Beatles – Yellow Submarine Songtrack (review)

Beatles – Yellow Submarine Songtrack (Capitol) review Quite possibly the most confusing album in the entire Beatles’ catalog, the Yellow Submarine Songtrack needs a little background: In 1969, the Beatles released an album titled Yellow Submarine, which served as the “soundtrack” to their animated film released that same year.  But, out of the 13 tracks on the original album, only four of them were actually new Beatles songs – “Hey Bulldog,” “All Together Now,” and two George Harrison compositions, “Only a Northern Song,” and “It’s All Too Much.”  The remainder of the record was fleshed out with a pair of older songs (“Yellow Submarine,” and “All You Need is Love”) and the original instrumental score from George Martin.  The truth is, this was, by far, the worst album in the Beatles’ catalog – even the new songs weren’t really that good.

That’s what the Yellow Submarine Songtrack aimed to fix.  By removing the orchestral tracks and replacing them with every song included in the movie (even ones where only a tiny snippet was played), the result is a much-improved album.  An additional nine tracks have been added: “Nowhere Man,” “When I’m Sixty Four,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Think For Yourself,” and “Love You To.”  Since many of these songs are not the ones that get the most airplay on the radio (only three of them are also included on Beatles 1), it makes for an interesting listen.

But, there’s actually another factor that makes the Yellow Submarine Songtrack enticing, even to those who already own everything else.  Many fans have been clamoring for Capitol to remix the Beatles’ entire catalog.  All of the stereo mixes on the current CD’s were done back in the Sixties, at a time when stereo was in it’s infancy – much of these versions feature the vocals shoved into one channel and all the rest of the music into the other, making for an odd listening experience.  For the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, they actually went back to the multi-track sources and remixed the entire album.  The results are stunning – these tracks are warmer, more immediate, and in every instance, a significant improvement over the previous released versions.  “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is breathtaking – it sounds as if John Lennon is in the room with you, while the oboes on “When I’m Sixty Four” are warm like you’ve never heard them before.  “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” and “All You Need is Love” are vast improved, bringing the vocals front and center, and evening out all the instruments.   The results are so good, you’ll find yourself longing for the entire Beatles catalog to receive the same treatment.

Considering the minimal involvement the Beatles had in creating the Yellow Submarine movie, and how they threw together the original soundtrack back in 1969, the Yellow Submarine Songtrack actually helps elevate the entire project into an respectable, enjoyable listen.  –Tony Peters