I didn't pick up my first copy of The White Album until late 2013. I never knew some of these songs until recently, or the original renditions in some cases. The biggest reason is neither of my parents were into The Beatles. They were a bit too mellow for my dad, and my mom was one of those people that had issues with that one comment. Also for the longest time, the two CD set was way too expensive. I mean, whoever was in charge of coming up with the pricing on The Beatles catalogue, during the time in which Michael Jackson owned it, really needs to be skull fucked. You want to know why Michael Jackson was worth so much money, and could afford to have his own zoo and amusement park? Because it cost almost forty dollars a copy for the white album up until 2009.
The only reason I ended up picking up the album was I needed an original copy of Happiness Is A Warm Gun and it was about time I bought this album, since it was now a decent and respectable price. Not to mention it was fully remastered. According to the back it's also an enhanced CD, but I've never bothered to put it in the computer to see what's on it.
I'm also pretty sure that this album could have been cut down from a double to a single. I really think Lennon was allowed to run too wild on this album, and some of the tracks should have been left for solo projects. I do believe that the fact that it was allowed to be a double album is what leads to so much extra and fluff. At the end I'll give you my list of what would have made the perfect White album, but for now let's get to the songs themselves.
The double album set opens with Back in the U.S.S.R. Now while I understand why people find camp value to this song, I think it's a great opening track that makes you want to get up and boogie. I don't think any other song could have opened up this album better. Also I'd like to point out some of the speed and attack on the guitar leads on this song.
The very first time I ever heard Dear Prudence, was in Across The Universe. Which is the case with a few of the tracks on this album. I do enjoy this song and the musical arrangements that make it both whimsical, and off kilter, and has a very unique depth in the low end.
Interestingly enough Glass Onion is one of those really trippy Beatle's song I didn't discover until my adult years, but before picking up this album. I did some music sharing with one of my bosses and picked up this gem. I love the idea behind the entire song was just to screw with people. "I told you about strawberry fields, / You know the place where nothing is real / Well here's another place you can go / Where everthing flows. / Looking through the bent backed tulips / To see how the other half lives / Looking through a glass onion. / I told you about the walrus and me-man / You know that we're as close as can be-man. / Well here's another clue for you all, / The walrus was Paul. / Standing on the cast iron shore-yeah, / Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet-yeah. / Looking through a glass onion. / Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. / Looking through a glass onion. / I told you about the fool on the hill, / I tell you man he living there still. / Well here's another place you can be, / Listen to me. / Fixing a hole in the ocean / Trying to make a dove-tail joint-yeah / Looking through a glass onion". But, on top of that the music itself is just really well done and arranged.
I like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, but I just don't think I like it enough. It might have something to do with every vocal class in high school I know of did this song. It may have killed it for me.
Seriously Wild Honey Pie? Was this a joke that no one else gets? It may be just about the worst track I have ever heard from the Fab Four.
I'm on the fence with The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill. It's a great song for children, and really I'm surprised it wasn't on some type of kids show growing up.
My favourite song from The Beatles is While My Guitar Gently Weeps. This is George Harrison's masterpiece, and will go down as one of my favourite songs of all time. Between Geogre Harrison and Eric Clapton the guitar in this song is just amazing. Then there`s the lyrics which draw me in everytime. "I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping / While my guitar gently weeps / I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping / Still my guitar gently weeps / I don't know why nobody told you / How to unfold your love / I don't know how someone controlled you / They bought and sold you / I look at the world and I notice it's turning / While my guitar gently weeps / With every mistake we must surely be learning / Still my guitar gently weeps / Well / I don't know how you were diverted / You were perverted too / I don't know how you were inverted / No one alerted you / I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping / While my guitar gently weeps / Look at you all / Still my guitar gently weeps / Oh, oh / Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh / Oh, oh, oh, oh / Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, ooh" The melody and the simple beauty of a very elegant song is just pure mystisism to my ears. Then there's Eric Clapton's solo, oh my God. This is one of those songs that leads me to believe there's more to the universe. This is a track that's tapped into the great cosmic vibe.
I had never heard Happiness Is a Warm Gun in it's original form until I picked up this album. It's pretty much the same as any other version I had heard, at the core, and that's cool. I can also understand why people have wanted to cover this song. This is really a fun track, and I'd personally love to do this one myself. It's just one of those songs that would be a blast. Martha My Dear kicks off the second side of the original vinyl. I think Paul McCartney should have saved this one for a solo album, or better put, should have been forced to keep it for himself. I have nothing against this song, it's decent enough, but it's not what I'd want to hear. It's very McCartney to me.
Take everything I said about the last song and change the name to John Lennon and that's how I feel about I'm So Tired. The difference is I'd enjoy this song on a Lennon album. In fact I'd even enjoy doing my own version of this song.
I know there are people that love Blackbird. I am not one of them. It's a good song, but I don't overly care for it, and at this point in the album I find it only slows things down.
Piggies is a commercial. It's seriously like a hotdog want to be, extravagant royal like sounding commercial. This should have been on a b-side somewhere, but not on here. It's one of the few misses I've ever heard from George Harrison, my favourite.People can say what they want about Ringo and his child like nature, with songs like Octopus's Garden, but Paul wrote more than his fair share of kid like tracks. Rocky Raccoon is the third one on this album, off the top of my head, that sounds like it might be a kids song. However, this track is actually excellent in it's musical arrangements, and even just what's being played.
Speakinging of Ringo Don't Pass Me By, is one of two of Starr's contributions to this album. It's a fun little jaunty tune. It's makes a decent filler, but I'm not entirely sure how much I would have included it on the album.
Why Don't We Do It in the Road? is a much needed pick up, as far as I'm concerned at this point. I like when The Beatles get all heavy with music. The only downside to this track is that it sounds totally undeveloped. It could have gone somewhere, anywhere, and pretty much just stayed with doing it in the middle of the road.
I Will is a ballad. A nice sticky sweet, rots your mouth out ballad.
I enjoy Julia musically. Lyrically, it's so-so. It's a bit more lovey dovey than I care for, and at this point I've had enough of this soft stuff. I also think it should have gone on a Lennon album.
I know and understand that in this day and age Birthday seems a little cheesy, but really it's some just clean and wholesome fun as far as I'm concerned. Also if you remove the lyrics and listen to just the music it's still a well crafted song.
I totally love the blues that comes dripping of Yer Blues. Lennon taps the line and just rides it all the way home, giving out one hell of a passionate sounding performance. There's a small part of me that thinks it's a song that should have been put on a solo album, but I like the dynamic it adds to this album.
Mother Nature's Son, is a decent filler, but I seriously can never remember it from one moment to the next.
I don't mind Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey, and enjoy it on the album, as a very solid album track.
I really dig Sexy Sadie. Not only does it have such a teasing musical under current, but also Lennon's delivery is so believable that you would think Sadie was sitting right in front of him while the song was being recorded.
Forget all the bullshit that came after Helter Skelter. Forget that this song is about a type amusment park slide. Forget how many covers you've heard done of this song, both good and bad. Listen to the way this song thunders out of the speakers, helping give birth to Heavy Metal. This may or may not have been the first song to be credited as being the genesis of Metal, but really it doesn't matter. This song at it's core is just bad ass beyond belief. It also proves that if you make a song heavy enough you can sing about anything.
Long, Long, Long is honestly a very good follow up after Helter Skelter. It's nice and mellow, but without being the suger dripping sweetness, you typically get. In fact if you listened to this one you may be more prone to think it was a Lennon track, instead of being a Harrison tune. Except for the Sitar give away.
Then it's on to the last half of the second record. Which kicks off with a version of a song that I never knew. It would seem that the wild crazy, off the wall version of Revolution came after John left the band. Revolution I is a hippy love in, and seems to be more to the point of the lyrics. This is a much more friendly, hippies sitting up on a hill blowing dandelions and breaking out into a love in. Not the version I'm into, but I totally understand what they were going for here, and it works very well.
Honey Pie just nails home the point to me that some would one should have forced McCartney to release a solo album. His old timey kick, that makes up half the tracks on this album should have been on their own collection, which would have made more sense.
I totally dig Savoy Truffle. This song is Rock through and through. There's just such a sharp and dangerous edge to this track, and yet it somehow leaves you feeling up lifted, even though there are points, where it almost feels like you are being literally hammered.
I love Cry Baby Cry, even though is might be considered a little stock sound for The Beatles. In some ways it's a little cliche and might be considered a little filler. I wanted to make it very clear that most bands could only dream of making filler that's honestly this respectable and awesome. It's one of those songs that I really love, but the last twenty seconds on unrelated music can go.
Revolution 9, 8:22 of album filler. This was an experiment much better suited for a Lennon album. I get what John was going for here, but at the same time I really think that as ahead of it's time as it was, it's really nothing more than a throw away track. If this track had been recorded in this day and age I would have suggested that it be released as a special website download.
The album ends with Good Night, and this is a wonderful Ringo Starr song. While I find it completely out of place, and way too Musical sounding for me I think that it closes the album perfectly. I enjoy this song so much that I made sure to include it in my list below.
As I said I find this album an exercise in excess. I really think that the tracks left off of the list below are better left off on solo albums. While I can understand and respect the need to experiment and perform with different styles, I don't think this album benifitted from much of McCartney's early Americana sounding tracks, or the various sappy sweet tracks.
I can see why many people think this is the album that cemented the end of the band. While Harrison and Starr have some representation, Lennon and McCartney just over dominated the album with songs they really should have just used for themselves.
As for how I would have put the album together, well if I were one of the big wigs in charge the following would have been my final call for the album, right down to the order. I should also mention that there are two more songs I did really want to include on the track list below, but in the end I cut them purely for time constraints.
7/10 - content
7/10 - production
7/10 - personal bias
"Back in the U.S.S.R." McCartney 2:43
"Glass Onion" Lennon 2:17
"Rocky Raccoon" McCartney 3:33
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" Lennon 2:43
"Sexy Sadie" Lennon 3:15
"Savoy Truffle" Harrison 2:54
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Harrison 4:45
"Birthday" McCartney and Lennon 2:42
"Revolution 1" Lennon 4:15
"Cry Baby Cry" Lennon, with McCartney 3:02
"Helter Skelter" McCartney 4:29
"Long, Long, Long" Harrison 3:04
"Good Night" Starr 3:13