No, not “The Beatles” as in “everything they ever did”.
The Fab Four that got off the plane at LaGuardia and appeared on Ed Sullivan? They were one amazing band – all exaggerated backbeat and fearless looping harmonies and everything that was good about skiffle and white-boy R’nB all rolled into one.
The band that did Rubber Soul and Revolver? With the fascinating harmonies and stuttering rhythms (“She Said”) and the palpable sense they were wallowing in the pure joy of being able to create music for a living? Amazing stuff.
Even Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has its joys. But between the grooves the rot was showing. Where once there was joy and wit and the pure fun of playing rock and roll (even very inventive rock and roll) in front of a crowd, there was a new, introverted, baroque sensibility creeping in. And while Pepper was a great record, it only got worse.
Over the rest of the band’s career (and it’s kinda funny to think that “the rest of their career” was only three more years, and their entire career as a superstar band was shorter than the run of That Seventies Show), though…
…well, I’ll cop to it. I can’t stand most of it. Sure, there are enjoyable, even fantastic, moments. But there is no Beatles album after Pepper that I can listen to all the way through without tuning out and looking for something else. From the self-indulgent baroque noodling of Abbey Road to the self-indulgent psychedelia of Magical Mystery Tour to the self-indulgent self-indulgence of The White Album, everything the Beatles did after Sergeant Pepper bores me stiff.
Espectially White Album. After a lifetime of hearing friends tell me how absolutely freaking essential it is, I just have to respond for the record; The White Album is the most overrated record ever hatched upon the world. Not boring. Not bad. Just overrated.
You can disagree. I expect many of you will. Go for it. But after thirty-odd years of trying, I can not find a way around it; The White Album doesn’t even rise to the level of “doing nothing for me”; it just falls flat.
Perhaps it’s the sound of John Lennon seizing control of the band; Lennon/McCartney were geniuses – together. Separately? McCartney was a featherweight popster, and Lennon was a misanthropic mope. Up through Sergeant Pepper, they cancelled each others’ worst characteristics out. After?