The Beatles, also known as the White Album, is the ninth studio album by English rock group the Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. A double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band's name embossed (and, on the early LP and CD releases, a serial number).
Most of the songs on the album were written during March and April 1968 at a Transcendental Meditation course in Rishikesh, India. Although the group's experience of the course was mixed, the lack of external influences or drugs sparked the band's creativity and they returned to England with around 40 new songs. They regrouped at George Harrison's house, Kinfauns, in May and recorded demos of 26 songs, enough for a double album. The group returned to EMI Studios to record the new material, with sessions lasting through to mid October, but their experiences in Rishikesh did not help motivate them in the studio. Because the Beatles had unlimited recording time, there was little attempt to rehearse anything as a group, so everything was captured on tape, after which they would overdub voices and additional instruments. Arguments broke out between the Beatles, and witnesses in the studio saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney quarrel with one another. The feuds intensified when Lennon's new partner, Yoko Ono, started attending the sessions. In addition, McCartney was not happy about the avant-garde piece "Revolution 9", while Lennon disliked several of McCartney's songs. After a series of problems, including producer George Martin taking a sudden leave of absence and engineer Geoff Emerick quitting, Ringo Starr left the band briefly in August, and consequently missed the recording of two tracks. The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the group's eventual disbandment in April 1970.
On release, The Beatles received mixed reviews from music journalists. Most critics found its satirical songs unimportant and apolitical amid a turbulent political and social climate, although some praised Lennon and McCartney's songwriting on the album. The band and Martin have since debated whether the group should have released a single album instead. Nonetheless, The Beatles reached number one on the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States and has since been viewed by some critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.
Mojo Presents: The White Album Recovered (N° 0000001) by Various Artists
The Grey Album by Danger Mouse
After the show came the reality. Fractured, dislocated and expansive, The Beatles - housed in its legendary plain white, subtly embossed sleeve - came out in November 1968. It arrived at a time when both the group and the world had changed irrevocably: the former since their first forays into fame and fortune, the latter scarred by the ongoing war in Vietnam and the assassination of Martin Luther King, to touch upon the tip of the iceberg.
From the inside looking out, maybe everything wasn't going to be alright, despite John Lennon's assurances on the rousing Revolution 1, just one of many highlights on what is perhaps The Beatles' most ambitious studio album.
After writing dozens of songs while meditating in India in the spring, the group returned to Abbey Road - and Trident, in Soho - to record over 30 tracks of new material up until the summer. When you think of how unrest had started to simmer within the group's ranks - Yoko Ono arriving in the studio; Apple forming; Ringo leaving and then returning - and how broad the album's palette of sounds (blue beat, heavy metal, folk and doo-wop, to name a few), The Beatles still manages to hang together like few other works.
The Lennon and Paul McCartney stereotypes are at once reinforced, yet also dismissed - few would have thought Good Night was the product of Lennon's pen, and likewise Helter Skelter didn't immediately scream McCartney. Away from such showpieces, it's the doodles that delight - George Harrison's Savoy Truffle is a fine counterweight to While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey balances the gravitas of Revolution 1.
Given that it also contains Lennon, Ono and Harrison's nine-minute noise collage Revolution 9 and McCartney's genuinely pointless Wild Honey Pie, it's little wonder that producer George Martin always opined that The Beatles could have made a splendid single album. That said, without such variety on offer, the compiling of one's own version wouldn't be the national pastime it is today.