Re: Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper - Which was The Beatles greatest achievement?
posted at 9/30/2010 2:34 AM EDT
Of course the question to be asked is what Rubber Soul album. (To a lesser extent, what Revolver).
The British EMI Album The American Capitol Album
Side 1: Side One
Drive My Car I've Seen A Face
Norwegian Wood Norwegian Wood
You Won't See Me You Wont' See Me
Nowhere Man Think For Yourself
Think For Yourself The Word
The Word Michelle
Michelle Side Two
Side 2: It's Only Love
What Goes On Girl
Girl I'm Looking Through You
I'm Looking Through You In My Life
In My Life Wait
Wait Run For Your Life
If I Needed Someone
Run For Your Life
I'd say Sgt. Pepper because Rubber Soul and Revolver built up to Sgt. Pepper. Pepper was the album in which they finally took control and their albums weren't butchered any more. And it was Pepper that had the biggest impact, even if song-for-song, the other albums were equal or stronger.
All three albums have great music, but then again, all their albums have great music.
Dave Thompson has a book called "I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto." It's pretty good overall. Funny in some spots. I agree with a bunch of it, but in other spots, I disagree. His classic rock era is a bit too narrow for me.
Anyway, one of the chapters (all the chapters have funny titles) is called "The Curse of Pepper or The Worst Record You've Ever Sworn Was Genius." Thompson kind of states that the album is overrated, that while there's great songs like Strawberry Fields, there's also a lot of filler.
He writes, "How did it revolutionize music? Note for note, song for song, it was no more adventerous than either Pet Sounds or the Stones' Between the Buttons, and anybody who claims otherwise is too simple minded for words. It just had better PR."
He later writes that if an alien gave you a blank disc to fill with the best Beatles music, how much of Pepper would be on it. He wrote that Lennon said Pepper would be this amazing album and over the years it's been heralded as a great album for so long -- if you build it up enough, they'll agree -- that people now just assume it's a great album without really analyzing it.
He does, however, admit that Pepper made a tremendous impact. In the end, he is fine with Pepper being thought of as the greatest album. He writes: Still, it is a good thing that the Beatles are still deified today, and it is grand that Sgt. Pepper is still held up as the single most significant achievement of the entire rock 'n' roll age. Just think of the wretched calumnies that might otherwise be wrought were the position of Number One Greatest Album Ever Made By Anyone Ever to become open to change and interpretation as other popularity contests. ... Indeed, the longer Sgt. Pepper is held up as some kind of sacred benchmark, the less opportunity there will be for any latter-day talent to some day dislodge it. It's entrenched in the landscape, it's part of the furniture, it's one of rock's vital organs. ... But for as long as it's up there, glistening in the firmament, the barbarian hordes of modern-day youth will never e rect a false idol of there own in its place."
It's an interesting chapter.
By the way, the next chapter is called:
Grunge is Gonna Change the World, and Jam Bands Will Save Us from Ourselves,
Papa's Got a Brand New Sh!tbag.
(In which we stop blaming the '80s for everything horrible and let the '90s take some of the blame as well)