia, via the Byrd's "Eight Miles High" and the San Francisco music scene, "Swinging London" and other movements. In fact, many other factors led to the rise of those cultures, but the importance of the Beatles' music should not be overlooked.

The influences were mutual; The Beatles and the Byrds particularly not only exchanged a number of ideas, but also met several times - including one notable occasion which included Bob Dylan and Peter Fonda that resulted in the song "She said, she said" ("Revolver"). It was Roger McGuinn of the Byrds who turned George Harrison onto the sound of the sitar and led George to have lessons from Ravi Shankar.

Harrison also adapted the riff from The Byrds' "Bells of Rhymney" to write the song "If I Needed Someone", dedicating the song to Roger McGuinn who wrote it, and used the sitar in "Norwegian Wood", both songs appearing on the "Rubber Soul" album, an album that contains so many song writing styles that it can be difficult to believe that it's all the same band. "The Word" particularly seems to herald the off-beat musical and rhythmic style that would be prevalent in psychedelia, and the wider-ranging folk-like feeling and more introspective lyrics in many songs reflects the impact of th...
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The Beatles official website

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THE BEATLES shows & tickets


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THE BEATLES discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE BEATLES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 272 ratings
Please Please Me
1963
2.84 | 257 ratings
With The Beatles
1963
3.50 | 291 ratings
A Hard Day's Night
1964
2.71 | 252 ratings
Beatles For Sale
1964
3.40 | 310 ratings
Help!
1965
3.87 | 449 ratings
Rubber Soul
1965
4.36 | 599 ratings
Revolver
1966
4.31 | 684 ratings
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
1967
4.13 | 467 ratings
Magical Mystery Tour (US Version)
1967
4.15 | 510 ratings
The Beatles
1968
2.43 | 235 ratings
Yellow Submarine
1969
4.49 | 653 ratings
Abbey Road
1969
3.20 | 344 ratings
Let It Be
1970
3.53 | 123 ratings
Let It Be - Naked
2003

THE BEATLES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.97 | 24 ratings
The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl
1977
1.81 | 14 ratings
The Beatles Live! at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962
1977
3.11 | 42 ratings
Live at the BBC
1994
2.07 | 6 ratings
Last Night In Hamburg
1999

THE BEATLES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.54 | 37 ratings
A Hard Day's Night
1964
3.10 | 30 ratings
Help!
1965
3.09 | 3 ratings
The Beatles At The Shea Stadium
1966
3.84 | 53 ratings
Yellow Submarine
1968
3.93 | 23 ratings
Let It Be
1970
2.97 | 27 ratings
Magical Mystery Tour
1978
5.00 | 1 ratings
Ready Steady Go! The Beatles Live
1985
4.86 | 7 ratings
The First U.S Visit
1991
5.00 | 2 ratings
Video Collection
2003
4.05 | 3 ratings
A Long And Winding Road
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
In Washington D.C, Feb. 11th, 1964
2003
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles With Tony Sheridan - The Beginnings In Hamburg
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Destination Hamburg
2007
5.00 | 1 ratings
Turn Left At Greenland
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
In Performance
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Yesterday
2008
1.92 | 5 ratings
The Beatles At The Budokan
2008

THE BEATLES Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 6 ratings
Introducing The Beatles
1963
1.88 | 10 ratings
Meet the Beatles
1964
1.66 | 6 ratings
Something New
1964
1.42 | 5 ratings
The Beatles' Story
1964
4.00 | 7 ratings
Beatles '65
1964
2.61 | 14 ratings
The Beatles' Second Album
1964
2.15 | 24 ratings
A Hard Day's Night (US version)
1964
2.09 | 4 ratings
The Beatles' First
1964
2.56 | 27 ratings
Rubber Soul (US)
1965
2.22 | 26 ratings
Help (US version)
1965
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Early Beatles
1965
3.33 | 3 ratings
Beatles VI
1965
3.20 | 13 ratings
Yesterday and Today
1966
2.32 | 6 ratings
A Collection Of Beatles Oldies (But Goldies !)
1966
3.31 | 20 ratings
Revolver (US)
1966
3.67 | 30 ratings
Hey Jude
1970
3.18 | 71 ratings
1962-1966
1973
3.68 | 82 ratings
1967-1970
1973
3.12 | 11 ratings
Rock 'n' Roll Music
1976
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Beatles Tapes (From The David Wigg Interviews)
1976
3.82 | 11 ratings
Love Songs
1977
4.75 | 4 ratings
Rarities
1978
5.00 | 5 ratings
The Beatles Album Collections
1978
3.13 | 4 ratings
The Beatles Ballads
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Beatles Box
1980
2.27 | 3 ratings
Rarities (US version)
1980
5.00 | 3 ratings
E.P. Collections
1981
5.00 | 1 ratings
Hear The Beatles Tell All
1981
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Talk Downunder (1964)
1982
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Beatles Singles Collections
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Complete Silver Beatles
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
First Movement
1982
2.50 | 2 ratings
Reel Music
1982
4.40 | 5 ratings
20 Greatest Hits
1982
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Mono Collection
1982
5.00 | 5 ratings
The Collection
1982
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Original Mono-Record Box
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles On Compact Disc - Help / Rubber Soul / Revolver
1987
2.07 | 6 ratings
The Early Tapes of The Beatles
1987
3.37 | 53 ratings
Past Masters Volume 1
1988
4.10 | 54 ratings
Past Masters Volume 2
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Conversation Disc Series
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Talk Downunder Vol. II
1990
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Silver Beatles - Original Decca Tapes and Cavern Club Rehearsals 1962
1991
2.81 | 50 ratings
Anthology 1
1995
3.87 | 55 ratings
Anthology 2
1996
3.53 | 49 ratings
Anthology 3
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Words Of Love
1998
3.36 | 36 ratings
Yellow Submarine Songtrack
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Magical And Mystical Words
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Things We Said Today
2000
3.79 | 68 ratings
The Beatles '1'
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Beat Box
2001
4.38 | 8 ratings
Capitol Albums Vol 1
2004
4.43 | 7 ratings
Capitol Albums Vol 2
2006
2.92 | 63 ratings
Love
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Beatles - 1967-69 - Acoustic Submarine
2006
4.97 | 29 ratings
The Beatles In Mono Box Set
2009
4.72 | 42 ratings
The Beatles Stereo Box Set
2009
4.79 | 29 ratings
Past Masters (Remastered)
2009
4.26 | 26 ratings
The Beatles 1962-1970
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Anthology Highlights
2011
4.00 | 3 ratings
Tomorrow Never Knows
2012

THE BEATLES Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.29 | 5 ratings
My Bonnie
1961
2.86 | 12 ratings
Love Me Do
1962
2.47 | 10 ratings
Please Please Me
1963
2.44 | 9 ratings
From Me To You
1963
3.67 | 12 ratings
She Loves You
1963
2.56 | 9 ratings
I Want To Hold Your Hand
1963
2.67 | 3 ratings
The Beatles Christmas Record
1963
3.33 | 9 ratings
Twist And Shout
1963
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Beatles Hits
1963
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Beatles No. 1
1963
2.56 | 7 ratings
All My Loving
1964
3.50 | 4 ratings
Long Tall Sally
1964
3.96 | 5 ratings
Extracts From The Film A Hard Day's Night
1964
2.00 | 1 ratings
Extracts From The Album A Hard Day's Night
1964
2.50 | 7 ratings
Beatles For Sale
1964
2.00 | 1 ratings
Souvenir of Their Visit to America
1964
2.00 | 1 ratings
Four By The Beatles
1964
3.33 | 9 ratings
Can't Buy Me Love
1964
3.33 | 9 ratings
A Hard Days Night
1964
3.33 | 9 ratings
I Feel Fine
1964
3.00 | 7 ratings
If I Fell
1964
2.00 | 1 ratings
Another Beatles Christmas Record
1964
3.56 | 9 ratings
Ticket To Ride
1965
3.60 | 10 ratings
Help !
1965
3.67 | 9 ratings
Day Tripper
1965
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Third Christmas Record
1965
2.00 | 1 ratings
4 By The Beatles
1965
2.00 | 1 ratings
Beatles For Sale No. 2
1965
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Million Sellers
1965
3.67 | 6 ratings
Yesterday
1966
3.88 | 8 ratings
Nowhere Man
1966
4.10 | 10 ratings
Paperback Writer
1966
3.57 | 14 ratings
Eleanor Rigby
1966
2.00 | 2 ratings
Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas
1966
4.88 | 20 ratings
Strawberry Fields Forever
1967
3.47 | 15 ratings
All You Need Is Love
1967
4.03 | 11 ratings
Hello Goodbye
1967
2.17 | 4 ratings
Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
1967
3.81 | 20 ratings
Magical Mystery Tour (UK Version)
1967
3.91 | 11 ratings
Lady Madonna
1968
4.23 | 19 ratings
Hey Jude
1968
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Sixth Christmas Record
1968
4.00 | 14 ratings
Get Back
1969
3.09 | 14 ratings
Ballad Of John And Yoko
1969
3.10 | 13 ratings
Something
1969
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Beatles Seventh Christmas Record
1969
3.07 | 9 ratings
Let It Be
1970
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Beatles Christmas Album
1970
3.50 | 2 ratings
From Then To You
1970
3.68 | 10 ratings
Yesterday
1976
3.57 | 7 ratings
Back In The U.S.S.R.
1976
3.00 | 5 ratings
Twist And Shout
1977
3.91 | 16 ratings
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends
1978
3.00 | 2 ratings
Movie Medley
1982
2.00 | 5 ratings
Love Me Do
1982
3.00 | 3 ratings
Baby It's You
1995
3.89 | 9 ratings
Free As A Bird
1995
3.92 | 7 ratings
Real Love
1996
3.80 | 5 ratings
Yellow Submarine Songtrack Sampler
1999
3.50 | 2 ratings
Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows (promo)
2006
2.33 | 3 ratings
Love (promo)
2006
3.33 | 3 ratings
Help! (7 Song Radio Sampler)
2007

THE BEATLES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Help! by BEATLES, THE album cover DVD/Video, 1965
3.10 | 30 ratings

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Help!
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars If the "A Hard Day`s Night" film showed The Beatles during a hard day of work, mostly being themselves and really not acting characters and even improvising their parts, this "Help!" film showed them in a film with a story and with them trying to act their parts in a more fixed way in that story. A story which is like a parody from the James Bond film series of the sixties, with some funny scenes, and really showing the acting limitations of the members of the band. Not as good as their first film, but made with much more budget (a film in colour, this time, and filmed in several locations in Europe and in the Bahamas), it even shows some of their wit and charisma, and only by this this film is somewhat funny, but it is maybe their less interesting film, in my opinion, even than their very underrated "Magical Mystery Tour" film from 1967.

I never have seen the films made by Elvis Presley in those years (and I really don`t want to see them), but I have read some reviews about them and they were considered as very bad in quality. I also read in a book written about The Beatles that they even did not like this "Help!" film very much, even calling it as "cardboard". I agree with them. I think that for them making this film was like doing another job that their manager had for them. So, even if they were working very hard composing songs, playing concerts, doing interviews, etc., they still had to make this film. It was the high time of the "Beatlemania" and they were working very hard recording two albums per year from 1963 to 1965, and also recording songs which only were released on singles. It is also very known now that by 1965 they have met Bob Dylan in the U.S., , who introduced them to the use of a herbal substance which they used to have some fun while doing this film. Even they mentioned it, they joked and laughed about this use in the "Anthology" video series.

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 Please Please Me by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1963
3.00 | 272 ratings

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Please Please Me
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Novri Leonard

4 stars Although I'm not surprised to find The Beatles is mentioned in this site but it is a bit surprise for me to find Please Please Me is included here. We may call this album is the entry point and The Beatles breakthrough to the the world of Rock n' Roll and certainly the dawn of their marvellous year. But I believe it's not their "dawn", since they had been around way before Please Please Me. They had joined forces with Tony Sheridan recording My Bonnie and done some of their recordings: Ain't She Sweet and Cry For A Shadow for instance back in 1960-1961.

From the musical side Please Please Me may be viewed as a simple straight rock n' roll/pop rock album but The Beatles never got stucked with it as they kept evolved musically to become more mature and more complex with every release they offered. So for me this album is very important if we want to see the whole picture of The Beatles and how their music grew from one album to another and another and so on until they called it a day in 1970.

I give it 4 stars, becuase eventhough it's not a materpiece but it's essential at least to myself.

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 Please Please Me by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1963
3.00 | 272 ratings

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Please Please Me
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy

3 stars Despite sounding late 50s / early 60s pop this is really an extremely important album in music history. By playing the musical game and scoring pop hits on the charts THE BEATLES found instant popularity in their native UK before conquering the rest of the world soon thereafter. This is the first step in their conquest of the music charts which allowed them the financial freedom to explore music to their hearts desire just a few years down the road which would jump start the entire musical world and allowing free-form creativity to blossom in myriad directions including progressive rock.

Despite being the debut this album has virtually zero indicators of what was to come as THE BEATLES themselves probably had zero clues of what they were to become. This album finds the band with a brand new drummer by the name of Ringo Starr fresh in the seat of the recently booted Pete Best while the famous John Lennon / Paul McCartney songwriting team was only beginning to get their engines greased and their mojo running with George Harrison in their shadow but still sneaking in a contribution or two.

This album is only half originals with the remaining being covers of various artists. This is a mixed bag. Songs I like include.... "I Saw Her Standing There", "Chains", title track, "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You", "Do You Want To Know A Secret", "Twist And Shout." The rest I don't like. That means half this album is good and the rest I could live without. If the album was as good as the half I like I would rate this higher but because a few of these good songs are really great early 60s pop songs and this is THE BEATLES, it seems like 3 stars is a perfect fit for this debut album even though I can't imagine not having it as a part of my greater musical collection. Only good but still very essential for me.

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 Anthology 2 by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1996
3.87 | 55 ratings

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Anthology 2
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The overwhelming success of the "Anthology 1" compilation probably surprised even die-hard Beatle fans who, while still not being able to understand how someone could be blasť about them, may have thought that such an eclectic collection of rarities, live performances and outtakes would only appeal to those of their own obsessed ilk. But the reality was that even a quarter of a century after their breakup their legacy had only grown larger in size and stature, due mainly to the fact that no artist or group had even come close to having the earth-shaking impact that the Fab Four had on civilization. Whether it was fate or incredibly fortunate timing or God's will that made the doors of fame open wide for the quartet from Liverpool they still to this day stand head and shoulders above all musical entities that have come and gone in the history of music. I suspect that they'll continue to be dissected and talked about a thousand years from now with the same reverence and admiration that they're granted today.

The first edition of the anthology centered on presenting the aural history of how they rose from the humblest of beginnings (via crude home recordings and amateurish demos) to become a solid, tight and cohesive combo of dedicated musicians and singer/songwriters who worked like the devil to constantly improve their skills. That they had raw talent and irresistible charisma is beyond debate but that double CD set illustrated clearly their indefatigable collective drive to push themselves to not only reach but exceed their potential. Few can say they changed the world they lived in as much as they did. "Anthology 2" is a continuation of the same method, uncovering and exposing the inner workings of their genius by allowing us to hear more of the behind-the-scenes stuff that led up to what we experienced as the final product eventually released on their heralded LPs. Roughly covering the time period from the "Help" soundtrack sessions to around the time of their infamous trip to India in February of 1968, the listener gets to hear how some of their most beloved compositions evolved out of incomplete and sometimes hazy outlines of song ideas as well as pointing out by default the huge contributions made by their producer extraordinaire, George Martin, and the courageous engineering crew of Abbey Road Studios that helped to turn their skimpy sketches into full-fledged masterpieces.

They open with the second new Beatles tune to be released since the band's demise, "Real Love." This one, even more than the stunning "Free as a Bird," has John Lennon's fingerprints all over it because on this one they really didn't have to add to the number's chord structure or alter the arrangement very much. Credit the phenomenal Jeff Lynne for doing another outstanding job of taking John's unadorned cassette recording and making it palatable so that the surviving threesome could embellish it and bestow upon it the indefinable Beatle magic that sets it apart from all others. Following that impressive curtain-raiser you're treated to studio run-throughs of seven of their songs. "Yes It Is" is presented in a stripped-down form that I actually prefer to the muddled final version that featured their sometimes off-key 3-part harmonies. Two of these numbers never saw the light of day until '96 and with good reason. "If You've Got Trouble" with Ringo singing the lead is weak and "That Means a Lot" sounds like they were aiming at erecting a Phil Spector-like wall of sound. Both provide proof that they were human after all and not every one of their compositions was a keeper. On "Yesterday" it's like you're sitting right there in the room with McCartney as he teaches Harrison and Lennon the chords and then sings it like it'd been around for decades. Next comes five live cuts, four of which were taped at the ABC Theatre in Blackpool for a TV show in August of '65. The most intriguing is Paul's debut of "Yesterday" for the rapt audience sans the group, complete with a string quartet behind him. The fifth live selection features George crooning "Everybody's Trying to be my Baby" from their historic Shea Stadium concert later that same month. The next ten tracks are more rough renditions of some of their most famous tunes. One is an instrumental called "12 Bar Original" that carries a palpable Booker T. and the MGs vibe but it's really not much more than an in-studio jam. I found "Tomorrow Never Knows" to be a standout because it demonstrates how adventurously progressive they were starting to get by experimenting with unique effects and radical recording techniques. On "And Your Bird Can Sing" the vocalists have the giggles so badly that one must suspect that they'd been smoking funny cigarettes at the time. A knockout is the string quartet-only accompanying track for "Eleanor Rigby" that shines a light on Martin's invaluable ability to take something merely good and turn it into something ground-breaking. I also found "I'm Only Sleeping" with stripped-down vocal, acoustic guitars and bongos to be very cool.

We then get two more live cuts from Nippon Budokan Hall in Japan from June of '66 that, to my ears, belie their fatigue and frustration with trying to perform on stage. (I still think their "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" LP offers a fantastic as well as the best encapsulation of their energetic and exciting in-person presence. See my review of that disc on this site for more info.) It's at this juncture that a new, freer mindset becomes evident as they've made the decision to no longer do concerts but concentrate on taking modern music where no other rock & roll entities have ever dared to take it. We're treated to three different looks at the formation of the psychedelic "Strawberry Fields Forever" that includes upright bass, slide guitar and some of the earliest use of the Mellotron. They obviously weren't afraid of taking risks. Another perk is hearing "A Day in the Life" with John counting aloud where the ascending orchestral mayhem will later be inserted. The instrumental take of Harrison's "Within You, Without You" demonstrates how comfortable he'd become in a relatively short time at manipulating the ungainly sitar while their loose demo of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is stunningly aggressive and rockin'. I've always liked their goofy "You Know My Name (Look up my number)" and the alternate version included here is just as engaging in its own silly way. All of the other tracks included in this 20-song stretch share a common characteristic. Taken at face value you'll often wonder how they managed to turn disjointed, unrefined melody ideas into the classics that we know and love. It's not unlike witnessing the awkward, crude initial studio takes of some of Yes' prog gems that were added as bonuses on some of their digitally remastered re-releases. It's a miracle they didn't give up on them before they had a chance to fill out. In the case of the Beatles it was no doubt their ability, learned from experience, to see beyond the shaky chord progressions and unfinished lyric lines to what they heard in their heads. Not to mention George Martin's uncanny knack for letting them venture into places that no one had ever dreamed of venturing before and making their aural fantasies become a reality. The album ends with John singing "Across the Universe," a beautiful tune that comes off as being much more accessible without the overproduced distractions that marred it on "Let It Be."

Put out on March 18, 1996, almost four months after its predecessor, "Anthology 2" went straight to the #1 spot on the charts despite being another double CD package. It seemed that the public's appetite for anything Beatle-related was still insatiable. Serious musicologists of all ages will find this collection intriguing and informative because it so honestly portrays John, Paul, George and Ringo as fearless explorers that set no limits on what was possible for them to create together. If you're a fledgling songwriter you owe it to yourself to give this a listen and learn from the masters how to never be scared of sticking with a composition that you know has potential even when it sounds fragmented and unfocused. The Beatles always seemed to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and they knew that getting there was an exhilarating challenge that made it all worthwhile. Check it out.

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 Anthology 1 by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
2.81 | 50 ratings

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Anthology 1
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There are certain dates in history that mankind will never forget. December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001 come to mind. But, on a personal level, I'd add February 9, 1964 to that list for that was the day my world was shaken to its core. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 14, sitting in my den watching the Ed Sullivan Show with my mom and dad. Unless you'd been living in a cave you knew that the main attraction that night was to be the American television debut of The Beatles. Six or seven weeks earlier I'd first heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on KLIF when the "Weird Beard" introduced his loyal listeners to what he said was a band from England that were going to be big. The song was different from anything I'd ever heard and it was so irresistible I was immediately mesmerized. After that their tunes seemed to multiply on the airwaves like rabbits so I and 70 million other viewers couldn't wait to get a gander at the Fab Four. I could scarcely take it in. They were spectacular in every sense. They looked fantastic with their radical long hair, snazzy suits and cool guitars. Their confident attitude streamed right out of the screen and, to top it all off, they looked like they were enjoying the best time of their lives. When they finished playing they bowed gallantly to their audience while I tried to pick my lower jaw up off the floor. All questions about what I was going to do when I grew up had been answered. I wanted to do what John, Paul, George and Ringo were doing. I was never the same.

If you're under 40 years of age try to imagine what life was like before microwave ovens, cell phones, laptops and the internet. That's what music was like before The Beatles. Elvis had been a rebel eight years earlier but he'd long since sold out to be a movie star and his songs were crap. The Beach Boys had brought something new to the table but they were singing about a lifestyle that was foreign to most of us. To a kid in Dallas surfing was about as relatable as snow skiing. The Beatles didn't just open a door to a universe of new sounds and possibilities; they blew it off its hinges. I felt like Dorothy waking up in Oz. As I write this it's been almost 50 years since they turned my little world upside down and, whether you acknowledge it or not, there will never be another group that'll come close to having the planetary impact they had on civilization. Their music and influence will literally live on for as long as the earth orbits the sun.

The six-part television event, "The Beatles Anthology," was a superb documentary that aired in November 1995 and this double CD set, "Volume 1," came out at the same time. The clamor for anything that hadn't been previously released by The Beatles was through the roof so it went straight to #1 on the album charts and stayed there for 3 solid weeks. Beatlemania was alive and well again. The sixty tracks it contains is a comprehensive mix of primitive home recordings, short interview quips from the band members (as well as manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin), historic live performances caught on tape and in-the-studio demos and alternate takes. If you're not a Beatle fan or don't understand why they're so revered by baby boomers then this might be nothing more than a curiosity piece. But for guys like me who were changed into "altered boys" by their music and their mien it's a treasure chest full of rare gems.

It starts with the first new Beatle song we'd heard in 25 years, "Free as a Bird." All I can say is that it lived up to its hype (see my review of the single for more info) and climbed to #6 on Billboard. Then you're taken as far back as you can go with some rustic recordings of Lennon's "Quarrymen" skiffle outfit, followed by some home tapings of John and Paul with bassist Stuart Sutcliffe practicing at McCartney's house. (Their hilarious fooling around on "You'll Be Mine" is priceless.) Next comes their Hamburg studio sessions with Pete Best on drums when they made their first record, "My Bonnie/Ain't She Sweet." The audition sessions for Decca have rough edges but it's obvious that John and Paul were maturing as vocalists and that the all night gigs in Germany had made them tighter. Their energetic version of "Searchin'" is a standout. Their first EMI session includes their initial stab at "Love Me Do" but they sound timid and unsure of themselves. One can hear why Martin suggested they needed a better drummer going forward. An assortment of inferior takes on various numbers ensues, the most interesting of them being "One After 909"due to the chatter overheard while working out the arrangement. Their appearance on a British TV show in October '63 playing "I'll Get You" is included and while you can hear girls screaming in the background they don't take away from the band's bold delivery of that great song.

Five of the tunes off their debut LP were preserved from an intimate Swedish radio simulcast where they performed them live in a studio. Ringo's drums are punchy and the foursome sound crisp and self-assured. Their famous gig for the queen at the Prince of Wales Theatre is included when they charmed the pants off all in attendance with their cheeky wit and confident attitude. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from an English TV variety show is a highlight because they kill it. A Paris studio take of "Can't Buy Me Love" is remarkable because they were trying unsuccessfully to put harmony lines on the chorus. I never get tired of hearing "All My Loving" from the aforementioned Sullivan show and I'm glad it's been saved for posterity's sake. Except for a block of 4 numbers performed live at IBC studios in London for a TV broadcast (including their rendition of the R&B classic, "Shout") the rest of the album consists of demos and outtakes of some of their most memorable early material. Of note is their attempt to play "I'll Be Back" in 6/4 time, George's "You Know What To Do" that shows he still had a long way to go in fine-tuning his composing skills, and a loose "No Reply" run-through that proves they weren't all work and no play. They end with a raw but torrid performance of "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" that takes you out on a high note.

What I find most intriguing about this compilation is that it presents The Beatles as fallible but determined songwriter/musicians who toiled tirelessly to push themselves ever harder to achieve the apex of their talents. They certainly possessed loads of potential but they weren't prodigies like Mozart who wrote concertos at age 5. No, they were four normal guys in love with rock & roll who didn't want to do anything else but see how good they could be. That's why so many teens like me were drawn to them on that February night. They were just a quartet of regular fellas chasing a dream together and having a ball doing it. It made each one of us, me included, realize that if we could find other like-minded rock & roll fanatics to form a combo with and if we worked like the devil to steadily improve our instrument-playing and singing skills then the sky was the limit. The 60 tracks on this CD show how the greatest band in history started at the rock bottom and, by patient trial-and-error, worked their way up to the peak of the industry where they made an indelible mark on the world that will never fade.

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 The Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.15 | 510 ratings

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The Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by thebig_E

5 stars Some of this album is classic, and some of it not so much. I chose to go with a 5-star rating however because of one reason: The Beatles (White Album) is the most diverse collection of songs ever created. Period. Almost every style of music is explored in the album's 30 songs. Rock n' roll ("Back in the U.S.S.R."), children's music ("Piggies"), jazz/lounge ("Rocky Raccoon"), blues ("Yer Blues"), hard rock/heavy metal ("Helter Skelter"), and even sound collage ("Revolution 9"). That's just to name a few; there's probably several that I'm missing.

This could have been altered in some way to make a single album, but that would have just taken away most of its charm. It is not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it represents the Beatles at their most creative. This is raw, untouched talent.

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 Abbey Road by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.49 | 653 ratings

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Abbey Road
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by thebig_E

5 stars My favourite Beatles album. This was their swan song even though Let It Be was released after it. A concise collection of enjoyable songs.

"Come Together", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", and "Here Comes The Sun" alone show the diversity of The Beatles. The medley that takes up most of side 2 is one of the best moments of their career. A burst of energy from a band that was near the breaking point, the side 2 medley is a musical brainstorm that never fails to put a smile on your face.

Abbey Road is my Beatles choice along with Rubber Soul and The Beatles (White Album). Recommended.

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 Please Please Me by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1963
3.00 | 272 ratings

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Please Please Me
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Sure, if time didn't exist, this collection of highly infectious (I consider I Saw Her Standing There to be one of the rock-n-rolliest and the rockiest songs ever) but simplistic rock-n-roll and R&B tunes would not even be here. But you have to consider this album in the context of the history of popular music, which after the initial rock-n-roll explosion was growing stale and was revitalized single- handedly by the Beatles, and the band itself - not only the most influential but arguably the proggiess - in the sense of how they progressed in only three years. In terms of energy this is miles ahead of all the popular music of its time. Even the covers by the band sounded much better than the originals. And don't forget the legendary story of it being recorded in only half a day (Beatles were releasing albums twice a year these days - can anyone now believe it?). This is not a masterpiece of course, but in the context of what I mentioned before, is absolutely essential.

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 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.31 | 684 ratings

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Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by iluvmarillion

5 stars Paul McCartney has been in the media lately criticizing the Rolling Stones for borrowing from the Sgt. Peppers album, both from the album cover and musical themes (psychedelic rock). I don't know why he chooses to criticize The Rolling Stones? Their Satanic Majesties Request was one of the least successful Stones albums. I would have thought that Mick Jagger's charismatic appeal combined with America's love for rhythm & blues and Keith Richard's innate ability to invent new riffs, is the reason that the Rolling Stones were so successful (although it seems that Paul has some support from Ginger Baker who is critical of the Stones musical abilities).

For proggers like myself, it all started with ITCOTCK, but in terms of influence, was ITCOTCK (incredible album that it was) more influential on other progressive rock bands than Sgt. Peppers, which is not regarded as a progressive rock album? The debut Emerson Lake and Palmer album shows obvious influence from ITCOTCK, but then Keith Emerson did steal Greg Lake from King Crimson. Other than that (as far as I can tell), heavyweight bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis were all established bands around the time of ITCOTCK.

Without the influence of The Beatles, I can't imagine bands like The Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra or Barclay James Harvest would have existed (at least not in the forms they did). Genesis may never have formed as a rock band. What do the early Beatles albums have in common with the post Beatles solo albums? In my opinion, those early albums (as well as the post Beatles solo works) are not particularly good. Paul wrote some fantastic tunes in 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Yesterday' and John Lennon wrote some great love songs, but George Harrison gets to be pushed out of writing anything in the early albums. Admittedly they did write great singles. However, their albums are also littered with a lot of deadwood.

Then along comes Rubber Soul and a paradigm shift occurs within the entire world wide music landscape. Suddenly, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Mamas and Papas and The Byrds are all writing great albums in the wake of Rubber Soul. So what sets Rubber Soul apart from everything that came before it? In my humble opinion it's the influence of George Martin. George Martin is often referred to as the fifth Beatle, but I don't see him that way. He comes from a different generation of ecliptic tastes including classical, jazz and comedy, which is far removed from the skiffle music that The Beatles were raised on (although John Lennon and George Martin shared a great love for The Goon show). I may be wrong, but I see George Martin as a pioneer of the progressive rock scene of the seventies. I think when Genesis wrote From Genesis to Revelation, they were trying to be another version of The Beatles and then thought it would be better to try to be another version of George Martin instead and wrote Trespass.

Of all the great albums The Beatles made from Rubber Soul to Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band represents the pinnacle of their career and is their most personal effort. According to Pete Townsend, Sgt. Peppers and Pet Sounds redefined music in the 20th century, so who am I to disagree with Pete Townsend? The album is innovative in every regard, from the gatefold album cover to the lyrics on the inside sleeve and cover art featuring iconic movie stars and other famous people with the Beatles dressed in their band costumes. This isn't message music (Bob Dylan) but it's personal and autobiographical. All the songs are linked by common threads ' being in a band, growing up in Liverpool, mundane chores around the house, being with friends, leaving home, finding spiritual fulfillment and happiness. The album begins with the brass instruments tuning up (birth) and concludes with a full orchestra tuning down (death). The album lyrics are full of double meanings. Contrary to what a lot of people think, Lucy in the Sky of Diamonds is not a drug song, but is based on a drawing that Julian Lennon brought home from nursery. Lennon could have called the song Lucy in the Sky of Stars, but chose Diamonds instead, maybe because the stars in the drawing do look like diamonds, or maybe because it rhymes well, or just maybe because the words form the letters LSD. All it is is a double meaning, just like his favorite radio program, The Goon Show is full of double meanings. Lennon is not making any comment about LSD here.

Song for song, I think The Beatles wrote better individual songs on Revolver and The White Album then Sgt. Peppers (with the exception of 'A Day In The Life'), but the appeal of Sgt. Peppers is in the way the songs effortlessly support each other. When we listen to a progressive rock album we like to listen to the album from start to finish. We usually don't cut across tracks unless we don't like the music and are trying to focus on some random track we might happen to like (and then we rarely play the album again). Sgt. Peppers makes its impact when you play it start to finish. People who think the album is weak draw that conclusion by comparing songs like Getting Better, Fixing a Hole, Within You, Without You and Good Morning Good Morning to songs on The White Album and Revolver.

The influence of Sgt. Peppers on the progressive rock movement extends past rock heavy weight bands Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd, to a lot of contemporary progressive rock bands today. The biographical elements of Big Big Train's English Electric parts 1 and 2 and use of brass instruments on these albums hacks back to the Sgt. Peppers album. The Flower Kings suite, Garden of Dreams, on the album Flower Power, has an orchestral intro at the start and then is reprised near the end of the suite. The silence at the end of A Day in the Life followed by the voice loop just when you think the song is finished inspired many bands to use voices, as effects, in their songs.

Some of my thoughts on the following tracks from the album:

'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/ With A little Help From My Friends' The band tunes up and then the alto ego personalities of The Beatles strut their stuff and the heavy guitars take over. The chorus comes in and then the music transitions into the one song sung on every Beatles album by Ringo Starr. It has a great melody line by Paul McCartney. Great lyric: 'I get high with a little help from my friends'. Ok. I get a buzz by having my friends around me. Interpret it any way you want to.

'Lucy In The Sky Of Diamonds' This is a song I often mix up with 'Strawberry Fields Forever' from Magical Mystery Tour. Both clock in at similar times and share biographical elements in John Lennon's life. The Beatles are into Indian Mysticism so Tamboura and Sitar are the order of the day here. Celeste and organ add to the effects of the song. Not sure whether psychedelic rock originated with The Beatles or groups from San Francisco, but the genre peaks with these two songs.

'Getting Better' Always regarded Getting Better as a bridging song between LITSOD and the more meatier songs, She's Leaving Home and Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite. It has the weakest lyrics of any song on the album, but it has a beautiful base line from Paul McCartney, who is such an underrated base player.

'Fixing A Hole' Another Paul McCartney song, which is introduced by harpsichord and breaks in with electric guitars in the main chorus. Love Ringo's playing on this track. The 'hole' in the lyric line is a not so subtle double meaning about the emptiness in some peoples' minds.

'She's Leaving Home' Sounds like a John Lennon song to me, but Paul McCartney sings the main verse and John Lennon comes in only during the chorus. Unusual for a Paul McCartney song to be fully stringed.

'Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' Within the same album, we see the range of Paul McCartney's lyric writing from weak (Getting Better), to solid effort (Fixing A Hole) to brilliant (She's Leaving Home). And then along comes John Lennon who raises the ante and writes a simple circus song based on a newspaper article. This is John Lennon at the height of his powers. Was there such a person as Mr. Kite or is he a fictional character? Does it matter? 'Mr. Kite', 'The Hendersons', 'Bishops gate'. The words match perfectly, like butter melting in your mouth. This is a song you can hum for hours on end in your head.

'Within You Without You' Paul Harrison's contribution to the album is a spiritual piece seeped in Maharishi Transcendental Meditation. A little long I think but a perfect prelude into the next song.

'When I'm Sixty-Four' An early Paul McCartney composition that he wrote when he was sixteen. John Lennon must have approved of the lyrics because I can hear him in the background singing. Typical McCartney song in the style of music hall simply orchestrated.

'Lovely Rita' Another Paul McCartney song at his rockiest best with a strong piano line and backing vocals from Lennon.

'Good Morning, Good Morning' I don't know whether animal noises became fashionable after Brian Wilson's aborted efforts on the Smile album, but here we are with roosters waking us up in this John Lennon song just before the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band reprise.

'A Day In The Life' And now we come to last and best track on the album. The first verse by Lennon is an account of an incident involving a friend of Lennon, who wiped himself out in a car accident. The second verse is autobiographical containing the quote, 'I'd love to turn you on'. No double meaning here I guess. Paul McCartney provides the middle section of the song and Lennon the last. The two orchestral crescendos link the sections together. For all I know this is the last time that Paul McCartney and John collaborated on a song together. After this album the two spouses came in the way of Lennon and McCartney appearing in the studio together. It's a miracle that George Martin was able to produce two further gems in 'The White Album' and 'Abbey Road' and a credit to Lennon and McCartney that they could put their differences to one side and continue to write great songs within the framework of 'The Beatles'.

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 All You Need Is Love by BEATLES, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1967
3.47 | 15 ratings

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All You Need Is Love
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mark Lewisohn in his book "The Beatles: Recording Sessions" (1988) says that "All You Need is Love" was a song originally composed by John Lennon for the first satellite TV broadcast special programme called "Our World" done in the 25th of June of 1967. The Beatles were selected to represent the U.K. in this TV programme which was broadcasted to a lot of countries (I remember very vaguely watching it on TV on that day with my family). The recording of the song was a complicated task, because they used a pre-recorded part (which included the harpsichord part and others) and they also played and sang live during the broadcast also using an orchestra. It was a very precise task done in collaboration with producer George Martin and recording engineer Geoff Emerick. The original full broadcast of this song can be watched in youtube, and it is very interesting. For this very special event (done in the case of The Beatles in the Abbey Road Studios) the band were joined as guests by several friends like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Keith Moon, Graham Nash and other famous musicians from the sixties, who saw how the band recorded this song live during the broadcast. There are some differences between the original broadcast of the song and the version which was released as a single some weeks later: Lennon re-recorded his lead vocals and Ringo Starr recorded an introductory snare drum roll. But that was all they did to the song after the broadcast. The band still was in their psychedelic period (as other bands were in 1967 too) and this song still has some meaning related to it.

"Baby You`re a Rich Man" was destined to the B-side of the single, with Lennon playing a melody in a Clavioline (a keyboard related to the Mellotron, I think), and with Paul McCartney playing a very good bass guitar part. Apparently, Mick Jagger sang backing vocals in this song, but it is not very clear if this happened or not.

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