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THE BEATLES - THE BEATLES (aka THE WHITE ALBUM)
(1968)

It would be hard to find a more diverse album than this one!

It begins with the fairly conventional, if raucous, 'Back In The USSR'. Then things start to get more offbeat with 'Dear Prudence' and 'Glass Onion', and then onto mainstream pop with the pop classic, 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da'.

George Harrison's tender vocals on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' are sublimely aided by Eric Clapton's mesmerising guitar solo, and is one of George's masterpieces.

'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' continues the rather offbeat, darkly humorous aspect of the album, and then more mainstream pop follows with 'Martha My Dear'. Then we have a bewildering mixture of music from the folksy 'Blackbird' and 'Mother Nature's Song' through the hard rock of 'Helter Skelter' to the meandering maze of apocalyptic sound effects that is 'Revolution 9'. It's only appropriate that Ringo's incongruous, but lovely, lullaby, 'Good Night', should end the album.

There's so much to catch the ear here. 'Birthday' even sounds like Steve Jones has snuck in there as a child prodigy, 'Long, Long, Long' is a strange melancholic track of wistful beauty, and 'Revolution 1' a slow version of the 'Hey Jude' B-side. 'Honey Pie' sounds a disarmingly authentic Vaudeville song, and 'Cry Baby Cry' a scary modern fairytale. 'Rocky Raccoon' is a bar room song, sung by Paul McCartney, straight out of a cowboy movie, and McCartney's vocals are extended like never before, or since, on this LP. 'Sexy Sadie' is a sly dig at the Maharishi, and 'Julia' is John Lennon's haunting, and crushingly moving, lament to his tragic mother. 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road?' works somehow, despite lyrical repetition. Overall, the lyrical content is bolder than anything The Beatles had produced on previous albums. George Harrison supplies some wacky humour via 'Savoy Truffle', and the infamous 'Piggies'. Though only the truly twisted could see this as a call to arms to kill society's elite.

It seems amazing today that the top group around would release a double album, and not issue a single from it, but that was the case with this album.

Whilst there were a lot of 'out there' tracks, it's a fairly 50/50 split with more commercial material. This is an album that, in turns, beguiles, entertains, moves, and even, through some of its remarkably strange sounds, and Lennon's often graphic and acerbic vocals, disturbs.

- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.

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PIL/Public Image Ltd. - Flowers Of Romance
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THE WHITE ALBUM FACTOIDS & MYTHOLOGY

'Dear Prudence' was written in India, to pacify Mia Farrow's sister Prudence, who was not enjoying her trip in India.
Pop artist Richard Hamilton designed 'The White Album' sleeve, and John Kelley took the portrait photos given away with the album.
The stunning guitar work on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' was supplied by George's friend, and then Cream guitarist, Eric Clapton.
'Julia' was written by John for his mother.
'Hey Jude' was originally intended to have been on 'The White Album'.
Yoko Ono and Pattie Harrison sang backing vocals on 'Birthday'.
'The White Album' was originally going to be called 'A Doll's House', which, when thinking about the diversity of the album, makes some kind of sense.
Charles Manson used 'The White Album' to justify his reign of madness.
'What's The New Mary Jane' and 'Not Guilty' were two tracks with intriguing titles which didn't make the final cut re 'The White Album'.
'Don't Pass Me By' was the first Ringo solo composition to be included on a Beatles album.
'Sexy Sadie' was an embittered attack on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

- Paul Rance.


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The Beatles "White Album" T-shirt

 

'The White Album' Track Listing
(All Lennon-McCartney compositions unless otherwise stated)

Side One
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Harrison)
Happiness Is A Warm Gun


Side Two
Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired
Blackbird
Piggies (Harrison)
Rocky Raccoon
Don't Pass Me By (Starkey)
Why Don't We Do It In The Road?
I Will
Julia


Side Three
Birthday
Yer Blues
Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long (Harrison)


Side Four
Revolution 1
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle (Harrison)
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9
Good Night

 

 

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