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The Beatles - The Beatles CD (album) cover

THE BEATLES

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.15 | 544 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Beatles epic double album, simply titled The Beatles (but also knows as the White Album, mainly because of the bare cover) would prove to the world that the in the studio incarnation of the Beatles were still able to crank out a large amount of songs, and throughout the 30 songs on this album, a wide spectrum of moods are presented in varying forms, from the opening planes and rocking sections of Back in the USSR to the avant-garde sound collage Revolution 9, no idea is left out of this album, and for the most part this album is largely successful, but some parts are a bit drab and dry, as is the case with most double albums. A little history about the making of the album. During the start of the sessions, the tensions between the group rose so high that Ringo went off and quit the band for a rather short period of time (a week or so), leaving Paul to fill in the drum parts for the first few tracks on the album. Luckily, Ringo returned with a brand new drum set garnished with flowers and a sign that said Welcome Back on it. This marked the first time a member of the group actually quit the band. But enough about that and more about what this album has.

The first disc of the set features 17 of the total 30 tracks, and it has some real stand out numbers. Back In the USSR is the first track on the album, and it has a real old Beatle feel to it, with the falsetto harmonies and the standard structure. McCartney's drum performance is great (this is one of the two or three tracks on the album that doesn't feature Ringo) as well as Harrison's great guitar solo. Glass Onion is Lennon's throwback to old songs with lyrical references to Strawberry Fields, the Fool on the Hill, and the Walrus (who turned out to be Paul!). Anyway, the chord progression is rather nice and the snearing vocals from Lennon are great. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is a majestic piece that has some a genuine upbeat feel and some fine vocals from Paul. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is a bit of a children's story piece from Lennon (Yoko does backing vocal on the track) and it has a great fun feel in the vein of Yellow Submarine. While My Guitar Gently Weeps is arguably the best song George Harrison ever wrote during his time with the Beatles. A great a melodic chord progression as well as some stellar vocals and a superb guitar solo from both Harrison and his longtime friend Eric Clapton (at that time of Cream).

Happiness is a Warm Gun was originally three different songs, but they decided to add them together, it has some great riffing in the beginning, a stellar middle section that was very heavy for the Beatles, and a great ending chorus with the phrase happiness is a warm gun repeated over and over again. Blackbird is an acoustic Paul McCartney tune that has some wonderful lyrics and a nice overall beat (he taps his foot to keep in time and it really comes off nicely). Piggies is the second Harrison song on the album, and it's a playful piece that contains a lyrical line from Harrison's mother (what they need's a damn good whacking). Rocky Raccoon is a honky tonk country piece with Paul McCartney doing his best doing some southern narrations between the ragtime piano section in the interludes. Don't Pass Me By would mark the first Ringo penned song since What Goes On (yet Lennon and McCartney both contributed to the piece). It's a nice rocking tune that has a bit of a country edge, similar to that of Rocky Raccoon.

The second disc is comprised of the final 13 tracks of the album and in my opinion has a lot less to offer than the first disc, but there are still some great tracks. Birthday has some nice unison riffing from the guitars and the bass, and the insistent vocal really comes off well. Yer Blues is a nice blues number that has some great riffing and some searing leads from Harrison. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey is a rocker like Birthday, with some stellar riffing in the beginning, and some truly nonsensical lyrics from Lennon, but it's a fantastic piece in the end. Helter Skelter can be considered as the first hard rock piece ever. Originally conceived as a 25 minute jam, they cut it down to five and allowed for a lot of instrumental breaks. It's a superb track with great guitar work overall, and Ringo's famous phrase at the end (I got blisters on me fingers) really ends it well. Revolution 1 is a nice acoustic waltzy piece, but I think it gets better represented as the heavy and distorted single it became, Revolution. Savoy Truffle is another Harrison penned track about Eric Clapton's sweet tooth, and the harmony vocals and the main theme is spectacular. Revolution 9 is the most controversial Beatles piece, it's also their most avant-garde. What it is mainly is a sound collage of random effects and noises, and for the most part I'm not too fond of it, but it shows the true experimental nature of John Lennon and his willingness to try something like atonal composers Edgar Varese. Good Night is a lullaby John wrote for his son Julian and is sang by Ringo accompanied by a full orchestra and really ends the album on a majestic and somber note.

In the end, The White Album is a controversial album that has a lot of stellar tracks, and some good filler in between. Mind you not all the tracks are great, but they have this aura about them that make them all far from terrible. If you're looking for a progressive Beatles record, then look no further, you're reading about one right here. It's an excellent album that I think no fan of early or avant-garde progressive rock should go without. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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