When I think of bands that entered the world of rock music with a fully-formed statement of sorts, an immediate and evident identity, there are quite a few that come to mind. Guns N’ Roses. Led Zeppelin. R.E.M. Rage Against the Machine. The Jimi Hendrix Experience. That’s not to say that these artists necessarily peaked with their debut albums, but in the less than three minutes it takes to listen to the first track on the first Led Zeppelin album, “Good Times Bad Times,” someone can understand the essence of Zep. Ditto for “Welcome to the Jungle” for Guns N’ Roses, etc.
The Archies, though, continue to mystify us all.
The Beatles wouldn’t make that list. Their first album is great, and features
some pretty spectacular moments–it opens and closes with “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Twist and Shout” respectively, after all–but it doesn’t showcase the daring and adventurous spirit that defines their catalog. The music is above average for the time but hardly a radical departure, and the lyrics are usually pretty trite. “There’s a Place” isn’t exceptional by any means, but this under-the-radar cut is surprisingly introspective for the period, with its reveal that the “place where I can go” is internal. Really, if not for the four words, “And it’s my mind,” this would be a lower-ranked ho-hum early Beatles original. But that line–and of course the amazing Lennon/McCartney harmonies on it–help it stand out. Clocking in at under two minutes, “There’s a Place” is far from an iconic Beatles classic, but it’s delightful enough to land at #87.