The Beatles

The Beatles

Yellow Submarine Songtrack [reissue]

Parlophone/Capitol

This proves one of the best restorations of the Beatles catalog that the group and George Martin have undertaken. The sound is clear, the song selection (although some of the film tracks appeared on other Beatles discs) impeccable. All a function of the film, which also serves as a great testament to the Beatles’ creativity and their eye for talent in others. The Peter Max animation remains classic.

The plot may be silly, but it’s fun. Fighting against the Blue Meanies who are trying to stamp out music in the world echoes the struggle of the Beatles to make themselves respectable despite naysayers in the major media. It was all a connection with the young people, and mavericks such as Leonard Bernstein, who endorsed the band. He saw that they used classical instruments, classical production, and classical style when other rock bands were satisfied with ordinary pop. The Beatles pushed the envelope.

Examples here include “Hey Bulldog,” with vocal distortions some people think were invented by R.E.M. and Bush; “Only a Northern Song,” one of George Harrison’s best and a pioneer in off-key rock; “All You Need is Love,” which was once broadcast live at Christmas with an all-star cast of guest singers. Basically, the Beatles did the impossible with incredibly primitive recording equipment, using four- and eight-track machines to do what today’s 24, 32, 64, 128-track machines do. They were geniuses. And George Martin was given freedom to do with them what he would, as the Parlophone label they were on was a small subsidiary of the giant international label EMI. Parlophone had hosted a bunch of low-tech recordings of comedians. It was not a label where a pop group EMI had great expectations for would have landed. Martin used the freedom to create a synthesis of pop music and the life of the band in such a way as to make all their recordings especially rich. Yellow Submarine is no exception. It deserves a place in your Beatles archives.

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