Ranking Beatle Albums

For anyone who has talked to me in person or through the blog…the number one choice is NOT going to be a surprise. The rest of the bunch might be a little but not number 1. It’s also an almost impossible task for me to do this. The Stones albums were easier to rank.

 I’ve seen Hanspostcard to this before but I’ve never tried it. Since it would be convoluted to include the American versions…I’m sticking with the UK versions only…except with Magical Mystery Tour. Magical Mystery Tour was released as two eps in the UK but an album in the US…now the album is considered the standard.

I was struck again by how far they came. Please Please Me and four years later I Am The Walrus. Who makes that big of a jump?

As with my Stones list a while back… I will do this on personal preference. When people mention the best Beatle album…many say Revolver or Sgt Pepper. Artistically I always thought Revolver is at the top but not personally.

The only easy selection for me was the bottom two but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them both. Many bands would make a career out of the bottom two. The hardest part was comparing the early albums with the others. That is not all…how do you compare Strawberry Fields with I Want To Hold Your Hand to Something off of Abbey Road?

I have some readers who are pro-early Beatles and some who are pro-middle to late. I’ll take them all. They were innovative to start off with…not just middle to late. I know that many will disagree and I hope you do… that’s the fun of these lists! If I made this tomorrow…only the top pick and the last two would be the same. I have over 40 revisions of this post…yea it was hard. 

Yellow Submarine

13. Yellow Submarine (Soundtrack) – This was the dumping ground of the not wanted songs for a while. The Beatles would keep sending songs to this album but just because it was last doesn’t mean it wasn’t any good. The album also had songs from other albums on this one.

Favorite Song – Hey Bulldog

Beatles for Sale

12. Beatles For Sale – The cover tells the story. Beatlemania had worn them down physically and emotionally. Six out of the fourteen songs on the album are cover versions. They were good cover versions but were running low on gas at this point.

Favorite Song – No Reply

Let It Be

11. Let It Be – My love for this album has grown but I’ve always liked it. Lately, it has drawn new fans into the Beatles because of the Get Back film. Why oh why did Phil Spector leave off Don’t Let Me Down? This is another album that I hated to rank as low as I did.

Favorite Song – Two Of Us

Please Please Me

10. Please Please Me – I love this debut album. They recorded most of it in one day… on February 11, 1963. Recording this in one day shows you how well they knew their material. It takes people days just to start on an album…much less get it done. It really hurts to rank this as low as it is.

Favorite Song – Please Please Me

Magical Mystery Tour

9. Magical Mystery Tour – I remember buying this album as a kid I liked it better than Sgt Pepper at the time. Many of the songs had already appeared on singles like Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, Hello Goodbye, I Am The Walrus.

Favorite Song – Strawberry Fields Forever

With The Beatles

8. With The Beatles – This album was close to its American counterpart (Meet The Beatles) without I Want To Hold Your Hand. It had many more covers.  I think Meet The Beatles could be a little better because it was totally made up of Lennon-McCartney songs with Harrison’s first original song…Don’t Bother Me.

Favorite Song – It Won’t Be Long (one of my favorite Beatles songs of all time)

Help!

7. Help! – For me this album gets underrated and this is where you can start hearing the change between Beatlemania and more mature Beatle music. It opens the door for Rubber Soul and then Revolver.

Favorite Song – The Night Before

Abbey Road

6. Abbey Road – This album has been said to sound more modern than the other Beatles albums. The reason is they recorded on a 16-track recorder just installed at the time in Abbey Road. It was the last album they all worked on together.

Favorite Song – The “mini pop opera” on side B

Sgt Pepper

5. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The most famous album of the Beatles and quite possibly of all time. As John Lennon said it wasn’t really a concept album after the first two tracks and the refrain…it worked because they said it worked. If The Beatles would have included Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane…this could be my number 1. 

Favorite Song: perhaps my favorite of all time… A Day In The Life

Rubber Soul

4. Rubber Soul – This was known as their pivotal album. I think Help! was the album that you started to know the change between the early Beatles and mid-Beatles but this one was full-blown. It shows their folk and drug influence with their great melodies. 

Favorite Song – In My Life

A Hard Day's Night

3. A Hard Day’s Night (Soundtrack) – I think this is the best album they released during the Beatlemania days and on some days it could be listed even higher. Songs such as the title track, Tell Me Why, I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, Anytime At All, and many more.

Favorite Song – I’ll Cry Instead

Revolver

2. Revolver – I think Revolver is the Beatle’s best album artistically. It’s not the most popular with the masses but it’s a masterpiece of an album. I’m biased but this one or Pet Sounds? I would take Revolver any day of the week…and I love Pet Sounds! It’s as close to a perfect album as you can get.

Favorite Song – Tomorrow Never Knows

The White Album

  1. The Beatles (White Album) – This not only is my favorite Beatles album…but my favorite album of all time. It gives such a wide palette of music…  there is something that everyone would like on here somewhere. Unlike Abbey Road or Sgt Pepper…it’s not slick…it’s them playing in a room. I like the well-known songs and I love the album tracks even more. Actually, all are album tracks technically because there were no singles (except for an overseas single) from this album. Songs included Back in the USSR, Helter Skelter, Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie, Cry Baby Cry, Revolution 1, and so many more. 

Favorite Song: Sexy Sadie

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

61 thoughts on “Ranking Beatle Albums”

  1. Great list Max ! I can’t choose my fave because I’m not intimately familiar with each album, but as a teen, I had Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and that album was played until the grooves wore out.

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  2. First Beatles album in my house was the US release “Introducing the Beatles”. Christmas 1968 was an embarrassment of riches with the White Album and Beggar’s Banquet both released just before the holiday. I also received Richard and Mimi Fariña’s Memories that year (released in April). A Hard Day’s Night was quite an experience at the local theatre. (I can see that theatre out my back window now.) There is a local band here that does a concert rendition on the 50th anniversary of each album release – an orchestra on stage for some songs, the audience reproducing the chants from Revolution 9, pre-recorded bits as needed. I’m not big on trying to rank things so I won’t quibble with your choices.

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  3. I think the White Album is my favourite too… Though I doubt I’m as qualified as you are to rank them. The one I’ve always found ‘slightly’ overrated is Sgt Pepper’s… I think you’re right in having it 5th. There are some all-time greats on it, but also some songs I think are a bit too silly. White Album has ‘silly’ songs too, but they work better as part of that opus.

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  4. Rubber Soul is my hands down favorite. I have most of their albums, but lost a few when a moving company moved us. The movers took a box of my favorite albums and my sunglasses. I still lose sleep over that one.

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  5. I love reading other peoples favourites picks. I would have to go as Let It Be as my Number 1 and Abbey Road as my #2. I need to get the White Album at some point on vinyl.
    Great stuff Max and for you a huge undertaking as I’m sure picking these Beatles records wasn’t easy!

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  6. Wonderful listing! I’m first generation (“Ohhh, Mom — isn’t Ringo dreamy?!” We couldn’t hear anything for the audience screaming.) I lived for the early stuff. Thus, “Let It Be” wasn’t my favorite, but don’t anyone think I’d give it away! The Beatles ARE. They simply just are. Always. Play me anything from any album; I will smile. So will 2 of my young grandchildren (because of another grandparent’s love for the lads), who recognize opening chords immediately and know so many lyrics fully.

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  7. Tough to rank for sure. For me it’s easy to pick group of 6 best & couple at the bottom, but assigning each a number is tricky. For me, Sgt Pepper wins, then Rubber Soul, MMT and Abbey. Yellow Sub soundtrack & first two albums take the basement but even they had some excellent tracks

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    1. Putting a number on them was almost impossible for me but it was fun. It all depends on what mood I’m in. I know some people who think Please Please Me is their greatest album.

      It’s hard to compare the early stuff to the late because of the different texture. The melodies are there…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The White Album, for me, is like toys on the floor for a toddler; what catches your eye/ear? ‘Birthday?’ ‘Mother Natures Son?’ ‘I’m So Tired?’ ‘Back In The USSR?’So many choices laid out for you, who knows where to start because almost everything shines and chimes.

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  9. Wow, kudos to you for going what essentially is an impossible exercise – especially for a ranking-challenged individual like me who tends to overthink complex tasks. More than 40 revisions seem to be an indication it wasn’t easy for you as well.

    I wasn’t surprised about your no. 1 pick but didn’t expect “Sexy Sadie” as your favorite tune.

    Here’s my attempt at ranking the albums and favorite tunes on each in a spontaneous way without much analysis, based on my gut – something I rarely do:

    13. Yellow Submarine (All You Need Is Love)
    12. Beatles for Sale (Eight Days a Week)
    11. With The Beatles (It Won’t Be Long)
    10. Please Please Me (I Saw Her Standing There)
    9. A Hard Day’s Night (Things We Said Today)
    8. Help! (Another Girl)
    7. Rubber Soul (If I Needed Someone)
    6. The Beatles (White Album) (While My Guitar Gently Weeps)
    5. Revolver (Eleanor Rigby)
    4. Magical Mystery Tour (Strawberry Fields Forever)
    3. Let It Be (Let It Be)
    2. Abbey Road (Here Comes the Sun)
    1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (A Day in the Life)

    I literally put together the above in less than 10 minutes. Once I would start to analyze more closely, I would likely be here for the next few hours. This will have to wait for another day! 🙂

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    1. That is a great list…see you can make a list fine. Mine would change daily Christian….except number 1, 12, and 13. I can relate to the White Album for some reason in a big way.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My order is different, Max, but I do agree with many of your comments about individual and favorite songs. And, as has often been said, their worst albums would have been almost any other band’s greatest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me…the best “remix” they did was The White Album. The album was always muddy sounding…. the 2018 re-release clarified the album…now it sounds like they wanted it to sound like.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Max, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to rank them and then choose a favorite song on each. I will say I agree that the white album is my favorite because I see it as a whole rather than a collection of songs. It’s also the one I’ve listened to the most. Their body of work is at the top of the mountain and there it will remain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This exercise was fun but futile putting them in order. It depends on what mood I’m in at the time but it did make me think about them more.
      More people liked the White Album than I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I too would be at a loss even beginning to take this task on. So many individual songs that are faves from each album. And of course, some songs “settle in” over time as being more beloved than when you first heard them…that sort of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted to lift the early period more but what do you put behind? It was a fun thing to do but my mind probably would change every day on any kind of order.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wanted to raise the earlier period because it can be overlooked… but which one do you take down? It’s almost impossible to put a number to them.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A brave undertaking. I’m a huge Beatles fan and a list like this is something I’ve avoided forever. I just might have to come around to it this year. The Beatles (White Album) is huge call at number one. In truth it’s an incredible album with an eclectic mix of what the Beatles do best. I’m thrilled Rubber Soul sits high on the list. You don’t have much love for Let It Be?

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  14. Interesting list, i mostly agree though white album would be lower. I sometimes feel albums are as much the worst tracks on them as the sum of the best and the albums all had room for improvement – which is why when I retire, not too far away now, i will do The Alternate Universe Beatles albums with what should have been the track listings. Including the solo stuff. As John once caustically remarked to fans who wanted to see them get together again, “well just do a tape of the solo tracks you want instead and call it a Beatles LP” or words to that effect. So I will!

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  15. I am definitely the odd critter in this. I’ve never owned a Beatles album or a single (45). I like many Beatles songs but, have never purchased anything. All I can tell you is my favorite single (there are others)…I Feel Fine, followed by Ticket To Ride. There just wasn’t any Beatles music in my house or in either of my grandparents’ houses. I am stuck with my dad’s voice in my head…”They all sang harmony off key.” I even like many of their solo pieces, particularly Wings.

    I could tell you more about Elvis, Ricky Nelson, The Everly Brothers and Johnny Horton.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea there wasn’t any Beatle music in mine…UNTIL…I put it there lol.
      I have to disagree with your dad there! Now if he is talking about the Beach boys harmony….maybe that is what he was talking about… a low bass and a high high

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      1. Nah. I remember having a conversation with him when I was in my early 20s. I remember asking him why he didn’t have any Beatles records. He rolled his eyes, shook his head and gave me his quote. He was quite specific. My uncle Randy has Beatles albums. He was 11 years old when the Beatles crossed “the pond.” My dad was a Freshman in college. The brothers’ music tastes diverged, strongly. They were eight years apart. While Randy was embracing the Beatles, my dad was still dancing to Shag music and playing stuff from the 50s. Most of his CDs from his estate were 50s with some country music.

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      2. It’s the Pulp Fiction thing…you are either an Elvis person or a Beatles person…you can like both but not love both… I guess…no I know I’m a Beatles person lol

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      3. Interesting. I’ve seen bits & pieces of Pulp Fiction but, missed that. It’s true. There also is a reference to that very thing in Doctor Who. Tennant series…Episode called “42” (tongue in cheek reference to the answer to the universe from “Hitchhiker’s…”). They are trying to get thru a series of locked doors to fire up the engine on a space freighter. The locks open with correct trivia answers. IIRC, the first door is “Who had more #1s? The Beatles or Elvis?” From out in space, Martha calls her mother for help. Answer: Elvis. 😆

        I was raised in an Elvis house. As I have aged, I have developed a love for Beatles music, mostly the older stuff. I did grow up loving Wings music (my mom liked Wings) and it took a while for my young brain to understand that McCartney was a Beatle. I remember liking Ringo’s & Harrison’s music but, not knowing who was singing. In retrospect, I recall hearing Lennon’s early solo stuff but, didn’t really grasp who he was. I do remember in 1980, Double Fantasy coming out and classmates talking about it. I wasn’t interested in it. I was busy listening to other things…and boys…

        Beatles were always in the background but, I was largely oblivious, except for Wings. Crazy, huh…

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    1. Thank you for reading as always! If you like the Strawberry Fields era….Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt Pepper are the two for you if you buy any.

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