Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ranking the Beatles my damn self: return of the king

No idea what that means. Anyway:

180. Boys (Please Please Me)

Easily Ringo's best vocal performance, what with his wobbly start to Yellow Submarine. The backing vocals in the chorus are pleasingly manic. I think George really added a lot to the Beatles' early backing vocals, before he got all serious. I mean, he added a lot after that, too, but the early stuff was different, and he stands out on more of it, I think.

179. I'll Follow the Sun (For Sale)

I kind of liked this when I first started getting really into the album, but now I can't remember why.

178. What Goes On (Rubber Soul)

Thought it was on Help! And yup, that's about the most interesting thing I have to say about it.

177. Matchbox (Past Masters vol. I)

What do I enjoy about this song? Um ... Ringo calling himself a puppy dog? Ah, I got nothing.

176. For No One (Revolver)

I didn't like this song before I heard 30 takes of monitor mixes of it.

Which brings us to a point I probably should address. I wanted very much to limit the criteria to the LP performances. But the list measures how much I like each song, and sometimes I like a song a little more because I've heard some alternate version or multiple takes of it. I'll mention it when applicable, to try to support my case for liking the song more than the one preceding it, but I also try not to weight that too much. For No One would probably be here no matter what.

175. You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) (Past Masters vol. II)

Another factor for some of these songs: scarcity. Now, of course, anyone serious about the Beatles can hear this song. But back in the day, you might have come late to Past Masters II. It seems incomprehensible to me now, given how many great songs are on it, but I didn't buy the disc until college, or maybe even afterward, so this song was still a little fresh. And, given how infrequently I listen to it, it still is.

174. Girl (Rubber Soul)

I'll be honest; I don't like any of the three slow hits on this record very much.

173. What You're Doing (For Sale)

Wow, this album really tapers off at the end, doesn't it? First record that doesn't end with something exciting.

172. Act Naturally (Help!)

Back when I still listened to albums all the way through, I did not skip this one. I'm looking over the track listing now, and I'm wondering if there's an album I would skip through less of than this one. A Hard Day's Night and For Sale would also probably be high on that list. This song is this high solely because Paul's backing harmony is superfun to sing alone in the car.

171. Dizzy Miss Lizzie (Help!)

I think at this point the Beatles were still trying to pace their albums as if they were concerts, which is why Twist and Shout, Money, and this song are closers. This would seem to be the last time they did so.

170. Think for Yourself (Rubber Soul)

Another song that makes me skip for the first time for that disc. This might be the last song by George (chronologically, I mean, not on this list) that I didn't like at least a little. OK, fine, I looked; I'm not so crazy about I Want to Tell You, either.

169. Michelle (Rubber Soul)

Yup, take this and Girl off the record and it would have been a lot better. Fine, I'll spill it; the third song I'm not a big fan of is In My Life. Please don't tell anyone.

168. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

I mean, does this make me a bad person? Does it? A dreary song. I respect the experimentation, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to it, does it? There's only one song on the whole countdown that I'll rate higher out of respect to the production rather than solely based on how the song goes.

167. Words of Love (For Sale)

Got the album on the second try. This would actually be an excellent drinking game. I don't think this song really does anything, or even really tries, but the harmonies are kind of pleasant, nu?

166. If I Needed Someone (Rubber Soul)

I think this song suffers for having such a cool opening riff. The guy who did the rankings that inspired these posts here felt the same way about Day Tripper. I don't; I think there's enough going in that song to justify the cool riff. But I get his point; Paperback Writer and I Feel Fine are similar riff songs, and both benefit from good melodies. (In fact, when I sing them in my head, those two songs have very similar melodies.) If I Needed Someone is too pedestrian for its opening, the singing too chromatic and unspecial.

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Tomorrow we get to the good stuff, as well as half of the White Album. We'll also turn at least one more sacred cow into hamburger.

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