Let's review the Beatles: The White Album

Album: The Beatles (aka The White Album) (1968)
Purchased: High School
One-liner: Growing tension within the band leads to a sprawling double album and, after conflicts over everything from to track order to cover art, it is released in a plain white sleeve.

Review: As with everything, the details of the first and the last are always the strongest. And the rest can be a little ...blurry. Here's what I do know: This is the last Beatles CD I bought in high school. I bought it shortly after Abbey Road and the exact whereabouts are unknown (though if you said the mall or Target, you'd probably be close). I could "cold case" some other details: for example I could tell you that this was likely a big purchase for me – I didn't do double albums outside of box sets and 2-CD greatest hits collections. It was also likely picked up due to the impression it made on me during that influential listening day mentioned in my Magical Mystery Tour review. Chances are I was sick of turning the album over all the time, a process that doubled with the White Album.

Other than this being my favorite Beatles album, there's not much in the way of embarrassing life stories tied to this record. I love that in spite of (or maybe because of) their inner turmoil, they were able to create such a unique and distinct work. You can copy the Beatles sound, but you can't mimic what they were going through when they made the White Album. Other bands don't make this album at all, they just break up.

Wait, wait – I just remembered an embarrassing story. A couple years later, I decided that the White Album-era John Lennon look was where it was at. Fortunately for me, I was halfway there. I was pasty and wore glasses, so only a couple of steps were needed. Step one: I picked up a pair granny glasses. Step two: I grew out my hair (long, but not long enough really). Bam. Instant Lennon. My specific inspiration was Lennon's inside cover photo on the White Album. Soon enough I was taking idol worship to that next, Single White Female level:

So, yeah, my fashion sense was a little off. And I liked ironically holding pepper shakers. Be yourself, kids. That's the message for today. And I suppose you could say that's the message of the White Album too. Tied that back around nicely.

Rating: Favorite Beatles album. Six billion stars.

Final thoughts: The poster that originally appeared in the album is mercilessly butchered in the original CD version. Disappointing. Also, while I can still pretty much listen to the whole thing from beginning to end, "Birthday" and "Honey Pie" are tough to get through.

Next up: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band


Mark said...

My all-time favorite Beatles album, too. There's so much on it, it would be the one Beatles' album I would take with me on a deserted island. Assuming, of course, the island had electricity and a nice stereo.

I love hearing Paul talk about Yer Blues. They were in India studying meditation, and trying to create peace/happiness within themselves as well as the world. John comes over to Paul and says he has written a new song. He plays it for Paul, and it's this wailing guitar and the first lyrics are, "I'm lonely, wanna die!" Wonderful.

Mark said...

Oh! I forgot a few things. First, when I first looked over your post, I thought you had a side-by-side shot of John Lennon and Julian Lennon. So the FAIL probably isn't as bad as you think.

Also: Sometime in the 1970s the White Album was released on white vinyl. I own that copy! Actually, it's not such a big deal, as I think I read somewhere it isn't particularly valuable. The sound quality may have been compromised, too. I remember feeling pretty cool, though, and I constantly showed it to my friends without letting them touch it.

Gina said...

"Be yourself, kids."


ann said...

I'm enjoying the tour of the Beatles albums Ronson! Even though I was born in that era, my sister had the biggest fasination with them. She had these flash cards (like bubble gum card size) and would quiz me over and over till I got them right! Wish I had them now! I think the album I listened to most was Sgt Pepper cause it was the only one in the house, but totally adored it! P.s. I agree with Mark, I have a couple pictures during the time you were into John "look alike" and I'd have to say, not really a fail in my book either.

Ronson said...

Nice, I'm glad to hear that efforts to look at least like Julian Lennon were passable.

Mark - I've seen a few copies of those white vinyl White Albums, I wondered if they worth anything (I feel like people keep them behind glass cases in record stores), so y'know, who knows. The idea that the sound might have been compromised to create the cool effect is pretty hilarious to me.

Mom - I want those flash cards. Let's track 'em down...