Along with Revolver
this album is where the Beatles style began to expand and change from their pop hits to more musical compositions. The influences of drugs and mysticism began to make its way into The Beatles' music more and more. This album contains a mixture of both styles, as The Beatles' continue their decade dominance.
Starting off with the upbeat, pop-sounding "Drive My Car", the old sound is still there. Just a simple pop song with not much more behind it. However, the next track "Norwegian Wood" is well-known for George Harrison's sitar. The first track he ventures into Indian music, a style that will play a major part in much of his music to come. The Indian tinge to the guitar makes for a very interesting sound. It sounds almost foreign, but at the same time, very natural.
"You Won't See Me" is another pop-sounding track, but with more musical depth. A move away from the mold the Beatles' had used a lot on their early work. Following is "Nowhere Man," which seems to be a very popular track among people getting into the Beatles' and longtime fan. Although its not quite my favorite, it has an interesting sound to it with the vocal layering and dominating drum beat. The guitar is more about fills now than just playing the chord progression.
The next track is a Harrison composition, starting out with a more gritty sound coming from the fuzz bass that Paul is playing. The vocals have their sort of "spacey" quality to them that becomes popular on tracks like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields", and more. However, it sill has a pop-quality to it. "The Word" is a motown meets rock sort of track. Even the title sounds almost motown, and the vocal harmonies sound like something straight out of Motown - only with white boys doing it. Very catchy track.
"Michelle" is a slower piece with nice backing vocal, with not much also except the drums. It's one of the lounge-singing kind of songs with Paul doing a wonderful job on lead vocals. A song about, well, Michelle a special girl to Paul apparently. Then again, a lot of their songs were this way - this one just has more sophistication. "What Goes On" is a Ringo composition (with help from Lennon/McCartney) with a sort of country twang to it. Similar country sound with blues comes out on "I'm Looking Through You", a few tracks later.
"In My Life" is one of the best simple songs the Beatles' ever wrote. It's about growing up, and facing change that happens - good or bad. A soft, fluttering guitar fill here and there with solid drums make it a very good track. A very deep song, especially considering the kind of songs the Beatles' usually wrote. The piano solo is quick, bouncy, but very fitting. Finally "If I Needed Somebody" is a Harrison composition, which shows his ability to write songs. One of the more older sounding tracks with a very pop feeling to it. Still showing great growth in the group as songwriters.
I didn't go over some tracks - "Girl", "Wait", and "Run For Your Life" - all show different styles coming together. The Beatles' listened to lots of music and tried to impersonate or infuse the styles. Altogether it was uniquely like 60s rock, and just showed their vast amounts of talent. Ringo and George were beginning to become bigger parts of the band - taking some vocals and writing songs. It would lead to bigger and better things in the future.
Overall, listening to this album again totally changed my opinion of it. I think it's a terrific album now. I used to scorn at it because it was too "pop" sounding, but I can now hear all the growth and musical changes going on. Even if all the songs except one are under 3 minutes, it's still a strong album.
- Good stuff here.