It’ll do for the film, was John Lennon’s wry summation of every subgenius Beatles session around the time the band was working on the music for Yellow Submarine, a project designed to fulfill a contractual obligation. When the lads realized that they didn’t have enough songs for a respectable album side, even after recycling “Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need Is Love,” George Harrison wrote “Only a Northern Song” in an hour and the job was done. Side Two consisted of George Martin’s orchestral arrangements. To everyone’s surprise, the animated movie, released in 1968, actually turned out to be good.
This remixed, remastered soundtrack ditches the orchestral stuff and collects the fifteen midperiod Beatles songs used in the movie. The tunes written specifically for the film (the likes of “Hey Bulldog” and “All Together Now”) have an offhand charm, although obviously they pale next to masterpieces here like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Without the visuals, Yellow Submarine Songtrack essentially amounts to an overview of the Beatles’ psychedelic phase, and, as such, it’s entertaining enough, if somewhat arbitrary.