For this week I thought I’d dust another album from 1968 and it’s none other than The Beatles eponymous 9th album “The Beatles” more popularly dubbed “The White Album.” At over 90 minutes, this double album would not only be The Beatles longest album, but also their best selling, going platinum an impressive 19-times. Though noted as a stressful time for The Beatles here they still manage to put together a great album. With lush ballads, hard rockers and the occasional silly song about pigs, Wild Honey Pie and whatever the hell “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” is supposed to mean. There’s a lot of diversity on this album and it’s quite an influential piece of work.
It’s hard to pick any specific notable tracks, as most Beatles albums are filled with nothing but that. We get The Beatles doing their best Chuck Berry/Beach Boys imitation, some bittersweet ballads such as “Happiness is a Warm Gun” or the always popular “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Let us not forget the many fine solo acoustic pieces such as; “Blackbird”, “I Will”, “Mother Nature’s Son” or Lennon’s eerily beautiful “Julia.” There’s a lot of experimentation going on in this album that for the most part works quite well. The only exception in my opinion would be the bizarre avant-garde “Revolution 9” which is hardly even a song. I guess John and Yoko Ono thought it was art but as I’ve heard, “McCartney hated it and George Martin hated it even more.” I can see why, and too me this somewhat weighs down the album, and makes it difficult to judge as a whole.
As well in all of this, I can’t help but feel that “The White Album” wasn’t nearly as polished or as tight as other Beatle albums. It definitely has it’s own kind of charm, but I feel like if it had been tightened up a bit it could of been even better. I’ll bet the sessions had to of been somewhat overwhelming or stressful due to the amount of material or ideas on this album. As we’ve heard “The White Album” was somewhat of a less collaborative effort between the individual members, (with a handful of songs recorded separately from the others) not to mention that Ringo walked out on some sessions being replaced by Paul. (Filling in on drum duties for “Back in the U.S.S.R” and “Dear Prudence”) But then again this does let us see different sides of each member.
Judging “The White Album” is tough for me, I suppose I consider it a near masterpiece, which don’t get me wrong is still great praise. In my experience most double albums have been somewhat tiring due to their length, pacing, or lack of quality songs. Occasionally I’ll listen to a double album and think “Did they need to record this song? Could the album benefit from a few tracks being cut?” But I think for the most part “The White Album” doesn’t really wear off it’s welcome (Maybe it does on “Revolution 9” but aside from that.) Nonetheless we still got another truly original and creative work from the greatest band of all time.