Best of the Best: The Beatles

Making a Top 5 list of Beatles albums is a daunting task. There are so many obsessive, argumentative, die-hard Beatles fans and hecklers out there.

I’ve known about The Beatles my whole life—from hearing their hits played on the radio, to seeing documentaries, reading articles, and even obtaining some choice albums and compilations. I also used to be on a radio show called Here, There and Everywhere on KZSC-Santa Cruz, spinning tunes by The Beatles, the four solo members, and anyone related to them. I’ve enjoyed most of their music, and I’m aware of the band’s sonic and personal development over time.

The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) not just changed with the times—they SET the times. They discovered new places, people, and ways of thinking, and were incredibly public with sharing their journeys with the rest of the world. Their albums give a snapshot of their changing mindsets and priorities, and over time, a few have stood out to me as the best. What do you think of this list?


 5 . With the Beatles (1963)

With the Beatles

1963’s With The Beatles, the band’s second studio album, will start the low end of this list. My personal preferences (since we all have them) lean towards the latter part of The Beatles’ career, but this oldie stands out to me for a few reasons. First off, it gives a good look at the origins of the band: bowl cuts, songs about love, one foot stuck in the 50’s. Top that off with covers of classic Motown hits like Barrett Strong‘s “Money (That’s What I Want)” and the Marvelettes‘ famous “Please Mister Postman,” and you’ve got a recipe for commercial success that people in the early sixties will obsess over.

Album highlights: “It Won’t Be Long,” “Please Mister Postman,” “Hold Me Tight,” “Money (That’s What I Want)”

4 . Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Here we go—you’ll notice things have changed a bit with this album. By 1967, The Beatles had begun to experiment with new things—musically and more. Sgt. Pepper can be considered an early form of a concept album, where the band performs as a different group called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’s an important set of recordings because it helped solidify the “album” concept as a whole (i.e. releasing a special curated group of songs, vs. just singles on a record). It also helped introduce elements of psychedelia into British rock. The Beatles started to be open with their use of substances like marijuana and LSD, by vague and not-so-vague references (“I get by with a little help from my friends / oh I get high with a little help from my friends”). Even though John Lennon explained the pure coincidence between the song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and the abbreviation L.S.D., the song is heavily surreal all the same. “Within You Without You” is an excellent song written by George Harrison and performed by a group of Indian musicians, which holds true to elements of classic Indian musical style. With phrases of Vedantic philosophy, Indian beats, and sitar galore, you’ve got a real example of how the Beatles’ sound had literally traveled thousands of miles and beyond. Sgt. Pepper, to this day, is one of the best-selling albums in music history.

Album highlights: “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Fixing a Hole,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” “Within You Without You”

Also awesome: The mashup of “Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows” on The Beatles LOVE.

3 . Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Magical Mystery Tour

Here’s one that came out soon after Sgt. Pepper, later in 1967. The Beatles kept the surreal/fantasy trip going with Magical Mystery Tour. I mean, just look at the cover art. The idea for this album started when Paul McCartney wanted to create a film about the band. Descriptions of the plot are weird, to say the very least, and the film was poorly received. But it left us with a few hits that are widely enjoyed and remade, including the nonsensical “I Am the Walrus” (remember when Bono sang it in Across the Universe?), and “Hello Goodbye.” After releasing two psychedelic albums in 1967, it became clear the fab four had departed from tame songs about heartache and relationships to themes of universal love and endless imagination.

Album highlights: “I Am the Walrus,” “Hello Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “All You Need is Love”

2 . The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)

The Beatles - The White Album

Yes. Yes! With two whole discs making up The Beatles’ White Album, it’s hard not to find a few that you really like on here. This album goes all over the place—for better or worse—but it’s still high up on the list. The White Album brings a lot of great, solid rock n’ roll to the table: “Back in the USSR,” “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?,” and the widely-used b-day jam, “Birthday.” The song “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is one of my all-time Beatles favorites, and it’s great to sing along to (especially when the singing breaks to a bluesy dialogue spoken by John Lennon: “When I hold you in my arms / And I feel my finger on yoooour trigger…”). The song was banned by the BBC for its references to sex and drug addiction (“I need a fix ’cause I’m going down”). Those references are clear, but it’s an honest and raw tune. The album goes to softer places with the famous and beautiful song “Blackbird.” Overall, the social and political references are prominent throughout discs 1 and 2, and The White Album does an incredible job at showing us what it was like in 1968 (for those of us who don’t know).

Album highlights: “Back in the USSR,” “Dear Prudence,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird,” “Rocky Raccoon,” “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”,  “Birthday,” “Revolution 1,” “Honey Pie”

1 . Abbey Road (1969)

Abbey Road

Ah yes, Abbey Road makes #1 on my list. Let’s start from the top. The album name is a tribute to Abbey Road Studios in London, where The Beatles recorded the majority of their work, and the iconic cover art is constantly being re-enacted by fans (watch a live stream here!). This is The Beatles’ 11th studio album, and reportedly their best-selling. The first track, “Come Together,” is insanely good because of the way it makes you move and groove. I won’t go through every track, but I encourage you to get a copy for your collection and listen through it. The best song on here, in my honest opinion, is “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The emotion and desire in that song is so very real. It’s a long song, almost stretching eight minutes, and it changes rhythmically and stylistically at different points. You’re taken on a roller coaster, going everywhere from cool, calm observation, to the fiery depths of despair and defeat. Just when you think you caught a break, you’re hit in the heart with a burst of heavy guitar riffs after the words “She’s so—.” At that point, the song transcends the auditory realm into something you can physically feel, and it’s heavy as hell. The lyrics are sparse, letting the music do the talking. This is The Beatles at their very best, and at their last. They disbanded before the record was even released. Ending on a lighter note, George Harrison’s song “Here Comes the Sun” is fundamentally positive and optimistic, and a favorite of many Beatles fans. In a way, it’s looking towards a future where music by the entire band and its individual members will continue to be played and enjoyed by all kinds of people, even those who came after their time.

Album highlights: “Come Together,” “Oh! Darling,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Mean Mr. Mustard/Poythene Pam/She Came in through the Bathroom Window”


If you agree or disagree with my Top 5 albums, let me know in the comments! And, of course, check out The Beatles discography on Murfie.


Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


Music for Grandparents Day

Most of us here at Murfie have been lucky enough to spend time with our Grandparents (and some of our Great-Grandparents as well!). Music is something that can easily be tied to memories, and musical memories of our Grandparents are some of the best ones.

In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 7th, here are some albums that remind us of Grandma and Grandpa!

Lawrence WelkMatt: Lawrence Welk – 22 Big Band Favorites  – “My grandparents were married during the Great Depression, so the big band music of that era, up and through World War II, was always their favorite. Dancing to big band music was one of their favorite activities. When visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house as kids, my brother and I were forced to watch the Lawrence Welk show that aired on public television. WeJohnny Cash would reluctantly sit through the show—accordion solos and all—and rejoice when the show ended. In spite of my disdain for the TV show, big band music, particularly that by Lawrence Welk and his band, now bring back fond memories of my Grandparents.”

Andrew: Johnny Cash – 16 Biggest Hits “I was not at all shocked to discover one day that my grandmother owned no fewer than three copies of Johnny Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits.”

The BeatlesKayla: The Beatles – 1 “My grandpa always told a story about when The Beatles visited Milwaukee. He said that everyone lined the street to watch the fab four drive by, and when they passed my grandpa, grandma, and their young children, they slowed down and complimented their beautiful family. My grandma would always say ‘Oh, Bruce!’ whenever she caught him telling me stories like that, so I’m not exactly sure if it’s true, but I like to think it is. :) The TransporterI got my grandpa this Beatles 1 compilation, and I’ll never forget showing him how to put the CD in the player, turn it on, and press play. He immediately recognized and started singing along with the song ‘Love Me Do.'”

Steve: The Transporter (Original Motion Picture Score) “Once upon a time, I was visiting my Grandma in California and she asked me if I would like to watch her favorite movie. I was all prepared for something out of the black and white era, when she99020-large proceeded to pull ‘Transporter 3’ up on DVR.”

Jeff: Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer “This is terrible, but the only song I can think of is ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.'”

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler - Neck and NeckPete: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – Neck and Neck “My grandpa loves this album. I remember buying the CD for his birthday and he told me recently that he still plays it.”

Happy Grandparents Day from the crew at Murfie! Show Grandma and Grandpa lots of love!

Photo credit: “Child pushing grandmother on plastic tricycle” by Catherine Scott-Matti.

How to Sell CDs on Murfie: The All-Encompassing Guide

 
It’s happened to the best of us: You’re scrolling through your Murfie collection, and bam!, you realize you’ve wound up with two copies of CarpentersThe Singles: 1969-1973; or you’re an ex-Beatles, newly-converted Stones fan, and you’re finally ready to ditch your once cherished copy of Revolver.

Well, here’s great news for you: Not only can you store your CD collection with Murfie, but you can sell it, too.

Selling Your CDs

Once you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to sell some CDs, the process is simple. To begin, sign in to murfie.com and click “Your Collection” on the header.

You’ll now see your prized Murfie collection. Once you’ve scrolled through your albums and found the one you’d like to sell, look to the right of the album’s artwork. If the album hasn’t been downloaded or shipped, you’ll see an area titled “View Selling Options.”

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Once you’ve clicked “View Selling Options,” a range of dollar values will appear.

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From here, you can select any dollar amount that you want to sell your CD for. At Murfie, we recommend that you put your CD for sale at the lowest price that it’s currently selling for. To find out what this lowest value is, simply move your peepers up two lines above the selling options to the where it says “Selling for.” This section will show you the current low and a high selling prices. If you’re lucky enough to be the only seller of your particular CD, however, this “Selling for” area will instead read, “Be the only seller!”

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After you’ve selected your desired price, check the “For Sale” box. Congratulations! You now have an album for sale.

Do you want to save time and avoid pricing your own discs? Email info@murfie.com and ask for Easy Price. We’ll automatically price your CDs at a fair market value, and you should see sales almost immediately.

What To Expect After Your CD Has Sold

The first thing to do after you’ve sold a CD on Murfie is to congratulate yourself. High five your cat, pat yourself on the back or pop that bottle of bubbly—you sold a CD!

In your account balance, you’ll notice that you’ve received credit for 70% of the listed price of your CD. Murfie keeps the other 30% as commission. Any credit you earn from the sale, however, is yours to use: You can either put that credit to good use by buying other CDs, or you can cash it out as a check.

To cash your credit, click on your name in the upper left corner of the site, and select “Shipping” from the drop-down menu. After you’ve filled out your shipping info, head over to “Balance,” which can be found in the same drop-down menu. If you have a positive balance, you’ll see a green button that says “Request Check.” And once you’ve clicked that button, your balance will change back to $0 and you’ll receive your check within 2 weeks.

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Don’t Forget

Once you’ve sold your CD on Murfie, you will no longer be able to access that particular disc for streaming or downloading, since the buyer now owns that disc. If it helps, think of Murfie as a used record store, but online—and even better!

This Week in Music History (May 28th-June 3rd)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

Oops I did it again5/28- On this day in 2000, Britney Spears topped the new millenium’s album chart with Oops!…I Did It Again. The album sold 1,319,000 copies in its first week and went on to reach No.1 in thirteen other countries. To date, it has sold over 20 million copies.

365447-large5/29- On this day in 1942, Bing Crosby recorded the Irving Berlin song “White Christmas” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Crosby’s version is the best-selling single of all time, with sales to date topping 50 million.

Beatles5/30- On this day in 1964, The Beatles‘ single “Love Me Do” reached No.1 on the US singles chart, the group’s fourth US No.1 in five months’ time. Although the single was originally released in the United Kingdom in October 1962, it did not become a hit in the United States until 1964.

114141-large5/31- On this day in 1977, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced a ban on the new Sex Pistols single “God Save the Queen”. Although the single reached No.2 on the UK chart, the BBC declared it to be “in gross bad taste” and considered it to be an assault on Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy. Lead singer Johnny Rotten, however, explained, “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”

32093-large6/1- On this day in 1968, Simon & Garfunkel went to No.1 on the US singles chart with “Mrs. Robinson”. An early version of the song was featured in the film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffmann and Ann Bancroft. It was then re-recorded to be released as a single, which went on to win the duo a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

7400-large6/2- On this day in 1984, British duo Wham! had their first No.1 hit with “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”. The song was written and produced by British musician George Michael, who was one half of the duo. Michael’s inspiration for the song was a note his Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley had left for his parents which read “Wake me up up before you go go”.

13293-large6/3- On this day in 1967, soul legend Aretha Franklin hit No.1 on the US singles chart with her cover of Otis Redding‘s hit song “Respect”. Although the two versions were musically very similar, Aretha’s version added the famous R-E-S-P-E-C-T chorus and backup singers’ refrain of “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…”

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history! Every album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. :-)

This Week in Music History (May 21st-27th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

300492-large5/21- On this day in 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released the single “Ohio” in reaction to the May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings during which unarmed college students were shot by members of the Ohio National Guard.

2174-large5/22- On this day in 1965, The Beatles reached No.1 on the US singles chart with their track “Ticket to Ride”. The song was the group’s eighth No.1 hit. It was also used in the Beatles’ second film Help! and was a part of the film’s soundtrack.

375787-large5/23- On this day in 1970, Paul McCartney‘s debut solo album McCartney began a three-week run atop the US album chart. Apart from a few vocal contributions by Linda McCartney, McCartney performed and recorded the entire album as a solo project.

101405-large5/24- On this day in 1974, jazz legend, bandleader, composer and pianist Duke Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia at age 75. Ellington’s career spanned over 50 years; he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 1966, and the United States Mint launched a new coin featuring his face in 2009.

32093-large5/25– On this day in 1968, Simon and Garfunkel‘s fourth studio album Bookends became the duo’s second US No.1 hit. The album was a breakthrough for the pair, launching them to superstar status. It contained their No.1 hit single “Mrs. Robinson”, which went on to win a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

12589-large5/26- On this day in 1990, the top five positions on the US singles chart were held by female artists for the first time. Madonna was at No.1 with “Vogue”, members of Heart were at No.2, Sinead O’Connor at No.3, Wilson Phillips at No.4, and Janet Jackson at No. 5.

114141-large5/27- On this day in 1977, The Sex Pistols‘ single “God Save the Queen” was released in the United Kingdom. Although the track sold over 200,000 copies in one week and peaked at No.2 on the UK charts, it was banned by TV, radio, and stores because of its controversial lyrics.

Pick up these pieces of music history in our CD marketplace! Every album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC. :-)

Interview with Pigeon John

PigeonJohn_4320 copyPigeon John is a super talented rapper, musician and storyteller. With a home base in Los Angeles and years of experience under his belt, he holds a lot of insight on the music scene in America.

This interview was originally posted as an audio podcast earlier this year, right before Pigeon John’s newest album, Encino Man, was released. Read on to learn more about his views on the exciting genre of American hip hop, its deep connection to blues and rock, and the storytellers who make it all happen.

 * * *

This is Kayla here, with your Murfie podcast. This time, we’re featuring a hip hop artist known as Pigeon John, based out of Los Angeles, California. He’s a great character, with a lot of insight on music and life, so it was a real pleasure chatting with him while he was on tour.

[MUSIC: “Oh Yeah” by Pigeon John]

Kayla: Alright, so right now I have Pigeon John on the phone—how’s it all goin’, Pigeon John?

P.J.: It is goin’…very fine and well.

Kayla: Good, good…where are you calling from?

P.J.: I’m calling from Cleveland, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, actually.

Kayla: No way! Oh, that’s so cool!

P.J.: Yeah, yeah we have a show tomorrow in Cleveland and we had a day off today, so everyone—the whole crew—decided to come on down, visit, get inspired, check out some musical inspiration.

Kayla: Cool! Have you seen some cool stuff there today?

P.J.: Yeah, yeah, for sure, a lot, a lot of stuff…and learned a lot, too.

Kayla: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I mean…that place really goes all across the board. All kinds of legends have been honored by them—

P.J.: Oh, yes.

Kayla: So, I would find that very inspiring, too, on tour. I know you just came through Madison, so how much of the tour do you have left to go?

P.J.: Uh, actually we have twenty-five more dates to go on the tour. And uh, so far so good…it’s been a blast.

Kayla: Awesome!

P.J.: It’s been a blast touring with The Grouch & Eligh and Madchild, and then I’m gonna join Eliot Lipp in a couple days, so…it’s been good.

Kayla: Mmhmm. I think The Grouch & Eligh, they’re playing on Saturday the 15th in Milwaukee with Slightly Stoopid, if I’m not mistaken.

P.J.: Yes.

Kayla: Yes!

P.J. Yep, the whole tour’s gonna open up for Slightly Stoopid for like, three dates I believe?

Kayla: Oh!

P.J.: In Chicago, Milwaukee, and I believe Detroit?

Kayla: Oooh! So you’re gonna be in Milwaukee, too?

P.J.: Yeah!

Kayla: Whaaaat!

Continue reading Interview with Pigeon John

Last Call: Your Murfie Week in Review

 


Sunday 5/11

– On Twitter: We shared some Mom-Approved music for Mother’s Day.

Monday 5/12

– On Twitter: We got a cool tweet from a new member overseas!

– On Facebook: A huge rainstorm hit Madison! We posted a photo to try to capture the intense storm.

– On Facebook: Daniel Edgerton won our #FreeFriday: The Mouse and the Mask giveaway!

Tuesday 5/13

– In the Press: HarborLAB posted an article showing how they are using Murfie’s recycled CD cases to restore wetlands and create a fun educational opportunity!

– In the Marketplace: A bunch o’ new album releases were added to our shop, including Dolly Parton’s Blue Smoke, Little Dragon’s Nabuma Rubberband, and The Black Keys’ Turn Blue.

Wednesday 5/14

– On Twitter: We thought it was pretty cool that Morrissey sent our his first tweet!

Thursday 5/15

– On the Blog: Ally gave us our weekly dose of music history, featuring facts about The Stones, The Beach Boys, Elton John, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, The Who and Adele.

Friday 5/16

– On the Blog: Our current #FreeFriday: Back to Black review was posted, featuring the late great Amy Winehouse. You still have a chance to win if you retweet our tweet or share our Facebook post!

– On Facebook: We challenged you to buy a Beach Boys album!

– On Twitter: James got a tat!!!