Artist: "The Beatles"
Album: "The Beatles (The White Album)"
Genre: Rock
Label: Capitol

Reviewer: Max Burbank
Posted: 3/23/2009

Review: Yes, purists, I know the actual title of the album is “The Beatles”, but everybody calls it the White Album and as you all know, I am ever a man of the people.

Released in 1968, I heard tracks from it at an early, but doubt I ever sat down and listened to all four sides consecutively until I was about twelve, in 1975. To be completely factual, I was probably 14 before I stopped skipping ‘Revolution #9’ and which prior to that point I had thought of first as ‘just noise’, then as ‘a joke of Lennon’s’, then ‘a piece by Yoko’, then ‘Lennon giving the finger to McCartney’ and finally a few years later as ‘the most important track on the album’. A few years after that I calmed down and ‘just liked it’ which is where I’m still at all the years later.

I’m a lifelong Beatles fan. Not obsessional, not of the screaming weeping girl variety, but at very least the kind that knows the bands career arc as well as a good Catholic knows the Stations of the Cross. This is my favorite of their albums, a little more edgy and less cute than “Sgt. Pepper”, more coherent than “Magical Mystery tour”, and just plain longer than “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver.”

Conceived mostly during the Beatles ill fated trip to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, however goofy one might find the whole idea looking backward at it from today, it yielded some of their best work. Things ended badly with the Maharishi,(after he allegedly made a pass at Mia Farrow) and the acid disillusionment is all over the album combining with some real sweetness in an almost self contradictory feel characteristic of all my favorite Beatles cuts. “Baby’s in Black” about trying to pick up a girl at a funeral, “Getting better” which features the lyric “I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the ones that she loved”

According to numerous sources, the White Album marks the beginning of The Beatles breakup, with everyone but McCartney quitting the band at least once during production. This includes Engineers, producers and one assumes custodial workers. In some ways, the album is the work of four separate, individual artists, but I think this is where it’s greatness lies. The Beatles for me is always about dynamic tension of artistic personality, not just the love/hate Lennon/McCartney thing, but all of them tugging in increasingly different directions. The White Album is that perfect moment that often creates great art, a balanced point directly before a downward spiral. As unpleasant as the process may have been, this is the exact moment when stress was great enough to force each member to the height of their creative ability and just before the stress either went on long enough or became unbearable enough, annoying enough to get the Lads to start phoning it in or working alone.

Favorite cuts are almost too many to name. At Various times the self referential “Glass Onion” and the raucous anarchic “Helter Skelter” have been my favorite Beatles song. There’s something irresistible about Ringo’s cry of “I’ve got blisters on my fingers” that just jangles the spine, and I don’t think it’s all the Manson associations. Rather, I think the unhinged Manson fixed on it because it is such a powerful song to begin with. I always liked “Happiness is a Warm Gun” as a cultural response to the Charles Schulz inspired (But not written, you can tell by the lack of pathos) “Happiness is a warm Puppy”, which was utterly inescapable at the time the album came out. My Mom had a sweatshirt with the “Happiness is a warm puppy” graphic. “I’m So Tired” is the Beatles at their John Lennon crankiest. “Why don’t we do it in the road?”, “Piggies”? C’mon, man. Essential. And then to bring it home “Revolution #9” into “Goodnight”, it’s like the polar opposite ends of the Beatles whole thing. Challenging, daring, even upsetting winding into a loveliness that would be saccharine on it’s own.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Mar 25th, 2009, 07:03 AM
DUDE. This is my favourite Beatles album. How many minds have been blown to this?
Retardedly Handsome
Mar 25th, 2009, 09:37 AM
I was working at a ski shop for years and while I was in the back workng on skis I would have this playing pretty much everyday. It's really solid from start to finish.

I heard on the news a few weeks back that Paul is throwing Ringo a bone after all these years and are going to play together again..way to wait until George was dead you fucks.
Live long and prosper
Mar 25th, 2009, 01:08 PM
I have this album on vinyl, cassette, cd, and mp3...I listen to it all the time and it never gets old!
Forum Virgin
Mar 25th, 2009, 02:23 PM
Jeez, man, if the white album doesn't get five pickles, then what the holy hell does?
Mar 25th, 2009, 04:18 PM
I'm not sure if this album lives up to say, the complete awesomeness off Rubber Soul, or the re-playability of Abbey Road, but I do enjoy it.
Mar 25th, 2009, 04:39 PM
I absolute adore Helter Skelter.

I bet Manson is still waiting for that race war.
Forum Virgin
Mar 25th, 2009, 09:15 PM
Not to be a nit picker or anything, but it's "kept her apart from the THINGS that she loved", not.
Bustin makes me feel good
Mar 25th, 2009, 10:17 PM
I prefer Abbey Road.
Who? Me?
Mar 25th, 2009, 11:33 PM
Truly, awesomeness is contained within the thirty songs on the album. Not much else there is to say---I mean, what CAN you say? It's the Beatles near the apex of their creativity. I personally don't like how people disparage it as merely four solo albums lumped together; as I believe you mentioned, it really allows their personalities to shine through. One cannot doubt that that is as awesome an experience on a Beatles album as there was (until maybe Abbey Road, but, then, all opinions in this world are debatable to some degree). This was the closest you could get into their minds as individual artists rather than as a group until they broke up (...maybe after Wings for McCartney, but, as I'd mentioned, debatable).

Personally, my favorite cuts from the album seem to vary from time to time, but I've always loved "Rocky Raccoon", "I'm So Tired", "Revolution 1", "Don't Pass Me By", and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

Really glad to see this review here. I honestly never expected anything focused on the Beatles on this site. :-)
It's a jelly.
Mar 26th, 2009, 08:14 PM
great album. amazing how it stands up 40 YEARS later! You really can't describe with mere words how superb this album is. One of the few things I got from my dad when he passed away was this on vinyl. still play it to this day. I also laminated the awesomely cool poster that came with it. You can't get the scope of the poster from just the CD booklet. "Blackbird" "Bungalow Bill" "Piggies" "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" shit you could list every song on this album and say that each one is the best...because they are.

thanks for the great review Mr. Burbank. much appreciated.
The Goddamned Batman
Mar 26th, 2009, 09:32 PM
There's no doubt it's a great album, but for my money their best ones are Revolver and Rubber Soul.
Fookin' up planets!
Mar 27th, 2009, 12:16 PM
I enjoy Lennon's solo work far more for some reason but all the Beatles catalog is pretty awesome. But I have to say as far as trippy brit bands go Pink Floyd is my all time favorite.