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The Beatles: the best hits in their musical history

The Beatles (pronounced [ðə ˈbiːɾəlz]) was an English rock band active during the 1960s, and recognized as the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed in the history of popular music and rock music.34567 Formed in Liverpool, it was formed in 1962 by John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals), and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in the skiffle, beat music and rock and roll of the 50’s, their sound would often incorporate elements of classical and traditional pop music, among others, in innovative ways in their songs; the band would later come to work with a wide range of musical styles, ranging from ballads and Indian music, to psychedelia and even hard rock. The nature of their enormous popularity, which had first emerged with the “beatlemania” craze, was transformed as their compositions became more sophisticated. They came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, extending their influence into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

Initially, it was a skiffle-style group of school children founded in 1956 by Lennon during the so-called “skiffle craze” in Britain, under the name of The Quarry Men, later joined by McCartney and Harrison. After several changes of members and names, he decided on The Beatles, with a five-member lineup that included Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums). He built his reputation in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs over a three-year period from 1960. Sutcliffe left the line-up in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Established as a professional group after Brian Epstein offered to represent them, and with their musical potential enhanced by the creativity of producer George Martin, they achieved commercial success in the UK in late 1962 with their first single, “Love Me Do”. From then on, they gained international popularity during the following years, in which they made an extensive number of tours until 1966, when they stopped the live activity to devote themselves only to recording in the studio until their official dissolution in 1970. After that, all of its members embarked on successful independent careers of varying lengths. Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman outside his New York home in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr, the two surviving members, are still musically active.

During their years of study they created some of their best material, including the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), considered by many to be a masterpiece. Five decades after their separation, the music they created continues to be popular. They remain the number one band in the British charts, placing more albums in this position than any other musical group. According to RIAA certifications, they have sold more albums in the United States than any other artist. They were awarded seven Grammy Awards, and received a total of fifteen Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. According to the same publication, The Beatles’ innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s.12 In 2010, the music television channel VH1 ranked them at number one on its list of “100 greatest artists of all time. According to the same publication, The Beatles’ innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s. In 2010, the television channel specialized in music VH1 ranked them at number one on its list of “100 greatest artists of all time”. They were also ranked number one by the Acclaimed Music website on its list of “The Top 1000 Artists of All Time. They also ranked number one as the greatest artists of all time on the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 lists in the 2015 Billboard rankings.

Formation

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From 1962, when it was formed in a stable way, until its official separation in 1970, the members of The Beatles were John Lennon (Liverpool, 1940-New York, 1980), Paul McCartney (Liverpool, 1942), George Harrison (Liverpool, 1943-Los Angeles, 2001) and Ringo Starr (Liverpool, 1940). However, it is difficult to give an exact date of when The Beatles were formed. In the second half of the 1950’s, John Lennon and his friend Peter Shotton (who would leave soon after) formed a band that they called The Quarrymen, to which Paul McCartney was added in 1957, followed shortly after by George Harrison.

The Quarrymen began playing at various venues in Liverpool, when they were joined by bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. By then it was clear that a drummer would be needed. The name of the group would undergo new variations, from Johnny and the Moondogs to The Silver Beatles and The Beatles (1960), which would eventually become the definitive one; such a name came from the fashion of naming music groups after animals (beetle means “beetle”) and from the play on words with the style they practiced at the time (beat music, “golpe”).

Finally they incorporated a drummer, Peter Best, and got a contract to play in Hamburg, in a place of dubious fame called Kaiserkeller. Their first German adventure ended prematurely with George Harrison’s expulsion from the country due to his minority; the same fate befell Paul McCartney and Peter Best, although not because of minority, but because of hooliganism.

In 1961 they would return again to Germany, to return again to the United Kingdom without any shame or glory. Peter Best left the group because of deep disagreements with the rest of its members and was replaced by Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey’s stage name). Shortly after, Stuart Sutcliffe died in Germany, victim of a stroke; with this the list of members of The Beatles was closed definitively: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

The composition of the themes would run almost always in charge of the tandem formed by John Lennon (rhythmic guitar) and Paul McCartney (bass). In general, the most innovative songs and the artistic and intellectual demands are due to Lennon, who must be considered the leader and creative soul of the group; McCartney’s brilliant musical talent was easily carried away by the commercial, but equally the songs ended up being the result of the counterbalance between both. At a more advanced stage, the always restless George Harrison (solo guitarist) contributed to the group’s repertoire with valuable contributions; very few, however, are due to the carefree drummer Ringo Starr.

The “beatlemania”

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In spite of the lack of repercussions, the experience in Germany had given consistency to the group, although at the beginning of the 60’s it did not seem more than another of the numerous bands that, from the triumph of the American rock and roll in the middle of the 50’s, cultivated with passion this genre in the United Kingdom, interpreting or versioning songs of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other great American rockers. The Beatles, however, had begun to compose and perform their own songs, and were already enjoying some fame; they played in small clubs in Liverpool, such as The Cavern, and were known in the Liverpool area, but no record label had yet knocked on their doors.

At the end of 1961, after listening to them in a performance, Brian Epstein was enthusiastic and became their artistic representative; the role of this record store owner without any experience as a manager was so decisive that he would be called “the fifth beatle”. Epstein modeled a new look for the group (which went from rocking jeans and leathers to elegant jackets and helmet hair) and introduced them to producer George Martin, who hired them to record a single. This first record was called Love me do (1962) and managed to get into the UK charts. Already in 1963, Please, please me and soon after From me to you and She loves you would again accede to positions of honor in the British lists. That year can be considered the birth of “beatlemania”, a phenomenon of idolatry towards the group whose maximum expression was the hysteria that the female public suffered in the concerts of the group.

In 1964 “beatlemania” spread to the United States, where songs such as Love me do, She loves you or I want to hold your hand, wrapped up by their first tour in this country, reached the top of the charts. The Guinness Book of Records contains a very revealing fact: in the same month, two albums and five singles by The Beatles topped the respective U.S. charts. Instead of, as was traditional, radiating their musical influence around the world, the United States suffered the so-called “British Invasion”, with the Liverpool group as the bridgehead of a series of bands (The Animals, The Who or the Rolling Stones) that would also land on the new continent, dethroning the supremacy of American rock and roll.

Simultaneously, and taking advantage of their popularity, The Beatles shot several films, including What a Night That Day! (A Hard Day’s Night, 1964), a promotional vehicle that recounted three days in the life of the Beatles and reflected the phenomena of raptured paroxysm that the group unleashed wherever it went. The director, Richard Lester, gave the film a tone of surrealist humor, shattering with the editing the notions of space and time, as evidenced in the scene where the Beatles are both inside the train and running to catch it. The same filmmaker would direct them in Help! (1965). The release of the albums of the same name accompanied both premieres; the Beatles For Sale (1964) and Rubber Soul (1965) were also released at that time.

In fact, until 1965, the group continued to string together albums averaging two or more per year, most of whose songs were written by themselves, which gives an idea of their extraordinary fecundity. During these first years, The Beatles toured all over the world, but their concerts were progressively spaced out, partly because of the growing irritation of the group in the face of that exacerbated idolatry, more oriented to their people than to their music. After certain incidents in the Philippines and the south of the United States and the controversy unleashed by a phrase of Lennon (“we are more popular than Jesus”), they gave their last concert in San Francisco, in August 1966. With their retirement, the “beatlemania” was extinguished only in its sense of collective frenzy; they continued to be the reference group of their time and to have enthusiastic followers.

Maturity and dissolution

From then on, they would limit themselves to making studio recordings. Thus began a new stage in his career, with a new image and a new style, more serious and profound. Experimenting with advanced techniques to create innovative musical effects, the records of their music were expanded and gave way to blues, country, parodies of the twenties, oriental influences and social criticism, elements that were harmoniously integrated into a sound of their own and unmistakable.

The first album of this second stage, Revolver (1966), already contained a handful of excellent songs that were musically new and far from the usual love stereotypes (Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Tomorrow never knows). The following year their contact with psychedelic drugs (especially LSD), with the hippie movement and with oriental mysticism, embodied in the figure of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who they accompanied to India, intensified.

All of this converged in the release of their most revolutionary work, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), an elepse that would mark the birth of psychedelic music and was a resounding worldwide success for the British group, which reached number one simultaneously on the British and American charts. Eminent example, especially on its A side, of what has been called “concept album” (ie, conceived as a unitary work that goes beyond the mere juxtaposition of songs), the album is a celebration of music, solidarity, freedom and fantasy expressed in a sophisticated and harmonious mix of styles, at the height of its creative capacity and working as one man, the group knew how to choose, among the many musical traditions, the most appropriate to accompany each letter, to obtain the brilliant final result.

But 1967 was also the year of the death of the man who had led them to stardom, Brian Epstein, surely the only one capable of keeping such disparate personalities together. John Lennon would always claim that Epstein’s death meant the end of the Beatles. The official separation would take some time, and it was preceded by clamorous signs, such as the publication of John Lennon’s solo albums (three albums produced with Yoko Ono, his wife since 1968) and George Harrison. Probably it did not take place before because of the interest of its components to edit the pending joint works before starting a personal trajectory.

This is how the compositions of Magical Mystery Tour (1967), a failed television film, the double album The White Album (1968), the soundtrack of his delightful animated film Yellow Submarine (1969), and Abbey Road (1969) came about. After the publication of Let it be (1970), which despite its musical quality meant, for Lennon and for many, the end of nonconformity and the return to the fold in songs like the one that gives title to the album, the disagreements within the group ended with the dissolution of the same and each member continued, with varying degrees of success, their musical career as a soloist, without any of the attempts to bring them together again being successful. John Lennon’s death in 1980 at the hands of a distraught man had a great impact on the whole world, and ended any dreams of his fans in this respect.

The influence of The Beatles’ work over the ensuing decades has been immense. To cite only a few examples, the psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band started a whole current that reached groups like Pink Floyd or Emerson, Lake & Palmer and gave rise to the so-called symphonic rock; its influence would still be strongly felt in Brit pop, one of the most significant musical phenomena of the nineties. Apart from its undoubted artistic importance, The Beatles remained forever the symbol of a lifestyle that was perfectly in tune with the deep youthful concerns of the 1960s.

Which is the best album of The Beatles?

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A Big Bang called Please Please Me

The phrase is well known. It was the most productive nine hours and 15 minutes in the history of rock. That was the exact time it took to record Please Please Me, the first LP by The Beatles and which marked their debut in the big leagues of the industry in 1963. It is an album that exudes freshness, with live recordings, very few overdubs and that sought to transmit the spirit that was felt every afternoon in the Cavern Club.

The mere fact that this is the first album that The Beatles released on the market should be enough credential to make it one of the fundamental albums of popular music. But Please Please Me has much more, which makes it a must for understanding the greatness of the Liverpool boys.

The album has eight compositions by Lennon-McCartney and six other versions by different artists whom The Beatles admired. It was a risky move for the time, since in the early 1960s most of the debut albums had a high percentage of covers.

Please Please Me has, in addition, songs that became classics and that in good measure shaped beatlemania. Here we can find the immortal “Love Me Do”, “P.S. I Love You” and the song that gives its name to the album. These were recurrent pieces in the concerts given by the Fab Four until 1965 (those that did not usually last more than half an hour), when they decided to end the tours and live presentations.

A special section deserves “I Saw Her Standing There”, one of my all-time favorites. It is the song with which the album begins, with that arch-known “One, two, three, four” and that although it is credited to Lennon-McCartney, it is a song composed mainly by the latter. In fact, it is Macca who is in charge of the vocal part. And almost as a poetic act, the first song of this first album was also the last Beatle song that John Lennon played in public. It happened in New York, in 1974, in the context of a concert that Elton John was giving. The “rebel boy” had been invited to participate in three songs and “I Saw Her Standing There” was the last one he performed. Before playing it, he said these words: “We thought that we could do an act of an old and distant boyfriend of mine, called Paul. I never sang this one, it’s an old Beatle act and we barely know it”.

It was only after Lennon’s death in 1980 that the eternal rumors that The Beatles would meet again came to an end. It can be said that “I Saw Here Standing There”, the first of the first album, was the beginning and the end of the Liverpool quartet.

Please Please Me adds other factors that force us to pay attention to the album. Here appears the influence of the producer George Martin, who gave form and channeled that energy that had been forged in the marathon sessions of Hamburg. It is even said that he would have considered going to the Cavern Club to see for himself the energy that The Beatles transmitted on stage and try to reflect that spirit in the album.

The last one on the album also has a story to tell. It was “Twist and Shout”, an original by Phil Medley and Bert Russell, which was performed at the end of the recording session. Here Lennon left everything on the court. The performance includes shouts in which at times it seems that his vocal cords are going to rip. Such was the level of demand, added to the fact that John had a cold that day, that Martin wisely decided to use it to close the day. In fact, when he finished singing it, his voice could not take it anymore.

And the rest is history. The album reached first place and stayed there for 30 weeks, only to be dethroned by With The Beatles, the quartet’s second LP. Beatlemania became a trend and rock became the mainstream for the whole decade.

A freshness, joviality and impulse that only young people could achieve. John Lennon and Ringo Starr were 22 years old, Paul McCartney was 20 and George Harrison was 19.

One cannot understand the evolution of The Beatles without knowing and appreciating Please Please Me. In these 14 songs is all the material and influence of what they came to be. A kind of Big Bang. The foundation stone of -according to my criteria- the biggest band of all times.

The Beatles are one of the most important groups in the history of music, and there is no doubt that many of their songs will last forever in everyone’s memory. Whether you’ve lived them or not, I’m sure you know more than one of their songs, at least the chorus. Today we would like to show you some of the most famous songs of the Beatles, there are only 10 but there could be many more.

These days the Beatles’ songs are being played much more because of the release of the film “Yesterday”, in which their songs are the soundtrack and the thread of the story. An excellent opportunity to review again the career of this band from Liverpool that marked a before and after in music.

The 10 essential songs of The Beatles

As with all lists, the criteria is arbitrary and, as with tastes and colors, there are more than 200 songs to choose from. This is the bet:

1. “Love Me Do” (1962).

Written when Sir Paul McCartney was in school, in 1958, the song had, initially, the style of the duo Everly Brothers until John Lennon introduced the harmonica. It was recorded with three different drummers, but was released with Ringo Starr on drumsticks. It was the first success.

2. “She Loves You” (1963).

It was the song that triggered “beatlemania” around the world. The chorus with the final “yeah! yeah! yeah!” invaded the planet while the “fab four” moved their bangs on a stage full of a screaming audience. In late Franco’s Spain, it multiplied the trend of yeyé -ancient and of French origin-. It was the most modern and there was no measure: from Dracula yeyé to Real Madrid yeyé by Pirri, Velázquez and Gento, but without mane.

3. “Can’t Buy Me Love” (1964).

A decisive song because of its visual impact in the film “A Hard Day’s Night”, directed by Richard Lester, which marked a before and after in musical cinema.
“Beatlemania” in its purest form in probably the first video clip in history.

4. “Yesterday” (1965).

Wikipedia collects more than 2.200 versions of this song. It has also been one of the most radiated in the last century. It is the song of records and was criticized by Bob Dylan, who years later made his own version.

5. “Norwegian Wood” (This Bird Has Flown) (1966)

It belongs to the album “Rubber Soul”, and you can see how the kids are getting older. It is introduced, by George Harrison, a sitar for the first time in a pop album. According to Philip Norman’s biography of Lennon, it was one of John’s great lyrics, with twenty-six short verses and a dark message about infidelity. The song was the title of one of Haruki Murakami’s best novels, “Tokyo Blues”, in its original version.

6. “Tomorrow Never Knows” (1966)

Also composed by John Lennon, it closes the album “Revolver” and marks the end of The Beatles as we had known them. According to the great producer George Martin, it is “the only song that could never be played”. As a note, the lyrics were taken from the Tibetan Book of Death.

7. “Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967).

According to his confidant and friend Neil Aspinall, Lennon wrote this song on a beach in Almeria when he was filming “How I Won the War”. For the composer it was “psychoanalysis with music”. He shared a single with “Penny Lane” and it refers to a real place -a closed down Liverpool orphanage – where tourists take pictures of themselves.

8. “A Day In The Life” (1967).

It belongs to the eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (the most important album in the history of rock, according to Rolling Stone magazine) and has the collaboration of half a symphony orchestra. 40 musicians, an alarm clock and three pianos marking a final chord at the same time are some of the anecdotes of the recording that Martin tells in his book “El verano del amor”. After its publication, the word spread that Paul McCartney had died. It was false, obviously.

9. “Helter Skelter” (1968).

Extracted from the shocking double “White Album”, for the experts, this is the song that, with “You Really Got Me”, by The Kinks, opened the doors to “heavy metal” and hard sounds. The psychopath Charles Manson and his sect “The Family” reinterpreted the lyrics of the song to justify the murder of Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski, in Los Angeles (USA). Forty years later, the diabolical Manson is still in prison.

10. “Here Comes The Sun” (1969).

The revenge of the silent George and warning of his future triumph in solitary with My Sweet Lord. It is included in the album Abbey Road, the last recorded by the band, but published before Let It Be. The sun arrives but it means the end of a prodigious decade. A pity.