Album no. 134/1001
The first Beatles album to feature Yoko! Also the first to feature members quitting and being coaxed back. Coincidence? WHO CAN SAY.
This is a double album, and man are there a lot of tracks. 30 songs, ranging from 0:53 (‘Wild Honey Pie’) to 8:23 (‘Revolution 9’). There is delicate acoustic fingerpicked numbers next to straight heavy blues rockers. It’s got some Beatles classics, and some tracks that might be best forgotten. It’s an experience.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I have! There are always songs I forget though. It’s so long…
CL: I think I’ve heard some of the big ones off here, but I don’t recall ever having listened to the whole thing. I mean, it goes for close to an hour and a half. I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for that.
NK: The standout track for me has to be ‘Birthday’ because my bloody father has instituted a practice of playing that song on repeat whenever it’s somebody’s birthday. I have this album in my itunes, and ‘Birthday’ has about thirty more plays than anything else. Doesn’t mean it’s my favourite; on the contrary, I’m heartily sick of it. It’s hard to pick a best song off this album. ‘Dear Prudence’? ‘Julia’? ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’? ‘Helter Skelter’? Even ‘Bungalow Bill’ is arresting, if annoying.
CL: That bloody Bungalow Bill song. Aside from that, there are STACKS of standout tracks. It would almost be quicker to list the ones I didn’t like – but I don’t want to do that. You’ve mentioned a couple, but these are all the ones I think are great:
- Back in the USSR
- I’m So Tired
- Long, long, long
- Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
- Everybody’s Got Something To Hide, Except Me And My Monkey
- Mother Nature’s Son
- Savoy Truffle
- Cry Baby Cry
- Good Night
- Sexy Sadie
- Happiness is a Warm Gun
So, you know, a lot of them.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Well, you need some time on your hands. Also it’s pretty varied, certainly not as coherent as Sgt Peppers. But if you want to hear a band throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, while at the same time beginning to fall apart, this is probably your best option.
CL: This is definitely a night-time album. You do really have to set aside some proper time to sit down and listen to it.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This sold massively well, as you would expect for the follow up to Sgt Peppers. I think this album is pretty unfocused, everybody bringing in songs but lacking the collaborative approach which brings it all together. I think you could have easily gotten rid of half the tracks on this and just released a single album, which would have gotten rid of a lot of the rubbish songs (I’m looking at you, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’).
CL: You keep going on about the ‘rubbish songs’ – and there definitely are some like ‘Revolution 9’ – but ultimately I think this is an exploration where everybody’s getting a go, and gets to try some different things.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Every goddamn birthday in my family ‘Birthday’ will get played. I have absolutely no choice in the matter. I’m not sure I will listen to this on my own time, there are so many songs I’d skip.
CL: Yes. This is fast becoming one of my favourite Beatles albums.
Listen to The Beatles (The White Album) on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.