of 1960s young people, world-wide, and mine as well
I can remember hearing “She Loves You” back in ’63-’64 on the radio, followed by a succession of hits (“I Want To Hold Your Hand” and others, the legendary Ed Sullivan show live appearances, and recall how my grade 9 classmates became instantaneous Beatles fans. Their attitudes and changes became ours as well. There was a lot of inevitability about this universal love affair album by album, through their first two movies, and the progression of their songs and sounds.
For me, four albums encapsulate the conquest and influence they had. Each one arrived at exactly the right time of teenagers growing up then in Europe and North America.
Beatlemania (1963)–my gr. 9 year (originally released as With The Beatles in England)
No, no one had ever sung or played like this; a self-sufficient band with a very big sound thanks to overdubbing and the guiding hand of producer George Martin. And they wrote their own songs. And each of them could sing. And the fantastic harmonies. Every song on the 14 number album was a direct hit.
Rubber Soul (1965)–my grade 11 year
Their first truly different album which was memorably acoustic with a somewhat folkier sound. “Michelle” and “Norwegian Wood” reveal their warmer broadening of style. I should point out that the Canadian and UK releases differed but each were landmark selections of material.
Revolver (1966)–summer before my grade 12 year
Again two different editions, but both equally fine. The mind-expanding Eastern (first pop use of East Indian instruments) and drug- (“Tomorrow Never Knows”, “She Said”) influenced album upped the ante and “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” would not be far behind as bridges to their next, legendary album.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)–summer following my grade 12 year
Generally regarded as the top rock album of all time, this featured The Beatles at their peak. Although The Who’s Tommy was the first concept album (itself a masterpiece), Sgt. featured the band’s widest swath of styles and subject matter. Harrison’s “Within You Without You” and Lennon-McCartney’s “A Day in the Life” perfectly illustrated how far they had evolved beyond a four-piece guitar band writing catchy top 40 love-song ditties. If you want to know what it felt like to wonderfully alive in 1967, this would be the must-album you have to hear.