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Passion, People and Principles

The Beatles’ Worst Album

post # 510 — March 3, 2008 — a General post

A review of my recent book referred to it as an “uneven collection of essays”, which is fair comment. I took consolation in the fact that no-one ever achieves a consistently high standard.

For example, (and for fun), the Beatles released about 187 official recordings in their career. Here are my nominations for the 20 tracks that would make up “The Beatle’s Worst Album”:

  1. Act Naturally
  2. All Together Now
  3. Baby You’re a Rich Man
  4. Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  5. Dig A Pony
  6. Dig It
  7. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
  8. Flying
  9. For You, Blue
  10. Good Morning, Good Morning
  11. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  12. Helter Skelter
  13. I Want You
  14. Maggie May
  15. Revolution #9
  16. Why Don’t We Do it in the Road
  17. Wild Honey Pie
  18. Yer Blues
  19. You Know My Name Look Up the Number
  20. Your Mother Should Know


Any other nominations?


Bob McIlree said:

David – I’m curious as to how you assessed these particular tunes. Is there bias as to who wrote it? Who sang it? What album that they appear on? There is a lot of context with the Fab Four’s work with respect to particular albums, as there are with The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Take a whack at the latter two bands when you have time or feel the need…as I remarked, just curious – about the tunes and the bias…:)


P.S. If memory serves, there were a lot of forgettable cover tunes that they did in the very early 60’s – trying to escape Liverpool, that are equally in-line with respect to your list, but nonetheless, recorded…:)

posted on March 3, 2008

Ontario Emperor said:

It’s interesting to note that several of your song nominations came from my favorite Beatles album, The Beatles (a/k/a the White Album), and that I bet that you nominated them as worst songs for the same reason that I nominated them as favorite songs – namely, their variety.

For those who aren’t familiar with The Beatles, here are the songs on David’s list that were taken from that album:

  1. Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  2. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
  3. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  4. Helter Skelter
  5. Revolution #9
  6. Why Don’t We Do it in the Road
  7. Wild Honey Pie
  8. Yer Blues

Now I’ll confess that “Bungalow” does include the vocal stylings of one Yoko Ono, and that “Helter Skelter” and “Happiness” are often viewed through the lens of subsequent events (the Manson murders, and Lennon’s own death), but I frankly love seven of the eight songs above (“Monkey” is inferior to “Sexy Sadie,” which deals with the same subject matter). Perhaps I like the other seven because they all, in some way, shatter the illusory myth of the moptop lads. By this point in their career they were singing about anything and everything. Bungalow Bill could have popped out of one of John’s “Daily Howl” books, while “Happiness” and “Yer Blues” work as both musical and lyrical parody. Paul McCartney’s ode to a roller coaster is one of the Beatles’ best late 60s rock works, and “Why Don’t We” and “Wild Honey Pie” are just good dirty fun. As for “Revolution #9,” I frankly laugh through the thing, and depending upon who you believe, that was Lennon’s intention.

As for the rest, some were truly mediocre, but “Act Naturally” was one of the best marryings of song and singer. Perhaps people respected John, but they LIKED good ol’ Ringo, and in the long term it’s good to be liked.

If the essays in your book are as “uneven” as the Beatles’ worst songs, you must have written a very good book indeed.

posted on March 3, 2008

DavidZ said:

David, I agree with your list although I haven’t looked through the entire Beatle catalog to come up with my own list. Although I do admire the variety and the courage to write “outside the box” in most of these songs, they are mediocre relative to the rest of the songs written by the Beatles. I do strongly disagree with “Happiness is a Warm Gun’ – that’s one of my favorites.

posted on March 3, 2008

Geoff Sharp said:

Well done David, nice save

posted on March 3, 2008

Coert Visser said:

Hi David and all,

Here is my list of my 25 least-liked Beatles songs (there is an overlap of 7 songs with David’s list). I have added links to youtube for all of them. I must admit some of these songs do have something and can be enjoyable sometimes.

posted on March 3, 2008

Brad Farris said:

I’m outspoken in my dislike of most Beatles songs, so I don’t know if my opinion counts, but by far my least favorite is, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Just awful. Other nominations, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, & “Yellow Submarine”.


posted on March 3, 2008

David (Maister) said:

Note that this was not a set of opinions on best or worst albums. Most albums could be improved by the removal of their “worst” tracks.

How did I choose? It was simple. In these days of “skip” or “next track” buttons, I just noticed which songs I couldn’t bother to listen through.

Yes, there’s a pattern which reveals my bias – I prefer melody, harmony, production and arrangement to stripped-down raucous tunes. So, I prefer early John to late John, and sweet Paul rather than lung-buster Paul.

posted on March 3, 2008

Coert Visser said:

Hi David and all, Here is my list of least liked Beatles’ songs. There are 7 overlapping songs with David’s list. I have added youtube links for each song in case you want to listen to how bad it actually sounds (in some cases not too bad to be honest).

posted on March 3, 2008

Skip Reardon said:

David, your assessment of “less than memorable” Beatles tunes is….spot on. Your analogy to continually create book chapters (and blog postings) that are of equally high-caliber puts the collective pressures back on ourselves.

Don’t let an occasional “Dig a Pony” stand in the way of the pursuing excellence!

posted on March 3, 2008

Jah said:

I agree with you except that I’m really quite fond of number 20…

posted on March 4, 2008

Julie, writer Surefirewealth.com said:

I don’t really have anything to add. I suppose my brain cells are still sleepy. But I must say that you don’t seem too affected by that review. In fact, you even transformed it into something fun. I think that’s very commendable of you. Such a trait always draws more people in.

posted on March 5, 2008

Joseph Myers said:

You do not like “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”? Are you mad? You should do everyone a favor and list the reaons that you dislike each song.

posted on March 6, 2008

Ben Ballard said:

“Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” is way out in front as the worst.

What a great band, in any event!

posted on March 25, 2008

cohnsey said:

Just let those American idol kid jerks sing Beatle tunes. they are the worst. yuck

posted on March 31, 2008

Nick Mallett said:

Obladi obladah.

(Maybe) I’m amazed that it’s missing from all these lists.

posted on May 14, 2008