on August 1, 2005
George Martin (in the "Anthology" DVDs) and others have said that the White Album could/should have been edited down to a single album, which, if done well, would surely have placed it along with Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's as one of the finest albums in the history of pop/rock. I agree, but the downside is that by so doing, you would lose so many of the quirky but wonderful songs that are on the album, songs that don't have "hit" written all over them, but which are nevertheless memorable. Some of the songs we might not have gotten if this had been cut down to a single album might include "Wild Honey Pie," which is nuts, but I love it anyway (Paul showing us he's capable of dementia too, and not just carefully-crafted great pop hits), "Don't Pass Me By," a derivative piece of C&W fluff by Ringo (but which is nevertheless unforgetable; I find myself belting it out for no reason at all while on road trips, much to the consternation of my kids), "Revolution 1" (acoustic version of Lennon's hard-rockin' classic, slowed down a bit, and still great), and "Good Night," written (I'm guessing) by Paul and sung by Ringo in what is arguably the most overproduced song the Beatles ever did. Basically, it sounds like it was recorded in the 'forties, complete with syruppy strings and heavy, roller skating arena reverb. Again, it's strange, but I'm glad it's there.
Maybe the most interesting thing about the White Album is that it shows just how far apart John and Paul had grown, artistically and, as we found out later, in other ways too. A lot of the songs are basically solo projects by either John or Paul (John: "Julia;" "Cry, Baby Cry -- Paul: "Martha my Dear;" "Blackbird," "Rocky Raccoon:), but mostly, I'm struck by both Paul's artistic range -- he shows us once again that he deserves to be included amongst the best pop songwriters in history, with songs like "Back in the USSR," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Blackbird," "I Will," "Mother Nature's Son," and "Honey Pie," but he also shows us he may arguably be the most versatile pop song writer in history too, with "Rocky Raccoon" (which is hilarious), "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" (this too is hilarious, but in a different way; again, Paul draws on the demented part of his personality!), "Birthday" (again, Paul summons up the dementia within; I love it!), and "Helter Skelter," the most racous, crazy, lettin' it all hang out, doing permanent damage to the voice song Paul ever wrote. Fantastic stuff.
John, on the other hand, is not really in Pop mode at all on this album, with a couple of possible exceptions ("Bungalow Bill" might be considered poppish, but with John's wonderfully cynical twist). "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is similarly satirical and brilliant, and includes John rapping (well, at least talking). But he's clearly in a lot of pain here, and laying bare his heart for the world to see; "Yer Blues," is a scary cry for help ("The eagle picks my eye/The worm he licks my bones/I feel so suicidal/Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones/Lonely wanna die/If I ain't dead already/Ooh girl you know the reason why"). Pretty heavy stuff.
The most unusual piece on the album is not a song at all; it's "Revolution #9," which, when I heard it as a teenager (only about thirty years ago; not long, really) I thought was just too strange, and I couldn't appreciate it. But now I appreciate even that; it's pretty avant-garde, experimental stuff, probably the first time a pop group had included "Musique Concrète" (taped sounds manipulated to make art music) on a record. Who's idea was this? I'm curious.
The White Album is by far the most unusual Beatles album of all, but it also covers the widest artistic territory. Well worth having, if you're a Beatles fan.
on January 16, 2004
There are alot of complaints about the filler on this album and that none of the songs are the strongest. But I feel that is not what the Beatles wanted, they weren't concerned with what would make up the strongest album, this was about seeing them for what they were. And I believe you can hear it in the album, you hear each song that the Beatles write reflecting the particular writer's personality. You can hear John's Meaningful lyrics and rockin music but see that he isn't afraid to pick up an acoustic and keep it real simple. You can hear Paul's wonderful music arrangements with somewhat silly lyrics (sadly a divider of Lennon/McCartney)but also that he can still do some good old rock music. You can hear George's social/religious messages in his songs plus with the best track on the album in While My Guitar Gently Weeps his emerging as the dark horse. You even get a glimpse of Ringo in his one song writing effort.
Some little jokes are on here to, like the rockin song Back In The USSR made to make fun of the Beach Boys and Chuck Berry's songs Back in the US. Glass Onion to ease the pain of critics trying to figure out songs on their last releases. And Goodnight which was originally written by John to be a simple bedtime song for his son just played on guitar, but he thought to make fun of Disney and just go overboard with orcastral arrangement (which I personally think is quite funny after growing up with the old Disney stuff).
All in all I gave it four stars because some of the songs could have been left off like Paul granny song Honey Pie and the weirdest effort ever by John Revolution #9. And as for filler songs there is always some people that like them better than all the ones that everybody else seemingly likes, and there are like possibly 4 albums on the planet that don't have any filler so I never saw the issue with that anyway.
on June 7, 2001
1968 was a very significant year in pop & rock's music growth and development. The psychedelic mood that started in 1967 together with the experimentation concepts were evolving into a heavier and more aggressive sound that eventually lead into progressive and hard rock during the 70's. The Beatles contributed to the process of change with this album that consists of a combination of solo and group efforts, and a large variety of different music styles.
Regardless of the different music preferences and the like or dislike for the Beatles' music, the "double white" adds value based on the following concepts. First, it offered a summary of almost every style played during the 60's. (1) Rock'n Roll ("Back To the USSR", "Every Body's Got Something To Hide"...), (2) Heavy Rock ("Helter Skelter", "Birthday"), (3) Electric Blues ("Yer Blues"), (4) Jazz ("Honey Pie"), (5) Folk-Rock (the album's version of "Revolution"), (6) Folk ("Blackbird", "I Will" "Julia", "Rocky Raccoon"), (7) Experimental ("Revolution No 9"), (8) Baroque ("Piggies"), (9) Raw expressions ("Wild Honey Pie", "Why Don't We Do It..."), (10) Heavy Ballads ("Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Dear Prudence", "Sexy Sadie") and, (11) Typical 60's pop (from "Ob-la-di-Ob-la-da", "While My Guitar..." through "Don't Pass Me By"). Second, the sound of the instruments evolved significantly as bass was given a protagonic role ("Dear Prudence" or "Birthday") as opposed to being kept in the back of the tracks. Guitars were used to create a forceful atmosphere ("Helter Skelter", "Every body's Got.."... "Yer Blues"). Third, the Beatles' grew as individual musicians and as a result the instrument switching during the recordings increased, thus George gets to play bass and to invite Clapton into one of his sessions, while Paul plays drums and guitars on more than one track. Many of the tracks reflect the work of a "soloist" or of a soloist with a backing group, and the White Album included more of these solo efforts than any of the Beatles previous material. However, I don't find that these characteristics diminish the quality of the album. "Blackbird" and "I Will" relate more to McCartney's solo music than to the Beatles, but so did "Yesterday", "For No One", and "Fool On the Hill". In addition, "Julia", "Cry Baby Cry" and "Sexy Sadie" were totally Lennon and distant from the Beatles music, but also were tunes like "You've Got To Hide Your...", and "Tomorrow Never Knows". The same cold be said for Harrison's compositions, were "Within You and Without You", "The Inner Light", or "Love You To", reflected more George's mood than the Beatles 60's music.
If you have doubts on the value of the "double white" and its subtleties, let me humbly recommend that you "only" compare this material with the sound of the albums issued during 1967 and 1968. Please abstain from comparing the "Double White Album" with 70's rock groups, contemporary artists, or any other group that emerged and developed after this material was released. I've received comments of listeners who argue that many of the tracks sounded raw, unfinished and disconnected from each other. As a result, some seem to think the "White Album" should have been a one record album instead of a double. Analysing the material I find that there are at least 21 songs that have the same quality standard as the material considered as the group's best. Only 9 tunes out of 30 contained in the album could be questionable. Probably the album should have been a "shorter double album".
My final comment is that the "Double White" was an innovative concept at the time it was released and I remind music lovers that most of the Beatles' music was "perfectly simple", which made it "simply perfect".
Today it is new to many people. However, for me it is a slice of time from my history. As with all great art after one does the best that can be done with the standards, the next step is to go out to left field that threatens to lose followers and may or may not work. Just when you thought The Beatles time had come to take that step, they came out with "The White Album" and proved that no one knows where the classics end and experimental must begin.
I was fortunate enough to obtain one of the scarce copies in 1969. In addition, it seemed funny to be playing "Back In The U.S.S.R." at West Point New York. As for the rest of the album, many reviews look on this as an eclectic collection. On the surface it maybe. Then you can hear and feel the underlying pattern of the Beatles. They are just extending their range and keeping that which makes them unique.
I believe this album is addictive.
Most people look favorably on this album others look at it as a transitional time for the Beatles. Either way they realize the Beatles as any artist have down the universal fundamentals that make good music and have adapted it to a unique style.
The few detractors are usually people that do not understand what goes into music and would benefit from an appreciation class.
True some tracks probably would not be purchased as a single. It is the peril of many albums that they must carry some of the weaker contributions.
Bottom line is that this item is worth the investment.
on May 4, 2005
I was outrageously impressed with other Beatles albums when I first listened to this album, and so I was disappointed with what I heard. It's nothing like the previous or latter music that they made. Many of the songs have an outtake quality to them. I thought at the time that only 5 or so songs were top notch. But on repeated hearings I have grown to appreciate this album. I would agree with another reviewer that this album, along with Abbey Road, did not have as much immediate appeal but soon grows on you.
For instance, I didn't like 'Helter Skelter' for a long time. Now I consider it a really electrifying performance. At first, I never really noticed 'I'm So Tired'. Now the bass guitar accompaniment and the vocal lethargy comes across as brilliant.
Many of the songs have beautiful melodies and harmonies.
'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' demonstrates how great the Beatles functioned as a composing team. The original, as heard on the Anthology, is pretty boring to my ear. Although George had a great melody to act as a backbone for this song, and his/Clapton's guitar melodies are wonderful, listen to McCartney's intro and contributions from the others to make this a real masterwork. (George Harrison himself credited the intro to McCartney, by the way. Don't think that McCartney was a non-participant in those songs that weren't his).
This is a fantastic album.
on July 19, 2004
The Beatles left very deep footprints, and, love them or hate them, they are a cultural force to be reckoned with. The White Album represents both the peak of their art and the nadir of their personal relationships within the group (only to be surpassed by the gruesome Let It Be sessions...). Less of a group effort, each of Fabs here showcase their individual songwriting and singing talents, using the others as session players. They decisively destroy the image of the four happy pop clones of 1964. It was a liberating move for the musicians, but it can also be a jarring experience for the listener. It is a massive, sprawling masterwork that occasionally verges on complete collapse. The Beatles were never afraid to push the envelope to breaking point and beyond: The White Album is a case-in-point. As a historical document, The White Album can be heard as the "come down" from the Summer of Love, a testament to the idealism and disillusion (and dissipation) of 1968 (the year that saw the murder of both Martin Luther King and the death of the dream of peace, both within the US and internationally with the escalation of the Vietnam War). The minimalist cover artwork can be seen as the inevitable antidote to the colorful and florid excesses of Flower Power fashion. The White Album is a historical moment preserved in song. Matching the anguish and uncertainty of the era is the anguish and schizophrenia of the Beatles music on this record.
Many (including producer George Martin) have complained that the album is too long and includes tracks of inferior quality, that it could have been boiled down to a single album of solid gold. Honestly, there is something here to offend everybody. While most people (including Paul McCartney) find Revolution #9 unlistenable, it was a major achievement of experimental electronica at the time, and it bears repeated listening (but not when you're in an Obla-di Obla-da mood!). You may find yourself consistently skipping over several tracks, like Why Don't We Do It in the Road?, Wild Honey Pie, Good Night, Don't Pass Me By because they're all put-ons.
I find myself skipping over some tracks, like Yer Blues, not because it's a poorly written tune, but because it's just too emotionally painful, which is actually an acknowledgement of Lennon's success as an artist. He was in pain, and he conveyed it all too clearly. Helter Skelter, on the other hand, is completely empty of meaning, yet is absolutely hair-raising, perhaps the most terrifying pop song ever (after I Am the Walrus). The frantic clanging of Everybody's Got Something to Hide matches perfectly with Lennon's manic mood and mystical mind at the time. He describes the most profound LSD and/or meditation experience - "Your outside is in/when your inside is out" - but the way he sings it, it sounds like he's being torn apart by the experience, making the song both inspiring and frightening. I'm So Tired is such an effective evocation of apathy, insomnia, and frustration that it also makes my hair stand on end, esp. when he screams "I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind!" That song has fit into the soundtrack of my life alarmingly well. In short, some people might be put off by The White Album because it is too emotionally charged and artistically adventurous. It wasn't designed as musical wallpaper and refuses to be reduced to that. You have to be prepared to listen to The White Album. When you are, it's an exhilirating experience. If not, it might make you want to puke.
The contrast in mood between the tracks is most jarring. Lennon snarls at his fans in Glass Onion, layers sarcasm on gun lovers in Happiness is a Warm Gun, pointedly berates the Left in Revolution #1, savagely attacks the Maharishi in Sexy Sadie, wails of suicide in Yer Blues. In contrast, McCarney offers some of his mildest, sweetest songs - I Will, Blackbird, and Mother Nature's Son, as well as the syrupy, music hall kitsch of Honey Pie, Martha My Dear, and Rocky Raccoon. None of McCartney's tracks here are "deep," but if you're in the mood for some tasty musical candies, these fit the bill quite nicely. Obladi Oblada is perhaps the best of the fluffy treats here. If this is your first exposure to the Beatles, you might well wonder how the group could contain such dramatic differences in temperament. (In fact, it couldn't, and would soon collapse because of those very differences in personality).
The classic tunes of this collection certainly more than justify the purchase of the two-disc set. John offers the stunning ode to his lost mother (and to Yoko) entitled Julia. George Harrison scores perhaps his greatest triumph with While My Guitar Gently Weeps (featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar). Lennon's Dear Prudence is another touching masterpiece, written to order to induce Prudence Farrow to quit hiding out in her bungalow at Rishikesh. Ultimately, The White Album has something to delight everyone. If you prefer to avoid some tracks, you are among the majority of listeners. That's par for The White Album course. Once again, the inconsistency of the album accurately portrays the mind of each of the Beatles at the time as well as the larger cultural environment of 1968. It is required listening for anyone interested in 20th c. pop music. But be forewarned, it's not a smooth ride.
on July 15, 2004
This album took the feat of taking a whole year of violence, love, power, and change and turned it into an epic double album. In this album you see a raw Beatles never seen before. you see the cracks in the amour, but if you look into those cracks you see four extremly talented young men who are putting themselves out there with no fear. Featuring John's pain influenced lyrics such as Yer Blues, Revolution, and I'm So Tired to his thoughtful Julia, Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey, and Glass Onoin.
Paul comes out with some of his best love songs he's done to this date (I Will, Honey Pie, and Blackbird). But also shows he can get down to some rock with songs like Helter Skelter and Why Don't we do it in the Road?
George really comes out with his best songs on this album (maybe all the meditation?) with the sad and thoughtful While my Guitar Gently Weeps to the social commentary of the rich in Piggies. He also shows his hand at making fun sing-a-long songs such as Savory Truffle and the haunting Long, Long, Long.
And guess what, even Ringo made a song for this one. Don't Pass Me By is not the best Beatle song, but it's a start.
Overall this album conjers up a feeling an album has never brought up before. From Back in the U.S.S.R. to the excellent Happiness is a Warm Gun, the craziness of Revolution 9, and finally leaving you at peace with Good Night you have turned it off a more imformed person. A better person.
on July 12, 2004
I will be the first to admit that I am not an avid beatles fan. I certainly appreciate their music and contribution to that wonderful institution known as rock and roll. However, I am not of the school of thought that they are somehow above criticism, or (as a natural progression) that everything they touched turned to gold. No band has ever had a career like that, and the beatles are no exception.
The main problem with the White Album, as I see it, is the narcotics the band was taking at the time of recording. There is no other explanation for the existence of songs such as "Bungalow Bill", "Why Don't We Do It In the Road", and "Everybody's Got Something to Hide", to cite a few examples.
As a friend of mine explained to me, within these two discs resides one solid disc of tunes, which I can accept. "Back in the USSR", "I Will", While My Guitar gently Weeps" and others are among the best of the band's career, and showcase each band memeber's strengths (my personal feelings about Ringo aside...) Pared down to one disc, the White Album would rank as among the finest releases of the Beatles career.
But the album is weighed down by the songs that *wouldn't* make it onto the "one disc", and it suffers tremendously as a result. Too many songs are experimental to the point of being unlistenable, drug-induced, or simply nonsensical. I know some people claim that each song has a greater meaning, they all fit together with a theme the album has, etc. Well, I don't hear that. i find myself hitting the "skip" button far too many times to consider this album an all-time classic.
Luckily, the band released better material (by way of Let It Be--the original version, not the crap stripped-down version McCartney just threw out there) before they called it a day. The White Album has it's moments, but it's not one of the all-time greatest, not even by them.
on June 14, 2004
This is the strangest album The Beatles ever made.I don't mean that in a critical way or as a put down.The bizarre sound of this album in general,is what makes it special.Listening to it is like going on a phychedelic joy ride,an adventure.Obla Di Obla Da,While My Guitar Gently Weeps,Blackbird,I Will,and Birthday are probably the most familiar tunes.I believe this was also the band's first album to feature the Apple label.I'm So Tired was apparently based on the pressure John had been under,having to decide whether he should divorce his wife Cynthia to marry Yoko Ono.Don't Pass Me By was in fact the first song that Ringo had written and composed all on his own.Then we have Revolution 1,which is the first version of John's hit song Revolution.You can definetly tell these two versions apart.Revolution 9,the second last track on the album,is in no relation to the Revolution song at all.It's not even a song.What it is,is a whole variety of sound effects mixed together.Practically the wierdest part of the whole album.The final track titled Good Night is a beautiful song with a sound quite unlike any other track on the album somehow.In fact,to me it sounds like something out of a Walt Disney cartoon.Still,this is among my favourite Beatles albums.
on May 11, 2004
The Beatles string of groundbreaking hit albums extended into 1968 with "The Beatles", a double album more commonly referred to as "The White Album". It spent 9 weeks at number one and sold millions of copies. The first Batles double album, it is regarded as the greatest album ever made.
Disc 1 begins with the sonic whirl of "Back In The USSR", Paul's hard rock answer to The Beach Boys' "California Girls". Next comes John's soft but powerful "Dear Prudence", which features stunning acoutic guitar work. Lennon's "Glass Onion" is filled with the acid - tongued humor much of his later work included, and makes sly referrences to "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am The Walrus". Next comes Paul's bouncy singalong "Ob - La - Di, Ob - La - Da", my faorite song on both disks. "Wild Honey Pie" and "The Continuing Adventures Of Bungalow Bill" are album filler. Next comes George Harrison's sweeping epic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", featuring a searing Eric Clapton guitar solo. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is an odd John concoction; eerie, but it works. "Martha My Dear" is Macca's endearing classic about his dog. "I'm So Tired" is John at his acerbic best. "Blackbird" is a swift and touching Paul composition, essentially a solo number. "Piggies" is a hauntingly funny George composition that took on new meaning after the Manson Murders. "Rocky Raccoon" is a Dylan - style folk number written and sung (in a loud sorytelling voice) by Paul. "Don't Pass Me By" is Ringo's stunning debut composition. Most people hate it, but I like it, especially the bouncy and exhuberant carousel - style organ intro. "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" is nothing more than a song about having sex in the middle of the road. "I Will" is short but beautiful. "Julia" is John's mournfullybeautiful song about his mother.
Disc 2 begins with another classic rocker, "Birthday", which will have you dancing around the room. "Yer Blues" is a morbid blues written by John, and "Mother Nature's Son" is a nice solo Paul composition that is about man's relationship with nature. "Everybody's Got Something To Hid Except Me And My Monkey" is another great rocker. "Sexy Sadie" is a nice John number, mellow and soft. Next comes Paul's infamous "Helter Skelter". Sort of a recursor to heavy metal music, it starts off with a hypnotic guitar solo and ends with Ringo yelling, "I got blisters on my fingers". "Long Long While" is an elegant George composition. "Revolution 1" is just an acoustic version of the hit sinle "Revolution", the b - side of "Hey Jude"(which should have been includedon this album) and a number 12 hit on The Billboard Hot 100. "Hony Pie" is a uplifting 1930s' number by Paul. "Savoy Truffle" a hunger - inducing George composition with an nfectious beat. "Cry Baby Cry" is a good John number. "Revolution 9" is an eerie collection of sounds, not really a song. But I think it's a groundbreaking track and a masterpiece. "Good Night" is a beautiful lullaby written by John and sung by Ringo.
This is a great album that I think everybody (emphasis on everybody) should own. Buy it if you don't already have it. You'll be sorry if you don't listen to me!