How to listen to the Beatles re-releases?

There have been some stupid questions asked on these forums over the years, and several of those stupid questions have come from me. Perhaps here's another one for the ages...

I'm 38 and have never really listened to the Beatles catalog. I own "Peppers", "Rubber Soul" and "Abby Road" on vinyl, plus "Love", but wouldn't say I'm as familiar with their body of work as I am with, say, R.E.M (they were "my" band during my high-school and college years).

However, I've pre-ordered both the stereo and mono Beatles re-releases. What's the best way to re-introduce myself to the genius of the "fab four"?

Should I sit down and work my way through their collection chronologically? Is there a good companion book to read through while I listen? Should I listen to an album over-and-over until I really "get it" before moving on to the next? Both mono and stereo?

There are albums that I pick up and think "Wow...It would have been awesome to listen to this the first day it was released." Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors". CCR's "Willy...". Rush's "Moving Pictures". Etc. The excitement of the release. The cultural and musical context. The significance. I'll never be able to experience that with the Beatles, and I'd like to put myself in a place (mentally) to really listen to the Beatles for the first time (again).

Does this make sense? Blast away. I figure I couple of people will understand what I'm asking and have some thoughtful suggestions.
Hmm. Interesting predicament.
I think that any scientific approach one might take to appreciating the Beatles might be overkill. It is only the Beatles. It is just a pop group (albeit a very very sophisticated and aestheticallt refined pop group. I think you should just let your fancy flow free, and find things you like, and repeat listening. It is not the J.S. Bach BWV catalouge we have here.
Well since you brought it up, why not listen chronologically? Only makes sense. That way you can experience the progression in their sound/music.

"The Beatles Anthology" is a comprehensive book by The Beatles themselves. Might be of interest to you.
Having just read the other Beatles Box Set thread, it strikes me as nothing short of amazing how much people still flip out for this band. Yeah, they were good....but they were not THAT good. It is still just catchy pop music for the kids, even if John Lennon WAS a genius! I think even he would agree with that statement.
It is still just catchy pop music for the kids
That doesn't sum up their music at all.

Chashmal, I think the Beatles were the best band producing the best rock music ever and so do many others. I saw another one of your posts where you state that you don't get Elvis either. You hate Elvis, Coke and Jesus. Man what is it that motivates your posts and how can anyone of any religion hate Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed. Don't even try to answer for my benefit. I am just annoyed that I have seen so many posts with you on them and it's always negative.
I think that Chashmal is correct, up to a point. Much of the Beatles catalog does fit into his characterization for sure.

But IMO many Beatles songs go beyond this mere trivialization and in future will be judged as classics of the rock era. I believe many would be inclined to agree.
my $0.02: the best albums are Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road, the White Album, Let It Be. the next 'tier' is Help and A Hard Day's Night. the real early stuff is fun and all, but nowhere near the middle and later periods. Anthologies 2 & 3 are definitely worth owning, very thoughtfully put together. one idea which has been getting a lot of attention lately is that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to really master something (see 'Talent Is Overrated' by Colvin) - and Lennon/McCartney really started to shine at something like that point in their collaboration. and yes, you could read tons about how the Beatles fit into their times, but I'd say that Lennon/McCartney were a uniquely creative phenomenon, in the same way that people like Rembrandt can't be defined by their 'era'.
Many of the Beatles songs ARE already judged as classics of the era that next generations carry on now. "Best band ever", NO. One of the many great bands that came during an era rich with great music , innovation , expression and diversity of styles, YES, without a doubt. Cheers
Rock-N-Roll, as we know it today, would not exist without the Beatles...period.
I really do like almost every one of the Beatles songs and own 10 of their LPs. No offence but " Rock and Roll would not exist today as we know it without the Beatles , period." The beatles would not of existed if it were not for those who pioneered it before them and were the ones who inspired the Beatles. The genesis of Rock and Roll does not begin and end with the beatles. They do have a great part in musics progession without question but I,m sure that they were not the inspiration for all to come and certainly didn,t invent it. Rock and Rolls birth and influence came from this side of the pond in your own backyard. Thank those for inspiring the Beatles, I,m sure if they were all with us, they would. Cheers
Taste in music is like beauty. It's in the eye (ear) of the beholder. Just listen and if you like them, great. If you don't, I still do. Easy.
>>08-30-09: Chashmal
Yeah, they were good....but they were not THAT good.<<

In fact, they were THAT good. Their incredible body of work was created over a measly span of 6 years.

The best measure of greatness is passage of time. Appears they have passed that test with flying colors so far.

Remember, they've been disbanded over 40 years and interest in the music/members continues by young and old.
Audiofeil: to debate just how good is moot. I know their longevity is unique and that people get great joy and edification from the music. That is not in question.

My point is that it is still just pop music, albeit very great pop music, but people treat it as if it were something more.
Has2be, what I think Mofimadness is trying to say is that without the Beatles, rock music, while still existing, would have followed a very different path sound wise and style wise than it did. As much as the early greats influenced the Beatles I think the Beatles influenced the music of their own time and later times even more. I think it would be difficult to argue that the Beatles had more influence on modern music than any other act past or present. Just talk to any pop or rock artist that came along post Beatles and you will find very few who do not mention the Beatles as their main influence. Even the artists who released music very different from the Beatles and who claimed to hate the Beatles, like the early punk bands, were still in fact influenced by the Beatles music.
My point is that it is still just pop music, albeit very great pop music, but people treat it as if it were something more.

I don't think you can judge the significance of certain music simply by the genre from which it comes. I think the assumption that classical or jazz are automatically superior to pop or rock music is nothing more than snobbery. If any type of music is to be judged, as more than just music, it has to go beyond just the consideration of the artistic makeup of the music itself. I think the most important factor is how that music affected it's generation in it's own time. How it influenced other artists, how it weaved its way into the fabric of peoples lives and imprinted itself onto their psyche, how that music continues to affect people in later generations. One could just as correctly say that Bach was after all just classical music, or that Miles Davis was just jazz. I think anyone who attempts to argue that these forms of music are inherently superior to modern music is making a flawed preposition.
>>08-31-09: Chashmal
My point is that it is still just pop music<<

That is a flawed argument.

Pop music, or classical, or jazz is no less important/significant or impactful than any other genre.

Hope that helps you understand better.
I agree completely with you Rcrerar.

My comment was meant to be not so much a generalization about genre as a polemical statement about how over rated (and thus inappropriately venerated) the Beatles have become. Your point is well taken.
>>08-31-09: Chashmal
about how over rated (and thus inappropriately venerated) the Beatles have become.>>

Overrated is purely subjective but I respect your right to be incorrect on this.
Chopin's Nocturnes were just pop music, too. Doesn't mean they weren't an expression of musical genius as well.
Read answer above.

Polemics (pronounced /pəˈlɛmɪks, poʊ-/) is the practice of disputing or controverting religious, philosophical, or political matters. As such, a polemic text on a topic is often written specifically to dispute or refute a topic that is widely viewed to be beyond reproach.

Veneration of the Beatles is out of wack with its importance, thus people hold that they are 'beyond reproach'. I was attacking this in a polemical fashion.
I've been listening to the Beetles reluctantly since I can remember. I enjoyed a few of there hooks and songs but overall thought it sounded like good elevator music. I was a bit of a Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton kind of snob and the Beetles just didn't enough grit/soul/blues for me.

Until... a couple of years ago I went to see some really great local musicians who are in various bands but pay their bills by playing in a Beatles cover band called Abbey Road Live. The meat of the show is to cover a Beatles album from front to back. I've seen them do Abbey Road, Sgt Peppers, and The White album. These guys have a website... so if they ever come to your town it will be $10 well spent.

Seeing and hearing this music live was quite revelatory. I was pleasantly and surprisingly astounded by how good this music was. After years of ambivalence a light went off in my head and it was oh my… these songs are fantastic. When I heard them with the impact you only get in a live setting, it was like discovering a really, really good band and I already knew all the words.
"they were good....but they were not THAT good." "
"..It is still just catchy pop music for the kids"

Ah, I think many will disagree.

"The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" - if I suggested it was just co-opted bits and pieces of ideas from other songs, poems, and books held together with amateurish guitar and harmonic playing I'd never hear the end of it. Yeah, I know - you didn't say that. Whew!
I never realized fully just how good the Beatles catalog is until I had kids and discovered dozens of Beatles tunes (some covers) that were great songs to sing them to sleep with.

Both my kids love the Beatles. Their output is far more than just a collection of very good rock tunes. Many BEatles tunes hit upon themes which are timeless better than most anyone else.

That's a big part of what will make their music timeless.

Of course all the innovation and talent that went into recording and producing those tunes won't hurt either.
OK. You guys love the Beatles and will argue their importance until the end of time. I appreciate your love for this band. However SO much great music gets cast by the wayside that Beatle worship just seems silly and wasteful to me.
"However SO much great music gets cast by the wayside that Beatle worship just seems silly and wasteful to me. "

I'd say admiration rather than worship, then its OK.

Not silly and wasteful. I chose "The Beatles" as the most practical tool available to help my kids develop appreciation for musical excellence at a young age. That seed has been planted....we'll see where it goes.

I agree that much music is under appreciated, but that is certainly not "The Beatles" fault.

It is what it is....
Mapman: the fact that your kids love the Beatles is quite an accomplishment. I think we would all be horrified by what some of their friends probably like!
FWIW here's a few Beatles tunes that I covered quite often with my kids before bed when little and recommend:

I Will
Bad Boy
All My Loving
Hello Goodbye
All Together Now
All You Need Is love
I've Just Seen A Face
All I've Got to Do
You Won't See Me
Love Me do
Twist and Shout
Words of Love
I should Have Known Better
Penny Lane
When I'm 64
All My Loving
Little Child
Hold Me Tight
It Won't Be Long
Rocky Racoon
Ob la di
The Word
Tell Me Why
You can't Do That
Can't buy me Love
Eight Days A Week
if you didn't live through 'beatlemania' it is impossible to believe just how important they were to anyone with access to a radio....even historically, just putting all those songs into the context of a career that lasted less than a decade, and consider that every jazz, classical, country, folk, pop,and whatever 'icon', old and new, defered to them ...well, you might be able to get an inkling of what was going on. just the comotion on threads here are meager distant ripples.....there were those who hated the beatles (even then), but of course, some people 'hating something' is natural too.
I recently played all the Beatles albums, and I did so chronologically. You can better appreciate their development as musicians/writers that way.

But don't worry about how to do it. Just do it.

And if you want to REALLY appreciate them, do this: Each time you play one of their albums (say, "Beatles For Sale" from 1964), follow it up with ANY other record by ANY other artist from the same year.

Finally, I think it's poignant to remember that, when the Beatles broke up in 1970, none of the members of the band were even 30 yet.

What did y'all accomplish before you were 30?

"there were those who hated the beatles (even then).."

Beatles haters I've run into over the years seem to really like Elvis and they put him into the mom/apple pie/red, white, & blue category. They always remember Lennon's "more popular than Jesus" comment, and in general equate the Beatles with drugs and loose morals (but seem kinda abscent-minded in remembering that "The King" was also "The King of prescription dope."
Chasmal, compared to what? The Beatles are unsurpassed in the field of pop music, much less productivity in the field in a 6 year period, and may always be.
Well, they were definitely better than "Freddie and the Dreamers"! 8^)
Getting too serious here lads; besides, I've got to go get my Beatle bangs trimmed.
Chashmal just did/does not get it. It's his right to miss the obvious.

It is not the J.S. Bach BWV catalouge we have here." The OP should be glad of that! Unless he wanted an insomnia cure that is!
"Just talk to any pop or rock artist that came along post Beatles and you will find very few who do not mention the Beatles as their main influence." Rcrerar, Thats a profound statement. Of course I can,t do that not being in their circle as you must be to of made the statement as though you have and are. I think the people themselves have had more an impact on music driven by the history of what was going on at the time and the tragedies and conflicts that drove people to not ownly seek change but to tell a story and reflect their veiws and feelings within that time. Art imitates life, not the other way around....... "Even the artists who released music very different from the Beatles and who claimed to hate the Beatles, like the early punk bands, were still in fact influenced by the Beatles music." So you think that because a band be it PUNK or Metal chose not to sound like the beatles because they hated them is the beatles influencing them? Thats ridiculous ! Its a given the Beatles did and have had a large impact on music but to say we owe it all to them what we have now is ridiculous and it obliterates the conceptions and talents and the driving force behind what the artists who followed them have done . Just having a tough time picturing a 40 year old JZ standing on a corner in Compton who by your standards was influenced by the Beatles singing "Yesterday all my Troubles were so far away"....... Cheers
What Jaybo said ! And thats another influence of the times.... Hey Jaybo, your bogarting again, pass it on man !!! Cheers
"they were good....but they were not THAT good."

If you don't agree, I'm OK (though disappointed with your point of veiw).

They came at a time and with talent that hasn't been duplicated since. There won't ever be another "Beatles".

Excellent books to read:
"The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions" - Mark Lewisohn
"Here, There and Everywhere" - Geoff Emerick
"as far as 'how to listen?' goes without saying...stoned."

If you can remember the sixties you wern't really a part of them
>>08-31-09: Tubelvr
If you can remember the sixties you wern't really a part of them<<

Wow, that line is about as old as the 60's.

I can hardly stop laughing.

Got any other good yukkers?
Back on topic...

What other releases would you recommend that were obviously directly influenced by a Beatles' album? I'm not talking about how Nirvana was influenced by the Beatles, but how a particular artist's sound changed from, say, 1967 to 1969 because of the Beatle's influence from a particular album? I think that would be an interesting context.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk "3 sided dream in audio color" is beatle-esque as a true influence of psychedelia on jazz (NOT a fusion, but an influence).
i enjoyed the pre fusion jazz of that era...kirk, charles lloyd, et al....everything on 'atlantic' at the time was heavily influenced by rock, and they were seeking a younger audience.
Oh god yes....
It's perfectly alright to have the opinion to not like the Beatles or say their overated, however, history/the world has spoken so that opinion is irrelavant.