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Beatles Albums Ranked, Worst to Best

Manny Torres

Beatles Albums Ranked Worst to Best

If for some reason you feel The Beatles are overrated or not as significant as you think, perhaps you may want to reconsider the way you listen to music. All Beatles records are brilliant, some are just more brilliant than others.

For the short time they were together, their output was prolific and consistent. Even their loosely recorded Let It Be record contains moments of genius songwriting, innovation, and great musicianship. The Beatles weren’t just the greatest pop band of all time, they were groundbreaking in their use of the recording studio and instrumentation. They also brought attention to world music, being inspired by everything from calypso to reggae and raga. The Beatles introduced the world to Indian music and the great Indian musician/composer, Ravi Shankar.

Here’s a list of all 12 studio albums by The Beatles, ranked worst to best. Keep in mind these are the original EMI releases as they were recorded (in mono) and released in their home turf of England. The albums released by Capit0l in the U.S., although great listens, were a mashup of the EMI releases with additional material like singles added on to distribute more of their music. Or, to sell more records since every single album release from England usually meant two or three stateside releases. EMI releases are best heard in mono, except perhaps Abbey Road.

12) Let It Be

#12 - Let It Be - Beatles Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles “Worst” Album

The elements for this album were recorded in January 1969 as the group was being filmed for the documentary Let It Be. This project began life as Get Back where The Beatles, inspired by a more stripped down and simple recording style and playing, “got back” to basics. The music on this album is not unlike the rootsy, Americana stylings of Canadian musical group The Band, who’d begun their career as Bob Dylan’s backing group The Hawks.

You can tell by the simple acoustic numbers, heavy organ use (played by auxiliary member Billy Preston), and George Harrison’s guitar channeled through a rotating Leslie speaker. The Band’s album Music From Big Pink influenced Let It Be and Abbey Road, along with Eric Clapton’s Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes, and certainly Cream’s song “Badge”, co-written by George Harrison.

The music of Let It Be led to the recording of the masterful Abbey Road album. They sort of had to work the kinks out of the music and perhaps personality differences before they could get it all down. Although sold as a raw, stripped-down record, the simplicity of Get Back was compromised when Phil Spector was given the tapes to assemble an album. After several mixes, the Spector production was released posthumously in 1970 after the group disbanded. Spector went overboard with choir and strings, the music sustaining only because of how great the songs were on their own.

For a fuller experience of what The Beatles were going for on this recording, you can hear alternate takes without the heavy orchestral overdubbing on the 2003 release Let It Be – Naked as well as the recently released Let It Be – Super Deluxe. Not only do these alternative albums contain early run-throughs of the songs on the Let It Be record, you’ll also hear outtakes, rehearsals and versions of songs that later appeared on their solo records as well as Abbey Road.

Let It Be Special Edition[Super Deluxe 4 LP/12" EP Box Set]
  • The Beatles- Let It Be (50th Anniv Super DLX 5LP)

11) Yellow Submarine

#11 - Yellow Submarine - Beatles Albums Ranked Best to Worst

Why It’s The Beatles 11th Best Album

Although a soundtrack record, it does contain several new songs recorded specifically for the animated feature of the same name. This album contains some of the most psychedelic music the Beatles ever recorded outside of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. It is a unique album as it has songs that are transitional from their psychedelic period to the acid rock/folk of The Beatles (The White Album). “Hey Bulldog” could have been a big single if released in that format.

Also recorded during this period are such notable songs as “Across the Universe”, “Lady Madonna”, and “The Inner Light”, though they were not released on this record. “All Together Now”, and two amazing Harrison compositions, “Only a Northern Song” and the proto-metal/psych-fest “It’s All Too Much” come off like lost live songs by their label mates, Pink Floyd.

Only a Northern Song” sounds like it would fit perfectly on Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets. Had The Beatles ever decided to become a full-fledged psych rock band, “It’s All Too Much” would have been their springboard. The B-side of the original release featured George Martin’s beautiful score for the Yellow Submarine film. Later, extended releases of the soundtrack omitted the score, instead including songs from Revolver and Sgt. Pepper as featured in the movie. If you can find it from other sources, listen to “It’s All Too Much” in its full, uncut glory.

Yellow Submarine[LP]
  • 1. Yellow Submarine
  • 2. Only A Northern Song

10) A Hard Day’s Night

#10 - A Hard Day's Night - Beatles Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles 10th Best Album

It’s the soundtrack to their first film, but it’s also one of the greatest rock albums recorded. It still contains that rawness of early Beatles and their live shows. Surpassed only by their first album (see below) for its energy. Also, the songs sound very mature at this point, even though it was still early in their career. Songs like “I Should Have Known Better” and “Things We Said Today” show maturity, and perhaps, as the history books will tell you, shows the influence of Bob Dylan creeping in.

This has all the hits you’ll ever need, so much so that it’s practically a self-contained greatest hits album. “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “If I Fell”, “And I Love Her”, “You Can’t Do That”, etc. The group’s songwriting was unrivaled. Check out the obscure country-rock of “I’ll Cry Instead” or the soulful “When I Get Home” and the mild calypso of “You Can’t Do That.” These boys were ahead of their time, and it was only 1964.

A Hard Day's Night[LP]
  • Cut from the original master tapes at Abbey Road Studios!
  • 1. A Hard Day's Night

9) Help!

#9 - Help! - Beatles Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles 9th Best Album

Short of being a masterpiece, also an album that’s a soundtrack too. This is the folk-rock predecessor to their desert-island classic, Rubber Soul, continuing the tonal shift of Beatles For Sale, their previous album. A transitional record, almost a prequel of sorts to Rubber Soul (see below), and is also, as I stated with A Hard Day’s Night, a self-contained greatest hits record.

All Beatles records, in fact, are self-contained greatest hits records. And to support the statement about this being a prequel to Rubber Soul, realize that the American Capitol Records edition of Rubber Soul contains songs pulled from this album (it opens with “I’ve Just Seen a Face”, which is on Help!), so that the Capitol Help! soundtrack could make space for incidental music from George Martin’s orchestra.

Help! again contains songs heavily influenced by Bob Dylan but also the Beatles’ American counterparts, The Byrds. All the folk-picking heard on this record reminds you of the influence that group had on them, especially on songs like “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”, “Ticket To Ride”, and “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” George Harrison’s “I Need You” is one of his sweetest love songs.

There are a few covers on the record too: Ringo singing the Buck Owens classic, “Act Naturally”, and an incredible almost-punk cover of Larry Williams’ “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” (which John Lennon later performed with Plastic Ono Band). At this point in the career of The Beatles, it was evident that their songwriting and musicianship was strengthening and the albums they released were showing a lot of development. The band was establishing track running orders that set a precedent in rock music.

In closing, remember that this album contains the song “Yesterday”, which the Beatles never released as a single (in their home country).

  • The Beatles - Help - Vinyl Brand New

8) Magical Mystery Tour

#8 - Magical Mystery Tour - Ranking The Beatles Albums

Why It’s The Beatles 8th Best Album

This is a controversial one. Released originally as a double EP (to be played at 33 1/3 even though they were the size of a 45), this album was introduced to Americans containing those EP songs with additional singles of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” “All You Need Is Love” and “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” The single “Hello, Goodbye” and its B-side, “I am the Walrus” were also included. It contains the title track, along with the soundtrack to their TV film of the same name.

While critics and fans didn’t think favorably about the Magical Mystery Tour film, it was in fact a huge influence on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Best if listened to in mono, the album contains lots of fun, whimsical songs, and could be considered a sequel of sorts to Sgt. Pepper’s. It contains the very psychedelic, room-is-melting “Blue Jay Way,” and the Mellotron ditty “Flying,” and a few whimsical Paul McCartney numbers, “Fool on the Hill” and “Your Mother Should Know.”

This album compiles the EMI EP with singles to build quite a cohesive album. It’s no wonder it’s a favorite of fans of the Sgt. Pepper’s era. This is a fun collection of singles that’s a lot of fun.

Magical Mystery Tour[LP]
  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

7) For Sale

#7 - Beatles For Sale - Ranking The Beatles Albums

Why It’s The Beatles 7th Best Album

Definitely a gamechanger record. Way ahead of its time, recorded before Help! It’s a very Emo album, sort of sad and folky with lots of acoustic guitars and harmonica. And what a power punch of opening tracks! From “No Reply” to “I’m a Loser” to “Baby’s In Black” (the first Goth song ever?), into “Rock and Roll Music” (Chuck Berry), and so forth.

A perfect blend of rock covers and originals that show how The Byrds and Bob Dylan had influenced them at that point (The Byrds used to cover “I’m a Loser” live in concert). The band was beginning to tire from touring, but a lot of these songs became concert favorites.

This is the record with “Eight Days a Week,” and also contains their only Buddy Holly cover on a record (“Words of Love”), and many prototypes for the stuff that was to come. If they were tired from touring, it certainly doesn’t show with the energy of these tracks. This feels like a dress-rehearsal for Help! forming a map toward Rubber Soul.

Beatles For Sale[LP]
  • Sourced From the Original Master Tapes
  • Cut at Abbey Road Studios

6) Please Please Me

#6 - Please Please Me - Beatles Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles 6th Best Album

The explosion of their first album is still being felt around the world. An album famously recorded in one day, fourteen songs that were part of their stage show. The meeting of producer George Martin and The Beatles was one of the greatest meetings in all musical history. This record is very raw and live. Yes, played live. No studio musicians or subs. Just the boys rocking out their newest songs and some amazing covers of American rhythm and blues.

From the thump bass line that begins “I Saw Her Standing There,” to covers of “Anna (Go To Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” it also contains gems like (the Harrison sung) “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” plus their first single and B-side “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.” And the whole thing winds up with the raucous rendition of “Twist and Shout,” made popular by the amazing Isley Brothers (a group The Beatles owed a lot of credit to). This closing number was recorded in two takes; the second one broke down because John Lennon’s voice gave up on him. So, what remains is the very first and very raw-throated version of an instant classic.

Please Please Me[LP]
  • Sourced From the Original Master Tapes!
  • Cut at Abbey Road Studios
  • TRACK LISTING.1. I Saw Her Standing There.2. Misery.3. Anna (Go To Him).4. Chains.5. Boys.6. Ask Me Why.7. Please Please Me.8. Love Me Do.9. P.S. I Love You.10. Baby It's You.11. Do You Want To Know A Secret.12. A Taste Of Honey.13. There's A Place.14. Twist And Shout

5) Abbey Road

#5 - Abbey Road - Beatles Album Ranking

Why It’s The Beatles 5th Best Album

The first progressive rock album, some might say. A suite of amazing pop orchestration, and The Beatles most perfect album? From the ashes of the Let It Be fiasco where the band fell apart rose this collection of mini masterpieces. Again, the influence of The Band is heard in George Harrison’s guitarwork and Paul McCartney’s piano and bass.

John Lennon arrived (when he was present for recordings) inspired by the music of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. You can hear the influence of Fleetwood Mac on songs like “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Sun King” which Lennon admitted was forged from Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross.” Take a listen to that song and then listen to “Sun King” from Abbey Road and you’ll hear the similarities.

The first side of this record has some heavy hitters and immediate classics. By the end of the second side, the listener has hit emotional peaks. The sowing of all these songs into a medley works to everyone’s benefit, seamlessly transitioning one song to the other, leading up to “The End” with an orchestral crescendo worthy of Sgt. Pepper’s. The beauty of the production set a standard at Abbey Road Studios for future records that were made there, especially Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

4) The Beatles (White Album)

#4 - The White Album - Top Beatles Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles 4th Best Album

This album, like Rubber Soul, is an outlier. The Beatles did a complete about face from the last two years of psychedelic music and albums to compose this collection of eccentric, disparate songs. There’s also something distorted and obtuse to these songs. This is post-acid psychedelia, and they just about threw everything into making this album. If ever the term “kitchen sink album” applied, it would be The White Album.

This was also the beginning of the splintering of the band, as not all members were present during the recording of a lot of the songs. Sometimes Paul played all the instruments on several of his songs in the absence of Ringo, or perhaps by his own design. Sometimes John was absent, sometimes Yoko Ono was present. The music collected here is a collage of everything leading up to this point in The Beatles’ creativity. The songs were all written during their vacation in India. There are twisted fairy tales (“Cry Baby Cry”), fractured western narratives (“Rocky Racoon”), and hints of George Harrison’s solo career with magnificent songs like “Savoy Truffle” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (guest starring potential Harrison replacement, Eric Clapton), and the unreleased “Not Guilty.”

Only The Beatles could have pulled off the feat of releasing a double album that combines acoustic folk, rock, blues, calypso, ragtime, and heavy metal (“Helter Skelter”). Also, John began his exploration of British blues rock made famous at the time by Cream, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall Blues Breakers, etc. in “Yer Blues.” The Beatles contains their nod to musique concrete which they’d previously explored in “Carnival of Light,” an unreleased collage piece created during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s. That track is “Revolution 9,” which by musique concrete standards is a tight and sincere piece in the style of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Henry, using non-idiomatic and found sounds to create the chaos of the piece. The cover of the record is stark white, as if the band was starting with a blank slate from what had come before…

The Beatles (The White Album) [2 LP]
  • Disc 1
  • Side 1
  • 1. Back In The U.S.S.R.
  • 2. Dear Prudence
  • 3. Glass Onion

3) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

#3 - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Beatles Best Albums

Why It’s The Beatles 3rd Best Album

The greatest album of all time? Of course, it is. The Beatles’ best record? That’s open to debate, so this ranks at number 3 on the list.

This album may stand the test of time if played as a whole; as a suite to a bigger piece. This was The Beatles wanting to improve on what they learned with Revolver (see below). They’d stopped touring, which gave them time to use the studio as an instrument. They threw in every recording trick they knew, supported by George Martin’s great orchestration.

The results are pure pop bliss with a lysergic gleam. The closing chord of “A Day in the Life” is one that still resonates throughout the cosmos. This is pure joy and sweet indulgence. What The Beach Boys did with Pet Sounds, The Beatles improved on and perfected, imitated, but never to be replicated.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band[LP] [2017 Stereo Mix]
  • The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band - LP Brand New

2) Rubber Soul

#2 - Rubber Soul - Beatles Best Albums Ranked

Why It’s The Beatles 2nd Best Album

Perhaps a tie for the number one spot. Musically, there was a time before Rubber Soul and a time after. This woody, pastoral, weed-saturated masterpiece of baroque pop lives on an island all its own.

From the groovy rock soul of the opening tracks, “Drive My Car” to the innovative “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” to the faux-Dylanism of “Nowhere Man,” to the fuzz bass on “Think for Yourself,” this album is the most perfect record ever recorded. It doesn’t have the pretentiousness of Sgt. Pepper’s, it has innovation and determination to be the greatest record of all time.

Classics from beginning to end include the song that’s been called The Beatles’ greatest song, “In My Life.” “What Goes On” was Ringo’s vocal number for the record and it all ends with the controversial “Run for Your Life.”

Rock history dictates that many groups of the period heard this album and knew a change was coming. Socially, globally, and musically, things would never be the same after the release of Rubber Soul. Even the cover with its distorted snapshot of the band with their stoner eyes would change the look of album covers and how musicians and bands presented themselves.

Rubber Soul[LP]
  • Disc 1
  • Side 1
  • 1. Drive My Car
  • 2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  • 3. You Won't See Me

1) Revolver

#1 - Revolver - Beatles Greatest Album of All Time

Why It’s The Beatles Best Album

Things got weird here. And now every band must record a version of this album. Radiohead did it with OK Computer. Wilco did it with Summerteeth. The idea that the studio can be an instrument and any sonic experimentation can be achieved is laid out with Revolver.

This album was recorded when the group had decided to call it quits as a touring band. The songwriting was now more introspective, more profound, baroque, and highly experimental. The band expanded their instrumental and musical palette, inventing a whole new set of rules for recording with the limits of what studio technology was at the time. There’s heavier rock guitar, sitar drones, and tape loops.

This record is best when it’s the EMI edition. Do not tune in to the American version of Revolver missing “I’m Only Sleeping,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and “Doctor Robert.” Otherwise, you’ll wind up having to get the 45rpm singles or the American Yesterday and Today compilation. Stick with the EMI release. In mono.

This album contains one of the first forays into world music on a pop record with George Harrison’s “Love You To,” and it is legit raga, George Harrison having studied under the guidance of Ravi Shankar.

The Beatles’ Revolver holds a place in rock history for breaking ground on ways to use technology, but also containing truly mind-blowing music and musicianship. Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.

  • Rare Import Vinyl Record
Manny Torres

Manny Torres

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Manny Torres resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of the road-noir Dead Dogs, and his love letter to New York, Father Was a Rat King. Perras Malas, published through Outcast Press, made it to the LGBTQ+ crime bestseller’s list. From 1999-2014 he was a programmer and co-conspirator on Step Outside: The Strange and Beautiful Music program on WMNF 88.5FM in Florida. He enjoys painting and photography, and the music of King Crimson and taking care of several cats. You can find him on Twitter @_MATorres_ and Instagram @_m.a.torres.

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