The Beatles had a bit of a thing for under the sea; I always was a fan of Abbey Roads “Octopus’ Garden” but in January 1969 The Beatles released their animated adventure Yellow Submarine. This review looks at the Lego Yellow Submarine model and the re-released vinyl that’s been back in the main vinyl retailers this year.
Let’s do the Lego model first. This model came out in 2016 retailing at £49.99. It is now available new only through the EBay or private sale route. I am not the biggest EBay buyer, but I was lethal on an auction dipping into a sale with thirty seconds left and grabbing this new, sealed, item for just under £100. Given that the average price for this is now £150, it was not a bad deal at all. But, getting it out of the box and those little packages I made up the first Lego model I have put together for over a decade.
These pictures show the attractive book and little booklet. The model is reasonably straightforward to make, and it looks great when completed. The little Beatles Lego men show the Beatles in 1969 style; they can stand on the little plinth or be sat down in the submarine. The submarine (see pictures) looks very close to the album cover, the top lifts off to show the interior and the whole package is very pleasing! Whether it was worth the inflated prices you now have to pay for it is an altogether different question, but as a Beatles fan I do like this piece placed on a shelf, it does look seriously cool!
And now for the album.
Yellow Submarine, released on 17th January 1969, was never considered by the band a great work. They had been generally unenthusiastic about the project, but contractually had to supply four new tracks for the album. When originally released these were: “Only a Northern Song” (originally part of the Pepper recordings), “All Together Now,” “Hey Bulldog” (recorded in February 1968) and “It’s All too Much.”
Originally, side two was filled with George Martin orchestrations, but these have been replaced with a general collection of great tracks from previous albums and sessions that supplement the material. There is quite a bit of Pepper material here, which tends to show why the weak “Only a Northern Song” never made the cut for that superior album. Listening to it now it plays as a very decent Beatles compilation, it gives an album space to “All You Need is Love” and there are some classics in the mix. The Yellow Submarine film was a success in spite of The Beatles lack of involvement and interest. Their throwaway attitude to the project is exhibited in three of the tracks specially for the album, “It’s All Too Much,” for example is definitely too much, and it is one of the weakest tracks the band put out under their name. However, there is one absolute gem, “Hey Bulldog” has a great repeated riff, some wonderfully random lyrics and I was so happy to rediscover it, it was The Beatles doing some straight rock and the whole song kicks. Another bonus is they did a promotional for it that takes you into the world of the recording studio with them. The album is worth the price of admission for this song alone.
Review by Mark Craster-Chambers