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The Beatles - The Beatles [Aka: The White Album] CD (album) cover

THE BEATLES [AKA: THE WHITE ALBUM]

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.15 | 986 ratings

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Axel Dyberg
4 stars The White Album was way ahead of it's time. The old Beatles sound got thrown out the window, and instead they created something new. And The White Album is indeed a love or hate syndrome between fans, but to me, it's always been love.

''Back In The U.S.S.R.'' is the album opener. Paul McCartney delivers dark vocals, while the great piano keeps up in the background. The guitar is great here, with perfect distortion. Paul McCartney also played the drums here, since Ringo had walked out of the studio, disbanding from the band. He soon came back though. At 01.23 a great guitar solo kicks in, delivered to us by none other than George Harrisson. The chorus comes in again. And then another catchy sing-a-long verse. The real golden part of the song comes at 02.04, when George tremolo-picks high notes while Paul screams out the words. Absolutely great. Again the chorus comes in, with the same nice guitar as before. The song ends soon thereafter, leaving place to the beautiful...

''Dear Prudence'', which has the most beautiful acoustic guitar work on this album. The strings are plucked hard, yet they sound mellow, and John's bright vocals when he sings the first ''Dear Prudence!'' reminds me of why I wanted every Beatles album that was ever created. The bass joins soon after, and John sings ''Won't you come out to play?''. This song was written for Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, because she was also at the camp where the Beatles recorded the album. She hardly came out of her tent, and meditated for most of the days there. The absolutely outstanding chorus comes, where Ringo begins banging the drums, and with some of John's finest lyrics; ''The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful, and so are you, dear Prudence; won't you come out to play?''. A new verse comes again, with the acoustic guitar still in the lead, now with Ringo following, and expressive bass by Paul. Still great vocals from John. Vocal harmonies delivered by the rest of the Beatles also join. More of the beuatiful chorus comes again, now George comes in with the distorted guitar, and somehow makes the mood rise, and not fall (You'd think one of Beatles finest songs would be ruined by distortion. It won't.) with great notes swirling over the drumming. The band all sing ''Look around, 'round, 'round, 'round etc.'' throughout this section, and eventually end in great vocals. The verse comes again, and the distorted guitar follows along. After the once again brilliant chorus, Ringo comes in with technical drumming, and a new section is given birth. George goes mad on the guitar, and so does Ringo on the drums. After this, the chorus comes in again, and the song finally ends on high notes by John on the guitar. Beautiful. The follow up is...

''Glass Onion''. What a great song! The song goes into action right from the start, with awesome vocals by John, who really shows off his dynamic vocals through going from Dear Prudence to this. The drumming is great, and the bass is incredible! Paul does an outstanding job really. The whole riff is so damn catchy that you'll find yourself nodding your head to the drumline. String ensembles join this great song, which has some really smart lyrics. One of the most essential lines ever written by Lennon is in here. It goes ''And here's another clue for you all; the walrus was Paul!'', which made the Paul Is Dead materialists go, as quoted by Paul, ''crackers because everyone thought John was the walrus.''. The chorus kicks in again, followed by an awesome section where John screams ''Oh yeah!'' several times. Another verse, with more awesome bass guitar playing kicks in. After this section, another chorus comes in, and it all ends abruptly followed directly by creepy strings playing some chords, while the bass plays the same line over and over again. Not the best ending, but it does fit the song's mood.

''Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da'' follows up. This is perhaps the song on this album that sounds most like the old Beatles. Oh well, on with the song. It introduces us to it with honky-tonk piano, and soon heavy bass comes in. And so does the drums. Paul kicks in with vocals, which are really great. The chorus follows very soon after, with the bass playing being absolutely awesome. The verse comes again, followed by another chorus. Now Yoko Ono (Yuck, I hate that woman) joins on vocals in the chorus, and a bridge kicks in after that, with great horn playing. Another verse kicks in, perhaps the best on the song, with catchy vocals, and drum fills by Ringo with deep tom playing. The next chorus is also great, with Paul screaming the vocals. The bridge kicks in again, and soon after a new verse comes in. The piano plays fills here and there, and another chorus. The song ends soon afterwards. Now comes...

''Wild Honey Pie''. It's 52 seconds long, with absolutely nuts guitar playing. So are the vocals going ''HONEY PIEEEE!!! HONEY PIEEEE!!!''. The crazy guitar lines change a bit, and the new ''verse'' has a chord change or two. After that, you can hear ''I love you!!! Honey Pie!''. Althoug people seem to think that the amazing improvisation from the intro of Bungalow Bill is the ''ending'' of this song, they're mistaken. It's a funny song, but not at all worth listening to if you're dead serious. This song actually has really great sound quality.

''The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill'' has, as stated previously, absolutely amazing guitar in the intro. It's really western-like, and George plays it really, really, I repeat REALLY fast. Great intro. After the quiet guitar intro the childish chorus comes in place, which is actually great. The tempo changes greatly, to the slow, and awesome verse where the vocals are delivered to us by trusty John Lennon. Very fitting guitar playing here. The tempo then changes, almost a bizzare tempo change, to the chorus. Again, pretty nifty drumming, but it's a bit childish. Now the verse comes in again, with the chorus coming shortly thereafter. This leads over to a new verse, where Yoko Ono gets her share of the singing, with her and John singing together. The chorus comes in again, with Yoko joining along. The drumming get's changed a bit, to keep things interesting. This goes on for the rest of the song, until there is only the horn left, playing the chorus melody while you hear an audience clapping their hands to the outro. And now finally, we get our hands on the brilliant...

''While My Guitar Gently Weeps''. The solos are all played by Eric Clapton unfortunately, since George wanted to releif himself from playing lead, and for once play only rhythm and vocals. The song has so great piano that you won't know it until you hear it. The vocals are perfection, and the lyrics show that George should've written more. The awesome verse is followed by Ringo's fast drumming. The distorted guitar plays fills all the time, and soon the chorus comes in, with an organ joining along. The guitar follows along greatly. Another awesome verse comes into play, and new, great guitar fills also kick in. The lyrics are again great. Now comes a small guitar solo, with a lot of vibrato and bends used, and this is without a doubt one of George's best moments. The solo leads nicely into the chorus section with George again delivering the vocals greatly. And again, we get to hear that amazing verse, now with even more emotional vocals. The piano is again great here. Another guitar solo kicks in, with lots and lots of vibrato, and shows us that Clapton was really experimental, and George an underrated person as rhythm player. The solo rises from low to very high pitched notes, which is really awesome. The song unfortunately fades out. 10/10 right there! The follow-up is...

''Happiness Is A Warm Gun''. The songs intro is kind of boring, but soon the guitar gets distorted and the drumming kicks in. The bass is heavy and John's vocals are great; very clean. The lyrics are great. After this very short verse, a new section kicks in (The Beatles actually took two unfinished songs and put them together; A lá A Day In The Life.) where they put heavy use of the vibrato. This is quite a heavy section, with the distorted guitars playing very low notes. The bass makes it great to. New lyrics come in, which are quite strange. Then a cool fast section comes in with great guitar work by George. And now the songs climax, the section where they all sing ''Happiness!!! Is a warm gun mama!!!''. It's so cathcy and funky, really cool section. Paul sings a really high note as well, yet stays in key. The song ends after that. Get ready for...

''Martha My Dear'' has a cool piano intro, but this song sounds like something you'd hear out of a 30's musical. So it get's boring every now and there during the fist verse. The vocals are really good though. After that comes a great bridge, with horns joining. And then the gold section; the chorus. It has catchy drumming and guitar work, and suberb vocals. The song returns to the first verse, however the horns play the vocal section this time around. Then the bridge comes again, with new vocals. Again, great horn playing. The verse comes again, now with the vocals by Sir Paul himself. The song ends after that. And now here's...

''I'm So Tired''. What a great song! Really, it begins with a guitar going up three notes and then the cool verse kicks in. John's vocals are semi-slurry and almost spoken, which fits the song like a glove. The chords used in the verse are really great, and overall, just a very, very good riff. Another verse comes around, and John screams a bit of the vocal line, and then the coolest thing in the song; the chorus! Suberb drumming by Ringo, and absolutely awesome guitar work by George and John. So are the vocals, really cool. Then those three intro notes come around again, and another great verse kicks in again. With quite funny lyrics. They go ''Although I'm so tired, I'll have another ciggarette. And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid get!''. Then comes that stunning chorus again, with awesome guitar work, and John's low pitched vocals. The drumming is even better this time, and the last line is repeated three times. After that the song ends with nonsense being spoken. Do you know what you should do? Reverse it. Creepy ey? This leads into...

''Blackbird'' which is The White Album's answer to Help!'s ''Yesterday''. Suberb acoustic guitar work by Paul, and he keeps the beat with his foot, which gives this beautiful song a great mood. After the beautiful verse, a bridge takes place, again very beautiful. The guitar work is great, I must say. After the bridge some acoustic chords are played perfectly, and the bridge is played again. After that there are chords again. Some birds are heard, and the acoustic builds up pace again. After that a new beautiful verse comes into play, with very nice lyrics. It ends with birds whistling.

''Piggies'' is a song I've never really liked. Written by George, it's really a downstep after the simply amazing While My Guitar Weeps. It's a very childish song, but it has pretty cool guitar work I guess. If you avoid the vocals, it's a good song. But the childish vocals turn me down. And thus I find it quite boring. The outro strings are however pretty cool.

''Rocky Raccoon'' follows, with a kickass guitar intro. Paul McCartney does his best to sound like a southern-states American, to give this song the western feeling. The vocals are pretty strange at first, but then they return to normal Paul vocals. It's great lyrics, and Paul sings them perfectly. The guitar is great as well, with a little Blackbird feeling to it. The bass is quite heavy too. Ringo joins on the drums soon, and some great harmonica playing kicks in. The lyrics are a story, so listen closely. After that, a bridge comes in with great honky-tonk piano playing and Paul following with his vocals, and soon there is a new verse. Some accordion can be heard here, really good. The bridge comes in again, and damn it is catchy! After that the song ends. And we are introduced to...

''Don't Pass Me By'' which is Ringo's first composition. It starts out with a really cool piano intro, and soon goes ''Ringo'' with the country like feel over the song. The vocals are quite good, especially for being Ringo. The verse is really great, but then that annoying violin comes in, however, the great verse shines over it. The chorus is great too, and it's really country like, and so are the vocals. Another verse plays along with the cool piano still ripping it up in the background. The fun chorus comes in again, and somehow the violin gets less annoying. Then comes another chorus, and from there on, the song goes on until it's end.

''Why Don't We Do It In The Road''. Why is this song so damn great? It opens up with really cool percussion, and then the absolutely awesome verse comes in. The cool piano, the ride cymbal playing and Paul screaming out the vocals; you just have to love this song. The lyrics are... absolutely awesome. They go ''Why don't we d-d-do it in the road? Why don't we do it in the road? Why don't we do it in the road? Why don't we do it in the road? No one will be watching us! Why don't we do it in the road?''. And that's repeated every verse. Yet's it's so bloody catchy and awesome. The vocals get more crazy as the song progresses. A funny note is at 01.09 when Paul McCartney sounds just like Mr. Mackey from Southpark when singing, very funny. And the song continues with the same verse until 01.41 where it ends.

''I Will'' is a great song, with good vocals from Paul McCartney. It has great acoustic guitar playing, and the drumming is quite cool. The chorus is beautiful, really reminds you of one of those mainstream ballads. Another suberb verse comes in, with more acoustic playing. Unfortunately the song is very short, and ends at 01.46. Oh well.

''Julia'' is a spectacular ending to the first disc of this double album. The song begins with John singing sad vocals, you can really hear they're from his heart. He's singing about his mother. The guitar playing is amazing even though it's not complex. A very sad song, but it's very good. Everytime John sings ''Julia'' I get goosebumps down my spine. His vocals are so beautiful in this song, really. At 01.01 a small bridge comes into play. John sings ''Julia... Julia'' again while his guitar accompanies him. Fantastic. Again, another sad verse comes in. And John continues with this beautiful song. It ends on the word ''Julia'' and John hitting the final chord softly.

Now we're done with CD 1. Get ready for the second disc!

''Birthday'' is the fast paced, distorted opener for the second disc. Loud vocals overlapping the guitars and heavy drumming makes for a first verse, and then a small drum intermission (Not a solo though) comes, where Ringo plays rather fast; at least for being Ringo. This goes on for a while (8 bars I think) and a small bridge comes in, which is pretty neat. Soon the weird chorus kicks in where Paul screams ''I WOULD LIKE YOU TO DANCE!!!'' and Yoko sings ''Birthday''. After that the guitars and the piano work together, and eventually the chorus comes again, with the rather cool piano. It eventually ends after that. Great opener. This leads into...

''Yer Blues''. This is many fans favourite song, being very bluesy. It starts out with a ''2... 3...'' and then John screams out vocals while playing bluesy guitar riffs, and Ringo bashing the cymbals like there's no tomorrow. Quite rare for this song is that Ringo plays a lot of fills, and that's something I like. The first is very cool, as stated, bluesy (Thus the title of the song). Another verse kicks in, where John screams even louder, and after that an awesome bridge comes. Some technical drumming by Ringo makes another verse kick in. Another bridge pops up after that, with the guitar still playing hard. The drumming changes and so does the guitar, but not the vocals. At 02.28 a cool guitar solo kicks in, very simple but pretty nifty and cool. The notes go from very low to almost extremely high, and a little bit inbetween. Immediatly after the guitar solo a heavy fill by Ringo is played and the song changes riff and drumming again; showing that The Beatles were contributing to progressive rock as they often changed time signatures and rhythms in songs. The vocals are incredibly quiet now, and the guitar easily overpowers the rest of the instruments. The song slowly fades out after this. Really great song.

''Mother Nature's Son'' is short but sweet, with beautiful guitar playing and vocals. The first verse is of course great, and the guitar playing is great too. Some horns soon join, and makes it even more beautiful, with the vocals still going strong. After a middle section, another verse comes to us, just like the first one; great. The horns become more and more intensive now, and after that the song ends beautifully.

''Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey'' is a strange but cool song. It starts with distorted guitars, and the drumming goes from simple to fast, while John sings some vocals. This is seen as the first verse, however almost all verses sound the same. There is really no elements in this song that separate the verse from the chorus, but nevermind. The song is overall pretty cool, but not a strong point of the album. Quite strange lyrics.

''Sexy Sadie'' opens up with great piano playing, and heavy drumming. John soon sings the vocals, while the bass playing is great too. Let me tell you that the vocals are quite beautiful in this one, nonetheless a strange song. I really, really like the chorus here. Superb. And now another verse comes in, with the piano again being quite cool. And now for one more chorus. Incredible. The vocal harmonies are great here as well. A small guitar solo comes in after that, but it doesn't get interesting until George hits the higher notes and bends them. The song fades out after that.

''Helter Skelter''. Oh God yes. This crazy, chaotic and disturbing song is one of my favourites from this album. It starts up with heavy guitar playing, and Paul screams like never before, and the heavy bass and drum lines soon join in a crazy first verse that blows me away, as Paul's vocals are so heavy here! Soon the absolutely magnificent chorus kicks in, with the guitar playing being rather bluesy, however still keeping the heavy metal feeling through Paul's crazed out vocals. Ringo's tom toms sound very heavy in this number too, really great. A crazy guitar bend follows, and the song changes to verse again. Paul starts with the chaotic vocals once more, and the vocal harmonies in the background make it even more crazy. Another cool chorus hops in, and one more of those crazy guitar bends are heard, followed by incredible bass playing. A small, small guitar solo is heard. The songs intro is heard again, however the guitar is overpowered by the heavy bass. In this next verse there are some guitar fills. Another chorus is delivered to us, and the song goes into the instrumental section. Crazy bass playing and guitar playing like nothing else strikes us, and the guitars make white noise after that. Soon after, crazy horn playing with heavy drumming is heard, and the song continues on it's chaotic trip. The horn playing is mad here and the song fades out slowly. Too bad. No wait! The song comes up again, sort of like Strawberry Fields Forever. Some more chaos is fed to us through crazy horn playing and heavy bass playing and distorted guitars. Ringo plays more fills than ever now, and the song ends on crazy chords, and after that Ringo screams the famous line; ''I've got blisters on my fingers!'' and a strange guitar chord is heard. Then it has ended.

''Long, Long, Long'' is pretty cool. It has pretty strange guitar playing, and the song is very strange overall. Heavy fills by Ringo soon gets the drumming up and away. A verse comes in soon, and it's pretty quiet. Suddenly it breaks up with Ringo's deep toms and a beautiful chorus kicks in, with great piano playing. So are the vocals here. The verse kicks in again after that, and leaves us wanting more of that great chorus. However the song doesn't end with that beautiful chorus. It ends in chaos, with strange organ notes, fast drumming, guitar strings being scratched and John doing strange things with his voice. Quite cool actually.

''Revolution 1'' is without a doubt the highlight of the second disc. It is acoustic all over, and the bluesy guitar riff (Now world famous) plays into the beautiful verse, where the song shifts from A notes to D notes greatly. The chorus then comes into play, with the horns joining us. The vocals are strange yet great here, and the guitar playing is almost incredible, not due to virtuosity, but adding to the mood of the song. The horns join us in the second verse, and this makes for another great verse where John's vocals are great. Another cool chorus plays, and the guitar brilliantly changes from distortion to clean channels. Really cool. Heavy plucking on the strings leads us into the third and final verse, where the horns are less dominating than in the second one, and again, the guitar is brilliant. The ending is my favourite thing; after the great chorus and E key plucking, John almost goes crazy singing ''Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh! Allright! Allright!'' and such, which leads the song out. I don't know why, but it's just so bloody great, and easily the best moment on Disc 2, and perhaps on the whole album. 10/10 song.

''Honey Pie'' sounds exactly like a song from the thirties. I don't know why this this song is on here, but it's rather cool. The chorus is incredibly 30's sounding, believe me. Paul's vocals are great on this track, going from chaotic (Helter Skelter) to 30's in this one. After another verse, the chorus comes again. A small instrumental section kicks in. Paul is quite funny here, singing nonsense like ''I like that! Ah!'' and such. Another verse comes again, and so does another chorus, where Paul hits very high notes with his voice. Funny to listen to somehow. The song ends abruptly.

''Savoy Truffle'' is awesome. Is starts out with great organ playing, and cool vocals from George. The horns are also quite funky here, very cool. The ''chorus'' is awesome, and the guitar makes this song so damn great. It's very catchy. Another cool verse pops in, with the ''chorus'' (I call it ''chorus'' since it's only really one sentence, but it appears throughout the song) coming again. This time the distorted guitar is really heard. A bridge kicks in only to lead into the awesome guitar solo delievered to us. You can hear that the wah-wah pedal is jammed to the bottom here, and makes it hard to believe that this was recorded with an acoustic guitar with a micropohone. Great guitar solo, and after that the ''chorus'' comes up again. Another bridge comes to us, and the first verse re-appears. After this the ''chorus'' is played two times. Unfortunately the song ends. This leads into..

''Cry Baby Cry''. This song is awesome. The first verse is great, where the guitar is played alone until the piano joins, and the drumming really comes in at the chorus. The second verse is the best, where Ringo's drumming is great, with his fills and whatnot. Just awesome. The vocals are also great throughout the song, and well, the song is overall great. Pretty simple eh? I think I'm running out of ideas here. Oh yes, forgot to mention, there is a little accordion playing in this song. The song ends soonly thereafter. However, a hidden song (Not in the track listing so to say) is played after this, which is very, very short but quite cool. Heh; the more you know.

''Revolution 9''. I don't know whether to hate or like this song. It is the most experimental song I know of, and the longest Beatles recording ever. It starts out with the legendary tape loop of a man repeating the words ''Number Nine'' while the piano plays in the background. After this small introduction to what will probably be the most freaky music experience of your life, there is chaos. An orchestral loop plays, and backwards piano joins soon thereafter. Various sound effects kick in, and soon you will hear an orchestra tuning up their instruments. After that, a very loud orchestra loop comes into the left channel. After that very loud piano is played, and shortly leads into some chatter. The orchestra loops are heard in the background. More and more orchestra loops pop in. It's really scary now, but it soon ends leaving us with a woman laughing, and a baby crying or something. Backwards indian instruments are heard after that, and the Number Nine loop is heard throughout. The song goes chaotic again, with loads and loads of found sounds. Strange choirs sing whiles John screams nonsensical lyrics. Chatter is heard again, and a sound goes from the right to left channels over and over again. Quite cool. More weird sound is heard, and more chatter. Strange humming noises are heard, and soon that horrible backwards piano loop is heard. Soon you hear a man saying ''Allright!'' and a crowd going wild. Absolute chaos joins, being very loud, and loads of tape loops playing with eachother. After that, sea noises are heard. The tape spools back (Sounds creepy) and football chants are heard. The song progresses into more chatter, but soon lots of crackling is heard. Strange words from John are spoken, and that creepy humming comes in again. Then gunfire is heard, and more chatter is given to us. More chaos erupts, and the Number Nine loop is played again. John says ''Eldorado'' and the song goes into a new section, with some piano loops and crazy beep noises. After that, Yoko says strange things. Like ''Maybe... Even...'' and such, while John hums. A loop of a man ''singing'' is heard in the background. She delivers the creepy line ''Maybe... If you become naked'' and after that the song ends with football chants. Chaotic, strange and scary. Three words that describe this 8 minute sound collage.

''Good Night'' ends this album. How boring. Ringo's vocals are just plainly boring, and this song is uninteresting. The orchestra is pretty cool however, but other than that, it's just a really boring closer.

This is a really great album, and it's recommended to anyone who wants to get into the Beatles, or begin their proto-prog collection.

Thank you so much for reading this really long review!

Axel Dyberg | 4/5 |

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