Friday, September 29

What is the highest-selling Beatles album?

Few bands have completely changed the landscape of popular music quite like The Beatles. Emerging from Liverpool in the early 1960s, the Fab Four challenged the public’s perception of popular music, amassing a legion of devoted fans unlike anyone else before. Beatlemania swept the nation, quickly reaching other areas of the globe, with young fans screaming so loud during concerts that their music was barely audible.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were dedicated to experimenting with new genres and recording techniques, and by the end of the 1960s, they’d released 12 acclaimed studio albums. Their first record, Please Please Me, contained multiple rhythm and blues covers and easily accessible pop songs, like ‘Chains’ and ‘Love Me Do’.

However, within a few years, the band had enough popularity and support to make bolder creative decisions. In 1965, just two years after their debut, The Beatles released Rubber Soul, which marked a turning point in their career. New instruments like the sitar were introduced to their music, and their lyrics were considerably more refined.

According to Harrison, during the recording of Rubber Soul, “everything was blossoming at that time—including us”. The success of this album – their sixth in total – allowed the band to flex their creative muscles even further, resulting in Revolver. Arguably one of their best records, it contains some of their most Eastern-inspired tracks, such as ‘Love You To’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. By this point, The Beatles were not just heartthrobs but established musicians, and their next record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the ultimate signifier.

The record, an early example of a concept album, was released in 1967 and received widespread acclaim. The weight of its impact was monumental, reaching fans across the world of all ages and occupations. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band epitomised the decade, becoming a cornerstone of the psychedelic genre. Moreover, the album’s artwork – a collage of famous faces – was era-defining.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the band’s best-selling record, having shifted over 32 million copies since its release. To put this into perspective, their second best-selling album, Abbey Road, sold 19.9 million copies. However, despite Sgt. Pepper‘s success, several band members weren’t too keen on the record. Most of the album was written by McCartney, who took the creative reigns.

Lennon often spoke out against Sgt. Pepper’s, claiming that he much preferred The White Album. He told Rolling Stone, “I always preferred it to all the other albums, including Pepper, because I thought the music was better. The Pepper myth is bigger, but the music on the White Album is far superior, I think.” Lennon even dished out some vitriolic comments against ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, saying: “I would never even dream of writing something like that.”

Harrison wasn’t a big fan either, calling it “a bit tiring and a bit boring”. Regardless, their listeners didn’t believe this to be the case, and the record remains their most commercially successful.

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