Yellow Submarine (1969)


Title: The animated movie Yellow Submarine was made with virtually no interest from the Beatles themselves, aside from donating a few largely second-rate songs and quickly filming a live-action cameo. This LP is its soundtrack album – it’s made up of four new tracks the group dashed off without much thought, two songs that had already been released, and an entire side of movie score.

Cover: Stylistically true to the film: 1960s cartoon imagery with as many colours as possible.

Best song: John’s Hey Bulldog is fantastically punchy and aggressive. It was recorded when the Beatles gathered in the studio to film a music video for upcoming single Lady Madonna. Rather than waste the session acting for the camera, they decided to work on a new track while being filmed. I love the sound of the guitars – George’s solo is piercing – and the chaotic ad-libbing at the end works really well too.

Honourable mentions: George’s action-packed It’s All Too Much is quite fun. It’s one of the longest songs the band ever recorded: 6.28. Only Revolution 9, Hey Jude and I Want You (She’s So Heavy) beat it.

Worst song: All Together Now, Paul’s depressingly simplistic sing-along.

Notable outside contributions: Side B is exclusively cues from the film, written by George Martin and recorded by a 41-piece orchestra. Unless you count seeing the movie, this #BeatlesReview process has been the first time I’ve *ever* heard this half of the album.

Alternative version: In 1999, to celebrate 30 years of the movie, an album called Yellow Submarine Songtrack was released. It took the six tracks from side A of the original LP, dumped the instrumental cues, and added nine previously released Beatles songs that had been used in the film. Some minor remixing was done.

Review: The strangest album in the Beatles’ canon – some people understandably discount it, given how little new material it contains. It’s sadly another example of the band’s variable post-Pepper form. Martin’s incidental music is pleasing enough, but I’m afraid to say the movie itself has never done anything for me. I’m immune to its charms.

Six wigwams out of 10.

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