During The Beatles legendary career they released a total of thirteen. Of course that does not include the Anthology series or any of the greatest hits compilations, but instead only their official studio albums.
When choosing The Beatles best three albums it came down to a choice among the following six for me: Abbey Road, Sgt Pepper, Revolver, The White Album, Magical Mystery Tour, & Rubber Soul. Sure Let It Be has it’s moments and A Hard Day’s Night is fantastic as far as their early albums go, but for me these six albums do stand above the rest.
To get my list down to only three I had to lose three more great Beatles albums. This was not an easy task. But in the end I had to get rid of Rubber Soul because of a few too many clunkers in the midst of amazing songs like “Nowhere Man” and I had to get rid of Abbey Road because it’s just a little too “clean” and I had to get rid of Magical Mystery Tour because too many of it’s best songs were really released previously (see “Strawberry Fields Forever” & “Penny Lane.”)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – People often claim that this album is somehow “overrated” and I suppose I can see that view point as far as the way the mass media seems to give it much more attention than The White Album and Revolver (the other two albums in my top three) but that doesn’t make it any less great. I think people often unnecessarily dismiss this album because of it’s legendary stature. When you listen to it with an opened mind you can hear exactly what makes it such a landmark album. Even to this day I think few albums have made a more complete artistic statement than this one does, and while some say that it’s an album which seems contrived, I don’t think that’s the case. To me it actually sounds amazingly “easy” considering it’s complexity.
Revolver – It’s become very fashionable to say that Revolver is the greatest Beatles album. Again, I can understand that viewpoint. Obviously I think it’s rather great or I wouldn’t be including it among my top three but I do think again people are letting things enter their perception other than the music itself. The songs are fantastic but it doesn’t have that same feeling of a “complete artistic statement” that Sgt. Pepper has. It’s hard to say exactly why. Perhaps it’s just because the songs don’t run into each other. But I think it must be something more than that.
The White Album – This is my favorite Beatles album ever. It’s not as “perfect” as Sgt. Pepper or Revolver (or Abbey Road for that matter) and it doesn’t have the ridiculously high percentage of “classic songs” that Rubber Soul has but what it does have something that I find most endlessly endearing and that is a huge variety in the style of music it contains. I feel like every time I listen to it, it’s a new experience because there’s just so many layers of imagination hidden within it. I suppose in the end I’ll take sprawling genius over “perfection.”
One can make a great argument that some other Beatles albums other than the ones I’ve chosen should be in the top three. In particular Rubber Soul & Abbey Road. I actually went through a period where Abbey Road was my favorite album. And it can be argued that Rubber Soul has more certifiable “classic” Beatles songs than any other LP. It’s hard to go wrong with songs like “In My Life” & “Nowhere Man.” It’s not easy choosing just three Beatles albums, there’s something about all of their albums that I love.