Parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.
Album: Yellow Submarine
Three songs: "Hey Bulldog," "It's All Too Much," and "All You Need Is Love"
Comments: Despite its abundance of tracks, I didn't struggle to nail down The White Album's best three in a row. In contrast, there were only six songs to choose from on Yellow Submarine (side two consists of a symphonic score arranged by George Martin), and for a while I found myself unable to commit one way or another. Curious, huh? The problem was that, relatively speaking, the gap in song quality between the album's best and worst track isn't very wide. Though Yellow Submarine is the most negligible record in The Beatles' canon, all of its songs hold their own, ranging from fluffy but solidly enjoyable to inventive and hugely enjoyable. Thus it took me a bit to establish a best-to-worst order. All of this for Yellow Submarine?
I started under the assumption that "All You Need Is Love" was the finest of the lot, but this soon didn't feel right. I think I was mistaking its enduringly iconic status for greatness. In the end, it's little more than pleasant and tuneful (cheeringly so, I should add). Disabused of that notion, I dropped "Love" down a couple of spots and elevated the strutting, rollicking "Hey Bulldog" to the top. After some hemming-and-hawing and tinkering, this is what my list ended up looking like: 1) "Hey Bulldog" 2) "It's All Too Much 3) "All You Need Is Love" 4) "All Together Now" 5) "Only a Northern Song" 6) "Yellow Submarine." Conveniently, the top three come right in a row on the album.
About them ... "Bulldog" is all panache and aplomb, easily one of The Beatles' most fun songs; "It's All Too Much" achieves a deft blend of psychedelia and rock; and "Love" is exactly as I described it above. The rest of the album is either a bit too light and sugary (e.g., the title track and "All Together Now") or clever but awkward (e.g., "Only a Northern Song). But again, there isn't an outright dud among the six, which tripped me up in a way that no previous Beatles album had.