Thursday, February 19, 2009

The White Album

The White Album has about as many Beatles facts as any other album by the group. The double LP was recorded from May 30, 1968 to October 14, 1968, and the Beatles themselves admit it was "the beginning of the end" as band members more and more recorded their tracks (or parts of others' tracks) separately or in different studios at Abbey Road. (A few tracks were recorded at Trident Studios.) It was this time, in fact, that Ringo temporarily left the group. Also, Yoko began attending the sessions, and the album marks the first time other artists recorded with the Beatles, artists such as Eric Clapton ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps"), Jackie Lomax, and Dave Mason. It was released in the UK on November 22, 1968 and in the U.S. on November 25, 1968. Until 1977, it was the best-selling double LP of all time.

George Martin believed that the group should have recorded a solid single album, but the Beatles had written many songs while in India and had a backlog that they were determined to put out in this double-package format. Even then, many songs did not make it onto the final product, such as Harrison's "Not Guilty," Lennon's "What's the New Mary Jane," and several others. (The two mentioned above are included on Anthology.

Harrison, Lennon, and Starr felt at this point that they were becoming a back-up band for McCartney (although Starr quit because he felt he wasn't drumming well). McCartney was paying extraordinary attention to his own material at the expense of working on the others' material, although there are some notable exceptions. Starr noted in Anthology, for example, that the feuding went out the window when the group was working on a solid track, such as "Yer Blues."

Many present at the sessions, such as former Quarryman Pete Shotton, felt that Yoko's presence stifled communication among the band members, who no longer felt as if the sessions were intimate enough to offer constructive criticism. At one point, Ono moved her bed into the studio because she was ill, and biographers have stated that she went as far as offering criticisms for various tracks, a gesture that didn't sit well with Harrison, McCartney, or Starr.

There are even great facts surrounding the actual white packaging. The official title of the LP was The Beatles, which was embossed on the cover together with serial numbers to make each copy completely distinctive. (The numbering was allegedly McCartney's idea.) Inside the album was a large fold-out sheet with a collage of pictures of the Beatles on one side and the lyrics to all album songs on the other. The package also contained decent-sized, individual color pictures of each band member. The design for the collage was done by Jeremy Banks.

The working title for the album was A Doll's House. After "Cry Baby Cry," part of a McCartney song is heard with the lyric "Can you take me back where I feel good, brother can you take me back." This track is not listed on the album even though "Wild Honey Pie," another snippet, is included.

Lennon liked his work on the White Album very much. Harrison liked the LP as well, although like George Martin, he felt that there was too much material for the listener to deal with. Starr thought it was a better exercise in pure rock and roll, unlike the very experimental Sgt. Pepper. McCartney has always defended the album simply on the basis that it was a Beatles' album and sold well, although he has also added that it has merit because it shows the band in an atmosphere where it was free to experiment.

The White Album also fed the "Paul Is Dead" mania because there are bits and pieces of sentences from "Revolution 9" which, when played backwards, seem to reveal Lennon saying "Turn me on dead man" or other fragments alluding to Paul's demise. As far as this track in general, McCartney, Starr, and Harrison did not like it at all and fought unsuccessfully to keep it from being included.

The tracks included:

Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild HOney Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired
Rocky Raccoon
Don't Pass Me By
Why Don't We Do It in the Road
I Will
Yer Blues
Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long
Revolution I
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9
Good Night

No comments:

Post a Comment