The Beatles Album - Album Blanco
|Album Information :|
Label:EMI Europe Generic
506 of 549 people found the following review helpful:
- You'll never crack the code
There are a few albums from the rock era that I feel I've been in a relationship with since the first day I got them. "The Beatles" is one of those albums. I found it under my Christmas tree in 1968, and I've been engaged with it at some level ever since. It is not the best Beatles album, objectively; nor is it my favorite. But it has always compelled my attention.
At the time it came out, I was 12, but even then it was clear that we were no longer in Pepperland or on a Magical Mystery Tour. This album wasn't yet more "progress" toward some new musical form. Musically, it embraced values never before associated with the Beatles as I understood them: Parody, pastiche, rock and roll revivalism, music-hall nostalgia, avant-garde experimentation, political agitation, intimate confession, trivial nonsense. It is, simply, a series of highly personal statements from the three songwriters, coalescing around no particular theme other than the right to personal expression.
"The Beatles" is not, to me, "the sound of the Beatles breaking up." That's the storyline a lot of Beatle historians apply to this album. If they're basing this judgement on the fact that the individual songwriters' imprints are on each song, you'd have to argue that the breakup began much earlier, around the time of "Beatles for Sale" or "Help!" Lennon-McCartney were rarely a songwriting "team" in the sense of George and Ira Gershwin. Their partnership was always about strategy, i.e. how to ensure that third-rate songs would not be included on albums just for the sake of fairness. "The Beatles" instead simply shows the evolution of each of the three songwriters (on this album, George emerges dramatically) as they each embraced new musical ideas and applied their life experiences to their art. Having helped break all the molds for what was acceptable songwriting in their previous work, they each now proceeded to take full advantage of the freedom they'd won. Some of the dumber cuts on "The Beatles" demonstrate, perhaps, the expression "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Paul, in particular, seemed frightened to step out too often without the crutch of some existing form that he could parody or pay tribute to, i.e. "Honey Pie," "Back in the USSR" or "Rocky Racoon." But, while you can say that, you have to acknowledge that in this massive album, there are perhaps half a dozen Paul songs that are among his best and most original: "I Will," "Blackbird," "Mother Nature's Son," "Helter Skelter" for four examples.
Lennon's direction was to become more nakedly confessional, as befits someone who was dealing with such turbulent emotions at the time. He gives us some of his most beautiful songs, like "Dear Prudence," and some of his most intense, like "I'm So Tired," "Revolution," "Yer Blues," and "Sexy Sadie." Often, as in "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," "Glass Onion," or "Everybody Has Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey," he seems to be writing in code, and that sense of allusiveness gives the album much of its cracked character. And of course, he's the guy who assembled the collage, "Revolution 9," which is to rock and roll what "Finnegans Wake" is to English literature--a dream that floats between meaning and nothingness.
George seems to be captured here in a moment of great self-discovery as an artist; you can hear his talent finally come together in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which I remember at age 12 was to my ears the best thing on the album--and still seems to be so. Prior to the White Album, he had these cautious little songs on the early albums, and then embraced India, which while sometimes satisfying seemed weird and out of place. His songs here sets the stage for "Something," "Here Comes the Sun" and then his monumental early solo work. At age 12, I thought "Long, Long, Long" was a emotional powerhouse--and I still do.
A few months after I got "The Beatles," the Charles Manson murders took place, and eventually the DA made the case that somehow, insanely, the murders were inspired by songs on this album. Around the same time, the media were full of bizarre speculation that Paul McCartney was dead, and that clues were all over this album. It's no accident that half-insane people might mine "The Beatles" for hidden messages and evidence of conspiracies. The world it depicts is strange and almost claustrophobic--all the more so for its haphazard approach and its odd switches in tone from childish delight to fiendish paranoia. But even those of us who live normal lives and dream normal dreams can acknowledge that "The Beatles" has a hold on your consciousness that is unlike anything else the group did, and unlike anything else that came out of the rock era.
179 of 198 people found the following review helpful:
- TURN ME ON YOU REMASTERED DEAD MAN!
I tried to get a handle on what to expect with the remastered BEATLES songs, by comparing the old remastered CDs from the 80s, with BEATLES ONE (the red CD with the yellow "1", that had 24 bit remastered versions of their number one hits, that came out in 2000.) You can get a ballpark idea about the new remasters, using this method. But of course, NOTHING from the white album is one BEATLES ONE. I expected at least some increased clarity, and increased volumn from the added compression. Yes, its all that and more. Right off the bat, you start hearing sounds you have NEVER heard (or noticed?) before. This isnt from equalization popping up the top end of the sound. There's improved sonic clarity across the HERTZ spectrum. Its as tho you were sonically nearsighted, and someone just put glasses on you for the first time. EVERYTHING just STANDS OUT with such clarity and force. YOU get this effect on ALL the songs. If you listen to JULIA, the acoustic guitars just BLOW YOUR MIND! You can hear John's fingers scrape across the strings. His vocals are rich, full, and the bottom end is....well, altho there is NO bass guitar on JULIA, the bottom end is so full and rich, you would think there WAS bass. Naturally, the BIG TEST for the white album, is listening to REVOLUTION #9. For some reason, deciphering REVOLUTION #9 thru headphones, penetrating the incomprehensible density of tape loops, has been a favorite pass time for some mega-fans for decades. (I'm one.) And you know what? For the first time EVER, I was able to hear more of Ringo's and John's bizarre mumbling jokes, and nonsense verbage. Again, the CLARITY! the DEPTH OF SONIC PERCEPTION! Honestly, its about as much as anyone can hope for. Of course, the WHITE ALBUM was the first Beatle's album recorded in 8 track, so there is less bouncing to free up tracks on this album. For that reason alone, there has always been less tape hiss, and greater clarity, with this album. But since this isnt a digital remix, like the YELLOW SUB soundtrack, the same clarity and vibrancy can be expected on each remastered title. Its amazing, that the engineers at ABBEY ROAD were able to find such vivid soundscapes on those (digitally transfered) master tapes. BRAVO!
NeedI say how great the WHITE ALBUM is? Let's just stick to the remastered CD's "GOODIES". First, you have a protective cardboard slip case around the double gatefold CD, EMBOSSED with "THE BEATLES", just like the first LPS did. The White album folds open, giving you four panels, each with one of the color "glossy photos" on it. (originally on seperate sheets, like the poster, but no more.) The first panel contains the 28 page booklet. It gives you all the lyrics, along with a small essay about the album. The information it contains is concise, exact, and puts the album within the context of the Fab Four's total discography. I loved the extra photos. The July '68 color "Hollyhock" photos are included, and rare B&W promo shots from that period, but the surprises will give Beatle fans something new to munch on. After the first panel containing the booklet, the next two panels have CD1 and CD2 of the album. (the documentary is on CD2). The fourth panel holds a mini reproduction of the poster, with the lyrics on the back. My only complaint, is that the glossy cardboard CD foldout has the CDs stuck in those cardboard slots TIGHT. They tend to grab onto the CDs....be careful taking them out, or the cardboard will give you minor surface scratches. (The CDs aren't in something like LP sleeves, which is the norm when this type of CD mini-LP format is used. Next, I played the QUICK TIME mini documentary. (They're about 3-4 minutes long.) I was worried cos my computer is an old MAC, but it supports MAC OS 10.3 on G4 and G5, as well as PC Pentium 3 processor using windows 2000+. Obviously, nearly anyone with a working computer will be able to watch the QUICKTIME documentaries. They don't have complete music videos, but rather show bits of studio performance. My favorite bit was Paul recording BLACKBIRD. It starts with a close up of TAP SHOES producing that beat, then the camera pulls back to reveal Paul recording on his acoustic. MAD COOL! Also, there's a TON of previously unseen footage from John's home movies of Maharishi's summer camp at Rishikesh India. Plus, photos of the sessions, topped off with studio chatter by the fab four. If you remember the White album section from the ANTHOLOGY, its an extension of that, but no repeats for the most part. Now that the WHITE ALBUM is over 40 years old, putting the songs in a sociological/historical context, will definately be a service to those new to this album, or discovering the BEATLES for the first time.
In conclusion, from the first JET ENGINE flying between your speakers, to Ringo whispering "Good night everybody, everybody everywhere, Good night", the remastered WHITE ALBUM does NOT DISAPPOINT. I don't think they could have gotten a better sound if they had gone back to remix the album. Some people are disappointed that the Beatles didnt put this out on SACD (a format already abandoned), or AUDIO DVD (Perhaps when this format is further standardized, APPLE RECORDS might bring out an AUDIO DVD boxset...who knows?) So many Beatles fans have complained about the original transfer, and then, complained as 24 BIT remastering arrived, but APPLE RECORDS didnt remaster. Well, now it's done, and obviously they worked their butts off to make everybody happy. I"m happy. And, you can bet I'm going to buy at least the ABBEY ROAD, SGT PEPPER, and REVOLVER remasters. If you're on the fence about replacing your whole BEATLES CD collection, my advice is to just buy ONE. Only YOUR ears will tell you where to go from there.
138 of 153 people found the following review helpful:
- A five star album given a one star treatment
The above rating is not for the quality of the Beatles' performances. The album rates up there with Sgt. Pepper, Revolver, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road.
Let me then explain why it deserves the rating. At the time of its initial release on vinyl, the music portrayed an encyclopedia of music styles: from hard rock (Helter Skelter), to blues (Yer Blues), to jazz (Honey Pie), to country (Rocky Raccoon), to Beach Boys surf (Back In The USSR).
Its cover was inspired by the white art of Yoko and individually numbered like works of art. In fact number 1 has recently turned up. Then in 1987, it was released on CD on two separate discs packaged together in a longbox.
Then later it was repackaged in a double CD clamshell which was the start of its downfall. It listed the songs for Disc One, and then Dics (sic) Two. As far as I am aware this gaffe still exists.
Then we come to this latest repackaging. Yes, it was a nice way to commemorate the 30th anniversary by presenting it in a mini album format complete with gatefold sleeve, poster, and four mini pictures of the Beatles. However, one begs the question: why wasn't it remastered?
Sgt. Pepper was to be remastered in mono for its 30th anniversary. That was pulled much to the fans displeasure. Then the execs at Apple didn't want to pass up on the White Album, so they simple dressed up the packaging, charged extra, and left the remastering circa 1987!
Why not put out the mono mix? Piggies, Blackbird, Helter Skelter, Don't Pass Me By have subtleties that would sound refreshing today.
In fact, Happiness is A Warm Gun in mono corrects a mixing error left in the stereo. The instrumental bridge actually had John's middle 8 sung over it. He actually sang that twice. However, in mixing out the first one for the stereo they didn't do it completely because you can hear the last half of the word "down" before he repeats it. The mono mixes this out completely!
As I have stated before, the Beatles catalog demands an overhaul. Maybe if enough fans complain, we'll see it happen!
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful:
- "The Beatles" aka "The White Album" sounding better than ever!
I am floored, I just listened to the 2009 Stereo Remaster of "The Beatles" aka "The White Album" and WOW! Everything sounds better with this awesome remastering, much fuller and dynamic. I'm no audiophile but I CAN tell the difference between this and the old CD release! Comes with a nice booklet and a reproduction of the poster that came with the original LP. Even the slipcover for the 2-CD set is embossed like the original LP cover! I give this 2009 Stereo Remaster an A+
Edy Gibert (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - June 07, 2001
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful:
- A Great Summary of the 60's music expression
1968 was a very significant year in pop & rock's music growth and development. The psychedelic mood that started in 1967 together with the experimentation concepts were evolving into a heavier and more aggressive sound that eventually lead into progressive and hard rock during the 70's. The Beatles contributed to the process of change with this album that consists of a combination of solo and group efforts, and a large variety of different music styles.
Regardless of the different music preferences and the like or dislike for the Beatles' music, the "double white" adds value based on the following concepts. First, it offered a summary of almost every style played during the 60's. (1) Rock'n Roll ("Back To the USSR", "Every Body's Got Something To Hide"...), (2) Heavy Rock ("Helter Skelter", "Birthday"), (3) Electric Blues ("Yer Blues"), (4) Jazz ("Honey Pie"), (5) Folk-Rock (the album's version of "Revolution"), (6) Folk ("Blackbird", "I Will" "Julia", "Rocky Raccoon"), (7) Experimental ("Revolution No 9"), (8) Baroque ("Piggies"), (9) Raw expressions ("Wild Honey Pie", "Why Don't We Do It..."), (10) Heavy Ballads ("Happiness is a Warm Gun", "Dear Prudence", "Sexy Sadie") and, (11) Typical 60's pop (from "Ob-la-di-Ob-la-da", "While My Guitar..." through "Don't Pass Me By"). Second, the sound of the instruments evolved significantly as bass was given a protagonic role ("Dear Prudence" or "Birthday") as opposed to being kept in the back of the tracks. Guitars were used to create a forceful atmosphere ("Helter Skelter", "Every body's Got.."... "Yer Blues"). Third, the Beatles' grew as individual musicians and as a result the instrument switching during the recordings increased, thus George gets to play bass and to invite Clapton into one of his sessions, while Paul plays drums and guitars on more than one track. Many of the tracks reflect the work of a "soloist" or of a soloist with a backing group, and the White Album included more of these solo efforts than any of the Beatles previous material. However, I don't find that these characteristics diminish the quality of the album. "Blackbird" and "I Will" relate more to McCartney's solo music than to the Beatles, but so did "Yesterday", "For No One", and "Fool On the Hill". In addition, "Julia", "Cry Baby Cry" and "Sexy Sadie" were totally Lennon and distant from the Beatles music, but also were tunes like "You've Got To Hide Your...", and "Tomorrow Never Knows". The same cold be said for Harrison's compositions, were "Within You and Without You", "The Inner Light", or "Love You To", reflected more George's mood than the Beatles 60's music.
If you have doubts on the value of the "double white" and its subtleties, let me humbly recommend that you "only" compare this material with the sound of the albums issued during 1967 and 1968. Please abstain from comparing the "Double White Album" with 70's rock groups, contemporary artists, or any other group that emerged and developed after this material was released. I've received comments of listeners who argue that many of the tracks sounded raw, unfinished and disconnected from each other. As a result, some seem to think the "White Album" should have been a one record album instead of a double. Analysing the material I find that there are at least 21 songs that have the same quality standard as the material considered as the group's best. Only 9 tunes out of 30 contained in the album could be questionable. Probably the album should have been a "shorter double album".
My final comment is that the "Double White" was an innovative concept at the time it was released and I remind music lovers that most of the Beatles' music was "perfectly simple", which made it "simply perfect".