The extensive back-catalogue of The Beatles is the envy of any musician worth their weight in gold. So much so that it has even spawned a brand new docuseries featuring Sir Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin deciphering the work of the Fab Four. Such is their massive list of impressive albums, each one a certified great, most artists would be happy to count just one of their famed LPs as their own. However, the Liverpudlians can count several of the century’s most influential records as their own.
Here, Sir Paul McCartney, arguably the band’s most steadfast and dynamic musical leader, selects his favourite Beatles album of all time. If you know Macca you’ll know that there’s one album that holds more weight for him than any other. If you’re a diehard Beatles fan then you may already know the answer to this one, however, the reason he loved it so much is quite curious.
McCartney remains, to this day, a very active advocate for the work he and the rest of the band did with The Beatles—and rightly so. The musician has become synonymous with the golden peaks of pop music throughout his career. Using his craft for melody and having written some of the world’s most beloved songs it’s a fair assessment that he always will be. A career that spans nearly six decades is a testament to that and one that deserves the acclaim put upon it.
In this revealing 1991 interview, McCartney suggests that he had a love for all the albums he, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr made together. But he did confess that his favourite was the iconic concept album from 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band an album released on 1st June 1967.
The singer revealed it was the concept behind the record that he feels was really engaging and, naturally, because he was meticulously involved in its creation it ranks as his favourite. He said, “I’d pick Sgt. Pepper’s, meself, because I had a lot to do with it.”
He confirmed similarly in an interview from 1990 where he said: “If records had a director within a band, I sort of directed Pepper.” The positive tone of the record affirmed in songs like ‘Getting Better’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, are all down to McCartney and his musical leadership.
After the band’s manager Brian Epstein died, the group needed a focus and Macca provided it. The group were cut adrift from the rest of the rock world as the chosen favourites of the mainstream and equally found little resolution in their pursuit of spiritualism. The members of the band were dangerously close to losing themselves and McCartney reined them in.
Although Macca is joking when he notes his own involvement as the principal reason for picking it as his faovurite, it’s a sentiment that John Lennon reiterated when selecting his own favourite (The White Album) for a 1971 interview, “[Paul] wanted it to be more a group thing, which really means more Paul. So he never liked that album.” Lennon said, “I always preferred it to all the other albums, including Pepper, because I thought the music was better. The Pepper myth is bigger, but the music on the White Album is far superior, I think.”
Back to the below clip and as the smirking McCartney laughs off the idea of egotism, he says: “It wasn’t entirely my idea. But to get us away from being ‘The Beatles’ I had this idea that we should pretend we’re this other group”. He reiterates that he’d prefer not to choose just one of his and the band’s records but “I’d choose that if I had to.”
It’s an album that even for Paul McCartney with so many LPs under his belt remains a mark of pride. “It stands up,” Paul says. “It’s still a very crazy album. It still sounds crazy even now, after all these years. You would think it would have dated… but I don’t think it does.” When a sound and a vision is so singular, so uncompromising and so determined it becomes an immovable object of culture. Sgt. Pepper is certainly that.
It’s hard to argue with such a selection. An album built on a solid concept, furnished with some of the band’s most experimental and eclectic work, all led by the pop sensibilities of Paul McCartney — it’s a masterpiece. One that deserves to be held up against any album of the time as the greatest rock record ever made.
Watch Paul McCartney confirms his favourite The Beatles album of all time, below.