#87: There’s a Place

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.

archies

The Archies, though, continue to mystify us all.

 

The Beatles wouldn’t make that list. Their first album is great, and features
#87: There’s a Place

#89: Do You Want to Know a Secret

Some people will forever be defined by a single mistake or a case of bad timing. Michael Cimino won a Best Director Oscar for his acclaimed second film, The Deer Hunter in 1978. His next movie, Heaven’s Gate, went down as a creative disaster and one of the biggest box office flops of all time, and studios decided to no longer risk playing Russian roulette with him.¬†Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign has been reduced in our collective mind to “the Dean scream,” in which the flu-stricken candidate briefly channeled Axl Rose while rallying supporters after the Iowa caucus.

howarddean
In Iowa, everyone can hear you scream.

 

Much like Dean, an unfortunately-timed sickness ensured that George Harrison would Continue reading “#89: Do You Want to Know a Secret”

#89: Do You Want to Know a Secret

#95: Misery

How is it that a song titled “Misery” is one of the most musically joyful songs in the Beatles’ catalog? Clocking in at under two minutes, this delightful little ditty features John and Paul singing in unison the entire time, and was recorded during the marathon¬†Please Please Me session in which John audibly really needs to blow his nose.

Nothing special, this one, but Continue reading “#95: Misery”

#95: Misery

#123: PS I Love You

This is such an absolutely corny, sappy song but I love it. It’s the sort of music that was hugely popular before the Beatles hit it big, so maybe it felt like a safe selection as the b-side for their first single. Either way, it’s far better than the a-side (“Love Me Do”) and is too charming to ignore. Inconsequential in the long run, maybe, but look, not every Beatles song was gonna change the world.

This is another one of those songs that exceeds the sum of its parts, with a checklist of endearing moments in its pros column. Its brisk opening. The simple percussion, which was actually provided by a session musician (having been deemed inadequate at the band’s EMI audition, Ringo was relegated to shaking a pair of maracas). The neat interjections when the “As I write this letter…” section is repeated from John (“ohhh!”), Paul (“you know I want you to”), and George (“yeah”)–incidentally, it wasn’t until I began doing this write-up that I realized Continue reading “#123: PS I Love You”

#123: PS I Love You

#182: Love Me Do

When I wrote about 1969’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” I lamented its lack of lyrical variation (try saying that three times fast), but the truth is, the Beatles had been thrifty with words from the start. “Love Me Do,” the band’s 1962 debut single, contains just 20 unique words. It’s one of those songs that is objectively pretty unexceptional on every level, but Continue reading “#182: Love Me Do”

#182: Love Me Do

#183: Boys

This track often shows up on “worst Beatles songs” lists, and it’s admittedly a very curious choice for the band to cover. Originally performed by girl group The Shirelles, this ode to the less fair sex was a regular part of the group’s early setlists, allowing them to nail it in the studio in a single take. The decision to only alter certain lyrics results in Continue reading “#183: Boys”

#183: Boys