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The White Album by The Beatles

A 1968 album by The Beatles

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The White Album Could Have Been the Best Beatles Album of All Time

  • Dec 21, 2008
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When talking about The White Album, it's hard to dismiss how influential that particular album was to music.  You could argue that the birth of "sampling," -- much used as a staple in Hip-Hop -- was found here.   Take "Revolution 9," for example.  It's employment of backward loops, overdubs, and sampling was rampantly used throughout the song.  As you might know, there's a steady diet of this in Hip-Hop songs. 

While we're still in discussion of "Revolution 9,"  most critics would say that was the beginning of John's avante-gard period.  Music -- at least popular forms -- had always been straight-forward and easy to dissect.  "Revolution #9" left no creative stone unturned when it came out.  It's not a song I particulary enjoy, but hey, it's not like it was written for the sole purpose of pleasing me.

I personally hold the White Album in high regard.  However, I think it's short of a masterpiece, based on all the throw-away songs it contains.  It's of my opinion that if you were to cut this double album down to one, you might just be looking at one of the best Beatles albums.

This is the track listing for each of the two albums that's comprise The White Album:

1.  Back in the U.S.S.R.
2.  Dear Prudence (Perhaps my favorite Beatles song of all time.)
3.  Glass Onion
4.  Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
5.  Wild Honey Pie
6.  The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill  (It kind of feels like a Shel Silverstein poem.)
7.  While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8.  Happiness is a Warm Gun
9.  Martha My Dear  (Nobody wants to hear about your sheep dog that passed away, Paul!)
10.  I'm So Tired (A nice update to "I'm Only Sleeping," from their Revolver album.)
11.  Blackbird
12.  Piggies
13.  Roccy Raccoon
14.  Don't Pass Me By
15.  Why Don't We Do it On the Road?
16.  I Will
17.  Julia

2nd Album

1.  Birthday
2.  Yer Blues
3.  Mother Nature's Son
4.  Everybody's Got Something to Hide, Except for Me and My Monkey
5.  Sexy Sadie
6.  Helter Skelter
7.  Long, Long, Long   (It really feels like you're listening to this song for a looooong time.)
8.  Revolution 1  (nice shoobie-doo-wop, slower version of the original)
9.  Honey Pie
10.  Savoy Truffle
11.  Cry Baby Cry (It was sad for me to read John saying that it was a "throw-away" song by him.)
12.  Revolution 9
13.  Goodnight

As you can see, that was a whole mess of songs right there.  Sometimes, a beautiful mess, but definitely convaluted.  

If you could pair these songs down to just one album, here would be my estimated track choices:

The White Album (The New Aesthetic Revision)

Back in the U.S.S.R.  (Mc Cartney)
Dear Prudence  (Lennon)
Glass Onion  (Lennon)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da  (Mc Cartney)
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill  (Lennon)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps  (Harrison)
Happiness is a Warm Gun  (Lennon)
I'm So Tired (Lennon)
Blackbird  (Mc Cartney)
I Will  (Mc Cartney)
Julia  (Lennon)
Birthday  (Mc Cartney)
Mother Nature's Son (Mc Cartney)
Sexy Sadie  (Lennon)
Revolution 1  (Lennon-Mc Cartney)
Cry Baby Cry  (Lennon)
Goodnight  (Starr)

You preserve a nice Lennon-McCartney balance of songs (Lennon has 7 songs, while Mc Cartney has 6), and you throw in the token Harrison tune (really, he deserves more, most of the time, but this is the only one I like on this album), and a Ringo one, for pity's sake.  (Sorry, I was never much of a Ringo fan.)

I left off "Piggies" and "Helter Skelter" because....well, because I don't care for them that much, and perhaps Charles Manson would never have heard them.  (Apparently, those two songs in particular served the impetus for his crazy mind to go ahead and kill the late Cheryl Tate, her unborn baby, and countless of others.)   So, yeah, we don't need those songs.

I included "Back in the U.S.S.R." in the overall tracklist, even though I don't care for it much.  I'll have to hand it to the song, because most people do seem to think highly of it.  Conversely, I really like "Yer Blues," for some reason.  However, it would probably be a dispensible song, in most people's opinions.

So I pared it down to 17 songs -- just as many as the tracks on album one.   I really like this album for containing my favorite Beatle song, and having quite a few others in the upper echelon -- "I'm So Tired," "Sexy Sadie," "Blackbird," and "Cry Baby Cry."

As a Beatle fan, it's hard to debate which of their albums would be the best.  Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (especially being the first documented "concept album" by any band), all deserve merit as being the best among them all.  But, I think having trouble deciding is actually considered a compliment to the band those albums belong to.

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February 12, 2009
My personal favorite albums would probably be REVOLVER and RUBBER SOUL although I do have a soft spot for ABBEY ROAD even though I find myself wishing many of those song fragments had been carried further. Its "Sharon" Tate by the way.
December 21, 2008
Thanks, Peccatorlmpius... Despite some McCartney gems, I was always more of a Lennon fan. You're right about this album being the beginning of different directions being exhibited by the bandmembers. It was the first album to have any non-Beatle recording with them (that honor goes to Billy Preston and Eric Clapton). Also, the first time a Beatle lady-companion was allowed to sit in on the recording session (how ya doin', Yoko?). I think the point I was trying to make, though, was that this double album would've been a lot better had it been pared down to just one album. I obviously don't expect everyone to agree, but I think one thing everyone can agree on is that there's a lot of filler on it that they could care less about. I remember reading that George and John scoffed at Paul's inclusion of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," and considered it one of the weaker songs. I don't mind it at all. I mean, I probably would've liked it better had it not been the theme song for that early 90's show, Life Goes On, but it wasn't bad, imo.
December 21, 2008
Nice review! I too love the material on this album; however, I do not consider it one of their best as a group. This was the first Beatles album where you see that they were all headed in different directions and no longer working very well as a unit.

I don't really care for a lot of McCartney's stuff on this album, but I think this is where Lennon really started coming into his own. "Julia" and "Yer Blues" are both very powerful and emotional and anticipate some of his early solo period.

It is unfortunate that this album is often associated with the Manson family. "Helter Skelter" is probably McCartney's most rockin' song. I wish Bulgiosi had used a different title for his famous book, because it adds a stain to the song that shouldn't be there. It should have made your list, whereas "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" shouldn't have!

Play "Yer Blues" and "Ob-La_Di, Ob-La-Da" back-to-back and you'll see why I think it is such a disjointed album. The partnership was dead and the walrus was Paul . . .
More The White Album reviews
review by . August 09, 2006
posted in Music Matters
In 'Forrest Gump,' Forrest's dying mother famously tells her dying son, "Life is like a box of chocolates--You never know what you'll get." Actually, if life were like a box of chocolates, you'd have a pretty sweet life. And, while listening to 'The Beatles' ('White Album') you have an adequate fulfillment to that extended metaphor. There are plenty of flavors--not just "Savoy Truffle"--and just enjoying the assortment is always an adventure--even if there are selected favorites.    The …
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Last Login: Apr 30, 2009 02:01 AM UTC
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The Beatles: George Harrison (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, violin, organ, bass, tambourine, firebell); John Lennon (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica, saxophone, piano, organ, harmonium, bass, 6-string bass, maracas, tambourine, tape loops); Paul McCartney (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, flute, flugelhorn, piano, Hammond organ, bass, drums, bongos, timpani, percussion); Ringo Starr (vocals, piano, drums, bongos, maracas, castanets, tambourine). Additional personnel includes: Yoko Ono (vocals); Eric Clapton (electric guitar); Mal Evans (trumpet, tambourine); George Martin (piano, harmonium); Chris Thomas (harpsichord, Mellotron); Maureen Starkey, Patti Harrison (background vocals). Recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Trident Studios, London, England between May and October 1968. THE BEATLES (generally known as "The White Album" because of its cover) was a sprawling two-record set, highlighting the distinct personalities in the group as they matured and moved further away from eac...
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