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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

4.17 | 814 ratings

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Kaelka
5 stars Let there be no doubt about it : the white is very high in my musical pantheon and if I were to spend a few years on the ever proverbial desert island it'd probably be there with me alongside Red or Rock Bottom. Which means I'm going to give it five stars ? Not so simple. I've always had my doubts about the filing of the Beatles in the prog drawer. For sure, 'Sergeant Pepper" is invariably listed among the first prog albums (the excellent BBC4 series "Prog Rock Britannia" has the whole movement launched by it and Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", both in 67), which has never really satisfied me. "Sergeant Pepper" is certainly a masterpiece, but apart from "A Day In The Life" (and the pack of the two first tracks and the final reprise which honestly don't deserve the name of 'concept album' sometimes given to the album), there's not a lot of prog to be heard in it. Nor is there, I should add, in "Magical Mystery Tour". In '67, The Nice, Soft Machine, Procol Harum, The Moody Blues or Pink Floyd were already on the road, and the true roots of prog are with them. If I were pushed to choose a true prog album among the Beatles' output, "Abbey Road" would certainly be the one, although of course it doesn't sound at all like any of the well-established prog releases of '69 and remains, to the core, a true Beatles' album.

And thus I'm ready to concede, with no small amount of reluctance however, that the Beatles are welcome on these pages.

The problem is : not the white !

The white is, in my extremely humble opinion, the most "unprog" album of the whole post-"Rubber Soul" Beatles output. It contains the germs of almost everything that will be done in English pop for the following 30 years, but it has no prog. It's a pure pop album, it might even be the greatest pop album of all times, but it has no prog : no classical, baroque or jazzy influences, no long and well-developped pieces of music, no weird chords or time signatures, no "noodling" or virtuoso improvisation. Only pop songs, verse, chorus, bridge if there's enough time for it, verse, final chorus. And even if some of those pop songs are weird or can be considered avant-garde ("Wild Honey Pie" or "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" come to mind), they're still nothing but pop songs (sometimes several pop songs glued together like "Happiness Is A Warm Gun").

If you're familiar with those pages, you know that another alien dwells here : the captain Van Vliet. Well, there's much more in common between the white and "Trout Mask Replica" than with any other band or album listed on PA. And their first common point is this : they're pop albums, not prog.

I've would have very much liked to close this review without giving any stars, but it doesn't seem to be an option. So I'll give five after all, but I'll edit the ratings guide line : ESSENTIAL : A MASTERPIECE OF POP MUSIC.

The astute reader will have noticed that I haven't written a word about Yoko and John's "Revolution 9". I'll keep it that way.

Kaelka | 5/5 |

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