Top 100 Album Review: #14 – Abbey Road, The Beatles (1969)

HOW DID THEY KEEP DOING THIS?

The artistic fountain continued to gush all the way into The Beatles’ last album. 

The-Beatles-Abbey-Road-Album-cover-web-optimised-820-820x600.jpgRolling Stone’s Ranking: #14/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

This is my last album to review from peak Beatles. Those six albums (starting with Rubber Soul and ending with Let It Be), are so full of material, range, and imagination. Abbey Road is just another pit stop — they don’t miss a beat.

My favorite thing about the best band of all time is how accessible their music is while pushing the boundary. It’s not untethered hippie rock with disjointed lyrics (which sometimes befalls Jimi Hendrix’s later albums). Instead, it has one foot on both sides of the fence; there’s always something avant-garde, but it’s crouched in enough familiarity and pop for it to be enjoyable.

Abbey Road’s schtick is that it ends on an 8 song medley of bits and pieces. It introduces songs at rapid pace with some only lasting little more than 60 seconds. It completely lives up to their reputation: it’s different and highly artistic but so tastefully done.

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Top 100 Album Review: #68 – Off The Wall, Michael Jackson (1979)

Transitory Vibes.

Not childish like the Jackson 5 but not quite mature like Thriller.  

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #68/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

When I came out of my house, I knew something was wrong: why is my car light on? It took a few more seconds to process, but someone had thrown a rock through the passenger side door stealing everything not tied down. My change drawer was raided along with my sun visor CD case. Assessing the loses, I found the jewell case for Off the Wall underneath the seat. Not even a few weeks in my possession, it was empty. I had been bumping this awesome album everywhere, and now it was over….

Until I realized it was still in the CD player — the only thing that wasn’t stolen.

This was around 2008 before MJ died. I was diving deep into his discography when the legend passed. What makes Off the Wall so different than his other adult solo work is the fact that it’s his first entry and thus the most innocent. There is no super fandom for MJ to contend with via political statements or anti-media harangues. This makes for a fun free listen — every song is a pop hit single.

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Top 100 Album Review: #5 – Rubber Soul, The Beatles (1965)

Growing Up.

The Beatles finally arrive to adulthood. 

original_450.jpgRolling Stone’s Ranking: #5/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

One of the best adult moments I’ve had is experiencing the music of The Beatles. Consider that I almost made it to 30 before really appreciating the breadth and endless selection from the best band of all time. How did I avoid it for so long?

When I was younger, I was extremely pro African American music. I was the only white 17 year old I knew in the county of Hanover that could list every Stevie Wonder album and owned Marvin Gaye shirts. When driving my friends around, I felt it was my job to introduce them to Ray Charles, The Four Tops, and the like.

Out of spite, I defended it against all potential perpetrators, particularly The Beatles. My main evidence? The early creampuff pop entries that were fueled by Beatlemania and teenage girl hysteria. I didn’t know, or care to find out, about the later albums when the band grew up and began to push music forward in all sorts of ways.

Rubber Soul is the demarcation. After this album, The Beatles were no longer boys singing about wanting to hold your hand. There might still be a lot of relationship talk, but the edginess and experimentation is evident. There was no going back after this.

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The Top 100 Album Review: #10 – The Beatles “The White Album”, The Beatles (1968)

Probably Should Have Been One LP.

But who cares — it’s still so good!

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #10/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

A favorite pastime of music critics, amateur and professional alike, is to pontificate how The Beatles could have done it better.  I mean, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band might be the best album of all-time, but didn’t you find the chord progression on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds a little lacking? Wasn’t Let it Be  a total let down with only 6 or 7  amazing songs?

The gripe with The White Album is its length. Clocking in at over a hour and half, there is so much material. I’ve had this album on rotation since October, and I finally feel comfortable writing about it. Yes, there is a lot to sift through, some of it meh, but much of it is amazing — so who cares.

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Top 100 Album Review: #86 – Let It Be, The Beatles (1970)

It’s Hard Being at the Top.

This album isn’t “Revolver” or “Sgt. Pepper,” but it is still damn good. 51F-JrWga3L.jpg

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #93/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Lebron James is the preeminent athlete of my lifetime. He’s been to eight straight finals, won three, been crowned MVP four times, and continues to pass legend after legend in points, assists, and rebounds. People still think he sucks. 

The Beatles were the world’s peak musical influence. They ruled the entire industry from 1963-1970 with eight albums being considered top 100 worthy. They are the best-selling band of all time for God’s sake with over 800 million albums sold as of 2013. People thought Let It Be was a let down. 

While it is unfortunately the last entry into The Beatle’s catalog, it is still full of great material.

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Top 100 Album Review: #3 – Revolver, The Beatles (1966)

Best Beatles’ Album of All-Time

I’m officially part of the movement to usurp Sgt. Pepper as the apex. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #3/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

Revolver is when things got “weird” for the Beatles. They sped recordings up, layered multiple tracks on top of one another, and hid secret messages that could only be discovered by playing the album backwards. It was also released under some tenuous circumstances, with John Lennon comparing the band to Jesus and some drug-referenced singles being withheld from the American release.

After their break up, many claimed that Sgt. Pepper was the pinnacle point of Beatles goodness. I am going to have to disagree; Revolver beats it out track for track, and if not for the drama, would clearly be cemented as the top work they ever did.

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Top 100 Album Review: #1 – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (1967)

It’s a Good One.

Afraid that I would dislike “the greatest album of all time,” The Beatles deliver in spectacular fashion. 

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Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #1/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The Beatles are mythical. Growing up before a wave of Americans, their career spans decades from a boy band, to quintessential hippies, and finally finishing with solo careers. The Beatles are the biggest band of all time — no argument. But, would the hype lead to oversight? Would weak tracks and poor music be wiped under the rug, powered by the musical force that is The Beatles?

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is everything as advertised: a complete album representing a perfect cross-section of avant-garde arrangements, lyrical content, and song writing.

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