In the ranking of The Beatles albums – to recap- #13- Yellow Submarine, #12-The Beatles For Sale, #11- Let It Be, #10- With The Beatles #9- Please Please Me, #8- Help! #7- Magical Mystery Tour, #6- A Hard Days Night…. coming in at #- 5- The Beatles- Aka The Beatles White Album.
The White Album has always sounded different to me than other albums by The Beatles. Of course they never repeated themselves after the first couple albums but there is something different here. I didn’t discover The Beatles until it was all over- 1976. I wonder if in late 1968 when this came out anyone hears what I hear- the end. Up to this point The Beatles on their albums sounded like a band. This album has always for the most part sounded like the four Beatles going off and doing their own songs than going into the studio sometimes with all four members, sometimes with two or three- or sometimes only one Beatle doing his song alone. Maybe I’ve read too much about them- to know at this time mid to late 1968 they weren’t happy campers. Even Ringo at one point walked out and became the first to quit. If Ringo was unhappy- the fighting that was going on had to be bad. At times they were getting impatient with each other- getting bored when another member was working on his song. The lives of John and Paul were changing- John had already met Yoko and during the making of the album was divorced from his wife Cynthia and was with Yoko. Paul’s years long relationship with actress Jane Asher had officially ended in July of 1968. George was at a point where his songwriting talent was blooming and he wasn’t going to be happy being held down to a song or two an album [ he would have a song on each of the four sides of this album} At this point most of the fun had gone out of being Beatles. They would stick together another year and recorded Let It Be and Abbey Road. For the longest time I had a habit of thinking- The White Album was 1968- they broke up 1970- a couple year period but actually it was much shorter than that. The White Album was recorded in the summer and fall of 1968- released late November of that year. While the announcement that Paul was leaving The Beatles didn’t come until the spring of 1970- by late summer 1969 it was all but over. August 20, 1969 was the last time all four of The Beatles were together as a group. Abbey Road was finished and released in September and Let It Be had been recorded earlier in the year and to be in the hands of Phil Spector. Each Beatle had gone their own way- kind of a game of chicken as to who would be the bad guy and make the announcement.
Back to The White Album- in my mind I was tempted to put this at #6 and A Hard Day’s Night at #5 I went back and forth on it but I have to go with The White Album. Some would put it a lot higher than #5 I know- I have a few friends who say it is their favorite album. I can see why it would be.
The White Album has 30 songs over 4 sides. Clocks in at 93:35 minutes long. One of the greatest double albums of all times. The Beatles went to India on a retreat with the Maharishi in the spring of 1968 and most of the songs were written there- which they became disillusioned with the Maharishi- one great thing came of it- most of the songs on the album were written while in India.
There were no hit singles from this album because there were no singles released from the album. No doubt there are songs on here that would have been hits but The Beatles as usual had other material to release as singles separate from the album. The album is a real hodgepodge of styles- the most diverse Beatles album. You have rock and roll, folk, pop, experimental avant-garde, blues, music hall. A little of everything. Every song isn’t essential great Beatles – there are short throwaway tunes. A great game over the years is if The White Album had been a single album [as Producer George Martin wanted} what songs would make the single album and what songs would be discarded. I think the throwaway tunes kind of add to the charm of the record. For someone who would love to have in his possession every second of tape that The Beatles ever recorded in the studio- it is great to have the goofy stuff- and yes I have even grown over the years to appreciate most folks most disliked song by The Beatles “Revolution #9.”
Also how about the album cover? Just a year and a half removed from the Sgt. Pepper album cover- which is still mind blowing–they release and album cover that is- all white. and on the front is has in small white letters The Beatles- The album’s title isn’t The White Album- it’s simply The Beatles but how many times have you ever heard anyone ever say “The Beatles- The Beatles album?’ I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone call it that- it’s always The White Album!
So coming in at #5 The Beatles ‘The Beatles”- an album that would be #1 on 99.999% of any other groups albums. Four more to go and four great ones- what order?