It gives you a different perspective of The Beatles’ albums when you see the tracks listed in the order of quality. If you’re trying to find the elusive answer to which Beatles album is the best, you can compare the lists of songs to see which you think has the greatest number of their best songs. This method also lets us see the peaks for each of the songwriters.
After enjoying The Beatles since 1964, and years of programming their songs on multiple radio stations…here’s how I rank the tracks for each of their original British albums. See how the lists match-up with your own thoughts about these songs. (Each list can be enlarged with a click.)
On their first album, The Beatles had two of their very best rock recordings, “I Saw Her Standing There” & “Twist And Shout”. The latter is the song they played the most during their touring years. Because of its strong melody, “P.S. I Love You” is listed just ahead of “Love Me Do”. It’s hard to believe the flip side of “Please Please Me”, “From Me To You”, was not on the album, especially since they included six cover songs.
The second album by The Beatles didn’t have any singles, even though “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “This Boy”, and “She Loves You” were available to be included. “All My Loving” is the obvious choice for what could have been a single, and was the first song they played on The Ed Sullivan Show. “Money” is another great rock vocal by John Lennon, and The Beatles put their own touches to R&B songs “You Really Got A Hold On Me” and “Please Mister Postman”.
A Hard Day’s Night is the first album of all original songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The first ten songs are especially strong, even though this 1964 album was still early in The Beatles’ career. In the U.S., we only had seven of these songs on the A Hard Day’s Night movie soundtrack. Having the whole album shows how great it really is. This list starts with two #1 hits, followed by one of McCartney’s best ballads, and the quality continues down the list.
The Beatles had eight really good original songs on this album, but also included six cover songs like on their first album. It would have elevated the project if they had included the two songs they recorded for a single during these sessions, “I Feel Fine” and “She’s A Woman”. They could have replaced the last two songs on this list.
Help is another great album that probably gets less love than it deserves, because Capitol Records only put seven of these songs on the U.S. soundtrack. The first three songs are #1 hits, including the most recorded song of all time, “Yesterday”. The final two songs on the list were the last cover songs The Beatles included on their albums (except the brief song snippet “Maggie May” on Let It Be).
Even though there was a six song difference between the U.K. And U.S. versions of Rubber Soul, it was loved on both sides of the Atlantic. This was another impressive songwriting showing for John Lennon (like Help). He wrote three of the four best songs, and they are among his finest efforts. Of the seven Lennon songs, only one is a lyrical miss. “Run For Your Life” has the “I’d rather see you dead” line he took from a song that had been recorded by Elvis.
Paul McCartney had already written some of the most recorded songs in history, including “Yesterday”, “And I Love Her”, and “Michelle”. Revolver was another step forward for him, and he continued to have a major impact on the remaining albums and singles. He’s the main songwriter on six of the songs, and the quality is very high. “Eleanor Rigby” is another “most recorded song”, and “Here, There And Everywhere” is the song McCartney has mentioned as his favorite. This album is rightly known for its studio innovations, but it’s also an album with great songs.
John Lennon tended to refer to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as Paul McCartney’s album, but when you look at the song list, Lennon’s contributions were impressive. “A Day In The Life” is a critically acclaimed group effort that started with Lennon’s songwriting. He also wrote the excellent “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, the extremely clever “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”, and “Good Morning Good Morning”. George Harrison contributed “Within You Without You”. Paul McCartney was the main writer on the remaining eight tracks, so Lennon’s perspective was not entirely wrong. There’s not a bad song on the album, and the creativity in both the arrangements & the recording process is off the charts.
Magical Mystery Tour was not an album The Beatles planned, but rather a combination of songs from a TV special (released as an EP in England), and an album side of previous singles that were not on any other albums. You can see how strong the songs are. It has three #1 singles “Penny Lane”, “All You Need Is Love”, and “Hello Goodbye”…and as noted on the list…it has another three songs better than two of those #1’s.
Because it’s a double album with 30 tracks, The White Album is divided into two parts…the 15 best songs, and the 15 remaining. There’s an amazing variety of musical styles on the album, with beloved songs like “Blackbird” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Beatles fans will recognize most of the titles, even though none of the tracks were released as singles.
The two best songs on Abbey Road are by George Harrison. Despite not being a single, “Here Comes The Sun” is the most streamed Beatles song, and “Something” is a classic love song. The next two songs are by John Lennon. Paul McCartney contributed the best songs that are in the popular side-two medley.
Maybe Paul McCartney was a little light on songs for Abbey Road, because of his very impressive contributions for the album recorded just a little earlier in 1969, Let It Be. Paul wrote the three #1 hits, “Get Back”, “Let It Be”, and “The Long And Winding Road”, plus the equally good “Two Of Us”. In fact, considering the quality of the first eight songs (plus the should-have-been-included “Don’t Let Me Down”), Let It Be is a strong album. Even back when I was using a reel-to-reel recorder, “Don’t Let Me Down” was always on my Let It Be playlist.
Looking at each Beatles album with these lists shows how many great songs they included on each one. We were so lucky to have been a part of it.