Don’t have the patience to play through the early Beatles catalog for the sake of unlocking their more experimental pop songs? Have no fear, all the game’s songs are available in Quick Play mode from the get-go. Here are nine mid- to late-period tracks you should play right away, along with the instrument you should use. Obviously, my song selection will betray my biases about which Beatles album is best (“Magical Mystery Tour,” even though it’s not technically an official album, followed by some combination of “Revolver,” the White Album and “Abbey Road”).
Bass on “And Your Bird Can Sing”: The jaunty, playful bass line from this song from “Revolver” might be the biggest beneficiary musically from the remastering done for “The Beatles: Rock Band.” McCartney’s relatively easy-to-play part in this song is buried in the mix on the 1987 CDs, but it’s the perfect augment for one of the best Fab Four guitar songs. This song’s a nice fit for rhythm-game rookies because even if you mangle the bass parts, you still get to hear that amazing guitar and three-part vocal harmony.
Vocal harmonies (two vocalists) on “I Am the Walrus”: Only the most die-hard Beatles fans know the words to this song that John Lennon allegedly wrote with the intention of deliberately confusing fans who obsessed over every lyric. Pick this one and choose the lead vocal, then sit back and wait for your backup singers to get to the “Oompah, oompah stick it in your jumper” part at the end. Somebody’s bound to crack up. Ditto with the barking dog sounds at the end of “Hey Bulldog.”
Drums on “Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows”: Sure, it’s a bit repetitive and not overly challenging, but the drum track from “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which backs this mashup, is the greatest dance beat of all time. If I ever suffer a break with reality and end up repeating the same task, over and over again, there’s a good chance I’d end up playing this beat. Like the beat but don’t want to keep repeating the drum part? Try playing bass, instead.
Guitar on “Revolution”: This is the faster, harder rocking single version of the song, not the slower “Revolution One” from the White Album. The song’s fairly challenging overall, but most people who’ve played a music game or two ought to be able to tackle all the guitar bits on medium. Even better, the medium note chart for this song isn’t nearly as sparse as those found on other tracks.
Anything other than vocals on “Getting Better”: If you and your friends usually play on the easy or medium difficulty settings, but would like to make the jump to hard or expert, this is a great song to do it. Drums, bass and guitar have zeroes on the sliding scale indicating how challenging each part is. Also worth investigating: “Yellow Submarine.”
Guitar or bass on “Helter Skelter”: The hard-driving guitar riff in the chorus of this song from the White Album is another beneficiary of the recent remastering work. If you’re a novice at these band games, play “Helter Skelter” on bass. The chugging, proto-heavy-metal bass line still plays a version of the riff, but if you mess it up, you get to hear your guitarist play it. Pros, stick to the guitar part. It’s your chance to shine.
Vocal harmonies (three vocalists) on “Hello Goodbye”: The addition of three-part harmonies really sets “The Beatles: Rock Band” apart from its peers like “Guitar Hero 5” and “Rock Band 2.” If you’ve got friends over and want to treat the game like a karaoke title, you can totally do that. “Hello Goodbye” is a great place to start. It’s got clear, unforgettable lyrics, all three vocal parts and it’s not as challenging as some of the other three-part harmony songs. (I’m looking at you, “Paperback Writer.”)
Drums on “Get Back”: At the opposite end of the spectrum, “Get Back” is one of the game’s most challenging songs. With one of the toughest drum tracks in the game, it’s got that chugging beat that just won’t quit. This might have been my favorite full-band track.
Guitar on “I Me Mine”: This underrated track from “Let It Be” features George Harrison at the height of his powers with the axe. It’s also one of the songs the game helped me rediscover. It’s easy to forget about the Beatles’ last album (by release date) because “Abbey Road” (the last by recording date) is superior in practically every way. But there’s some decent stuff there.