The Beatles’ White Album is awesome (and other odds and ends)

Posted: March 24, 2010 in Album Reviews, Beatles

“Odds and ends, odds and ends, lost time is not found again” – Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes

Some random thoughts and observations….
If I had to choose one album I couldn’t live without, one I could literally listen to every day if I had to, it would be The Beatles’ White Album, no doubt.
For one, it’s a double album of the Beatles, which alone is worth the price of admission. The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, hands down, and I’ve loved them seemingly since joining the Earth in 1975. I remember as a little kid, my parents bought my brothers and I kids’ records (back before the CD era of course). You know, ABCs, 123s, Smurf Singalongs, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. But I always demanded Beatles albums, even as a 2-year old. That’s what I wanted.
But I digress, it’s hard to pick a favorite Beatles album (like picking a favorite kid) but if I had to, The White Album is the one I’d choose. The Beatles were coming out of the Summer of Love, the psychedelic period, after recording their studio masterpiece Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the ill-fated (yet wonderful musically) Magical Mystery Tour film project looking for a new direction, also searching for the meaning of it all.
They embarked on a trip to India in early 1968 for some transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and while they were there, they wrote over 30 songs, most of which would land on their next album. Because they had so much material, they decided to make the new record a double album, and it was also their first album release for their self-owned Apple Records (the failing of that company was a big factor in their breakup less than two years later).
On the self-titled album, which they presented in a plain white sleeve with only a faded gray type of “the beatles” included, the band spanned the musical globe, flirting with reggae on “Obladi Oblada”, heavy metal on “Helter Skelter,” blues on “Yer Blues” beautiful pop rockers like “Dear Prudence”, the countrified “Don’t Pass Me By” and a far-out sound collage/avant garde piece in “Revolution 9.” Some complain the record is a bit disjointed and doesn’t have the flow of other Beatles’ records like Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, but I think it flows just fine. While I appreciate the pop masterpiece of Sgt. Pepper, it’s a bit too much of a studio record. The band and George Martin recorded take after take for that one, overdubbing orchestras and other effects throughout. Drummer Ringo Starr has often said he didn’t enjoy the recording of that record, because there was often times not much to do while all the overdubs were being laid on. He also said the White Album was where they became a band again (even though they were often bickering by this point). And most of the tunes on the White Album could be played live quite easily, which couldn’t be said of most of the tunes on Pepper and the previous masterpiece Revolver (my second favorite Beatles album). The White Album is clearly my desert island album, my go-to record in the clutch if you will. If you’re not a fan of the Beatles (how dare you) but like good rock music, try The White Album. You may form a new opinion.

NFL comes up with new overtime rule: The NFL did what I thought should have been done a long time ago – they altered the way overtime is played, at least in the postseason. The old rule was a strict sudden-death OT – first team to score wins. However, most of the time (well over half, by the stats) the team that won the coin toss won the game, most times on the first possession. It seemed you could get a good kickoff return (or a kick goes out of bounds for a penalty), put a couple first downs together, kick a field goal and get out of there. Not any more. The new rule has a few twists: you can still win the coin toss and win the game without the other team getting the ball, but you’ve got to score a touchdown to do it. If the receiving team in OT kicks a field goal, the opponent gets a possession to at least match the field goal. If the opponent scores a touchdown, the game is over. If they score a field goal, it’s tied and we go back to the previous sudden-death rule. I like it. I think it’s a bit more fair, especially in the playoffs (although I think they should expand it to the regular season to be consistent). If you’ve made it to the playoffs and battle to a tie after regulation of a playoff game, your fate shouldn’t be determined by “heads” or “tails.”

Rolling Stones to release deluxe edition of Exile: I recently found out that the Rolling Stones are about to release an expanded edition of their 1972 masterpiece Exile on Main Street and I couldn’t be happier.
Exile capped a four-year streak of brilliance for the band, one they’ve never repeated (although subsequent releases have still been good). Those years included the classic albums Beggar’s Banquet, Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers as well as brilliant non-album singles like Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Honky Tonk Women.
Exile just might be the best of all, a double album (single cd though) with a taste of blues, country and gospel all included. Even more exciting, the album will be presented in pristine quality and include 11 bonus tracks. These unheard gems include alternate versions of album cuts like “Soul Survivor” and “Loving Cup,” and songs I’ve never heard of before like “Plundered My Soul,” “Dancing in the Light,” “Pass the Wine,” and “Following the River.” Ultimate score for Stones and classic rock fans everywhere.

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Comments
  1. I turned 10 the year you “joined the earth.” My best friend at the time had two older brothers who turned me on to The Beatles (and lots of other things).

    That year they had an unfortunate accident handling sides 1 & 2 of “The White Album” and it broke into many pieces. When they purchased a new copy, appreciating the fact they had a young Beatle convert on their hands, they gave me the old sides 3 & 4 which became my first Beatles album.

    As a 10 year old I found “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” fascinating, lifting the needle of my mono, plastic, black and white record player to repeat it over and over.

    It wasn’t until many years later using my own money I finally purchased the complete double album and sides 1 & 2 were like a new toy. Great record. Thanks for rekindling some great memories. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle.

    • Andrew Sodergren says:

      Grave,
      “Monkey” is one of my personal faves as well, so much going on there (including a ferocious cowbell playing throughout the track). Savoy Truffle, written by George Harrison, was about Eric Clapton’s love of sweets and the fact he’d have to get all his teeth pulled out one day because of it. Joke of course, but that’s what the song’s about…..

  2. Meade says:

    Im sorry, but I really dont care for the Beatles. I actually enjoy the Monkees better, than the Beatles. At least they didnt pretend to be so great. But the Beatles really irritate me. I think Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash are much better music than the Beatles- and yes, so was Elvis. But The Beatles records do not appeal to me. I had an LP of theirs and I had to throw it in the trash can where it belongs.

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