There’s no denying the brilliance of the Beatles. They changed everything, and set the standard for albums, singles and live performance for generations to come. This is reflected in 13 studio albums, which vary from the spectacular to the sublime – but how would I rank them?
As this is my first list, I should make a few things clear. I will be doing the standard ratings from 1st place to 10th etc. but at the same time I will be categorising them into groups – “Terrible”, “Bad”, “Meh”, “OK”, “Good”, “Great”, “Amazing” and finally “All-Time Great”. Sometimes when you read ranking lists its hard to tell whether the publisher thinks the low-end entries are still actually good, and this system should clear that up.
Right, with introductions out of the way it’s time to get to the list …
13 – Yellow Submarine
The Beatles almost had a flawless discography, but unfortunately Yellow Submarine exists. In terms of the actual Beatles songs on this album, they’re OK – I would probably put the first half of this album in 11th – but it’s the second half that lets them down.
Due to constant bickering from within the band, producer George Martin refused to help unless some of his songs made it on the record. While these songs are passable, it doesn’t fit on a Beatles album at all.
- Best Song – It’s All Too Much
- Worst Songs – All of the second half
- Underrated Gem – It’s All Too Much
12 – With The Beatles
We’ve now hit the point of albums that I wouldn’t mind listening to (not bad for your 2nd worst album).
There’s plenty of good in this – the first four songs are all great tunes – but there’s also a lot of meh as well. For every “All My Loving” there’s a “Little Child”, so much so that I’d only choose to listen to 8/14 of the songs on their own. This was only their second album, so I’ll let them off.
- Best Song – All I’ve Got To Do
- Worst Song – Little Child
- Underrated Gem – Don’t Bother Me
11 – Beatles For Sale
This album is a bit of a strange one. Beatlemania was getting to the band, so after 3 bright, happy albums you get this – a bit of a downer.
Similarly to “With The Beatles”, the songs on this can be a bit hit or miss (about 9/14 good ones this time). What puts this album in “OK” rather than “Meh” is the fact that some of the good songs are really good. Songs like “I’m A Loser” and “I’ll Follow The Sun” are definitely melancholy, but they just have that Beatles flair that makes them great. On top of that, “Eight Days A Week” is an all-time classic, and I’ll fight anyone to say “Every Little Thing” is one of their best.
- Best Song – Every Little Thing
- Worst Song – Mr Moonlight
- Underrated Gem – Every Little Thing
10 – Please Please Me
Now we’re talking. This was the album that started it all, and I’d say it’s one of the best debut albums ever. Everything about this is iconic – the album cover, John Lennon’s screeching vocals on “Twist And Shout”, McCartney’s brilliance on “I Saw Her Standing There” … the list goes on.
This is one of the most consistent albums the band have ever released – every song is either good or great. However, the lack of great songs prevents it from being in the “Great” category.
- Best Song – I Saw Her Standing There
- Worst Song – Chains
- Underrated Gem – There’s A Place
9 – A Hard Day’s Night
There are just so many classics on this album. The title song is fantastic, “Can’t Buy Me Love” is iconic, and even George chips in with songs like “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You”.
The worst songs on this album aren’t even that bad, this is another one of their most consistent albums. Apparently “I’ll Be Back” invented the Folk Rock genre, so bonus points to that song.
- Best Song – A Hard Day’s Night
- Worst Song – When I Get Home
- Underrated Gem – If I Fell
8 – Help!
It’s a testament to the greatness of the Beatles that we’re at the “Greats” with 8 albums to go. This album was when The Beatles showed they could make some of the best songs of all time – “Yesterday”, “Help!” and “Ticket To Ride” come to mind.
There’s the occasional dud on here, songs like “Another Girl” are uninspiring and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” is an anticlimactic closing number, but otherwise this is a truly great album.
- Best Song – Yesterday
- Worst Song – Another Girl
- Underrated Gem – It’s Only Love
7 – Rubber Soul
This was a turning point for the Beatles, where they started to experiment with their music (their exposure to LSD for the first time probably contributed to this).
George’s song “Think For Yourself” is a welcome addition, and McCartney supplies his usual hits like “Drive My Car” and “Michelle”. The real star of the show, however, is John Lennon. In this one album, he crafted 3 of the best songs of all time – “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, “Girl” and “In My Life”. A fantastic album from a fantastic band.
- Best Song – Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
- Worst Song – What Goes On
- Underrated Gem – Run For Your Life
6 – Magical Mystery Tour
I don’t get why Beatles fans dislike this album. It may be underwhelming compared to its predecessor Sgt. Peppers (we’ll get to that), but I rate this highly.
Any album with “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” is a good album in my books, but the addition of “All You Need Is Love” makes this a truly great album. The only song I’m not too fond of is “The Fool On The Hill” (I might get some backlash for that one), and “Hello Goodbye” is a little bit overrated (I’ll definitely get slaughtered for that).
- Best Song – Strawberry Fields Forever
- Worst Song – The Fool On The Hill
- Underrated Gem – Your Mother Should Know
5 – Let It Be
This has to be the most underrated album in their entire catalogue. Beatles fans also dislike this one, but for good reason – The Beatles never planned on releasing this, as they deemed it “not good enough” (blimey, if that isn’t good enough then what is?)
There are obviously classics like “Let It Be” and “Across The Universe”, but what sets this apart is the sheer volume of underrated gems. Almost every song is great, and tunes like “Dig A Pony”, “I Me Mine” and “Two Of Us” have always stuck with me. There are some strange interlude songs, but they can be glossed over mostly.
- Best Song – Let It Be
- Worst Song – Dig It
- Underrated Gem – Dig A Pony
4 – The Beatles (A.K.A. The White Album)
I was so close to putting this in “All-Time Greats”, but I feel that would be giving it slightly too much credit. This album must be heard to be believed – it’s hard to describe how so many average songs (yes, I said average, you have to admit a lot of the songs aren’t great) make such an iconic album.
Let’s not forget the amazing songs that are littered throughout this album: “Helter Skelter” and “Back In The USSR” are great McCartney rockers, Harrison chips in with “Savoy Truffle” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and Lennon has some surprisingly deep songs like “Julia” and “Yer Blues”.
An unbelievable crop of incredible songs, this album would unquestionably be an all-time great if it wasn’t for the stinker that is “Revolution 9”. Thank goodness “Good Night” follows this up, otherwise it would have been a terrible end to the album.
- Best Song – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
- Worst Song – Revolution 9
- Underrated Gem – Long, Long, Long
3 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
We’ve made it. From this point on, all the albums have a claim at being the greatest of all time. Taking the bronze medal is Sgt. Peppers, an incredible concept album that changed culture and redefined what music could be.
It’s hard to talk about this album without repeating what’s been said before – this is widely regarded as the best of all time. It only comes in 3rd for me, mainly due to the middle section of this album only being great instead of amazing.
The true genius of this album is the title track, and especially the reprise. You can get completely absorbed in the world of Sgt. Pepper, or the trippy of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, or George’s Indian piece “Within You Without You”. There isn’t much negative to say about this, other than maybe I’ve listened to “A Day In The Life” an unhealthy number of times.
- Best Song – A Day In The Life
- Worst Song – Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
- Underrated Gem – Lovely Rita
2 – Revolver
Possibly the most influential album of all time, Revolver is a masterpiece. Without this album and The Beach Boy’s subsequent release of Pet Sounds, we wouldn’t have been graced with Sgt. Peppers.
With probably the most iconic count-in ever, “Taxman” kicks off the album with a bang. From there, it’s just amazing song after amazing song. “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yellow Submarine” are two of the most recognisable songs ever, and songs like “She Said She Said” and “I’m Only Sleeping” reflect the crazy trips that Lennon was experiencing.
The crown jewel of this album is undoubtedly “Tomorrow Never Knows” – a bonkers mashup of sounds that pushed music production to its limits. I’ll never forget the shock and awe of hearing that song for the first time.
- Best Song – Tomorrow Never Knows
- Worst Song – Good Day Sunshine
- Underrated Gem – I’m Only Sleeping
1 – Abbey Road
I think this is the best album of all time, without question. As soon as I finished listening to this beauty, I knew nothing would ever top it.
“Come Together” might be the best opening song of all time, and “Something” is up there are one of the best songs of all time. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” defined Doom Rock, and “Because” has the best vocal harmonies the Beatles ever did. Huge credit has to be given to George Harrison, whose songs “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun” are definitely both Top 10 Beatles songs contenders.
What makes this album the best of all time, however, is the jaw-dropping medley at the end. It starts off so innocently with “You Never Give Me Your Money”, but takes all sorts of twists and turns until it climaxes on the sensational “The End”. The first time you listen to the medley it renders you speechless.
The only possible gripe with this album is that “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a bit gimmicky, but the other songs are all mind-blowing to the point where it’s unfair to any music artist who tried to make an album since.
- Best Song – Something
- Worst Song – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
- Underrated Gem – I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
So that’s it, the definitive ranking of every Beatles album which should never be questioned ever. Well, maybe not quite, but it is just my opinion after all.
This is my first ever list, so it would be at this point that I’d probably plug another list of mine. Since that doesn’t exist yet, I’m a bit stuck on how to end this. So have a nice day, I guess.
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