129 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Brilliance
This was a brave follow up to Sgt Pepper. So completely different and so diverse, it is a virtual dictionary of all musical styles. When I first heard it in 1978 I was completely blown away. This is the album where they were not only on top of their game but also had the self confidence to put out an album of no less than 30 songs! One has often come to the conclusion...
Published on 19 Feb 2006 by John Heaton
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Truly folks, save your money.
This album is my favourite by the Beatles and one of my favourites by any artist. The music is often sublime and never less than interesting over 90 + minutes. I, like most, was subject to the advertising onslaught for the new remasters and was intent on resisting as i already have the albums on vinyl and cd. I read the reviews (mainly positive) and curiosity got the...
Published on 16 Sep 2009 by zappa
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129 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Brilliance,
This was a brave follow up to Sgt Pepper. So completely different and so diverse, it is a virtual dictionary of all musical styles. When I first heard it in 1978 I was completely blown away. This is the album where they were not only on top of their game but also had the self confidence to put out an album of no less than 30 songs! One has often come to the conclusion that there was no room in one band for three such stupendous songwriters. So here they got around that by releasing a brilliant double album. There has been much talk of how things might have been better had they reduced this to a single album. What bollocks! For a start, no Beatles fan has ever agreed which tracks should have been shelved. As Paul says in one of his finest lines ever: ’Shut up it’s the bloddy Beatles album’. That it is, and we are eternally grateful.
John Lennon never reached the peaks he reaches here. All his songs are wonderful. From the finger picking ’Dear Prudence’ with a stomping bass line from Paul to the tour de force group effort ’Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ to the supremely melodic ’Sexy Sadie’. Who ever said that McCartney wrote all the melodies is sadly mistaken. This is a melody to die for. And there is ’Julia’, the sweet and moving lament to his lost mother and the Mother he had found in Yoko. ’Revolution’ needs no introduction. Even if this slower album version is slightly inferior to the raucous rendition on the B Side of Hey Jude, it is mighty fine all the same. ’Cry Baby Cry’ is a wonderfully atmospheric piece with Paul contributing some suitably eerie piano. Even the lesser Lennon numbers are exciting: Glass Onion (with its famous tribute to Paul), ’Everybody’s Got Something To Hide’ sees The Beatles rocking like they never had before. And ’Bungalow Bill’ is a fun sing-along but with a dark lyric which is wonderful in its parody of the tiger-shooting guy who was with them at Maharishi’s camp where everyone was supposed to be peaceful! ’I’m So Tired’ has to be the ultimate Lost Album Track. No one seems to know this masterpiece outside the inner Beatles fan circle. Take a listen as Lennon said in the intro to his song ’Scared’ 6 years later. ’Yer Blues’ is another band tour de force, recorded in a small room with all four Beatles. Which was not the case for every number here.
And Paul, the other half of that great songwriting partnership has never surpassed the quality of material he produces here. With the possible exception of the Beatles’ final album ’Abbey Road’. ’Back In The USSR’ is a timeless rocker, ’Obla-Di Obla-Da is effortlessly magical. As is ’Matha My Dear’ (where does he find these melodies from?!). ’I Will’ and ’Blackbird’ are two of his very finest acoustic numbers. Which as we know, again to quote Edmund Blackadder, is up against some pretty stiff competition. And then we have here from Paul ’Helter Skelter’, ’Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ and ’Birthday’, three stupendous rockers that you could easily be forgiven for thinking that Lennon was behind them. But No. As most people know by now Paul could rock with the best of them. God Bless You Paul.
And if that wasn’t enough, we have four George Harrisongs. ’While My Guitar’ is marvellous. Another masterful group performance, albeit without any contribution from Lennon. But Eric Clapton’s wonderful distorted guitar solos and Paul’s piano intro and stomping bass line make up for that. ’Piggies’ and ’Savoy Truffle’ are minor gems. But ’Long Long Long’ is a George ballad up there in the etchelons. The way it follows the mayhem of ’Helter Skelter’ is a genius of progamming.
Oh I forgot ’Honey Pie’ from Paul, the superb following number to ’Revolution’. Sublime. And then buried on Side 3 (vinyl) is ’Mother Nature’s Son’ which is close to the definition of Beauty.
Ringo chips in with his first composition ’Don’t Pass Me By’, which The Band told George was their favourite off the album. It is infectious. And then following the avant garde collage ’Revolution 9’ (the only track whose inclusion is even remotely controversial) we have Ringo singing ’Good Night’. A perfect close to a pretty near perfect album. They would go to produce two more albums after this but this is the last album where, despite the tensions and the obvious individuality of the 30 tracks on offer here, TheBeatles believed in themselves wholeheartedly. It is quite possibly their greatest masterpiece.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply a work of GENIUS,
This is my favourite Beatles album and to all those who say it contains filler I will state that in my opinion it takes a long time to appreciate the finer details of this record - ie on the first few plays YES you are going to think there's some filler. I had the same opinion of Pet Sounds when I first heard it. Truly deep and meaningful music *does* take time to be fully absorbed and whilst initially I agreed with a lot of other folk that this should have been a single LP, I have since grown to appreciate *every* single song on this double collection. I would not drop any of them from the track list (well maybe Revolution No.9). I suppose this is The Beatles' rock record and perhaps those of a pop persuasion don't get it purely because it doesn't sound like Help or Rubber Soul. Well I'm into a lot of rock bands but I *love* Help & Rubber Soul and I also like Pet Sounds (hardly a 'rock' record in the traditional sense) so to me the fact The Beatles flit between different genres only enhances their appeal - Zeppelin and Queen did this further down the line and were all the more interesting for it. Those who dismiss the white album as having filler just haven't listened to it enough! It's like only reading a few lines from each chapter of a book and thinking you know the whole story, you need to spend a lot of quality time with this album in order to truly appreciate it. When it clicks believe me, it truly clicks! I just cannot understand a Beatles fan who doesn't consider this to be a 5-star album.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yeah... oh yeah .... oh yeahhhhh!,
Like many who cannot afford to buy the remastered box set in one go, I decided to try just my favourite album as a taster and see if the hype was justified. For me, that album was Revolver. "Hmmm" probably describes my initial reaction on hearing it. I so wanted it to sound incredible, to reveal new, previously hidden instruments and nuances, but it just didn't.
Not wanting to be disappointed so easily I decided to have one more try with The White Album and OH MY GOD!!! there it was. Everything I wanted the Revolver remaster to be. Crystal clear guitars and bass, punch to the percussion, passion in the vocals, an invitation to revisit an old and rather over familiar friend with renewed love.
I don't know why the remastering on The White Album sounds so much better than on Revolver. Possibly because in my opinion it never sounded too hot in the first place and therefore there was more scope for improvement. Will I go on and purchase the box set, probably not, but will I continue to try the albums one at a time. You bet!!!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great as in GREAT-LES,
A Kid's Review
It was 40 years ago to this very day when a double album was put out that critics... well, delved into. Opinions were different, meaning: quite often conflicting, and stars may well not have come close to the fivish the Fab4 are being awarded on this site today.
But look back and taste the sheer genius of four artists in their own right who went on to embark on world famous careers every single one of them. Today, Martha My Dear was on the radio, but other tracks ring bells of themselves. Think of Happiness is a Warm Gun and while away thinking of what happened on that fateful December 8th, 1980.
And think of another warm-hearted soul like George, who, perhaps for the very first time, really and definitely got out into the light from under Paul & John's combined creative wings.
Or of that same person, whose *rash* words to the effect that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus have just been forgiven by the Vatican, again today.
Rest assured that the White Album has lost none of its appeal even if The Beatles hardly sound like a band any longer and that the Fab Foursome were not in the Abbey Road studios when a considerable number of tracks were registered. But what the heck, I should say.
I first got into the Fabs in 1962. I still am fond of the wonderful music they made and welcome every footnote (whether in music or text) that shines a new light on these terrific musicians.
And as for Jesus: let there be no doubt about it that, if He likes music (which I for one I'm sure He is), He simply enjoys The Beatles as much as He does Bach or Beethoven, Rachmaninov or any other top notch composer there has ever been.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO ...................,
By 1968 The Beatles were at a crossroads. Sgt Pepper had been a massive cultural and commercial success but the following years Magical Mystery Tour film had flopped. The death of manager and mentor Brian Epstein had also proven a massive blow, especially to John, and the four band members were growing increasingly distant from each other. George felt completely overwhelmed by both Lennon & McCartney and Ringo was becoming totally fed up with the bickering and in-fighting.
The answer was to release a record - a double album - of new songs. Much of 1968's White Album is made up of basically solo material - the other Beatles acting simply as sidemen - and is as fractured and patchy as this would imply. When it works and the Fabs gel together the results are stunning - 'Back In The USSR', with Paul handling drums, 'Dear Prudence', 'Glass Onion' and 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun'. John's solo 'Julie' is gorgeous and George's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' was a milestone song for quiet one. Paul also shone on the haunting 'Blackbird' and the brilliantly simplistic 'I Will'.
George Martin was quoted as saying that he thought the White Album would have made a brilliant single record - but John and Paul were determined to have their way. So for every 'Long Long Long' and we get the trite 'Piggies', the saccarine sweet 'Honey Pie' and John's simply nuts 'The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill'. Twenty eight variable tracks of inspiration, brilliance, experimentation, rock, pop, reggae, musical hall, self indulgence and throwaway fillers.
That the Beatles also recorded their most successful single of all time - 'Hey Jude' - during these tense sessions is even more amazing.
Not The Beatles finest album but a fascinating listen nevertheles. The sound of a band falling apart.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Quality of the Beatles Best Album. A must Have.,
My first impression was how much better the music sounded, more musical, better balance. I was simply awestruck as the music came through with clarity & precision bettering the excellent re-masterd re-issue of the Yellow Sub CD some years ago. One of my all time favourite tracks, Dear Prudence, sounded much more open with a wide soundstage and excellent vocal and instrument separation as I could here the instruments stand out. The stereo imaging is excellent as if listening to a live rendition. JLs vocals sound very natural with excellent timbre and McCartney's bass now sounded much more natural with better definition with less boom, I could go on....
Overall the music is better separated with a rounder sweeter sound. While my guitar Gently Weeps has come alive, as the instruments stand apart with the Hammond organ cleanly separated and Clapton's guitar solo sounds like I have never heard it before, supreme. The overall sound balance is excellent in comparison to the original stereo mixes that sound course and bright and just awful in comparison.
Very impressed so far, can't wait to here Abbey Road, Pepper and Revolver.
Listen to the sax solo on Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, It's simply superb.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven but in a good way,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Some people think that this should have been released as a single album. Well, here are two reasons why it shouldn't:
1) The diversity and experimental "everything goes"-attitude is what makes this album so unique. Beatles had already made coherent well-crafted masterpieces, a single white-album wouldn't prove anything new. For the first time (in my opinion) a band showed that rock music has no limits or boundaries. You can record exactly what you want and put it on an album. "Revolution 9" might not be many people's favourite Beatles track but it is an important song just for its lack of respect for musical rules. After a song like this on a pop album, there simply are no rules anymore.
2) A single album could have been more even, but the Beatles might not have chosen the same songs as you or I would have chosen. If you read the other 70 reviews here you see that people have very different opinions about which songs should be included. I'm not too fond of "Happiness is a warm gun" or "Revolution 1" (I prefer the Hey Jude flipside version). I do however like "Goodnight" and "Piggies". Do you think I have an odd taste in songs? Good, then you might see the point here.
Few people think that all songs here are good. But most people can find a handful or two of songs they really like. And noone could accuse this album of being too predictable.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It rocks and it sighs...still amazing,
This review is from: The Beatles [VINYL] (Vinyl)
The 2012 issue is lovely to listen to. The sound has space and the acoustic instruments sound woody, natural in a roomy environment. I have to recommend this for the balanced sound of actual people at work in the playing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another must have for a Beatles fan,
Well, this album is another classic which you should probably own if you're a Beatles fan. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the album and ramble on but here are some merits and criticisms I would like to give about the album.
Personally, I think this album is a little too over experimental. I realize that the Beatles were an experimental band in their later stages however, some of the songs on this album are just a bit too experimental and drag on a bit.
Despite having said this, there are some truly awesome songs on there as well such as back in the USSR, while my guitar gently weeps and other classics. This is only my opinion though and some people may disagree with me.
This album does have loads of content though; you're getting what you've paid for. It has two CDs and they're packed full of songs. I reckon it's worth the money, no doubt about that.
In conclusion, I would say that if you're a Beatles fan, you shouldn't really hesitate to purchase this album as it conveys a very important stage in their life as band however, if you're just a casual listener of the Beatles and you stick to their rock/pop kind of stuff, then I wouldn't really recommend this.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their Tortured Masterpiece,
It had been a tough year and a bit for The Beatles. Their manager Brian Epstein had died of an overdose, their Magical Mystery Tour had seen them mauled by critics for the first time, and their attempts to practise transcendental meditation in India with the Maharishi had ended in disaster. It was during that ill-fated trip that most of these songs were written.
Inside the band itself, the situation was also far from hunky dory. Lennon would soon lose interest in the band, spending more and more time with his new partner Yoko Ono instead. Harrison was increasingly sick of being overlooked by John and Paul, who still only permitted him a few songs per album (he has four out of thirty here). Sensing this unease in the band, McCartney increasingly took charge of the group, a fatherly attitude which further annoyed the others. Meanwhile Ringo gets sole writing credit for `Don't Pass Me By', not one of the album's best but certainly pleasant enough.
It was with these tensions that The Beatles made The White Album, a self-titled song collection that derives its popular nickname from a stark white cover. Most of the songs here are pretty much solo compositions, as the band's two main songwriters had both begun to jealously guard their own work, allowing only minimal input from the other. Ironically, this is the album where George Harrison finally became their equal, writing a couple of the very best songs here.
Beginning with the sound of a plane taking off, Back In The USSR is a Beach Boys homage with a thumping piano beat and lyrics that were fairly controversial during the middle of the Cold War. This fades hauntingly into the acoustic Dear Prudence, written to encourage Mia Farrow's sister out of hut-bound seclusion during the India trip. Glass Onion mockingly references other Beatles songs, providing more fodder for those fans desperate to read hidden meanings into their work. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is a bouncy tale of inter-racial marriage with a happy ending. Wild Honey Pie is a 50-second oddity that reinforces the strange new direction The Beatles had taken. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill sounds more like a twisted nursery rhyme than a rock song, a trait common to much of The White Album.
Next is While My Guitar Gently Weeps, possibly the album's best song. Written by Harrison and featuring guitar from his friend Eric Clapton, it tells of spiritual pain and disillusionment. Happiness Is A Warm Gun is one of the album's most oddly structured songs, featuring several disorientating changes of tone one after another. Martha My Dear is a nice piano ditty that may or may not be inspired by McCartney's dog, depending on who you believe. I'm So Tired is another pained Lennon contribution (he was clearly not having a fun time in 1968). Blackbird is a Bach-inspired piece, once again acoustic because this was the only instrument available to the band in India, and comprising some tasteful samples of the eponymous bird's song.
Piggies is perhaps the bitterest song present, comparing Capitalism to pigs eating bacon, unfortunately a key inspiration for the Manson cult's murder spree. Rocky Raccoon is a slightly unhinged story of a spurned lover setting out (and failing) to kill his rival for the woman in question's affections, featuring some honky-tonk piano. Don't Pass Me By is a bluesy country song written by Starr, the writing of which predated recording by at least four years. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? originated from Paul seeing two monkeys doing just that, and I Will is another McCartney effort, written for future spouse Linda Eastman. The first disc of the CD version (and second side of the original vinyl) ends with Julia, written for Lennon's dead mother and the only Beatles song on which he is the sole performer. This is one of the album's most beautiful compositions, imbued with a real sense of sadness and longing.
Disc Two opens with Birthday, on which McCartney sounds near-psychotic with celebration. Yer Blues expresses suicidal intent, the sort of soul-purging that would become increasingly common during Lennon's solo career. After this, the subdued Mother Nature's Son is a relief to hear - an early version of what would become Jealous Guy was dropped from the album because of perceived similarities to this McCartney tune. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey supposedly concerns Lennon and Ono, though alternative suggestions have been made such as drugs (it was around this time that Lennon acquired a taste for heroin). Sexy Sadie was originally called Maharishi, but George convinced John to alter the lyrics, though the sentiments remain the same. Helter Skelter is The Beatles' loudest and craziest song, the point where this album sounds most disturbed. Long, Long, Long is an extremely subtle Harrison piece, easy to overlook amidst more attention-grabbing Lennon and McCartney songs, but actually incredibly beautiful.
Revolution 1 was Lennon's response to a hippy movement that had grown increasingly violent, saying that he wants change but won't become brutalised to get it. Honey Pie is another of McCartney's music-hall-style recordings, which a lot of people sniff at but I think are actually quite good (this one especially). Savoy Truffle is probably Harrison's weakest contribution here, name-checking the contents of a chocolate box. Cry Baby Cry was inspired by fairy tales, ending with a brief McCartney segment that pleas `Can you take me back?', as though begging to return to a pre-Beatles childhood. The album's penultimate track is its most controversial, Lennon's chaotic sound collage called Revolution 9: personally I think it's interesting and genuinely haunting, though not one of the album's very best. Finally comes Good Night, a soaring ballad that Lennon wanted to sound deliberately cheesy.
And so that's it. The White Album is The Beatles' most endlessly fascinating album, simply because it features such a wide range of styles and moods. Overall the tone is dark and depressed, a result of the isolation and slight sadness felt by the band that had by now surpassed all its contemporaries. As though longing to regress to youth, many of the songs have a distinctly childhood feel, though it's not the happy one of Sgt Pepper a year earlier. My favourite tracks are `Dear Prudence', `Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da', `While My Guitar Gently Weeps', `Blackbird', `Rocky Raccoon', `Julia', `Mother Nature's Son', `Sexy Sadie', `Helter Skelter', `Long, Long, Long' and `Revolution 1'.
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