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The Beatles: 1963-65 (videos)

By by nick rogers/nrogers@vicad.com
May 23, 2012 at 12:23 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.


Editor's note: I had intended to do one list for the Beatles. I couldn't. Too many great songs, so I broke it up into two lists. There's a reason The Beatles are called the greatest rock band in history: they were. More hits, more album sales and a continuing success that still boggles the mind more than 40 years after they broke up.

"Twist and Shout"

The Beatles' version of this Isley Brothers' version of a Top Notes' song wasn't better nor worse than the original, but it was different. The Beatles turned this song into a guitar riff-driven screamer that rocks. John Lennon had a bad cold, a happy accident as his raspy, gravelly vocals lend themselves well.

"It Won't Be Long"

A rapid-fire call and response, "It Won't Be Long" was never played live, except in a lip-synced television performance. Primarily a Lennon composition, the song changes tempo in the bridge and has one of the band's early-trademarks, the repetition of the word "yeah."

"I Want To Hold Your Hand"

Their first hit in America, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" spent seven weeks as No. 1 and 15 weeks on the charts. The song, a true Lennon-McCartney composition, opens with guitars and bass playing the same power chords and, like "It Won't Belong," changes tempo twice. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" shows the Beatles' pinache for sophisticated chord progressions and well-performed harmonies.

"A Hard Day's Night"

Titled after a Ringo Starr malapropism, this Lennon song shows one of the many transitions the band went through. The arrangement is more complex, opening with George Harrison's distinctive and enigmatic chord.

"A Hard Day's Night" splits singing duties, with Lennon singing the verses while McCartney takes the bridge.

Harrison really shines here, with a cool, tricky solo that is played dually with a piano (played by the band's brilliant producer, George Martin). Harrison also makes the ending with nifty picking of another nonstandard chord.

Oh yeah, more cowbell.

"I'll Be Back"

A moody and introspective song from Lennon, "I'll Be Back" features flamenco-style guitar playing, three part harmonies and a beautiful mixture of major and minor chords.

"I'll Follow the Sun"

Another moody, sad song, McCartney's "I'll Follow the Sun" is one of those Beatles songs that wasn't a hit, but well known and loved nonetheless. This song well illustrates the growing difference in Lennon and McCartney's songwriting styles.

"I Feel Fine"

The Beatles loved a good guitar riff, and this song has it. Lennon, who wrote the song, opens the song by playing the riff on an electric acoustic. Harrison chimes in, playing the riff and the lead with an electric guitar. Ringo's drum beat is taken from the percussion on Ray Charles' "What'd I Say."

Another distinctive feature is the feedback, which opens the song, possibly the first time feedback was used on a record.

The song was also the first in a chain of six straight No. 1 hits for the band.

"Ticket to Ride"

Before The Byrds, the Beatles used a jangly-guitar style on this number one hit. Written primarily by Lennon, this was the first song that let Ringo loose on the drums. Tom rolls and a stuttering cadence, along with McCartney's phenomenal bass runs, establishes a heavy rhythm to this song, playing well with Lennon's breathy, clipped vocals. The song ends with a picked up tempo.

McCartney also played lead guitar on the song.

"In My Life"

One of the most beautiful of the Beatles' songs, "In My Life," a Lennon-McCartney collaboration with Lennon writing the lyrics, is a great soundtrack to everyone's past.

The solo was played by George Martin on piano in a baroque style. Martin played the piece slowly, then sped it up slightly, giving it a sound similar to a harpsichord.

"Day Tripper"

The riffs keep on coming. This well-known rocker plays well with "Drive My Car," which was recorded a few days earlier. Both songs represent inside jokes for the band.

Lennon wrote this one, including the riff and McCartney polished it off. Even though it was primarily a Lennon song, McCartney sings lead, a good choice since his rough-edged, rock vocals fits this song well.

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