02.Jun.2009 General Rules For Discussing Favorite Beatles Albums

I hate picking favorites.

Favorite movie? Favorite album? Favorite Food?

These questions seem to come up endlessly throughout life and I am just not decisive enough when it comes to things I love (things, mind you) to select one above all others. When I’m asked for a favorite movie, I always seems to say, “Well, here’s five I really like.” When my fav food is asked about, I always cheat and say, “Potatoes: because they’re good any way you cook’em and you can cook them in a lot of ways.” It’s true, but not a definitive selection as I’m citing them as favorite for they’re versatility (super clever, huh?!). But when it comes down to favorite album, I’m always at a loss.

I loathe describing a varied taste in music as “eclectic,” but I’m not a strict one-genre man and listen to plenty of music from hip hop to alt rock and from bluegrass to electronica—what some might call an “eclectic” taste. I can’t even pick a favorite type of music, let alone one album in the sea of LPs that I’d hold high above all others. So, I find narrowing the playing field makes it a little easier for me to at least discuss the decision and potentially choose a favorite. Narrow my choices down to just the albums put out by a single artist and now I have a selection I can work with (Note: This goes for directors too).

The Beatles

The Beatles

Being—I’ll say—indisputably the greatest band in the history of the world, picking a favorite Beatles album is always a great place to start in any “Best of” conversation. However, before getting into a hardcore discussion about why Rubber Soul is underrated or the reasons Paul McCartney sucks (because inevitably, some dick is always spouting off about this in the convo), here are some general life-spanning rules that should be obeyed in this debate:

First, if the person doesn’t know enough about The Beatles to at least converse on the subject, you know you are talking to a complete loon and should end the conversation immediately. However, if they are under the age of 18, assume they had terrible friends and parents who didn’t teach them the wonders of The Beatles, take them under your wing and guide them on this essential musical journey.

Secondly—and most importantly, as it was the whole impetus for this post—The White Album cannot be chosen as a favorite album. That’s cheating.

"The White Album

The White Album

I like my “Favorite” discussions a bit like wrestling matches, and it’s just not fair to make the odds two against one—essentially the case when comparing The White Album to any other single record. I’m not saying that quantity is everything, but each disc of The White Album could individually destroy 90 percent of single disc LPs in this arena of superlative discussion. You might as well be choosing greatest hits albums as favs (which is doubly illegal if choosing one of The Beatles two-disc “Best of” gems)! I’ll accept arguments from anyone who wants to match the first or second half of The White Album to Sgt. Pepper’s, but choose the whole thing over Abbey Road and you just can’t weigh the pluses and minuses of an album enough to make a real choice.

Now consider, there is no wrong answer in a debate about favorite Beatles album (though I guess there may be in an argument about the “best” one), but you wouldn’t allow someone to choose two things as their favorite in a strict choosing convo, so why keep both parts of The White Album in play? It doesn’t make sense.

After reading this post, one might assume I have some sort of unnatural vendetta against The White Album, but the truth is I don’t. I love The White Album, and if I wasn’t a man with a code, I’d call it my favorite. Still, general life rules are general life rules, and this is definitely one of them.

Note: My favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road because each song is great but the way the tracks seamlessly flow into each other and hearken back to the tunes that came before make it the most complete album-going experience in the Beatles catalog for me.

Abbey Road

Abbey Road


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There are 8 Comments to "General Rules For Discussing Favorite Beatles Albums"

  • Josh Wigler says:

    I’m of course familiar with the Beatles, but not particularly in album format. I’d take a guess and say that I’ve listened to the vast majority of their songs multiple, multiple times, but it was never with any cognizant awareness of which album I was listening to or any of that nonsense. I didn’t care enough about that when I started listening to them as a kid, sort of like how I didn’t realize I was supposed to be READING comic books until I was 10 (don’t judge me).

    Having said that, I can definitely endorse the genius of Abbey Road, since I’ve listened to that one front to back more than a couple times, and it really is genius. But I can’t call it, or any other album, a favorite record, since I just didn’t grow with the Beatles in that way. Call me an idiot (which you’re going to, Jim, you son of a bitch) but I’d have to bow out of this debate for that reason.

    Related note: I love how this article is titled “Favorite Beatles Album” but, with the exception of the Abbey Road post script, you merely argued why “The White Album” should NOT be anyone’s favorite album. That’s hilarious.

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    In response to your related note, Mr. Wigler…

    The earlier and more categorical part of the post title, “General Rules,” is meant to explain that this post is more about what regulations I think should be instituted in a “Favorite Beatles Album” discussion than my favorite album itself.

    That may have been unclear (I guess it clearly was unclear!), but that is what I was going for.

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    Note: After Mr. Wigler’s point, I have changed to post title from “General Rules: Favorite Beatles Album” to the title now featured on this post.

  • bill says:

    Revolver– It never gets old; they were still playing tight together and they hadn’t got lost up their artistic arse-holes : ) I’m sorry Sgt. pepper and the white album and all that have some great songs and great productions, but their overrated as far as songwriting– some of it is just plain lazy. And the technical innovations that they made in the recording process were more a result of the musicians being too stoned to get a good take or too lazy to do it again.

    SO, i’d say REVOLVER because the songs are great, well recorded and well performed. Plus, the singles from that period were great too, like ‘Rain’ or ‘lady madonna.’ That was their peak. The only other one that comes close is their debut ‘meet the beatles’ for shere songwriting greatness. And if you want to get all historic, REVOLVER featured the first drum loop (hip-hop, techno, house music) on tommorrow never knows, backwards guitar (taxman and I’m only sleeping) and it also had louder (close-mic’d and compressed) drums and bass than any other record of its day– with the possible exception of some of the motown stuff. It was psychadelic, but it still rocked your balls off and they hadn’t gotten all ‘just free your mind and your problems will dissapear’ yet.

  • bill says:

    Not to be a dick, but while abbey road is cool– it is only the second side that has the songs go into one another (paul mcCartney’s idea btw, Lennon hated it AND sgt. pepper); the first side is a bunch of singles (albeit great ones.) Also– stylistically– I think they were basically parodying themselves at this point to some extent as far as the sound goes. Plus, most people will say abbey road by default because it sounds the clearest/most modern of all their records because it was the only one recorded on a modern solid state multi-track recording console– whereas all the other stuff was done on 4-tracks or 2 4-tracks tied together into a make-shift 8-track (can you believe it???)

    **** you have got to read geoff emmerick’s book about recording them– you would dig his story on a personal level i think, in terms of starting something you are interesting in from the ground level and moving up (he started as a tape-winder at abbey road when he was 15 and was mastering/engineering their albums by 19!!!) If you email your ship address to me i’ll send you my old copy. it is a really neat book.

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    Wow, all that from the guy who convinced me to give The White Album a chance when we were 16 years old! Haha!

    More seriously Blliam, your points are all well and good, but I’d classify them all as musician’s arguments. Not having the knowledge of music you do, I can’t argue them or say they are incorrect. However, a few movements (if I am using the term properly) from “You Never Give Me Your Money” do find their way into the second half of the album, bringing the two sides together a bit. But more importantly for me, my love for this album is fueled in great part by my nostalgia for my first listen through of it. After engaging my ears in that complete run of Abbey Road it just clicked. Maybe it is an equal cop out to The White Album as your point on recording raises, but nostalgia for it trumps technical issues like that for a layman like myself.

  • bill says:

    Harrumph! Yea, I don’t have a favorite beatles album– but the question transformed me into a record store guy from high-fidelity. I love all the albums– that is funny i introduced you to the white album– i do love it. “if i ain’t dead already….” awesome… But ‘goodnight’??? That sucked, and there’s a ton of filler. I will never argue the greatness of the 2nd have of Abbey road– it is undeniably cool. But imagine they took that cool artistic idea and used it for an entire album when they were able to write completely formed songs and not fragments– now that would have been a cool album…

  • Jim Gibbons says:

    I can’t argue with that. That would have been an amazing album!