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The Beatles - Hey Jude CD (album) cover

HEY JUDE

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.27 | 34 ratings

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R-A-N-M-A
3 stars I'll be perfectly honest. If you hate Hey Jude, you probably hate music. If the Beatles ever managed to produce an entire album as excellent as this truly exquisite single, I just might buy all the hype.

The actual track itself is inescapably catchy. I would consider it to be the gold standard for a pop ballad. No one I've ever met can resist a chorus of "Na-na-na-naaaas". I can't help but feel veteran Beatles producer George Martin's finger prints all over it; the unmistakeable polish and big sound. Hey Jude's appeal is actually timeless, which is more than I can say for so many other Beatles songs. Ultimately, the hero of this track is my favourite of the Fab-Four: Paul. He absolutely takes it to the wall in an astonishing vocal display which pushes beyond its pop underpinnings and straight into the ragged out there world of rock as typified by Jimi Hendrix. In many ways it is a precursor to the direction Paul would take as a solo artist.

Tidbit: Originally imagined as Hey Jules, Paul wrote Hey Jude for Julian Lennon, John's son from his first marriage. Julian admitted that near the end Paul was more of a father to him than John. A little depressing to say the least, but I hope that young Julian was just as charmed by the soon to be classic as the rest of us.

Hey Jude is really more of a double A-side than a standard A/B single. Revolution is just as much a cherished part of the Beatles' cannon as Hey Jude. It is an excellent "back to basics" counterpart to the "reach for the skies" title track. The message like the music is just as laid back and easy to get behind. I usually go out of my way to be critical of John Lennon, but on Revolution I happily eat my words. The highly distorted guitar and absorbing riff win me over every time.

My sky high praise for Hey Jude leaves me in somewhat of an awkward position. On one hand giving it anything less than a five feels criminal; on the other, how does Hey Jude fair as a prog album or even a proto-prog album? It is absolutely essential as far as rock in general and the collection of work by the Beatles themselves are concerned, but by 1968 the aspiring gods of prog were already blazing new and different trails. I am unconvinced that Hey Jude merits anything more than a two really. A high polish, an extended fade-out coda and overpowering vocals do not a prog album make. Never mind the fact that Revolution doesn't have a whiff of what I would consider to be "progressive rock" about it. I cannot in good conscience go that low however. I must settle for a three, but if you are experiencing anything beyond a blindingly good pop single you are fooling yourself.

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |

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