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THE BEATLES

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.15 | 538 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
2 stars GOSH!

After an album like "Pepper's", the Fab Four need some more time to release their next studio album. It was also a difficult period for the band. Each member working more on an individual basis and the feeling of a "band" being less valid than earlier.

Ringo left the recording sessions for two weeks. Paul did play drums on two tracks (the first two of the album). On "Back In The USSR" George and John also participated in the drumming on the stereo version. It is now famous that during an interview John was asked : "Do you think Ringo is the best rock drummer in the world?" His answer was : "He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!"

When you listen to the opener, "Back In The USSR", the band took up with their debut and rock'n'roll style. The link with the "Beach Boys" is also very obvious. Both bands were respectful of one another and George Martin said that "Pet Sound" (recorded in 66 by the Californian band) was the MAJOR source of inspiration for "Pepper's".

A song like "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" has never been a fave of mine. It is said to be an homage to the growing Jamaican community in the UK and their music (reggae of course). Apart this original fact (the first "white" reggae song?), there is nothing to write home about this.

As on almost each double albums (except "Quadrophenia" IMO) there will be several fillers on this album. Too much on this one. "Wild Honey Pie" is the first of them. The next ones are : "Martha My Dear", the pastoral "Blackbird", "Rocky Racoon" and its Western style, the traditional Ringo one "Don't Pass Me By" (an old song that Ringo wanted to propose as early as 1964). Neither John nor George are featured on this track. And side two goes on on the same mood : "Why Don't We Do it in the Road" is pretty dull as well.

On the second disc, the bluesy "Yer Blues" is unbearable to my ears. Heavy and extremely difficult to digest. Press next. Except of being the longest title of a Fab Four song "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" has little to offer. Another weak rock'n'roll song.

The list is frankly long (almost half the tracks actually) and goes on with "Honey Pie" and "Savoy Truffle". I really wonder what's all this fuss about this album? I have some difficulties with "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill". A song based on a personal experience while the band was in India. Very good verse, but awful (really) chorus.

One of my all-time fave from the band comes next. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". A wonderful song written by George. Each time I listen to it (not mentioning when I see it played on video/DVD)I am either on the verge of tears or I just simply cry, like now.

George did invite Clapton for the phenomenal guitar solo, and during his presence in the studio, the tensions were kind of left aside and it were the best times the band experienced. It is also my absolute fave from this album (but that's not difficult).

"Happiness is a Warm Gun" is a mini-opera on its own (in the vein of what "The Who" had done with "A Quick One, While He's Away" in 1966). But this song is only three minutes long and features lots of theme changes; which is not frequent in such a short song.

Another very good song is "I'm SoTired" written by John at three AM while he was in India, during a "meditation" experience. "Piggies" is a weird song. Not a great one. Only saved by its lyrics which are a vitriol critics of some social classes (comparing them to pigs). I quote : "Have you seen the bigger piggies in their starched white shirts? You will find the bigger piggies, stirring up the dirt. Always have clean shirts to play around in". !

"I Will" is the first song Paul wrote for Linda. It is a charming but short ballad, full of tranquillity. Not great, but after so many weak songs, it comes as a breath of fresh air. The closing number of the first LP is very much on the same mood. Another peaceful ballad which features only Lennon playing acoustic guitar and sing. It is the only Fab Four song to feature John only .

IMO, if you except "Weeps", the second side of "The Beatles" is by far the weakest side of an album the Fab Four ever recorded.

The second LP starts with another rock'n'roll song (just like the first one). But "Birthday" is just average. Vocals (!) particularly are far from being enjoyable.

"The Beatles" was very much influenced with their Indian "philosophical" experience developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who founded and developed the "Transcendental Meditation". It seems that "Mother Natures Son" was inspired by one of its lecture. An unreleased song called "Child Of Nature" was not considered for this album. It will turn out to be "Jealous Guy". They would have been inspired to have that one inserted in this album.

While the second half of the band was leaving India (Paul and Ringo had already left the "master" before the end of the "initiation") John will get to know that the "transcendental guru" made use of his influence to get some sex affair with a disciple. He composed "Sexy Sadie" based on this experience.

Side three is definitely their rockiest one ever. Since there were lots of criticism about McCartney's songwriting (he could "only" write ballads), the noisy "Helter Skelter" is flirting with the metal sound. Not my cup of tea to be honest.

To compensate this, the following song is a sweet ballad written by George. At least a decent song (but no masterpiece, let's be clear). It was the closing track of the third side of this double album. As weak (or even weaker) than side two. The Fab Four are definitely lacking inspiration.

The last side of this album features over twelve minutes dedicated to "Revolution" in two formats. These are the two best moments from this side. The closing "Good Night" which features Ringo on the vocals accompanied by an orchestra is also pleasant. The rest ? Well, forgetable.

My feelings are that it is the most overrated Fab Four album. IMO, it is a collection of sub, sub par "Beatles" songs of which VERY FEW are memorable. Still, it is the best-selling album from the band. This just leaves me speechless. As all the high ratings on PA. I would like to know from where the "too many classics" come from.

This album has of course little to do with prog, whatsoever. George Martin was so P.O. that he left the recording sessions and went on holidays...

When I discovered this album in 1973, I could absolutely not enter into it. When I tried again some twenty-five years later, the same feeling applied. And time hasn't changed my mind now. It is still a MAJOR deception. Two stars. Can't go higher. I am just astonished thatI could wrote such a long review about an album I don't like. Even if it is considered as rubbish for most of you (my review I mean).

ZowieZiggy | 2/5 |

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