Revolver, by The Beatles — Review by Matt

Alright folks, it’s time to review Revolver. When Aaron and I were talking about reviewing an older and newer Beatles album, we realized this would almost certainly exclude both Rubber Soul and Revolver.  Luckily, it just so happens that he and I share the opinion that these two albums are companion pieces, so it made sense for us to also review them both.  They were transitional records, as you can hear more of the simplistic rock style of their early records on Rubber Soul and more of the experimental side on Revolver, but neither is as straightforward as Help! or as exploratory as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  They are this perfect storm of the two primary styles of Beatles music colliding, and they are fantastic albums.  I literally started giggling when I browsed the Revolver tracklist and remember some of the songs I was going to get to review.

The count-off in “Taxman” is great. Even though i’m sure it wasn’t recorded live in a take, the fact that you hear people coughing in the background makes it sound like everyone is just getting ready to start playing. Man the bass is so awesome in this song. The harmonies sung both with George and to compliment him in the verses are amazing. I love the guitar riff/solo-ish thing that happens a couple times in the song, it’s raw but polished at the same time. Back in the day I had to look up who Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath were (they were the leaders of the two largest British political parties at the time), because the backing vocals where those names are sung sound great. For such a simple subject, this song has some great lyrics (“declare the pennies on your eyes”). It’s a great way to kick off the album.

“Eleanor Rigby” displays wonderful use of a string section. The song is hauntingly epic. Paul’s restrained vocals just add to the tension in the song. It’s hard to write about this song, I just find myself listening and getting chills. I don’t know who decided that it should be an orchestral song, but man, good choice.

I absolutely love “I’m Only Sleeping”. I like the acoustic guitar, it has a really pleasant tone, and John’s vocals are really calming. Paul’s bass drives the song at a nice plodding pace (and i can’t get enough of the small breakdowns when it’s just a little bass riff). This is one of the first ever uses of a reverse guitar solo, and it fits really well with the dreamlike quality of the song. ApparentlyGeorge actually learned how to play the solo backwards, which is amazing. This is one of my favorite Beatles songs, I keep noticing little new things, like the ‘ooh ooh’ harmonies, and how Paul joins John on some lyrics. God they used that solo bass riff at the perfect moments.

“Love You To” has some nice calm sitar to start it out. I really enjoy the drumming in this one, even though it’s not Ringo. Apparently it’s George, Ringo on tambourine, some Indian musicians, and that’s it. Interesting. This song is really amazing, it shows how much Indian music had influenced George, even in the short time since “Norwegian Wood”, as his proficiency playing the sitar has increased markedly. George’s songwriting had really progressed by this point as well, as he has three very strong songs on the album. There’s a cool little sped up jam at the end of this one.

“Here, There and Everywhere” has some lovely little ‘ooh’ harmonies throughout. Paul’s voice is mellow again but completely different than “Eleanor Rigby” (which also had mellow singing). There are some nice lead guitar riffs that are subtle but very effective. This is such a pretty love song, with simple lyrics that perfectly capture the mellow mood of the song. Paul’s acoustic bass fits really nicely.

“Yellow Submarine” is simply a pleasant song. It’s a little strange, but also just joyful, a great one for Ringo. It’s obviously a great singalong. I like the little touches in the song (the “band begins to play'”, the sounds of clinking glasses and laughter during the “friends all aboard” line). The ‘captain’s orders’ part of the song was apparently Paul and John talking through tin cans to create the effect. I’ve always liked the call and response part (“sky of blue”, “sea of green”) and the laugh at the end, and I don’t know why, it just makes me happy.

There is such awesome guitar in “She Said, She Said”. The bass is pretty great as well. The story of the song’s origins is pretty famous but still awesome, in that Peter Fonda made John really uncomfortable when they were tripping on LSD because he kept saying “I know what it’s like to be dead”. The gender was changed, but the song literally has their conversation in it, even though they sound like abstract lyrics. Ringo’s drumming is pretty excellent in this one, and it, along with the bass, really carries the song. John’s vocals are outstanding. I love how the guitar mimics the lyric “you’re making me feel like i’ve never been born”. Man, the lyrics combined with John’s delivery is just delightful. “No no no you’re wrong, when i was a boyyyyyy” just sounds amazing. I like the call and response singing right at the end with the harmonies answering John’s singing.

“Good Day Sunshine” is such a simple, pleasant song. The piano is so cool, especially in the verses where it cascades after some lines, like “we take a walk…”. There’s a nice little piano solo thrown in there as well, which has a very old timey feel. I enjoy the end when “good day sunshine” is sung by multiple overlapping voices.

I really enjoy the lyrics of “And Your Bird Can Sing”. I like Paul’s harmonies a lot. Whenever I hear this song I always think of an outtake version when they can’t stop laughing through the whole song. George’s guitar is just ridiculous. Once again, the bass drives the song wonderfully. Paul obviously gets credit as being a great bass player but he doesn’t always get thrown into the conversation as the best bass player, and he should. Sure, some guys play faster or more complexly, but no one knows as well as Paul where to put notes and where to hold back, and the melodic nature of his playing is second to none.

“For No One” has a lot of maturity in how it approaches the relationship being sung about. It’s just Paul and Ringo (and a French horn played by Alan Civil). The melody of the lyrics is calming, but with a hint of foreboding. Paul could do everything, the piano is just great (as is the clavichord, which he also played). The French horn is a wonderful touch. The bass doesn’t stand out until the chorus, when it’s just amazing. I don’t understand how Paul and John (and George to a lesser extent) came up with some many different but perfect songs.

The guitar drives “Doctor Robert”, but there’s some cool bass underlying it. The song is pretty dang enjoyable, especially during the middle portion when the harmonies start. There’s a cool little lead guitar riff thrown in during the chorus. I really like the harmonium during the “well well well” part. John claimed he was Doctor Robert since he was the guy carrying the pills for the band during the early days…interesting.

The fade in on that ridiculous guitar riff in “I Want To Tell You” is so cool. This is another strong effort by George. The harmonies at the end of certain lyrics are really a nice touch. Paul’s bass carries much of the song, making it all that much more awesome when the lead guitar riff comes back in every so often. This album definitely contains George’s strongest songwriting output up to this point in his career.

I’ve always enjoyed “Got To Get You Into My Life”, probably because I like horns, and this one is full of them. It’s about Paul’s love of marijuana, which makes it a pretty funny love song. The running bass is awesome. Ringo’s drumming is so simplistic, yet so right. I love that finally, Paul lets loose with the vocals on this song. I wish it didn’ t fade out because his vocals are so ridiculous at the end. It’s been a great but mellow album for him.

It’s hard to know what to say about “Tomorrow Never Knows”, because it’s so weird and amazing. Ringo’s drumming is some of my favorite he ever did. John’s lyrics, while very vague and spacey, are also some of his most complex. Even taken out of the psychedelic/drug context, there is a lot of meaning to find in them. There is some more backwards guitar soloing in this one. They used tape loops and a multitude of other effects that I won’t even begin to delve into (read the wikipedia article if you want all the details). I love John’s vocals, and how they used double tracked vocals along with filtering them through a speaker normally used for a hammond organ. There is SO much going on in this song, you could listen to it a hundred times and discover something new each time. It’s crazy that Ringo’s drumming almost never changes through the whole song, but it feels as though it does because of how different it comes across with various layers of sound in different parts of the song. It’s definitely one of the coolest, craziest songs the Beatles ever did, and it perfectly signaled the transition to their experimental phase.

This album is freaking ridiculous.  Due to some personal ties, I always rank Rubber Soul above Revolver, but this listen has put them on an even playing field.  There is not a single weak moment on the album.  I don’t even know what else to say, besides that I am giving Revolver a 10 out of 10.

Rubber Soul, by The Beatles — Review by Aaron

So this is the album where the greatest band ever to exist really figured it out. Rubber Soul marks a turning point, not only in the Beatles’ career, but also in the course of modern music. Gone were the simple pop songs of the early sixties, born was a new, much more sophisticated style of music. Though the early Beatles surely influenced other music of the time, it was Rubber Soul that allowed other bands to really expand their sound. Some great examples include Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Who Sell Out and countless other examples. I’m really looking forward to reviewing this timeless classic.

The album opens with a great McCartney classic, “Drive My Car”. The track opens the album with a great George guitar riff. After that the first thing you notice is Paul’s very developed bass line. This is a theme through the rest of the album. Though Paul often says that Pet Sounds inspired him to make the bass a driving force to songs, rather than simply adding rhythm, it sounds to me that he actually figured this out about a year prior to Brian Wilson’s masterpiece. “Drive My Car” still has that extremely catchy quality that all early Beatles songs had, but really marks a point of maturity for the band.

Next on the album is “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” which is a predominantly John song, though has some great Paul harmonies. The thing I really like about this song is the lyrics. Is it about burning a girl’s house down after she leaves him? The Beatles always keep the listener guessing. Also, I think it may be the first appearance of a sitar on a Beatles track. Just another innovation that separated this band into a category of their own.

“You Won’t See Me” brings back that amazing driving bass from Paul. The “oh la la” parts throughout the song really just hold it all together. Typical Beatles “ohh ohh” sounds, but man do they pull it off. Another great aspect of this song is Ringo’s drumming which is actually quite impressive. He throws many extra little fills in throughout the song that really add to the dynamic quality of the song. Paul and Ringo really play off each other well in this song. Another bonus of this song is the piano that plays in the background. I’m assuming that is John adding his touch to this song. I think this track is a great example of what the band was learning to do in the studio. This song has so many levels and dense harmonies throughout. Awesome.

“Nowhere Man” is a great John song and really seems like it is really about how John feels about himself. Not only are these lyrics great, the instrumentals are splendid. George’s guitar on some of the breaks is just completely original. Also, just listen to that bass. Insane. At this point in the album, if I didn’t know anything about the Beatles, I would think they were a bass driven band. Paul really is driving the energy and mood of this album.

George gets his first song with “Think for Yourself” which I think is his best so far as a Beatle. I really like the harmonies with Paul and John at the end of most lines. Also, what a rocking guitar part. The way he tuned the guitar almost gives it the sound of a trumpet with a plug. Great riff overall. I must also say that Ringo has got it going on this album. He really knows how to create a ton of energy with his simple drum kit.

Next is “The Word” which is a great Paul/John collaboration. Though I think the lyrics on this track are a bit weaker than some of the others, it’s really about the melody and harmonies. At this point in the album I’m noticing that the track listing is excellent. Unlike previous Beatles albums, Paul and John are really taking turns on songs (with a little George thrown in). The organ is another great addition on this track. Another new little bonus from the Beatles.

“Michelle” really slows the pace of the album, while still following the formula of having Paul’s bass drive the song. Those “ohhs” in the background of this song accent Paul’s lead vocal so perfectly. What a great love song. And they even throw some French in. You just never know what to expect with the Beatles.

“What Goes On” brings us some Ringo action. Just listen to the guitar part on this track. It’s crazy. I would love to hear the guitar without any other music around it just to get the full effect. George was really doing some experimenting here. I think this is a great song for Ringo. Definitely not stand out vocals, but perfect for Ringo’s range.

Next is one of the best love songs that John ever recorded, “Girl”. This song really puts the listener in the mind of a guy who is head over heels for a girl that just doesn’t feel the same way. It’s really about one of those relationships that last for too long. When the girl is ready to move on, but the guy just can’t let her go. I have to imagine that kids in high school have a lot to relate with in this song.

Back to Paul. “I’m Looking Through You” is basically the same plot line as “Girl”, except from the other perspective. This song really describes the guy’s point of view when he grows disinterested with the girl. The guitar, again, shines in this song. The great thing about this band having two guitarists is that John can focus on the rhythm while George is able to add little guitar fills throughout.

“In My Life” is arguably the best Beatles song of all time, and in my opinion John’s best output. The lyrics really are spectacular. It’s a little creepy listening to this song, knowing that John’s life would later be cut short. I would say that this song is an example of a perfect song. Every note is placed in the exact right location. I don’t believe there is a single change that could be made to make this song any better. Also, it even includes the “fifth Beatle” with George Martin on the sped up keyboard. Just perfect.

Next is “Wait,” which is a great song, but it’s in a tough spot on the album following up the best song, “In My Life”. I really like the instrumental portion of this song that drives different moods throughout. This song is all over the place, in a good way. Ringo especially helps lead the band change tempo throughout.

“If I Needed Someone” is George’s second lead vocal on the album, though the John and Paul harmony does take up a good portion of the song. The harmonies on this song are just outstanding. How do they continue to come up with such great melodies? It’s amazing that this many different catchy melodies even exist. I’m pretty certain the Beatles all sold their souls to the devil. Geez.

The closing track on the album, “Run For Your Life”, has to be the strangest. If it wasn’t the Beatles, it would have been a lot more controversial. They could pretty much get away with anything at this point in their career, and this song proves it. It’s basically about killing your girlfriend if she cheats on you, and there really isn’t a much different interpretation. Even though the topic is quite dark, the song still has a very upbeat sound. Just like the other tracks on the album, this one fits perfectly.

Rubber Soul is amazing. Though my opinions on the best Beatles album change on a regular basis, I think this could be their best. They still hadn’t hit their experimental peak, but this album was from a band that was functioning at its best and still had the full band dynamic. On the later albums, there were many tracks that were nearly solo contributions from the individual members, but Rubber Soul was all about the entire band. There really isn’t a bad thing to say about this album. I am going to give this album the highest honors. It gets a 10 out of 10.

A Hard Day’s Night, by The Beatles — Review By Aaron

Alright, my first review during this Beatles session. The album I’ll be reviewing is the Beatles third album, A Hard Day’s Night. This was the first time the band put an album out with all original tracks (though they did revert back to covers on their next album, Beatles For Sale). A Hard Day’s Night usually isn’t in my list of top Beatles albums, but that shouldn’t take away from the truly amazing songs it contains.

The album opens with the title track. The guitar strum that opens the album gives the listener an immediate burst of energy. Though the song is primarily driven by John, Paul adds so much when he comes in for his few lines. Right from the opening chord the guitar is spectacular throughout the whole song, especially the fade out at the end. This is one of those songs that you just say wow, the Beatles really understood how to make a great pop song.

Next is “I Should Have Know Better”, which opens with some classic John harmonica. Very catchy lyrics, but I suppose that goes without saying for most Beatles songs. This song really stretches Johns vocals throughout. Also, the guitar is once again great. I especially like the mini, simplistic solo in the middle of the song. As mentioned in the Beatles For Sale review, George knew how to perfectly throw in guitar parts that really filled in a song.

“If I Fell” is the first slower song on the album. Though it starts with a dominant John vocal, it switches for most of the rest of the song to some of the best John/Paul harmonies of their career. Though at this point Ringo’s drumming is pretty straightforward, it really keeps the songs moving. I think that’s what made him so great, never going for to much, but always creating a strong backbone for their songs.

Geeoorrrggggiiieeee. “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” is certainly not one of George’s best songs, but fits well with the album. I like how the energy picks back up with this song, but not too much to make the track seem out of place. I think the best part of this song has to be the combination of Paul’s bass and George’s guitar. Perfect mix. The guitar is almost played in a flamenco style while the bass just walks up and down the scale.

“And I Love Her” is the first Paul dominant song on the album. This track is truly a classic love song. Paul is still playing this one on his tours today. One thing I really like is how the track is called “And” I Love Her. It is one of those great Beatles lines that makes the listener wonder what else he’s interested in before her. Many different interpretations can follow. Also, this song allows for another guitar solo break, which seems to be one of the formulas that the Beatles were using on this album.

Next is “Tell Me Why” which has that great Beatles energy that is hard to explain. This song really shows another side of John’s singing voice. He can really do it all. This song has bits of raspy vocals, but yet they are so clear. Another great part about this track is Paul’s bass that goes exactly with the rhythm of the vocals. It really adds that extra dynamic quality to the song.

Next is another very recognizable single, “Can’t Buy Me Love”. I love how this track is known as a classic love song, but it’s always been rumored that it was about a prostitute. Another example of the Beatles putting double meanings in their songs. As I listen to this album, it’s just amazing to me that the Beatles fit such quality into 2 minute songs. Part of me wishes some of them went on longer, but then again, I will not question the Beatles.

“Any Time At All” starts with a great John vocal and then immediately repeated by Paul. It really shows their different voices when they are both striving for the same style of singing. I really enjoy the lyrics to this song as well. Very simple, but quite enjoyable. I suppose that’s what the Beatles do best.

The next song is “I’ll Cry Instead” which is a completely different style from the rest of the tracks on the album. It has a country sound to it. Not my favorite song on the album, but I like that they put it on the album since it really shows their willingness to experiment with different styles of music.

“Things We Said Today” is another great relationship song from Paul. Also, the track fits perfectly after “I’ll Cry Instead.” It isn’t country like the last track, but still has that slower singing, with paul singing in his lower vocal style. I think the drumming is great on this track. Ringo just keeps it going.

Wooaaahhhhhh IIIIIIIIII. What a great intro to “When I Get Home.” The harmonies for the brief moment that the band is saying IIIIIIIII is just insane. Brings chills to my spine. I love George’s guitar in this song as well. You really can hear his blues influence on this one, and most of the track on early Beatles albums for that matter. I really just like the concept of this song. It’s all about having that excitement to be with the girl you love, even when you’re not with her. Being so excited, even just to share simple things that you did during the day. Great track.

“You Can’t Do That” is another rocker on the album. This song really exemplifies the vocals as the main part of the track, but if you really listen to the instrumentals in the background, they are just awesome. The drums, bass, and guitars all just work so well together. I really think the Beatles placed every note in the exact right location.

Last is “I’ll Be Back” which is similar to “If I Fell” in the sense that it has the really good John and Paul harmonies. What a great track to end the album with. Even though its about a girl, it also makes me think about how they are sending the listener off, but don’t worry they’ll be back for another album. The beauty of it is, they came back again and again and again, and it only got better.

A Hard Day’s Night is truly an amazing album, especially in the early stages of the Beatles’ career. I like how it has all original tracks (though they do have some amazing covers on other albums). Also, the fact that there is a movie that goes with the album only makes it better. I read over what I wrote about every track on this album and didn’t really find anything negative, which makes me want to give this album a 10. However, if I’m comparing it to their other albums, I will dock it a few points, because even though this album is better than anything else at the time, the band still hadn’t found the full potential that they would on later albums. Therefore I give A Hard Days Night a 9.6 out of 10.

Beatles For Sale, by The Beatles — Review by Matt

Alright everybody, it’s time for the first of our many Beatles reviews. What we’re doing is each reviewing an early album, then either Revolver or Rubber Soul, then each doing a later album.  Following that, we might go into a solo album for each decade for each member (where applicable).  I’m starting it off with 1964’s Beatles For Sale.

I love that the album begins straight away with vocals on “No Reply”. I really enjoy the tone of the acoustic guitar, especially during the verses.  The dynamic vocals are also nice, alternating between calm to almost angry (“I saw the light”). I like the vocal inflections John uses at the end of certain lines (“that’s a lie”, for instance), because the way he goes up and down with his voice is great. Paul’s voice stands out on the ‘angry’ parts.  There is some interesting clapping percussion at times, it sounds alright but I’m not sure if it’s necessary.  Ringo hits some cymbals on the ‘angry’ parts that really give those parts the magnitude they need.

“I’m a Loser” once again starts with vocals, this time with very little music accompaniment. This is the second song dominated by John’s singing (this will become a theme).  There is more awesome guitar.  Because he didn’t have elaborate, long solos very often, the impact of George’s playing is sometimes overlooked (in terms of his position within the Beatles), but his tone and his little flourishes just make this song. Paul’s bass, on the chorus especially, is just ridiculous.  It’s such a unique, amazing tone.  George’s guitar licks have an almost country/rockabilly sound.  Toward the end there is some nice harmonica, followed by a country-esque short George solo.

“Baby’s in Black” has a cool guitar intro.  The song is nice, but a little too simplistic for me.  I love that it is basically all John and Paul singing together.  There’s a little guitar solo that is nice but not particularly special.  I do like the drumming, it’s very typical Ringo but it’s pleasant.

“Rock and Roll Music” is the first of six covers (due to them having just recorded A Hard Day’s Night, as well as constant touring, they didn’t have the time necessary to write all new songs) and I love it, both the original and their version.  It’s more John vocals, and he’s putting his rock vocal style to good use.  There’s some piano that I never really noticed before, I wonder if it’s John or Paul playing it. I love that the lyrics somehow rhyme ‘band’ with ‘hurricane’ (‘hurrican’?).  If this doesn’t make  you want to dance, even just a little, there’s something wrong.  Man do I love John on an upbeat rocking song.  The reverb on his vocals is a nice touch, it’s not overwhelming, but it adds a cool element.

The guitar and basic percussion on “I’ll Follow the Sun” is so pleasant.  We finally get a Paul lead vocal, and it is great.  There is still a lot of both Paul and John singing together, which is awesome, because this was still at a point when they were really collaborating.  Part of me wishes the song were longer, but at the same time the short-but-sweet nature of it is part of the appeal.

“Mr. Moonlight” isn’t really regarded very highly by critics, and I always thought it was forgettable, but after listening to it again, my opinion has changed.  The first (and only) thing that always came to mind was the opening “Misterrrrrr Moonlight”, but there are lot of cool elements, such as some awesome guitar.  I love that even in a cover, their guitar style is instantly recognizable.  Oh my, Paul is playing a Hammond organ…hell yeah! Ringo’s drumming is delightful, as is Paul’s bass.  I like that the bass doesn’t just sit there, it has so much personality.  This one is a new favorite for me, critics be damned!

I love Paul’s voice on “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey”.  It has some maturity and authenticity, rather than the sound of a 20-something year old kid faking it.  I really enjoy the call-and-response “hey hey hey hey” part.  There are some great background harmonies (“bye bye bye bye”), and the song fades out to end side one (for those of you listening on an LP).  This song is a great companion piece to John’s “Rock and Roll Music”.

The fade-in to that amazing guitar riff on “Eight Days A Week” is awesome.  Paul’s bass is so great on this one, it’s very driving. The “hold me, love me” part has some of the best hand claps ever. Though it’s technically sung by both, it’s another John-dominated song.  The riff during the verses is so simple yet effective.  I like how it ends with the same riff that it started with.

“Words of Love” has a great riff, and once again has a bit of a rockabilly vibe.  There are some interesting hand claps throughout.  John and Paul have some nice harmonies, especially during the humming parts.  The riff really carries the song, along with some more stellar bass from Paul.  It’s short but sweet, another forgotten one for me that is a lovely little number.

It’s Ringo time! “Honey Don’t” isn’t the first Ringo-sung songs that comes to mind, but it’s one of my favorites.  The opening guitar riff is so much like “Secret Agent Man“.  I really enjoy Ringo’s playing, and he pulls off sounding like a middle aged country singer.

“Every Little Thing” is a fabulous song.  It’s hard to get past hearing the Yes version in my head though.  I really like Ringo’s use of the timpani on the chorus (“every little thing she does dum dum she does for me”).  It’s interesting that even though Paul wrote the song, John’s vocals tend to come through as the dominant voice.  Paul’s voice is most clearly heard on the chorus.  It’s hard to say, but this might be one of those instances where the cover is close to topping the original (“All Along the Watchtower” probably being the most famous example).

“I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” has some nice guitar, but is a little boring by Beatles standards. There are some cool vocal parts (the “I still love her” parts), and some pleasant “ooh” background vocals.  There’s another rockabilly-esque George solo.  Overall, this one is just so-so for me.

“What You’re Doing” has a great drum intro, which actually continues throughout the song, and when coupled with that awesome guitar riff, they form a great backbone for the song.  I enjoy how John just sings the first word on each line of the verses, with Paul taking the lead.  The “I’ve been waiting here for you” part is Paul’s vocals at their best.  It’s SO enjoyable.  He’s unlike anyone else ever, and it’s hard to believe this is the same guy that rocked out on “Kansas City” just a few songs ago.  There’s an interesting piano solo overlapping a guitar solo.  It doesn’t sound perfect, but it kind of works.  The ending with the dominant drums again, this time with some cool bass flourishes, is near perfect.

The album ends with “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby”.  It’s a good song, and there is some interesting reverb used on George’s voice.  George only gets one song, and it’s a cover (granted, he’d only had one or two original songs on albums up to this point).  Eventually, he’d find his voice and his songwriting would become an integral part of the band, but not yet.

I think I would have switched the last two songs, as it would have been a stronger ending to the album, in my opinion.  “What You’re Doing” is probably my favorite song on the album, mostly because of how sophisticated the production is. The biggest surprise for me was “Mr. Moonlight”, and I guess “Baby’s In Black” was my least favorite.  It’s not a bad song in any way, but it’s my least favorite in comparison to the other songs on the album.

I think it’s fair to say all of our rankings will be a 9 or above, so I’d rate this album a 9.2 out of 10.

Something We Can All Agree On: Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!

Alright people (if there are any of you out there reading), we’ve been away for far too long, but with good reason.  Last weekend Aaron got married!  He hasn’t really had much time to focus on reviewing albums, with the whole planning a wedding and what not.  The wedding was even Beatles themed.🙂

With that in mind, I thought it’d be a good idea to review some albums by The Beatles, as well as solo albums by each of the four main members (sorry Pete Best!).   Aaron will pick a Beatles album for me and I’ll do the same for him.  From there, we’ll pick one of the members a week (give or take) and pick an album we want the other to check out.  “Ringo-rama”? “Give My Regards to Broad Street”?  Who knows what these next few weeks will produce, but one thing is for sure, it will be fun.  Depending on what Beatles albums get chosen, we might even see our first Perfect 10.

So get ready, it’s Beatles Month!

666 (The Apocalypse of John, 13/18), by Aphrodite’s Child — Review by Matt

Boys and girls, today we have a double album, a 1972 offering from Aphrodite’s Child called “666 (The Apocalypse of John, 13/18)”.  I really have no idea what to expect.

“The System” is a strange intro, and definitely makes me think this will be a concept album of some sort (upon looking it up, it is a collection of songs themed around the Bible book in the album title). “Babylon” has a cool guitar intro, but it’s a bit weird how they make the track seem live, with a crowd cheering. The bass goes really well with the acoustic guitar, even with it being distorted.  There’s some good use of horns.  The mix feels really low on the vocals.  The song actually reminds me of The Who at times.  The drums are consistent, but are doing an interesting beat.

I don’t always dislike talking instead of singing on a song, but it has to be done well (see Donovan’s “Atlantis”).  I’m not sure I like it on “Loud, Loud, Loud”. It’s a bit over-dramatic, and if they were going to go this route, they should have picked someone with a more interesting voice, as the only thing compelling about this voice is whether or not they have a lisp.  I’m extremely bored by this song.

“The Four Horsemen” has a weird intro, and I’m glad it picked up quickly, because a song called “The Four Horsemen” should be full of energy and convey a sense of doom.  I don’t really like the slow parts, as they emphasize an affected quality to the vocals, in that I can tell this isn’t the singer’s natural voice, and that he is trying to hard to sound this way.  The chorus is nice, and the guitar during the upbeat parts is great, though not necessarily unique (I’ve heard other bands have very similar guitar).  The song gets a bit repetitive after a while.

“The Lamb” has a very nice intro, which gets strange at times, but I definitely like it.  So far I think they do upbeat, faster stuff way better than slow stuff.  Once I realized this isn’t just an intro, it starts to get repetitive.  I’m not really feeling the parts without drums, bass, etc. (the parts that just sound like a synthesizer).  I like this less and less as it drags on, and by the end it starts to sound like it should be the soundtrack to a videogame.

I’m having trouble placing many of the sounds on the album.  For instance, “The Seventh Seal” sounds as though it has a sitar on it, but I’m not at all sure that’s what it is.  The voice doing the talking on this is way better, but again it just takes me out of the song.

Once the synth kicks on on “Aegean Sea” (albeit briefly), the song gets good.  The slow stuff bores me once again.  The bass on the fast parts sounds pretty cool though, and it tries (largely unsuccessfully) to carry the slow parts as well.  I really like the guitar that kicks in about halfway through.  It even makes the talking (which I believe is the same words as the previous song) more bearable, as they put the talking over some cool music, where it isn’t the primary aspect of the song, but rather a part of a larger whole.

“Seven Bowls” starts with a weird beat, but it uses the L/R balance of the speakers very nicely.  Great, more talking…slightly more bearable because the multiple vocals make it a bit more like a chant.  Completely unnecessary song.

I guess this is the sound of “The Wakening Beast”? Sounds more like a wind chime to me than a beast waking up.  Another song with zero value…at least it’s short.

The distorted vocal of “Lament” is weird, but kind of cool.  That’s it though, as there is almost no music, making for another boring song. This stretch exemplifies the self indulgent nature of many prog rock albums.

Jesus, that’s quite a transition from nothing to crazy with the arrival of “The Marching Beast”. It’s a cool song, and as I’ve said previously, they do the upbeat stuff way better.  There’s a cool riff on this one, very Middle Eastern feeling.  It gets kind of weird when the play it with just a piano, as it doesn’t sound quite right, and sort of lessens the impact of the first part of the song.

Why did they need a voice to tell me the song is called “The Battle of the Locusts”? The song itself is cool, with good bass, drums, and guitar.  I wish more of the album were like this, and of course it’s too short.

“Do It” is the second straight song that starts by telling the listener the name of the song.  Completely unnecessary, but at least in this one, it repeats and therefore feels more like a stylistic choice. Once again, there are well played guitar, bass, and drums. I’m not sure why this and the previous song couldn’t be one song.

“Tribulation” is cool in that it is literally all horns.  I really wish it were longer, or that more of the album was unique like this. “The Beast” is good and bad.  The music is great, with the lead piano.  The vocals could be cool, but the way they are sung makes them just sound ridiculously stupid.  Musically this may be my favorite song on the album, but I wish the vocals didn’t sound like a joke.

“Ofis” is worthless. That is all.

“Seven Trumpets” starts the second disc, and continues the theme of unnecessary songs.  Why is this it’s own song?

“Altamont” has a decent running bass, but it’s kind of a boring song.  I want to like it more than I actually do.  The weird scatting is kind of cool, but it gets repetitive pretty quickly.  There’s a decent groove overall.  Of course, then there is more talking.  Rather than think of a way to actually make lyrics out of these words, they just keep putting them in like poetry or something.  Not a fan.  This type of thing is effective when used sparingly, not in every other song.

“The Wedding of the Lamb” has some cool drums at the start.  They are carrying what is otherwise just an OK song at best.  Even though I like the drums, they get repetitive.  The song slows down to a synthesizer at the end, and it kind of reminds me of the Blade Runner soundtrack.  More stupid talking to tell me the name of the song…and then “The Capture of the Beast” starts by telling me the name again.  I’m getting really fed up with the talking on this album.  The song is boring and repetitive.  The drums occasionally do something interesting, but that is about it.  There are a few interesting sound effects near the end.

I really wish they would sing a damn song, as “∞” continues the trend of spoken word.  Apparently they almost left this song off because it’s controversial.  I wish they would have left it off because it sucks.  I hate this “song”. The only thing worse than the overuse of spoken word is to make it screaming word.  And then it gets worse, when they actually have a woman just moaning and try to call it music.  This is absolutely awful.

The use of the fake crowd has returned in “Hic et Nunc”.  Thank god it’s a song that is actually SUNG.  I like the use of an actual piano (as opposed to a keyboard), it sounds nice in relation to all the effects most of the songs have had.  I’m not sure how much I actually like this song overall, but compared to what has come before for much of the album, it’s a huge improvement.

Now, we have “All the Seats were Occupied”, a 19:21 song.  The intro is OK, but kind of forgettable.  I’m glad a beat picked up relatively quickly, but even so, the song is just trying to be all spacey and dramatic sounding.  Once the ‘vocals’ come in, the song appears to be a summary of the album.  There are many reused vocals from previous songs.  At about 5:30, I enjoy the use of bongos.  Why isn’t more of the album showing off the band’s musicality? They’re clearly talented, but most of the album is just weird for weirdness’ sake.  After a certain point, all I can think is that I can’t believe this is going to go on for another 10 minutes.  It’s the epitome of self indulgence.  The song picks up in the last few minutes but I’m so numb to the audacious length that I’m barely paying attention anymore. The bongos are the only thing that really bring me back to listening intently.

“Break” is an OK send off.  There is cool guitar, some nice piano, and some actual singing.

I was not really a fan of this album.  There were some aspects that I liked, but they were too few and far between (and almost all in the first third of the album).  The majority of the album was a self indulgent mess.  I hesitate to say garbage, because it took talented people to put that stuff together, and it is far more than I could do, but most of the tracks were barely songs.  I just really wasn’t into the majority of this album, and I’ll leave it at that, since I think my descriptions of the songs above highlight the specifics of my dislike.  I give this album a 3.5 out of 10.

Lawn Boy, by Phish — Review By Aaron

Phish’s 1990 album “Lawn Boy” is what I’ll be reviewing today. Phish have long been on my short list of bands I wanted to check out. It’s hard to believe that this album came out 22 years ago. When I think of 1990, it really doesn’t seem like that long ago. I’m getting old I suppose. Well, on with it.

The album opens with “The Squirming Coil” which starts with an enjoyable single piano note that repeats. Right off the bat, I will say I really enjoy Trey Anastasio’s voice. It’s just a really calming and smooth delivery.  I really like the guitar solo that starts right around a minute into the song. I already can hear Phish living up to their name as a jam band at this point. This whole solo is really reminding me of the band “Camel”. Smooth guitar playing with complementing backing instruments. Pretty awesome. Overall this is a pretty good start to the album. I like the musical prowess that this band seems to have.

Next is “Reba,” with a runtime of 12:27. Not really sure what the lyrics are at this point (I’m sure they are strange), but I really do like the overall melody. The guitar accents the vocals so well. The “Bag it, Tag it” part of the song goes on a bit too long. However, right after that they break into a pretty unique guitar solo. What I really like about Phish at this point is that they have their own sound, but you can still very much hear the influences for them. This song is definitely giving me an overall prog rock vibe, which is a major compliment coming from me. I really enjoy this long instrumental break. Longer songs can oftentimes lead to a lot of repetitiveness, but Phish are definitely pulling it off with this one. I’m staying interested throughout this whole song. The guitar playing is stellar. I love the way Trey is stretching out the notes and really blending them all together. I almost feel like I’m listening to a Frank Zappa solo. Even the whistling at the end is good. I like how they bring the whole song together with the “Bag it, Tag it,” but it again goes on for too long.

“My Sweet One” is a very different song that the last. It has a country/folk sound to it. I feel like I could dance to this song. Hoe-Down? I think this song shows that this band has quite the range to work with. This song isn’t an A, but pretty good overall.

Next is “Split Open and Melt” which begins with a spectacular bass solo. Not many bands go for that these days (or 22 years ago I guess). I could do without the singing on this song, but I am still enjoying the bass. Ahhh, why do they keep singing, it really just doesn’t fit with the rest of the song for me. There we go; at about 2:45 the singing actually fits the song. Much better. But then we’re back. Well I will say I’m very impressed by the bass, but the extra singers and the weak vocals by Trey bring this song down.

“The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” is a pretty good song. It has some jazz drumming with some pretty impressive guitar playing that I picture someone sitting on a porch in the country and playing. Short, but sweet.

“Bathtub Gin” is switching up the style again. I hear another influence with this one, early 80’s Robert Fripp from King Crimson, specifically the “Discipline” album. Good melody and beat with this song. Pretty straight forward drumming, but cool guitar and a nice bass line. Lyrics are again a bit strange, but I think Treys straightforward singing is a good fit. The guitar only gets better on this one. Nice little solo there at about 2 minutes.

Onwards to “Run Like An Antelope” which already has me interested with the guitar playing. Very different from the other songs on the album. The interesting thing about Trey’s playing is that he is able to vary his style quite significantly while still being awesome. I just never know what to expect with each song. Also, as I mentioned before, the bass continues to impress. Mike Gordon is well practiced indeed. I really want to see this band live at this point. I noticed the drumming is really jazz oriented again on this song, which probably allows this band to better keep time and really extend these songs on live performances. This song really sounds like a jam session taking place right in front of me.

The title track “Lawn Boy” begins after the jam. This song seems like jazz all around, not just the drumming. Decent melody, but it doesn’t really stand out to me. I think that was probably my least favorite song on the album. Interesting that is was the title track.

The last track is “Bouncing Around the Room.” I really like the harmonies that Phish often employs, especially on this track. This song even has rounds. Pretty enjoyable, I must say. This track is a great send-off for this album. It brings it all together and makes me want to listen to it all again.

Overall, I will say I was very impressed by what Phish had to offer with Lawn Boy. I look forward to listening to more of their albums in the future. They really have a lot of musical talent, especially with the bass and guitar. The only parts I found a bit underwhelming were the jazz drumming and the vocals at times. I will say though, that I was really felt like I was listening to Progressive rock at many points during this album. I like that this band kept that alive into the 90s. I rank this album a 7.75 out of 10.

Listen to LAWN BOY on Spotify

A Question of Balance, by the Moody Blues — Review by Matt

I always lump the Moody Blues in with generic prog rock.  I’ve heard enough of them to know that this isn’t entirely fair, but they still end up there in my mind.  Today, I’ll be reviewing their 1970 album “A Question of Balance”, an album that I’ve heard before, and even liked, but also one that hasn’t really stuck with me (save for the chorus on “The Balance”).

First up is of course, “Question”.  I really enjoy it.  I love the two different sections. The first has some fast acoustic guitar that really hits you in the face with the full band and orchestra.  There are cool vocals and some good harmonies during this part, as well as some great bass.  The second part is more mellow, which I didn’t think I was going to like that much at first (with just the acoustic guitar and vocals).  It quickly picked up though, and it’s got some cool drumming.  The vocals in the mellow part are also quite nice.  However, I’m not sure the two parts actually go together that well.  When they kick back in with the harder sound from the intro (which I knew was coming the moment the song changed to mellow), it’s kind of jolting, and not necessarily in a good way.

I was listening to the album in my car, and for the second song onward I decided to put in my headphones, which was definitely a good idea to get the full surround sound effects that were used. “How Is It (We Are Here)” has some cool effects putting the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals on different speakers (left, middle, right) at different times.  The vocals, especially on the chorus, are a little too adult contemporary for me, like something that belongs more on a light radio station than a classic rock one.  The strings are a nice touch and have been on the first two songs.  The mood of this song is almost spooky for part of it, but overall I don’t really have a lot to say.  It’s good, but nothing special.

I’m noticing that the songs are all fading into one another, and am hopeful that it will continue throughout the album.  “And The Tide Rushes In” is my favorite thus far.  I really enjoy the simple acoustic guitar intro (which reminds me a lot of something else, but I can’t place it).  The band starts doing some acoustic guitar “flourishes” (not quite solos, but not the same as the rhythm guitar), which are just awesome.  The lyrics are alright, and I really like the first part of the chorus (“the tide rushes in, and washes my castles away”) but the second part is just ridiculously dumb and too intentionally obscure (“then i’m really not sure, which side of the bed i should lay”).  They use the orchestra well once again to build an epic-ness to the song.  The final lyric about a blackbird was nice, and I was hoping it would borrow a lyric from the Beatles’ “Blackbird”, but no.  Still cool.

“Don’t You Feel Small” has already replaced track three as my favorite song.  I like the groove of the song, and it has some really awesome drums and bass.  The drums are almost tribal.  I could do without the weird whispering of the lyrics though.  There is some well placed flute as well that picks up as the song does.  There’s a full on jazz flute solo.  What is this, Jethro Tull?! The more straight forward rock “chorus” fits in well with the stranger verses.  The acoustic guitar doesn’t stand out to me until the end, but when it does, I realize that it’s been helping to drive the song the whole time.

The bass and drums really give “Tortoise and Hare” a sense of urgency (appropriate for a song that at least alludes to a race).  It’s an alright song, but not really my favorite.  It’s got more electric guitar than the first few tracks, and I like the mix of electric and acoustic playing off of one another.  The drums are really just a straight, repetitive beat the whole way through, but the bass gets to shine in the middle and toward the end.  The vocals are good, nothing special, but they fit the song very well.

“It’s Up To You” is the closest they have gotten to a straight up rock song, and a really like it.  However, it’s two songs in a row that have a very straight ahead drum beat with little variation.  There aren’t even any notable drum fills to speak of, which seems a bit weird.  It has some of my favorite harmonies yet, and I really enjoyed the “it’s up to you” chorus.  The guitar is very standard, but good.  I wasn’t expecting a standard rock song when the album started.  In fact, I’m very much wondering where the album is going to go (when I was listening, I had forgotten that I knew the last song already) since it started off very orchestral and has now become much more rock.

“Minstrel’s Song” has another consistent drum beat, but it’s a much more original beat than the last two, so I appreciate it.  It takes a little while to notice the acoustic guitar in the background, but it is very nice.  The vocals are very pleasant, with some subtle (in the best sense) harmonies.  The “listen to the one who sings of love” part of the song is just great.  There is an awesome mix of piano, bass, guitars, and vocals.  One nice touch is how the beat and guitar sort of build up into that chorus every time.  The last minute or so have convinced me this is the best song on the album.  There’s a cool flute accent and a part where there are two different vocal melodies being sung, which sounds amazing.  There are even some McCartney-esque vocals thrown in the background (picture some of his growly shouts in the backgrounds of songs).  Finally, the drums get to do some awesome stuff too.  I didn’t consciously notice the bass, but it must have been doing something cool to drive a jam that epic.

Next is “Dawning is the Day”.  I’m not sure I realized how much acoustic guitar the Moody Blues use.  I don’t know if this album is the norm or not, but I really like it (turns out, Wikipedia says they stripped down their sound so they could play them live more easily…I’m glad they did).  There’s a main acoustic guitar riff coming out of one speaker, and either a really well played lead acoustic guitar or a mandolin coming out of the other.  This acoustic/mandolin plays some really nice little flourishes throughout.  There is some cool bass, which for a little while sounds like it might be bass notes being played on a piano.  The songs have been building nicely, where they building toward a “chorus” really effectively.

“Melancholy Man” is very interesting.  I really appreciate the use of the choir throughout.  There are a couple of acoustic guitars accenting each other.  The song doesn’t ever pick up, but it still really builds the whole time.  At a couple points, I picked up on a sound that very well may be just a guitar, but sounded to me almost like a distorted cello.  On the third ‘chorus’, the harmonies sang one thing while the lead vocal sang the “melancholy man” part over it, which was very cool. I always enjoy when bands sing multiple lyrics simultaneously, so long as it is done in an interesting way. I wish it were longer, since they fade out just when the lead vocalist starts to sing in a more passioned, almost angrier way.  I would have liked to hear more of that.  The album has come full circle, getting back more toward the orchestral music.

Finally, we arrive at “The Balance”. I’m not sure, in all the times that I’ve heard this song, that I ever fully noticed the spoken word verses.  Those parts are…interesting.  I don’t think I needed this at all.  I think the same point could have been made more effectively through singing, and the spoken word just didn’t fit AT ALL with the rest of the album.  However, I like how it builds to the chorus first with a high pitched melody, then some little drum fills, and finally a guitar before launching into outer space.  It’s one of the better choruses out there, I think.  We return to the talking so that he can explain how sitting and eating an orange taught him about love and compassion.  It’s way too on the nose, and would have been better if they had written lyrics to make their point.  There is a vocal toward the end singing “it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright” in the background that at first sounds like an instrument…nice touch.  They fade out again (and every song did fade into the other) during another of the growling vocals, which I don’t like.

I enjoyed this album.  I liked it much more than I remembered.  This album, at least, differentiates the Moody Blues from the generic prog rock that I normally lump them in with.  One reason for this is song length.  I like a band that has the ability to succinctly get their message across in a song and occasionally jams out on a longer song, rather than the other way around.  The acoustic guitar is probably the highlight for me, along with some cool drumming off and on.  It seems like it was sort of a concept album, with the first and last songs kind of going together, and with the narrator in “The Balance” trying to tie things together.  However, I think it’s more “Sgt. Pepper’s” than “The Wall” in that it may have started as a concept, but in reality it’s more just a collection of songs.  I rate this album a 7.25 out of 10.

Listen to A QUESTION OF BALANCE on Spotify

Yield, by Pearl Jam — Review by Aaron

A little Pearl Jam. I really haven’t listened to much of this band, other than the obvious “Ten” album. Pearl Jam has always been one of those bands I like, but never go out of my way to listen to. I’m pretty excited to see what they have to offer in 1998’s “Yield”.

The album opens with “Brain of J.” I immediately am intrigued by Eddie Vedder’s vocals. They seem a little more hardcore and raw than what I’m used to. I really like when the song slows down in the middle and then picks back up into a pretty good guitar solo. Overall this song was alright, but didn’t impress me too much. I think I prefer a slightly slower version of Pearl Jam.

Next is “Faithfull.” Similar to the last song, the musical component of the song is pretty repetitive. I think it might be mostly the bass line that is giving me this feeling.  I was hoping as the song developed that something more would happen, but it just continued to repeat over and over again.

After the unexciting “Faithfull” is “No Way.” I like Eddie Vedder’s vocals on this song. One thing he always does well is put a lot of emotion into his vocals. My same complaint, however, continues with this song, as the melody is really repetitive. It’s good for a band to come up with melodies that take the listener through a song, but I really wish Pearl Jam would change it up and add a little more energy and dynamic quality to these songs. I feel this critique is often how I feel when listening to 90’s grunge rock.

On “Given to Fly” the drumming really stands out. Really fast beat that has a lot of character to it. I’d say this is my favorite song on the album so far. The song doesn’t stick to the same repetitiveness as earlier songs. For the first time I actually really do like the guitar on this song. Pretty good use of feedback throughout.

“Wishlist” starts pretty softly. With Eddie Vedder’s unique vocals I am having my usual problem of understanding what he is saying. However, this does seem to be a song about someone who really hasn’t become the person they want to be and is dreaming about a better future.

“Pilate” continues the same mood as “Wishlist” until the chorus kicks in. At this point, I’m really trying to get into this album, but something about this is just not clicking for me. I’m having a hard time finding parts of the song that I’m enjoying. “Pilate” is just all over the place. The majority of the song is slow and underwhelming, and then the chorus really isn’t good. Enough said.

What is the band trying to do in “Do the Evolution”? I don’t get it. The vocals are off tune and very raspy. I do however like the guitar playing in the background on this song (even though it’s repetitive). I used to be into music that had screaming in it, but after listening to this song I really wonder why. I think quality vocals would make this song mediocre.

Next is the strangely untitled song “.” Pretty insignificant to the album as a whole, but I actually found the song enjoyable. Good melody, with some steel drums. Kind of reminds me of “The Flaming Lips.”

“MFC” is back to more of the same. This song has mostly repetitive guitar, but also has a nice solo. This is the thing that is frustrating me about the album. I can tell the band has a lot of talent, but oftentimes are not taking advantage of it. Why keep repeating the same riffs, especially when you have a vocalist that is quite versatile.

I think “Low Light” is now my favorite song on the album. The bass line on this one is enough for me to come to that conclusion. Simplistic, but has a quality that really brings the whole song together. Also, there is a good solo and the vocals fit very well. Thank you Pearl Jam for putting this song on the album. Even the outro on this track is good. This song has a lot of depth and interesting qualities.

Can they keep this positive swing going with “In Hiding?” Not really. The song isn’t bad, but not that memorable. Back to the repeating melody and underwhelming vocals.

“Push Me, Pull Me” is very strange. Good bass line, but that’s about it. The rest is just weird and doesn’t really fit Pearl Jam (At least from what I know of the band).

Last song is “All Those Yesterdays” which has a run time of 7:47. The bass has really picked up late on this album. I do like that. Also, throw some horns in, why not. Nice touch for this song. Makes the repeating melody stay interesting. Pretty interesting guitar playing that starts around three minutes. I was mistaken about the run time of this song. Seems that there is probably a hidden track. Ah, there it is at 5:02. Interesting way to end it with an instrumental. I don’t really have anything to say about it.

Overall, I can say I just didn’t get this album. Maybe it’s because I’m more of prog rock guy, or that I don’t like grunge, or that I don’t like the 90’s, or maybe it’s just the way this record was produced. I give this album a 2.75 out of 10

Listen to YIELD on Spotify

Magic Christian Music, by Badfinger — Review by Matt

The album of the day is Badfinger’s 1970 pseudo-soundtrack “Magic Christian Music”.  The album starts with “Come and Get It”.  I love this song, originally written by Paul McCartney.  My biggest problem is that they don’t really do anything at all different from the version that Paul recorded himself.  It’s basically just a note for note cover, and considering no one compares to Paul McCartney, it pales in comparison.  I find myself wanting to hear Paul’s version the whole time.

“Crimson Ship” starts with some nice, simple piano and bass.  I’m not sure, two songs in, that there hasn’t been just a ‘solo’ singer yet, there are always at least two voices.  I love the guitar on the chorus.  It’s easy to see why Paul wanted to sign these guys to Apple Records, because even with a song like this (written by Pete Ham), the sound is very Beatles-esque.  This is just a very pleasant song.  The drumming is cool, sounding like clapping at times.  I was hoping the song wouldn’t just fade out and that they’d thought of a cool ending, but no, just a fade out.

“Dear Angie” is a cool song.  I really like the ‘soloing’ guitar.  The harmonies are good, but not really all that unique.  I wouldn’t hear them and instantly know it’s Badfinger, like I would for someone like the Beatles or the Beach Boys.  I’m glad there is some singing in a lower register on this one.  It nicely contrasts the higher chorus.

The vocals on “Fisherman” sound SO British at the start.  I really enjoy when the bass kicks in with the harmonies.  It’s also awesome that they have a very clear bass voice in the harmonies on this one.  The simplicity of this is just delightful.  I have no idea what the movie The Magic Christian (the movie this album is sort of a soundtrack for), but I can totally picture a montage of hippies doing drugs and dancing in a field of sunflowers. I almost wish it were longer, but sometimes less is more.  This is by far my favorite song on the album.

“Midnight Sun” shows more of a rock side to Badfinger.  I’m glad to hear them use Ham’s guitar skills to show a more upbeat side.  Once again, I hear the Paul McCartney influence (he helped produce the album, after all).  This sounds a lot like something Wings would have release.  The bass doesn’t ever really stand out, yet it still drives the song throughout.  “Beautiful and Blue” has some wonderful bass.  I’m loving how many different sounds the guitar has on these songs so far, and this song has a cool guitar bridge. The vocals are kind of boring to me.

“Rock of All Ages” brings it right back to the band’s rock side, appropriately enough.  It’s just another very typical Paul McCartney-type rock song, along with some elements of a Little Richard feel.  Aspects of it remind me of “Back in the USSR”.  Once again, the guitar is very cool, but overall it’s kind of repetitive.

“Carry On Till Tomorrow” has a mellow vibe, but it’s kind of a corny song.  The bass carries the choruses.  I don’t really like this one, except for the parts when the guitar kicks in.  Of course, this doesn’t last very long and it quickly returns to the corny vibe.  The vocals on “I’m in Love” sound really strained, and not in a good way.  The song is extremely basic and unoriginal, but it does have a couple of nice guitar flourishes (a running theme throughout the album).

“Walk Out in the Rain” has more great bass, and the song has a cool vibe.  At first I didn’t know how I felt about it, but for the most part, I believe the emotions of the song and the vocals.  I like the acoustic elements, as well as the piano flourishes.  At times there are some interesting Beatles-ish touches in the harmonies.  The falsetto at the end is pretty good.  “Angelique” is pleasant enough, but very unmemorable.  That is literally all I wrote about it.

I enjoy the piano on “Knocking Down Our Home”.  The song has an old-timey vibe, but in a good way.  There are some cool horns, and I like how the song is very uplifting in melody, but very dark lyrically.  “Give it a Try” sounds a lot like Wings.  It has some 80’s-ish aspects at times.  I do like it, but find myself letting it fade to the background and thinking about other things.  It’s enjoyable, but kind of unmemorable.

I like the vocals on “Maybe Tomorrow”, especially when they kind of let loose toward the end. I really appreciate the strings.  I think the song might be kind of boring without them, but they give the song an epic feel, and provide a strong ending to the album.

By and large I enjoyed the album.  The lead guitar was definitely my favorite part, and I’m hopeful that other Badfinger albums contain more of it.  The album really drags in the middle, with three or four songs that I found pleasant at best.  One more note is that they should definitely have included the bonus track “Arthur” on the album, I’d gladly take it in place of some of the weaker tracks.  I give “Magic Christian Music” a 7 out of 10.

Listen to MAGIC CHRISTIAN MUSIC on Spotify

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