Saturday, June 28, 2014


Beginning an occasional series about The White Album and its songs.

I confess that I like The White Album more than Sgt Pepper , it is a personal favourite.

Officially called The Beatles, this 9th studio album by The Fab Four (as they were sometimes called at the time) is commonly known as The White Album because its plain white cover bears only the embossed band’s name. On the early LP and CD releases there is also a serial number

Here is a pic of the album cover:

I'm just kidding with you, here is a pic showing the embossing and the serial number (in this case, the number 5, making it a valuable cover that went to auction)  . . . 

Album facts:
  • It was released on 222 November 1968 during a period of turmoil within the group after returning from spending time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. The album followed Sgt Pepper, their 8th studio album, which had been released on 1 June 1967.
  • On release there was a mixed reception. Critics were cool on the satirical songs and critical of its mixed bag of content. Today it is regarded as one of the world’s best ever albums, having come in at No 4 on a median of 14 published lists.
  • Much of the album was written whilst the group were in India with the Maharishi. Ringo left first because he couldn’t take the food any longer, then Paul. John and George remained because of their interest in Indian religion but ultimately they also left, John having been upset by rumours of the Maharishi putting the moves on Mia Farrow. It is now pretty much accepted that the rumours were falsely created by Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas, a sculptor and designer who had become in with the Beatles. His aim was to reduce the influence of the Maharishi in the lives of the Beatles.

  • The Beatles formed their own company, Apple Corp, at this time to deal with their business interests but it was drained by backing other artists.
  • Recording of the White Album also marked the time that Yoko Ono started coming into the studio, contributing to the rift between Paul and John.
  • Relations between the members of the group became so strained during the studio recording that some of the tracks are solo, on others there is not a full Beatles band backing.  For a while Paul recorded in one studio and John separately in another. Of the 30 tracks, only 16 have the full Beatles. When John, working on “Yer Blues” in studio 3, paid Paul (who was working on Mother Nature’s Son”) a visit in Studio 2, engineer Ken Scott later claimed "You could cut the atmosphere with a knife".
  • ingo, fed up with the tension and being left waiting repeatedly, up and left. Paul played drums on “Dear Prudence” in his absence and Paul, John and/or George looked after bass and drums on “Back in the USSR”. He was prevailed upon to return but it wasn’t long after that the final split happened.
  • Eric Clapton played lead guitar on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
  • Charles Manson believed that the Beatles were speaking to him in code through the lyrics of the White Album, especially in “Helter Skelter” and “Piggies”, telling him there was going to be an apocalyptic race war, “Helter Skelter”, and the piggies, the blacks, were going to rise up against the Establishment, giving it a damn good whacking.

Track listing:

Side one 
"Back in the U.S.S.R." – 2:43 
"Dear Prudence" – 3:56 
"Glass Onion" – 2:17 
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" – 3:08 
"Wild Honey Pie" – 0:52 
"The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" – 3:13 
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (George Harrison) – 4:45 
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" – 2:43 

Side two 
"Martha My Dear" – 2:28 
"I'm So Tired" – 2:03 
"Blackbird" – 2:18 
"Piggies" (Harrison) – 2:04 
"Rocky Raccoon" – 3:32 
"Don't Pass Me By" (Ringo Starr) – 3:50 
"Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" – 1:40 
"I Will" – 1:45 
"Julia" – 2:54 

Side three 
"Birthday" – 2:42 
"Yer Blues" – 4:00 
"Mother Nature's Son" – 2:47 
"Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" – 2:24 
"Sexy Sadie" – 3:15 
"Helter Skelter" – 4:29 
"Long, Long, Long" (Harrison) – 3:03 

Side four 
"Revolution 1" – 4:15 
"Honey Pie" – 2:40 
"Savoy Truffle" (Harrison) – 2:54 
"Cry Baby Cry" – 3:02 
"Revolution 9" – 8:13 
"Good Night" – 3:11

Next week:
What do the Beach Boys have to do with "Back in the USSR"?
Who is the Prudence of "Dear Prudence" and why wasn't she playing?

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