The Beatles -The White Album Review

by Bruno Brozović

Specifications and Details of The Beatles’ The White Album – LP Version

  • Release Date: Originally released on November 22, 1968
  • Genre: Rock
  • Producers: George Martin
  • Label: Apple Records
  • Format: Vinyl LP
  • Additional Features: The special LP edition of “The White Album” faithfully replicates the original album’s tracklist, which includes a wide range of musical styles across its 30 tracks. This edition is known for its plain white sleeve, which was a strong contrast to the colorful artwork of previous albums. It also includes the original poster as well as the four portrait photos of John, Paul, George, and Ringo that were included in the initial release. This reissue maintains the analog warmth of the original recordings, offering a pure and authentic listening experience.

The Beatles - The White Album - LP Review

Audio Review of The Beatles’ The White Album – LP Version

The Paradoxical Beginning of the End

Paradoxically, it was the beginning of the end. Yes, the form of a double album is by no means a prototype of what should indicate or suggest the breakup of a band, but the Beatles’ “white album”, as it is most often called, is a true document of the twilight of the line-up that permanently marked and largely defined contemporary popular music.

Unraveling the Enigma: A Deep Dive into The Beatles’ White Album

Writing about “The Beatles” (that’s the only thing written on the album cover and it’s officially called by that name) is a particularly interesting experience and challenge for me, in the sense that it means too much to me and hides too much. One of the most magical, most complex, enigmatic and at the same time most messy albums ever recorded decades after its creation does not stop being the subject of debates, the most imaginative interpretations and exhaustive analyses. It doesn’t stop being a personal constant listening challenge, and thus it gets more and more popular, and higher on the list of favorite albums. Yes, it is revealed gradually, even slowly, it crawls into the ear and under the skin without any squealing or cuteness, very smug and self-confident – all this may be a cliché to say, but in the case of the White Album there is no other interpretation.

From Psychedelia to Personal Strife: The Beatles’ Journey to The White Album

Created in full authorial maturity and in a creative momentum for which only the sky was the limit, after a striking psychedelic phase, but also due to dramatic events such as the death of longtime manager and friend Brian Epstein, Lennon’s separation and falling in love with the conceptual artist Yoko Ono, turbulence and stress surrounding the establishment of the corporation Apple, those strange Indian “episodes” in the company of the spiritual guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the sumptuous double album finally presented the Beatles as completely different and increasingly distant four personas.

The songwriting itself took place sometimes in India, sometimes after returning to Great Britain and mostly in the solitude of each of the authors, so that the recording in the studio would be anything but the performance of a full-blooded and compact band as, as a rule, such an album title would suggest (the original idea for the title of the album was “A Doll’s House”, but they rejected it when the band Family beat them with an album with a too similar name, “Music in a Doll’s House”). Tensions between the band members were constantly growing and conflicts were extremely violent, so much so that at one stage Ringo left the band, disappointed with his position, ultimately leaving McCartney to play drums on several songs (“Back in the U.S.S.R. and “Dear Prudence”, which , supposedly, they all drummed a little bit.)

Often, McCartney and Lennon would record songs without each other, by agreement and with different studio technicians, and during the recording, George Martin went on vacation, probably aware that his authority (as a permanent producer) that creative chaos was inevitably reflected in the compactness of the recorded material, which, despite (or precisely because of) all the problems, emerged from that mess as one of rock’s most amazing masterpieces.

Harmonic Chaos: The Beatles’ Musical Odyssey in The White Album

Lurking behind each song with a new, unexpected musical arsenal, The Beatles created from their chaos a layered, intertextual rock-monster of perfect form and… harmony (!). From the moment you set off on the journey “back to the USSR”, everything is possible and everything is arranged, everything rolls just like rolling stones and everything gets stuck at every viewpoint as if you were on a tourist route.

That kind of dedication to The Beach Boys (although even after so many listens I’m not sure how well-intentioned it is) perfectly traces the long and winding path that the album takes over thirty stations. Whether they venture into the realms of dancehall or musical (“Honey Pie”, “Good Night”), they offer their own versions of country (“Don’t Pass Me By”, “Rocky Raccoon”), acoustic ballads (“Blackbird”, “Mother Nature’s Son”) and rock destroyers (“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”, “Helter Skelter”) or play with chamber music patterns (“Piggies”) and even purebred blues (“Yer Blues”) and ska mannerisms (“Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da”), The Beatles sound great and without a hint of hesitation or insecurity.

Even the rather offensive sound collage “Revolution 9” seems to be right in its place when looking at the album as a whole. Well, despite the volume of material and this and that distraction, apart from the last mentioned and possibly the miniature “Wild Honey Pie” there is no other “half-song” on the entire album, that is, a conceptual break between the “real” songs.

Beyond The White Album: The Beatles’ Prolific Creative Surge

To make things even more interesting, in the period when all these songs were written, there were more, and more than good ones, like “Hey Jude” (which will get its own single with a faster, more guitar-distorted version of “Revolution 1”), “Long and Winding Road” which will see the light of day on the album “Let It Be”, “Polythene Pam”, “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Something” which will end up on “Abbey Road” and a whole series of songs which will be released later appear on Lennon’s, McCartney’s and Harrison’s solo albums.

With that creative firework, The Beatles covered, in fact, everything that could be touched at the time, even going into the unraveling of their own myth in “Glass Onion”, bringing Eric Clapton to “help” them with his guitar on Harrison’s great “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (allegedly, Clapton’s presence at least for that short time united the band again into one compact body), and even knocking on the door of what would become heavy metal with the frenzied “Helter Skelter”, with which they showed that they could really rock, more convincingly than some apparently ” “rockier” and looser contemporaries. The echo they caused was deafening.

Myth, Manson, and Mystery: The White Album’s Cultural Shockwaves

Some went so far that, after listening to this album, they called the Beatles evolutionary agents sent by God himself to use their mysterious powers to support the further development of the human species. They searched for cryptic messages and various explanations and meanings of both individual songs and the album as a whole.

Unfortunately, Charles Manson was among those, who found in the album justifications for his ideas that it was necessary to go to war with the aim of executing all the wealthy (“Helter Skelter” was the main “victim”, which is why two decades later U2 somewhat pretentiously decided to “steal back” on their album “Rattle and Hum”). The album was interpreted as a farewell to hippie culture and as a cornerstone of a new era. One of the funnier episodes in the “unraveling” of the White Album mystery was the alleged hidden hint that McCartney was already dead by then and had been replaced by a doppelganger.

Controversy and Acclaim: Deciphering The White Album’s Polarizing Reception

There were, of course, negative reviews, practically inevitable for such a messy work, so “The Beatles” was declared a hopelessly boring collection of mediocrity. Well, yes, you can truly take these about an hour and a half of music as a magical victory of musical genius over all forms of default and form, and you can simply wave your hand and say that listening to other people’s extravagances and ramblings is a waste of time.

It is in this case that I can best prove my old claim that I can tell what kind of person a person is by the music they like. Without underestimating anyone, the White Album really demands a very low level of conservatism in terms of musical forms, as well as a high degree of listening and research engagement that would without exception lead to the pure enjoyment of a series of small masterpieces like “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, ” Dear Prudence”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “I’m So Tired”, “Blackbird”, “I Will” and not to list the favorites whose sum weighs more than 30. And falling in love with a unique collection whose harmony, like no other until then, and not after, it rests on the absolute disharmony of its components.

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