The Beatles (White Album) (1968)


Disc One
1.Back In The U.S.S.R.
2.Dear Prudence
3.Glass Onion
4.Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
5.Wild Honey Pie
6.The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
7.While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8.Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9.Martha My Dear
10.I'm So Tired
11.Blackbird
12.Piggies
13.Rocky Raccoon
14.Don't Pass Me By
15.Why Don't We Do It In The Road
16.I Will
17.Julia

Disc Two
1.Birthday
2.Yer Blues
3.Mother Nature's Son
4.Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)
5.Sexy Sadie
6.Helter Skelter
7.Long Long Long
8.Revolution 1
9.Honey Pie
10.Savoy Truffle
11.Cry Baby Cry
12.Revolution 9
13.Goodnight

 

To be quite literal, this release was the follow up to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and it seems as though the band did everything to contrast the style of the earlier release. "The White Album", as it became known, is much different in appearance alone to the bombastic extravaggant cover of the former album. When one listens to the music, the contrast seems even more drastic.

For several years, the Beatles had been writing "individual" compositions as opposed to working together on songs as they had in the early days (particularly Lennon and McCartney) yet it's not until this album that the differences seem blatantly obvious. The band just doesn't sound as though they're on the same page throughout the songs, and rather than complimenting one another, they seem to merely serve as session players for each other. It didn't help when disharmony was apparantly settling in within the group - at one point during recording Ringo left the band briefly - and after trying to find the "meaning of life" with the Maharishi several months earlier, the band came to realize that success was definitely not all that it was cracked up to be. Many of the doom and gloom is heard throughout the songs.

It must be noted though, that there are 30 songs on this double album, and many diehards have maintained that if this would have been whittled down to a single album, it would have stood along with their many other materpieces. Of course, you could probably never get a consensus amongst fans as to which songs should be kept and which should be dropped. There's an awful lot of variety here and various members were going through various stages of life within the late sixties hippie culture. As a matter of fact, a large majority of these songs were penned during their Indian retreat with the Maharishi.

McCartney rocks harder than he ever has on several occassions. He leads off each disc with some of his best latter day material - Back in the U.S.S.R. and Birthday. Also worth mentioning are Helter Skelter (about an amusement park slide) and Why Don't We Do It in the Road. His sentimental slower side shows itself well with I Will, Blackbird and the catchy Martha My Dear (about his dog). Depending on your tastes, his ode to the flapper style of the 1920's Honey Pie is also quite charming. Of course, most agree that the sister piece Wild Honey Pie is a throwaway that probably would be best not appearing on here at all. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da is little reggae ditty that it seems fans either love or hate (Lennon always maintained he hated it). The rest of his "portion" of the album depends on the listener's taste, but overall he has more success than failures.

Complimenting his partner's pattern, John Lennon has several great pieces here, and several forgettable ones. Unlike McCartney, most of his material on this album is not known to casual fans. He rocks at his best bluesy style with Yer Blues and has several touchy pieces about his deceased mother(Julia) the now obvious fraudulant Maharishi (Sexy Sadie) and a very sweet lullabye for his song, which closes the album and is sung by Ringo (Goodnight). In the slightly "not quite awful department" are his stabs at gun control The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and Happiness is a Warm Gun. He also tries the avant garde route with Revolution 9 that sounds like a very bad acid trip.

The junior members of the band have various levels of success here as well. Ringo has his first composition as a Beatle - Don't Pass Me By which is actually a very pleasant listen and sounds slightly similar to many of the covers he performed in the earlier days of the group. George Harrison has one incredibly strong piece here, While My Guitar Gently Weeps that features his friend, the young Eric Clapton on guitar. Most of George's other offerings aren't well known and probably don't really deserve to be.

To be brutally honest, this release is known for having some of the band's worst material ever, yet a fair listen will show that there is, in fact, some of the band's best material as well. Perhaps too much good material to only fill a single album, yet not quite enough to fill a double.

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