I’ve said somewhere before that The White album is a brilliant single album, but not so great as a double and, though I’ve listened to the album many times, I’ve never actually owned a copy until this week. I picked up a German re-press from 1980, cover in OK condition but no pictures/posters. As long as it plays I’m not that bothered. It was £8, which is pretty cheap for this double album and, even though it sticks right at the end of Blackbird, I’m pretty pleased with it.
Speaking of the 4 pictures that came with it, these are they:
I used to have these when I was about 14, maybe 15. There was a record shop and the B’s were filed alphabetically near the door and the counter was at the other end of the shop with the Z’s. One day I went it in and was looking at The White Album and realised that the photographs were in there. Quite suddenly they weren’t and I left the shop. I had them up on my bedroom wall for quite a while but they were lost at some point. If you’re judging me, stop it, I was just a kid.
The problem I have with the album is that some of the tracks aren’t, in my opinion, very good. People will disagree of course, and they are quite welcome to, but the George Harrison track, Piggies for example, is just mean spirited and feels like a bad nursery rhyme put to music. It does have cultural significance having been adopted by the counterculture of 1968 as an anti establishment theme song and was, of course, one of the tracks Charles Manson used as part of his Helter-Skelter theory of an American race-related countercultural revolution. Cultural significance doesn’t necessarily translate to good though, and this isn’t.
While I’m being negative, I’d throw out Rocky Raccoon, Wild Honey Pie, probably Glass Onion, definitely Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, Birthday, oh and loads of others.
So my single album would look something like this and, in my opinion, would be a much better proposition.
Back In The U.S.S.R.
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Revolution (Replacing Revolution 1)
Cry, Baby, Cry
And these are the tracks for the Beatles Anthology series released way after the fact, pretty much for enthusiasts only:
Wild Honey Pie
Don’t Pass Me By
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
Long, Long, Long
I know, sacrilege, but hey, I’m entitled to my opinion and it doesn’t have to match yours. I was watching some videos of a Beatles collector the other day and there seems to be no subjectivity at all, everything is brilliant and it wasn’t. A lot was of course but not all of it.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of a guy called Rutherford Chang, he collects The White Album and currently has 1,947 copies. That’s Piggies 1,947 times, good lord, that would be painful. His site is here.
On the other side of the coin, Happiness is a Warm Gun is a brilliant track, and was brilliantly covered by The Breeders:
As it says in the Lennon/Ono interview further up the page, it’s a collage, and it really works.
To be honest, I think Revolver is a much better album, and I’m not alone in that opinion. For the record I think Sgt Peppers is overrated as well. I own them both and have been listening to them for years, Sgt. Peppers certainly has its moments and it is undoubtedly a good album, but if I had these three records and only these three records, Revolver would be on the turntable more than the other two even though I really dislike Yellow Submarine, actually, any song that Ringo sings on I find to be generally lacking.
I’ve just read back what I’ve written, it sounds like I hate The White Album, I don’t, there are just some tracks I can do without having to listen to. I think it’s a great album that could have been brilliant.
As a side note, I was talking to my son about this very subject this evening and he thinks my opinion makes me an idiot, he usually has good judgement about these things.