Guide to British Music of the 1960s

February 1999

CD Review

The Beatles - The Beatles


The Beatles was one of the group's most successful albums. It's proper title is simply The Beatles although it is more often referred to as "The White Album" given its plan white cover. The album has recently been re-released to celebrate its 30th anniversary and hence Making Time reviews it now.

There are mixed opinions about The Beatles, some say it's a great work and others are less enthusiastic. What is not in dispute is the fact that the album contains some great songs. My own personal view is that would have made a much better single album. It was a clear sign that the Beatles were starting to break up. The album represented a collection of songs by four individuals, sometimes working as backing musicians for each other. This meant that it varied between wonderful and dreadful. At one end we have masterpieces such as Dear Prudence, Helter Skelter and While My Guitar Gently Weeps and at the other end there is Revolution #9, Why Don't We Do It In The Road and Rocky Racoon.

There was no doubt that George Harrison had matured as a songwriter by this stage and he had a number of tracks on the album, the best of these being While My Guitar Gently Weeps. However, the Beatles were able to prove that they were only human, at least when it came to musicianship, as Eric Clapton was invited to play guitar on this track. Ringo Starr contributed his first and only track to a Beatles' album although Don't Pass Me By had been mentioned in interviews as far back as 1964. Without deriding the song at all, its inclusion is further proof that this is a collection of songs by four individuals and not a group effort.

Paul McCartney appears to have become the driving force behind the band at this time. His songs vary though. Helter Skelter is a classic and even today it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. the album kicks off with Paul McCartney's doubtle tribute to Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys, Back in the USSR. Birthday is another McCartney rocker while, at the other end of the scale, are the lighter Martha My Dear, about his sheepdog, and Blackbird. Against this are the McCartney songs that are either too lightweight or simply throwaway such as Wild Honey Pie, and Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. The latter was a number one hit for Marmalade but in the context of the Beatles it sounds distinctly poor.

John Lennon's form also varies from genius to downright awful. Dear Prudence and Glass Onion start the album on a high note and this is added to be other classic such as Julia and Revolution, Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except for me and my Monkey and the difficult-to-drum-to Happiness is a Warm Gun. Perhaps the song I'm So Tired sums it all up really.

mp, January 1999

Released: 1968
Apple PCS 7167/8
Highest UK Chart Position: 1
Highest US Chart Position: 1
Virgin Top 1000 Position: 3

Essential Tracks:

  • Helter Skelter
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
  • Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and my Monkey

Track Listing:

  1. Back in the USSR
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. Glass Onion
  4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  5. Wild Honey Pie
  6. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  8. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  9. Martha My Dear
  10. I'm So Tired
  11. Blackbird
  12. Piggies
  13. Rocky Racoon
  14. Don't Pass Me By
  15. Why Don't We Do It In the Road
  16. I Will
  17. Julia
  18. Birthday
  19. Yer Blues
  20. Mother Nature's Son
  21. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and my Monkey
  22. Sexy Sadie
  23. Helter Skelter
  24. Long, Long, Long
  25. Revolution 1
  26. Honey Pie
  27. Savoy Truffle
  28. Cry Baby Cry
  29. Revolution 9
  30. Good Night

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