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Old 08-09-2012, 08:11 PM   #172 (permalink)
Janszoon
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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The Beatles (aka The White Album)

Alrighty, here's my very long awaited White Album review. My list of excuses for the delay include being busy, being a little overwhelmed with reviewing such a long album, and simply being burnt out with listening to and critiquing Beatles releases. Anyway, thanks in part to the recent prodding from Ki, I'm back on the job.

I'll start by stating the obvious opinion that a lot of people have about this album: it's too goddamn long. If they had edited it down to a single record it would probably be up there with Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road for me in terms of quality, but as it stands it's too full of half-baked experiments and filler to rate very highly with me. Even some of the well-known songs are ones I've never been particularly fond of, such as "Birthday", "Revolution 1" (though I've always liked the single version), "Glass Onion" and "Back in the USSR"—though after these closer listens I've come to appreciate the Beach Boys parody of that last one. This album sounds exactly like what it is, a patchwork of recordings by people who were barely talking to each other, and it most certainly suffers for it.

So, yes, I have a lot of negative things to say about a lot of these tracks, but the news isn't all bad here. I did say, after all, that this probably could have made a great single-record album. To start with, I've always enjoyed "Helter Skelter", "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"—even if that last song has an unfortunate TV association for me—and with many listens over the past few months I've come to enjoy a good amount more. "Rocky Raccoon" is a track that comes immediately to mind in this regard. Despite beginning with what sounds like an embarrassing ignorance of American geography, it turns into the kind of fun-but-strangely-sad songs that I'm a sucker for, not to mention the fact that it's also kind of an interesting take on "Stagger Lee". "Sexy Sadie" is another one, there's something about that reverby piano that just kills me. And "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Long, Long, Long", two tracks which I believe were specifically mentioned as favorites by people in this thread, have become favorites of mine as well. Both of them are so perfectly heartbreaking and bittersweet, just as a good pop song should be. Another one in this category for me is "Cry Baby Cry", though it doesn't seem to get as much recognition (the Laibach cover of it is well worth a listen too).

In the end, there are certainly as many good songs here as on the best of their releases, it's just this album is disappointing in terms of the potential it had. Even in its less-than-strong moments I hear potential for greatness—a bit of organ on "Savoy Truffle", the sound collage of "Revolution 9", the vocal melody on "Blackbird"—I just wish these tracks delivered on that promise a little more often.

Thank you very much to Ribbons for sending this to me! I haven't seen you around here lately but hopefully you'll see this review.

Up next: Magical Mystery Tour
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