The Beatles released the Yellow Submarine album on January 13, 1969, about seven months after the animated film was released. While the album is credited to the Beatles, only six songs are by the Beatles. The remaining seven songs are score pieces composed by George Martin for the film.
The album opens with “Yellow Submarine,” which was originally released on the Revolver album. This is followed by “Only a Northern Song,” which was written by George Harrison and recorded during the sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and this song definitely has the more psychedelic sound that is associated with the later material by the Beatles. It’s also interesting to note how much the song utilizes a trumpet and a glockenspiel. It’s not necessarily a bad song, but I can see why it ultimately wasn’t included on Sgt. Pepper; it just wouldn’t have quite fit in with the rest of that album.
“All Together Now” is next on Yellow Submarine. This song was originally recorded during the sessions for Magical Mystery Tour, but it wasn’t actually released until it appeared on Yellow Submarine. The song has a lighter sound to it, and almost sounds like a children’s sing-along track. Next is “Hey Bulldog,” which was originally recorded during the filming of the “Lady Madonna” video, and the song made its first appearance on the Yellow Submarine album. Unlike most of the Beatles songs, “Hey Bulldog” revolves around a piano riff. Of the new songs on Yellow Submarine, “Hey Bulldog” is my personal favorite.
Next is “It’s All Too Much,” which was written and sung by George Harrison. The song was originally written and recorded right before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out, and had been scheduled to appear on Magical Mystery Tour; the song was ultimately pushed back and wasn’t released until Yellow Submarine. This song has an extensive use of feedback, and also features George Harrison playing the organ and a bass harmonica. The final Beatles track on Yellow Submarine is “All You Need is Love,” which was originally released as a single in 1967.
The remaining songs on the album are the symphonic pieces by George Martin: “Pepperland,” “Sea of Time,” “Sea of Holes,” “Sea of Monsters,” “March of the Meanies,” “Pepperland Laid Waste,” and “Yellow Submarine in Pepperland.”
It can be really hard to look at Yellow Submarine the same was as other albums by the Beatles, simply due to what it is. It’s not bad for what it is, but it’s definitely not one of the higher ranking albums in the Beatles’ catalog for me. If you’re a Beatles fan who wants to own all the tracks on the albums they were originally released on, then you need to acquire Yellow Submarine in order to get the four new songs that appeared on this release.