Recordings: The Mannerist Phase

When musicologists of the future start rummaging through the LP artifacts of the '60s, they will be able to discern several distinct phases in the stylistic evolution of the Beatles. Rubber Soul (1966) was the last album of their archaic period, blending the best kind of rock naivete with a mastery of simple forms. Sgt. Pepper (1967) represents the Beatles at their classic moment, fusing the pop spirit and an astoundingly eclectic range of sounds into a harrowing but harmonious whole. Their double-disk album called simply The Beatles, which has just been released in the U.S.,* may well be interpreted...

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