The Beatles – “The White Album”

The Sleeve:
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The Gatefold:

The Liner/Sleeve Notes:

Personal Review:
 Well, here we are April 10th, exactly 45 years after the Beatles broke up on April 10th, 1970 – with what is one of their greatest albums, “The White Album” – which is actually just self-titled.

 Anyways, the album opens with McCartney singing “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and from the faint hum of a jet engine to the first notes the album kicks off with one of the Beatles greatest tracks, and I can honestly admit writing about the Beatles is probably one of the hardest things to do, because of the sheer amount of talent this group has. Unlike my previous Beatles review, this album does feature actual songs – and great ones at that! After that we go onto the track “Dear Prudence“, sung by Lennon, which is actually a Beatles track I haven’t heard of previously, so it makes for a better first impression – and it’s a rather good track, slow but the musicianship, the bass and drumming stand out. It’s really done well. Yup, it’s definitely a good track. Then we go onto another Lennon sung track, “Glass Onion” which makes reference to the Beatles track “Strawberry Fields” and hey, this one is a pretty nice track, the vocals are good – and it keeps making references to previous Beatles tracks, and the musicianship is pretty nice! After that we go onto another personal favorite Beatles track, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da“, sung by McCartney, and it’s more upbeat and happy, and I remember back to early high school when a friend of mine who is/was a big Beatles fan said that this was one of the worst Beatles tracks due to the fact it was ‘silly’ – I disagree. It’s done really well, and Paul’s vocals are great. After that comes the track “Wild Honey Pie”  and it doesn’t seem to be much of a song, as opposed to being a rather aggravating jam session, with McCartney saying random words. “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” comes next, and it’s a lot better than the previous, Lennon’s vocals are great and the chorus is amazing. The musicianship really stands out. The absolute fact Yoko Ono does co-lead vocals with John absolutely angers me. Why on earth would they let her on this album? Then comes George Harrison singing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and thank god they got rid of Yoko, this song is a great one, and it’s fantastically done! Everything about this track is superb. The A-Side closes with Lennon singing “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – and what an odd name for a title, but hey, it’s the Beatles, it was the 60’s. The vocals are minimal, but the guitar playing is pretty great, so I guess that makes up for something? Oh wait, it’s picking up – and hey, it’s getting better. This part of the song, where John is singing with the whole band backing him is pretty great. That high note though.

 The B-Side opens with McCartney singing “Martha My Dear” and I find out of the four Beatles that Paul definitely was the best singer, with Ringo and George tied behind him, the musicianship though is fantastic. Then Lennon comes around to sing “I’m So Tired” and his vocals aren’t that bad on this track, they’re actually pretty good. Yup, this is definitely a great track, I gotta admit I really like it. Then we go onto the track “Blackbird” sung by McCartney, and growing up, this song used to give me the creeps really badly, not sure why – probably because I had the mono version on my iPod, so it always sounded really off. Nevertheless, it’s not a bad track at all, it’s actually surprisingly good. Maybe it was the bird noises at the end? Then comes the song “Piggies” sung by George, and the musicianship is a little different, and not what you’d usually expect from the Beatles, but the vocals make up for that, so I’m happy about that. Then we go onto the song “Rocky Raccoon” sung by McCartney, and well, it’s a bit slow – and once more I go back to elementary school, a friend and I were writing short stories and he named his raccoon character Rocky – supposedly after this song, sometimes I think it’s after Rocket due to character similarities, but in the end, this song isn’t that good. Then Ringo finally comes in and sings a song of his own! “Don’t Pass Me By” comes next and is the first time they actually let Ringo do something? I don’t really know, but hey, it’s great, just like his album! “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” comes next, and Paul sings it, and it really doesn’t sound like Paul and by this point the songs are getting a little weird, and off. “I Will” follows next, and finally Paul begins to go back to his usual style of music, and it’s a decent song, I’m not overly fond of the B-Side, there has only been a couple of good songs on it. The B-Side ends with Lennon singing the song “Julia” and once more it’s another slower song, and the only positive so far is that the musicianship is pretty great.

 The C-Side opens with Lennon and McCartney singing the song “Birthday” which I actually did not know was a Beatles track, but apparently it is! Who knew? Clearly not me. It’s actually really good. I’d also like to point out I’m now half-way through this album. “Yer Blues” comes next, and Lennon really lets out his inner rocker with this one, I’m quite partial to the guitar playing though, that is what really does it for me. Then comes McCartney again with the track “Mother Nature’s Son” and hey, it’s really good! The vocals are amazing and it kind of has that folky feel to it, it’s nice to hear McCartney like this. “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” follows next, and is that a reference to Yoko, John? Anyways, Lennon sings it, and it’s actually really good, I especially enjoy Ringo on the drums and all the different little music pieces going on. The guitar solo is pretty good too! Lennon goes onto sing the song “Sexy Sadie” and well, it’s a bit slower, but still a rather great track, and this album seems to be rolling along perfectly. We then go on to the track “Helter Skelter” which is sung by Paul (and it also inspired Charles Manson.) It’s really a great song with a lot of great guitar playing, and then the drums, oh lord those drums are beautiful! Then there is that fade out, a moment of silence then the fade back in, then Ringo shouting the famous “I got blisters on my fingers!” line. The C-Side closes with the song “Long, Long, Long” sung by George, and it’s absolutely beautiful, a wonderful way to end this side of such a great album, the vocals are amazing and the instrumentation is fantastic.

 The D-Side opens with the song “Revolution 1” and it’s a bit slower than the version I’ve previously hard, but Lennon does perform it rather nicely, I do prefer the faster version as opposed to this one. The single version is the better one. This one seems too off for me. “Honey Pie” comes next, and by this point I’m slowly losing my concentration, but McCartney’s vocals on this track – once it picks up does make for a rather nice listen. Though the high notes are a bit reminiscent of Tiny Tim – just saying. “Savoy Truffle” comes next, and George delivers this one perfectly, I’m kind of a bit confused by the lyrics but the guitar playing makes up for that. It’s really not that bad. Then Lennon and McCartney sing another song together, “Cry Baby Cry” comes next, and it’s pretty good. I’m especially liking the musicianship on this one. We then go onto the ever-so-creepy “Revolution 9” which is various sounds and spoken word pieces from Lennon, George, George Martin and the ever-so-popular Yoko Ono. You know this one is going to be absolutely fantastic. Actually, it’s awful and creepy, it’s like falling off the world into the darkest abysses of Hell, where you’ll be greeted by Yoko Ono doing her monkey screams as every sound you’ve ever heard in your entire life is played back to you… backwards. Hell, there’s even babies crying. This song is absolutely cringe-worthy. Of course, it has to be 8 minutes long, right? Babies crying creeps me out the most. I think the only thing that would make this even creepier would be if it got even louder as the song progressed – song, if you even want to call it that. I think if I keep listening to this song I’ll undoubtedly go insane. Oh, fire noises. Was that just a gun battle? The song fades out with some screeching. The album closes Ringo singing the song “Goodnight” and what a better way to end this album then with Ringo singing us off to sleep! Fantastic!

Interesting Facts:

Track Listing:
A1 – Back in the U.S.S.R.
A2 – Dear Prudence
A3 – Glass Onion
A4 – Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
A5 – Wild Honey Pie
A6 – The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
A7 – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
A8 – Happiness Is a Warm Gun

B1 – Martha My Dear
B2 – I’m So Tired
B3 – Blackbird
B4 – Piggies
B5 – Rocky Raccoon
B6 – Don’t Pass Me By
B7 – Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
B8 – I Will
B9 – Julia

C1 – Birthday
C2 – Yer Blues
C3 – Mother Nature’s Son
C4 – Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
C5 – Sexy Sadie
C6 – Helter Skelter
C7 – Long, Long, Long

D1 – Revolution 1
D2 – Honey Pie
D3 – Savoy Truffle
D4 – Cry Baby Cry
D5 – Revolution 9
D6 – Good Night

EMI Records

Catalog Number:
PCS 7067-8

Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Lead, Harmony & Background Vocals, Acoustic, Lead, Rhythm & Bass Guitars, Piano, Hammond Organ, Harmonium, Mellotron, Harmonica, Tenor Saxophone, Extra Drums & Assorted Percussion (Tambourine, Handclaps & Vocal Percussion), Tapes, Tape Loops & Sound Effects (Electronic & Homemade) – John Lennon
Lead, Harmony & Background Vocals, Acoustic, Lead, Rhythm & Bass Guitars, Keyboards (Electric & Acoustic Pianos & Hammond Organ), Assorted Percussion (Timpani, Tambourine, Cowbell, Hand Shake Bell, Handclaps, Foot Taps & Vocal Percussion) Drums (on “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “Dear Prudence”, “Wild Honey Pie” and “Martha My Dear”), Recorder & Flugelhorn – Paul McCartney
Lead, Harmony & Background Vocals, Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic & Bass Guitars, Hammond Organ (on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”), Extra Drums & Assorted Percussion (Tambourine, Handclaps & Vocal Percussion) & sound effects – George Harrison
Drums & Assorted Percussion (Tambourine, Bongos, Cymbals, Maracas & Vocal Percussion), Piano & Sleigh Bell (on “Don’t Pass Me By”), Lead Vocals (on “Don’t Pass Me By” & “Good Night”) & Backing Vocals (on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”) – Ringo Starr
Lead Guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Eric Clapton
Backing vocals & handclaps on “Dear Prudence”, Handclaps on “Birthday”, Trumpet on “Helter Skelter” – Mal Evans
Violin on “Don’t Pass Me By” – Jack Fallon
Backing Vocals on “Birthday” – Pattie Harrison
Backing Vocals & Handclaps on “Dear Prudence” – Jackie Lomax
Backing Vocals on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill – Maureen Starkey
Backing Vocals, Lead vocals & Handclaps on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”, Backing Vocals on “Birthday”, Speech, Tapes & Sound Effects on “Revolution 9” – Yoko Ono
Trombone on “Martha My Dear” – Ted Barker
Trumpet & Flugelhorn on “Martha My Dear” – Leo Calvert
Violins on “Glass Onion” – Henry Datyner, Eric Bowie, Norman Lederman & Ronald Thomas
Violins on “Martha My Dear” – Bernard Miller, Dennis McConnell, Lou Soufier & Les Maddox
Cello on “Glass Onion” & “Martha My Dear” – Reginald Kilby
Cello on “Glass Onion” – Eldon Fox
Cello on “Martha My Dear” – Frederick Alexander
Saxophone on “Savoy Truffle” & “Honey Pie” – Harry Klein
Saxophones on “Honey Pie” – Dennis Walton, Ronald Chamberlain, Jim Chest & Rex Morris
Clarinets on “Honey Pie” – Raymond Newman & David Smith
Tenor Sax’s on “Savoy Truffle” – Art Ellefson, Danny Moss & Derek Collins
Baritone Sax’s on “Savoy Truffle” – Ronnie Ross & Bernard George
Tuba on “Martha My Dear” – Alf Reece
Backing Vocals on “Good Night” – The Mike Sammes Singers
Trumpets on “Martha My Dear – Stanley Reynolds & Ronnie Hughes
Stumpf Fiddle on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” – Chris Shepard
French Horn on “Martha My Dear” – Tony Tunstall
Violas on “Glass Onion” – John Underwood & Keith Cummings
Violas on “Martha My Dear” – Leo Birnbaum & Henry Myerscough
Engineer & Speech on “Revolution 9” – Geoff Emerick
Producer, Executive Producer, Strings, Brass, Clarinet, Orchestral Arrangements & Conducting & Piano on “Rocky Raccoon” – George Martin
Engineer & Mixer – Ken Scott
Engineer (Trident Studio) – Barry Sheffield
Producer, Mellotron on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”, Harpsichord on “Piggies”, Piano on “Long, Long, Long”, Electric Piano, Organ & Saxophone Arrangement on “Savoy Truffle” – Chris Thomas

Other Albums I Own by The Beatles:
The Beatles’ Christmas Album
Fly On the Wall
Hot As Sun
Let It Be… Naked
Live! At the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Twist and Shout


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