A First-Time Listener's Guide to The Beatles

John Downing/Getty Images
The Beatles at the press launch for their new album 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', held at Brian Epstein's house at 24 Chapel Street in London on May 19, 1967.

You may have heard The Beatles’ entire catalog was released to streaming services. So now that you have “The Fab Four” at your fingertips wherever you go, where do you begin?!

Spotify has made it easy to get acquainted with playlists that play off hit songs including “Come Together (well-known hits)” “Twist and Shout (a party playlist)”, “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (experimental work) and “All You Need Is Love” (love songs of course).

But playlists aside, there is quite a catalog of remastered studio albums to get into. Here are 5 to get you started. Class is now in session.

Please Please Me (1963)

Where it all began. Just watch.

Today’s Lesson:

- The British Invasion delivered the U.S. with what would later become Beatlemania with the band’s debut studio album and first single of the same name.

- "Do You Want To Know A Secret?” is the first top ten song to feature George Harrison as the lead singer. It peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.

Homework:

Listen to “Twist And Shout” (track 14) and do not stop moving until the song ends. But please note, this celebrated song was not written, or originally recorded by The Beatles. Google to find out which band put it on the charts in 1962.

Abbey Road (1969)

Today’s Lesson:

- Abbey Road is widely considered the best Beatles album ever.

- Boasting an album cover with one of the most famous (and imitated) images in the history of music, the band’s 11th studio effort sold four million copies in its first two months of release.

- To date, it remains the band’s best-selling album and topped the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks.

Homework:

Watch this “Here Comes The Sun” video and listen to “Oh! Darling” (track 4) and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (track 6).

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Today’s Lesson:

- The Beatles’ third studio album, single and movie of the same name helped catapult the band to global superstar status.

- In 1965 the band took home the Best New Artist Grammy and received a nod for Song of the Year.

Homework:

Watch the “A Hard Day’s Night” video and listen to “And I Love Her” (track 5), which peaked at No. 12 on the Hot 100.

Revolver (1966)

Today’s Lesson:

- The final track on the album, "Tomorrow Never Knows," is widely considered to be the first drug-induced song, and possibly the introduction to psychedelic rock.

- The seagull-like sounds are actually someone laughing. John Lennon’s famous far away vocal voice was done after he instructed the recording engineer to “make me “sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop.”

Homework Assignment: 

Watch the “Yellow Submarine” video and listen to “Good Day Sunshine” (track 8).

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Today’s Lesson:

“We hope you will enjoy the show.” The show being this "masterpiece of British psychedelia" concept album introduced the fictional Sgt. Pepper’s Band, which allowed the band to experiment musically like never before.

Homework: 

Watch the “A Day In The Life” video* and listen to “With A Little Help From My Friends” (track 2).

*Bonus points to anyone who can name the musician that makes a cameo at 7 seconds in.

Gold Star. You've studied hard. Reward yourself with the hits.

1 (2000)

These are the No. 1 hit singles that your parents went crazy for. Correction, the whole world went crazy for (see Billboard charts)! The compilation of individual hits was released on the 30th anniversary of the band’s breakup, and made its own chart history, No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The albums also makes a prestigious list of albums that sold over 1 million copies in one week.

Class dismissed.