The Beatles, also known colloquially as the White Album, is the ninth studio album and only double album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. Featuring a plain white sleeve, the cover contains no graphics or text other than the band's name embossed. This was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band's previous LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Beatles is recognised for its fragmentary style and diverse range of genres, including folk, British blues, ska, music hall, pre-heavy metal, and the avant-garde. It has since been viewed by some critics as a postmodern work, as well as among the greatest albums of all time.
The album features 30 songs, 19 of which were written during March and April 1968 at a Transcendental Meditation course in Rishikesh, India. There, the only western instrument available to the band was the acoustic guitar; several of these songs remained acoustic on The Beatles and were recorded solo, or only by part of the group. The production aesthetic ensured that the album's sound was scaled-down and less reliant on studio innovation than most of their releases since Revolver (1966). The Beatles also broke with the band's tradition at the time of incorporating several musical styles in one song by keeping each piece of music consistently faithful to a select genre.
At the end of May 1968, the Beatles returned to EMI Studios in London to commence recording sessions that lasted until mid-October. During these sessions, arguments broke out among the foursome over creative differences and John Lennon's new partner, Yoko Ono, whose constant presence subverted the Beatles' policy of excluding wives and girlfriends from the studio. After a series of various problems, including producer George Martin taking an unannounced holiday and engineer Geoff Emerick suddenly quitting during a session, Ringo Starr left the band for two weeks in August. The same tensions continued throughout the following year and led to the band's break-up.
The Beatles received favourable reviews from most music critics; detractors found its satirical songs unimportant and apolitical amid the turbulent political and social climate of 1968. It topped record charts in Britain and the United States. No singles were issued in either territory, but "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968. The album has been certified 24× platinum by the RIAA. A remixed and expanded edition of the album was released in 2018 to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
|mash-ups:||The Grey Album by Danger Mouse|
|covers:||Mojo Presents: The White Album Recovered (N° 0000001) by Various Artists|
The White Album by Morgan James
|included in:||The Beatles (box set, includes 2009 stereo remasters)|
The Beatles Collection
The Beatles in Mono (2009 mono remasters)
|part of:||My Life in Music: Perry Farrell (SPIN magazine, 2003-07) (number: A) (order: 1)|
The Guardian 100 Best Albums Ever (number: 9) (order: 9)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2003 edition (number: 10) (order: 10)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 10) (order: 10)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2020 edition (number: 29) (order: 29)
David Keenan: The Best Albums Ever (number: 80) (order: 80)
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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.