Elvis Costello’s Favorite Beatles Albums Weren’t the Band’s Most Successful Albums

Elvis Costello is a major classic rock star who was deeply impacted by The Beatles. During an op-ed for Rolling Stone, he said two of The Beatles’ albums were his favorites: Rubber Soul and Revolver. Here’s why he liked those albums so much — and a look at the Beatles album he said was somewhat “jagged.”

The Beatles near a fireplace
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Elvis Costello tries to pick a favorite song from The Beatles’ albums ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’

Rolling Stone published a list of the greatest artists of all time. In it, they ranked The Beatles as the best of the best. Costello wrote a piece discussing The Beatles’ greatness for the list. While he enjoyed The Beatles’ early bubblegum, Costello felt the band started maturing sometime after releasing their song “Ask Me Why.”

“Then they started to really grow up,” he said. “They went from simple love lyrics to adult stories like ‘Norwegian Wood,’ which spoke of the sour side of love, and on to bigger ideas than you would expect to find in catchy pop lyrics.”

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”

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Afterward, Costello praised the era of The Beatles’ career that produced “Norwegian Wood.” “My absolute favorite albums are Rubber Soul and Revolver,” he said. “When you picked up Revolver, you knew it was something different. Heck, they are wearing sunglasses indoors in the picture on the back of the cover and not even looking at the camera … and the music was so strange and yet so vivid. If I had to pick a favorite song from those albums, it would be ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ … no, ‘Girl’ … no, ‘For No One’ … and so on, and so on….”

Elvis Costello’s less positive view of The Beatles’ album ‘Let It Be’

Costello’s assessment of the album Let It Be was less glowing. “Their breakup album, Let It Be, contains songs both gorgeous and jagged,” he wrote. “I remember going to Leicester Square and seeing the film of Let It Be in 1970. I left with a melancholy feeling.”

“Let It Be”

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How the world reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’

Clearly, Rubber Soul and Revolver were The Beatles’ high point in Costello’s mind. This raises an interesting question: Were they the height of The Beatles’ commercial success in the United States? Rubber Soul and Revolver reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The former remained on the chart for 70 weeks and the latter remained on the chart for 85 weeks. 

These albums were certainly hits but they weren’t as commercially successful as some of The Beatles’ other classic records. For example, the White Album was on the chart for 215 weeks, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were on the chart for 233 weeks, and Abbey Road was on the chart for 410 weeks. While Rubber Soul and Revolver were the Fab Four’s peaks in Costello’s eyes, the public seemed to have a different opinion.

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