Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yellow Submarine - The Beatles

Yellow Submarine
The Beatles
Apple  SW 153

I bought this while living in Alameda in the mid-1970s.  I don't remember why I picked it exactly, but I do remember liking the artwork and also not realizing that side two was not by the Beatles.  I saw the trippy song titles and figured they were more psychedelic wonders - boy was I wrong.  I was so disappointed when I played it.  I consider this the worst Beatles record, not really because of the music but because it is such an obvious ripoff.  The soundtrack albums for "A Hard Day's Night" on United Artists or the Capitol version of "Help!" are not much better but at least the Beatles had nothing to do with them.  This is an Apple product, fully sanctioned by the Beatles.  The two best songs, "Yellow Submarine" and "All You Need is Love" had already been released on other albums and the 4 outtakes they dug up to flesh out side one are far from essential additions to the Beatles catalog.  The only one I care much for is "Hey Bulldog" and despite Paul McCartney's fabulous bass playing on the song, it is definitely minor.  The "Sgt. Pepper" outtake "Only a Northern Song" shows potential but is buried in murky production and annoying sound effects.  Paul's "All Together Now" is so idiotic it makes "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" sound like Leonard Cohen in comparison.  Harrison's whiny "It's All Too Much" is a slight tune expanded with excessive instrumentation and tedious repetition.  George Martin's soundtrack music is conveniently on side two so you can ignore it if you choose, unlike the soundtrack albums for "Help" or "A Hard Day's Night."  I'm not a soundtrack music fan but even I can see that this is not particularly distinguished music.  I kind of like "Sea of Time" which goes from toying with "Within You, Without You" to a corny waltz which is quite a trip.  Otherwise side two is just a waste of time for me and I play it about as much as I play "Two Virgins" which is just about never.  Just for the record I don't really like the movie a whole lot either - I hate the Beatles impersonators' voices and I think the story is dumb although the imagery is wonderful.  Recommended for Beatles completists who don't mind getting mugged by the Fab Four.

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