Listening to the Fab Four, all of them.
August 10, 2017 9:05 AM   Subscribe

I want to listen to every single goddamn Beatles song, many of which I have never heard, in more-or-less release order. What's the best way to make sure I don't miss anything?

The differences between the UK and US releases are very confusing, * but I think I have it mostly sorted out by now (thank you internet!!). Is listening to the "core catalogue" (UK releases and US Magical Mystery Tour release) enough? It doesn't Help that some singles were never released on any album at first ... were there singles that were only put on US albums, or elsewhere, that I should know about?

I'm also interested in differences between songs, e.g. the cutoff at the beginning of "I Saw Her Standing There."

I don't care about mono vs. stereo; am also not particularly interested in the live albums unless you say "OMG you absolutely must listen to this one."


* When I was around 7, I noticed that there was "Introducing the Beatles" and "Please, Please Me" and "Meet the Beatles" and "The Beatles Second Album," which seemed to be the third album, and the first two were almost identical except for its biggest goddamn hit, all of which made me extremely confused. My parents were huge Beatles fans, but I was unable to appreciate them and now it's time to remedy all this and listen to them finally in their proper order and glory.
posted by Melismata to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe there's a more recent reference book, but Beatlesongs by William Dowlding will walk you through each and every song.
posted by maurice at 9:16 AM on August 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure the best way to fit it into your canon listening, but be sure not to miss the "Rarities" album.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:16 AM on August 10, 2017

If memory serves, I think that the differences between the US and UK releases were mostly coming in their early career, and the Beatles were never happy with that and so when they did Sgt. Pepper they demanded that the record label stop fucking around and be consistent. So once you hit Sgt. Pepper you're pretty much okay.

This link seems to give a good rundown of some of the variances in US albums and how they differ from the UK ones.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, I also found this - a blogger's own notes to himself, so caveat emptor, but it does acknowledge the weirdness in timing and includes some of the B-sides-only like "the Inner Light" so I trust it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

This listing may be helpful: The official Beatles' canon -- part of this song-by-song musicological analysis, Alan W. Pollack's Notes on ... Series.
posted by lathrop at 10:07 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're a completist, this Wikipedia page seems to come close to listing "every goddamn song".

But lathrop's link is probably more what you want, and searching Spotify for "beatles chronological" the first hit is a playlist with 219 songs. The ordering depends on whether you want to hear singles as soon as they are released, or listen to albums in their original track order (this playlist chooses the latter).

There's a lot of good stuff on Anthology 1-3, but I'd save that for a later listen.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:42 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is exactly what I'm looking for, you guys are awesome.

How the hell did I miss that wikipedia page RobotVoodooPower thank you!!
posted by Melismata at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2017

So once you hit Sgt. Pepper you're pretty much okay.

Well, there is the longer intro to I Am the Walrus on the UK EP version, but that's admittedly nit-picky.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Supposedly the CD's were based on the English track listings. The singles were collected onto "Past Masters, vol 1/2".
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:04 PM on August 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Beatles' cds, including Past Masters and Magical Mystery Tour, will get you almost everything the Beatles released that was recorded in the studio. In addition, there are their Christmas records, which haven't been reissued officially, but are widely available for free on the internet. Also, there are the recordings made with Tony Sheridan before Ringo joined the band. (John sings lead on one song and another song is a Harrison-Lennon instrumental.) These recordings have been released under various titles. There are also the Anthology series of 3 albums, Let It Be Naked, Love, and Yellow Submarine Songtrack. There are many interesting differences between the songs on these albums and the originally released versions. If I could recommend a live release, it would be Live At The Star Club. It's got a poor sound quality, but the energy of the performances is amazing; much more energetic than the Hollywood Bowl show. The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations is a good but old website that deals with recording variations and where to find them.
posted by frodisaur at 5:33 PM on August 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Let's not forget the recent box set of mono albums, which was how most of their catalog was mixed and released.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2017

I'm also interested in differences between songs, e.g. the cutoff at the beginning of "I Saw Her Standing There."

Then I suggest you peruse the Variations file which came out of the rec.arts.beatles Usenet group and also lists their every song, BTW.

I don't care about mono vs. stereo

Ahhh - but if you're into variations you should be aware that Beatles Stereo with both L+R channels blended doesn't necessarily equal Beatles Mono, but instead they may be different mixes. See especially Sgt Pepper ("Lucy in the Sky" and "Reprise") and the White album ("Helter Skelter") for these. The above named Rarites included the latter but I don't think that LP ever came out on CD.
posted by Rash at 9:02 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another source not yet mentioned are the two BBC releases, which contain about a dozen "new" songs (all covers, no new Lennon-McCartneys). They're not exactly 'live' performances (no screaming audience) but they're actually pretty good recordings. And every fan should be familiar with their version of I Just Don't Understand, only available here.
posted by Rash at 9:41 PM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

These are all best answers, but I just wanted to point out that the bestest best answer is frodisaur's and Rash's Usenet Guide, that is the most goddamn complete, thorough, amazing list I have ever seen, thanks again!!
posted by Melismata at 8:29 AM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you ever feel the desire to drop down the Beatles bootleg rabbit hole, do internet searches for "Purple Chick." These are free collections made by fans that try to collect every take and mix for each song. I highly recommend them.
posted by frodisaur at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older What does these sentences mean?   |   Connecting iPhone video to composite in a Honda... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.