My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Click on Image to view at full size (clipped from Wikipedia.org)
Brief Background: The Beatles (more popularly known as The White Album) was recorded throughout the much of 1968 and was released in November of the same year. This is The Beatles only double album and many of the songs were written during the bands stay in India.
What I think: To me, this is the most interesting Beatles album, because it shows that The Beatles were flawed, they let the pressure of being The Beatles get to them, their hubris starts to show and cracks become apparent in their armor (truly the first weakness was shown on the previously released Magical Mystery Tour album and movie). In turn, they released an amazing yet imperfect album. Some have suggested it may have been better as a single album instead of a double, there by cutting a lot of filler. I don’t see it that way, I don’t know that I could choose tracks to eliminate. “Revolution 9” (which I don’t hate now as much as I did when I was younger, it almost has its place) is the obvious choice, but that’s only nine minutes long still making the album a double.
According to the Wikipedia page on the article, Robert Christgau called the album a “pastiche of musical eexercises, in an obviously negative manner. I believe that statement is true, but I also believe that is the strength of the album. It’s is really 30 unrelated songs that are forced to stand in their own and most of them do. They are a stark departure from the psychedelia of their previous two albums (though they are still very much surreal and at times avant-garde). They are songs of ballads, vaudeville songs, cowboy movie country, heavy rock music and variety show anthems. They don’t fit into genres and this collection the best thing they ever did.
It contains one of my favorite all time songs, and certainly my favorite Beatles song “Dear Prudence”. There is just something about the song and it’s beauty that get me every time. You have “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” which gets panned a lot, but really is a great piece of nonsensical pop music. “Wild Honey Pie”, “Bungalow Bill” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” are a strange trilogy that have always sounded slowed down ever so slightly (anybody else?) and always give me a strange feeling of dread. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “I’m son Tired” are interesting for the dragging verses and exceptionally catchy choruses. Album two has the catchy and heavy “Birthday”, in which Ringo doesn’t drum on, because he had quit the band. McCartney’s “Helter Skelter” and “Hey Jude” (which was recorded during these sessions, but released as a single instead of being placed on the album) where prototypes for two of the 1970’s biggest bands. “Helter Skelter” is seemingly the blue print for Led Zeppelin and Steven Tyler along with Aerosmith owe their whole careers to the second half (screaming parts) of the vocals on “Hey Jude”.
Finally, we have to talk about Revolution 1, which has always confused me… was Lennon for a revolution or against it? It seems that confusion was just the right way to take the song as Lennon wasn’t so sure himself, (even singing in this version “don’t you know that you can count me out, in” and finalizing it as “out” on the single version of Revolution which was recorded after this one.) being purposefully ambiguous. Which is genius to me, the ability to put forth that level of uncertainty in such a powerful song.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? As this is the most divisive of all The Beatles albums, I was afraid it wouldn’t be included on this list. I’m certainly sure it should be here, I think I could talk and write about it more than any other piece of music in existence. It’s certainly my favorite from them!
Rating (Out of 5): 4.5
Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (32/141)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 77%