Here’s a great article of musicians talking smack about other highly regarded albums. No one will ever agree with all these. For example, I highly agree with the inclusion of Sgt Pepper and Pet Sounds but was kind of incensed by Nevermind and Daydream Nation. Oddly, Wayne Coyne was the one down on Nirvana and when you read his criticism it is mostly of stuff outside and after the album itself. I don’t think you can deduct from the Nirvana account the fact that Nickelback exists, even if they did try to rip off the sound. That’s just blaming the victim.
This does touch on something I was already thinking about blogging, which is the anniversary of Sgt Pepper. It was the very first compact disk I ever bought, years before I even owned my own CD player. It’s hard to think back that far, but for years the Beatles were unavailable in CD form, and when they started releasing them they did one album per month with Pepper being released on the month of its 20th anniversary, 20 years now past. It’s the CD I’ve owned longer than any other, and probably the only one I have guaranteed to never be played from start to finish ever again. If I were to sell some, it would be the first on the list.
A lot of time this record tops lists of “Best albums of all time.” There is no way, it is not even near the top of best Beatles album. I looked back over the track list, and there are 13 songs of which two are the same one with a reprise. Of the 12, there is a block of 5 consecutive songs I hope to never hear again – “Fixing a Hole”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “Within You Without You” and “When I’m Sixty-Four”. I think all of these songs are filler and completely throwaway. Any reasonable candidate for a best album of all-time cannot have filler disposable songs, and this album is practically half-full of it.
There are two songs on here that I find eminently relistenable, and they are not songs you hear regularly on classic rock radio. They are “Good Morning” and “Lovely Rita”, the latter being one of my favorites of all Beatles songs. They are unpreposessing great pop, unburdened by the weight of being held up as some sort of superlative and minus the twee pretentiousness of songs like “A Day in the Life.” If you cut out the middle of this album and made it an EP, it would be a pretty good one. Taken as a whole, I agree with Billy Childish that it is the worst Beatles album up to that time.