The Beatles – The “White Album”
If you don’t own this album, go straight down to Slow Boat and get it. It’s quite possibly the most fantastic collection of pop music ever made.
What the White Album represents is three song writers at the peak of their powers, attempting to outdo each other. This competitive spirit certainly did the album no harm with main songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, attempting to beat the other at what they do best; thus, you have McCartney’s “Helter Skelter” and Lennon’s “Julia”.
The album has such an eclectic mix of styles. From the blues of “Yer Blues”, to the ska tinged “O bla di, o bla da”, to the country of “Rocky Raccoon”, every genre is handled with such ease. Probably the most difficult song to listen to is saved by the fact that it is probably the most revolutionary.
“Revolution no.9” was made entirely from looped tapes which may sound like small fry now, but at the time was completely from left field.
The Beatles began to wear their politics more overtly on this album. Harrison’s “Piggies” is satiric social commentary while McCartney’s “Back in the USSR” is a not so subtle dig at the USA during the height of the cold war, and Lennon’s “Revolution no.1” laments the atrocities committed in the name of revolution.
I asked a mate of mine why the White Album was so good and he told me, “When you hear it for the first time you realise how much potential there is for music. Every song uses the same notes available to everyone else, they just put it a manner that shakes your bones. It came from a pure desire to make music like no one else could.”