Yellow Submarine • Beatles UK album • Sleeve notes

Yellow Submarine – Sleeve notes

‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – front cover
Front cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – back cover
Back cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – Apple record label
Record label
  • Label: Apple PMC 7070 MONO / PCS 7070 STEREO
  • Released: 17th January 1969
  • Peak position:
    Melody Maker – #4;
    NME – #3;
    Record Retailer – #3
  • Weeks in chart: 10 – from 1st February 1969
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – outside cover, folded-out
Outside cover, folded-out
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – Apple tape cassette label
Cassette label
  • Label: Apple TC PCS 7070
  • Released: 1974
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – CD front cover
Front cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – CD back cover
Back cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – Apple CD label
CD label
  • Label: Apple CDP 7 46445 2
  • Released: 24th August 1987
  • Peak position:
    Record Retailer – #60
  • Weeks in chart: 1 – from 5th September 1987
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – CD front cover
Front cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – inside cover, folded-out
Inside cover, folded-out
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – CD back cover
Back cover
‘Yellow Submarine’ UK album – Apple CD label
CD label
  • Label: Apple/EMI
  • Released: 9th September 2009

My name is Derek but that is what my mother called me so it is no big thing, except that it is my name and I would like to say I was asked to write the notes for Yellow Submarine. Now Derek Taylor used to be the Beatles press agent and then, in America he became the Beatles former press agent (having left them) and now Derek Taylor is the press agent for the Beatles again so when has was asked to write the notes for “Yellow Submarine” he decided that not only had he nothing new to say about the Beatles whom he adores too much to apply any critical reasoning, and by whom he is paid too much to feel completely free, and also he couldn’t be bothered, and also he wanted the people who bought the Yellow Submarine album to buy and enjoy the really wonderful “The Beatles” album out in the month of November ‘68 so here and now, unbought, unsolicited, unexpurgated, unattached, pure and immeasurably-favourable is a review of “The Beatles” (the new Apple/EMI album) from the London Observer by Tony Palmer, a journalist and film-maker of some special distinction:

The Beatles’ bull’s-eye

If there is still any doubt that Lennon and McCartney are the greatest song writers since Schubert, then next Friday—with the publication of the new Beatles double LP—should surely see the last vestiges of cultural snobbery and bourgeois prejudice swept away in a deluge of joyful music making, which only the ignorant will not hear and only the deaf will not acknowledge. Called simply The Beatles (PMC 7067/8), it’s wrapped in a plain white cover which is adorned only by the song titles and those four faces, faces which for some still represent the menace of long-haired youth, for others the great hope of a cultural renaissance and for others the desperate, apparently endless struggle against cynical so-called betters.

In the Beatles’ eyes, as in their songs, you can see the fragile fragmentary mirror of the society which sponsored them, which interprets and makes demands of them, and which punishes them when they do what others reckon to be evil; Paul, ever-hopeful, wistful; Ringo, every mother’s son; George, local lad made good; John, withdrawn, sad, but with a fierce intelligence clearly undimmed by all that organised morality can throw at him. They are heroes for all of us, and better than we deserve.

It’s not as if the Beatles ever seek such adulation. The extra-ordinary quality of the 30 new songs is one of simple happiness. The lyrics overflow with a sparkling radiance and sense of fun that it is impossible to resist. Almost every track is a send-up of a send-up of a send-up, rollicking, relentless, gentle, magical. The subject matter ranges from piggies (‘Have you seen the bigger piggies/In their starched white shirts’), to Bungalow Bill of Saturday morning film-show fame (‘He went out tiger hunting with his elephant gun/In case of accidents he always took his mom’); from ‘Why don’t we do it in the road’ to ‘Savoy Truffle’.

The skill at orchestration has matured with finite precision. Full orchestra, brass, solo violin glockenspiel, saxophone, organ, piano, harpsichord, all manner of percussion, flute, sound effects, are used sparingly and thus with deftness.

Electronic gimmickry has been suppressed or ignored in favour of musicianship. References to or quotations from Elvis Presley, Donovan, Little Richard, the Beach Boys, Blind Lemon Jefferson are woven into an aural fabric that has become the Bayeux Tapestry of popular music. It’s all there, if you listen. Lennon sings ‘I told you about strawberry fields’ and ‘I told about the fool on the hill’—and now?

The Beatles are competent rather than virtuoso instrumentalists—but their ensemble playing is intuitive and astonishing. They bend and twist rhythms and phrases with a unanimous freedom that gives their harmonic adventures the frenzy of anticipation and unpredictability. The voice—particularly that of Lennon—is just another instrument, wailing, screeching, mocking, weeping.

There is a quiet determination to be rid of the bogus intellectualisation that usually surrounds them and their music. The words almost deliberately simple-minded like, ‘Happy birthday to you’; another just goes on repeating ‘Good-night’; another says ‘I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink.’ The music is likewise stripped of all but the simplest of harmonies and beat—so what is left is a prolific out-pouring of melody, music-making of unmistakable clarity and foot-tapping beauty.

The sarcasm and bitterness that have always given their music its unease and edginess still bubbles out—‘Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet—yeah/Looking through a glass onion.’ The harshness of the imagery is, if anything, even harsher; ‘The eagle picks my eye/The worm he locks my bone.’ And, most grotesque of all, there is a terrifying track just called ‘Revolution 9,’ which comprises sound effects, overheard gossip, backwards-tapes, janglings from the subconscious memories of a floundering civilisation. Cruel, paranoic, burning, agonised, hopeless, it is given shape by an anonymous bingo voice which just goes on repeating ‘Number nine, number nine, number nine’—until you want to scream. McCartney’s drifting melancholy overhangs the entire proceedings like a purple veil of shadowy optimism—glistening, inaccessible, loving.

At the end, all you do is stand and applaud. Whatever your taste in popular music, you will find it satisfied here. If you think that pop music is Engelbert Humperdinck, then the Beatles have done it better—without sentimentality, but with passion; if you think that pop is just rock ‘n’ roll, then the Beatles have done it better—but infinitely more vengefully; if you think that pop is mind-blowing noise, then the Beatles have done it better—on distant shores of the imagination that others have not even sighted.

This record took them five months to make and in case you think that’s slow going, just consider that since it’s completion they’ve written another 15 songs. Not even Schubert wrote at that speed.


 
UK albums 1963Please Please Me With The BeatlesUK albums 1964A Hard Days Night Beatles For SaleUK albums 1965Help! Rubber SoulUK albums 1966Revolver A Collection Of Beatles OldiesUK albums 1967Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band The Beatles FirstUK albums 1968The Beatles (aka The White Album)UK albums 1969Yellow SubmarineAbbey RoadUK albums 1970Let It BeUK albums 1973The Beatles / 1962-1966 (aka The Red Album) The Beatles / 1967-1970 (aka The Blue Album)UK albums 1976Rock N Roll Music Magical Mystery TourUK albums 1977The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl Love SongsUK albums 1978The Beatles CollectionUK albums 1979Hey JudeUK albums 1980Rock N Roll Music Volume 1 Rock N Roll Music Volume 2 The Beatles BalladsUK albums 1981Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany 1962UK albums 1982Reel Music The Complete Silver Beatles 20 Greatest HitsUK albums 1988Past Masters Volume 1 Past Masters Volume 2UK albums 1994Live At The BBCUK albums 1995Anthology 1UK albums 1996Anthology 2 Anthology 3UK albums 1999Yellow Submarine SongtrackUK albums 20001UK albums 2003Let It Be… NakedUK albums 2004The Capitol Albums Volume 1 The Beatles First, featuring Tony SheridanUK albums 2006The Capitol Albums Volume 2 LoveUK albums 2009The Beatles In Mono The Beatles Stereo Box-SetUK albums 2014The US Albums
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