The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)

After the death of their own manager, Brian Epstein, The Beatles began to fall apart. There were many reasons why this was so, but their manager’s passing began this process. Sadly, The Beatles struggled to be cohesive as musicians together from then on in.

This album was intended to be completely different from the previous two albums released in 1967. It sounds like it as well. Sadly, it is not the best album that The Beatles ever did. There are great moments here though, so let’s examine this album, track by track.

We begin with Back in the U.S.S.R. which is a comical story of sexual romping. It’s a controversial topic about loving Russian girls. Airplane sounds are everywhere, and some really great guitar playing is here. It’s an interesting piece to kick off an album with. Nice job by the group.

The next song, Dear Prudence, is a gentle acoustic driven piece by John Lennon. The harmonies here are just fantastic to hear on this song. A good effort here, worth a listen. Some great lyrics are here too.

Glass Onion is John Lennon referencing a load of songs done previously by The Beatles. It’s lyrically a weak effort, even though the melody and instrumentation beg to differ here. It’s okay a listen, perhaps alluding to Alice In Wonderland? It’s a good, not great song though. The outro is very discordant.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is truly a nonsensical piece from Paul McCartney. It’s difficult to tell what the meaning of this song is, although he sings about a family sort of situation. It hasn’t dated that well, but it’s enjoyable.

The short and random Wild Honey Pie is a great interlude in between songs. It sounds odd, as it is supposed to be. It’s over before you know it though.

The next song The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is rather an uninspired story about which references Captain Marvel, and has kids singing in the background. It could have been reworked a bit, but it’s still listenable, despite it need some editing here.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a solid piece by George Harrison which features Eric Clapton playing a Gibson Les Paul. There is some story behind that. The song itself is actually very good, it’s a shining moment on the album. Good stuff.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun is a psychedelic piece with some additional twists and turns. It’s a good piece in terms of structure, and is a John Lennon classic. It talks about having a fix (of Heroin likely) and said warm gun, which is likely about love. A good listen.

The Paul McCartney piece Martha My Dear is lovely sounding. It’s a nice piece about a girl that Paul is singing about. A good song, even though it is familiar territory by The Beatles here. The orchestration in the background is a nice touch to the song.

The John Lennon piece I’m So Tired is about that particular feeling one gets when insomnia is experienced. It also refers to attempting to rectify a love based situation as well. It’s a better effort by John Lennon here on this album.

Blackbird is a great acoustic piece. It is so pure, simple and well done that it is a highlight of the album. You can hear foot tapping away in the background and the singing is fantastic here. A must listen. The bird chirping in the background is great too.

Piggies is a political song, if you know what it is about. It’s a good piece about the dog-eat-dog nature of Capitalism towards the rest of humanity. Hence the song title. It’s a really good listen. If you research this song on the internet, you’ll find something freaky about the history of this song.

The follow up Rocky Racoon is pretty ordinary. It sounds like a child’s story tale set to music, but seems a little weaker in relation to the other songs on the album. It just is disappointing in some respects. It’s still worth listening, but not by a great deal.

The Ringo Starr song Don’t Pass Me By is well written, but the fiddle is annoying and not really necessary. The rest of the song is decent but is fairly forgettable really. Goes on for too long as well.

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? is filler. It could have been easily scrapped, but probably not really necessary. It’s a bit different to what the previous songs have been like, fortunately. Chugging piano and Paul’s singing drives this one on.

I Will is a refreshing break from the mediocrity of the previous few songs. It’s a nice love song about being devoted in love. This should be a great song for a good band to cover at some point. A nice, kind and gentle song.

The last song of side one, Julia, is a John Lennon ode to his own mother, who was tragically killed when he was younger. A nice and solid piece from John Lennon. Simply powerful here. The lyrics are fantastic for this song. Very, very good.

The song Birthday is an uptempo piece about the said topic. It’s better than lame Happy Birthday singing for sure, and is fast and pacing with some very good guitar work here. This puts us into a better listen so far on side two of this double album. Good work.

Yer Blues is supposed to be a blues parody. It does sound like a rather poor quality blues number here. It does have some great lyrics in the bridge, but once again, could be better done for sure. It’s a drag to listen to.

Mother Nature’s Son is a better effort and has some nice acoustic guitar and orchestrated accompaniment in the background. Foot tapping is here again as well. It’s a beautiful piece, one of the better ones on side two for sure. Paul McCartney does this very well here.

The weird song Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey is a random piece. It’s enjoyable, but rather trashy. It’s worth listening to anyway, but lyrically isn’t inspiring.

The song Sexy Sadie is a great sort of tale about said woman who John Lennon lusts after. Fictionally of course. It is actually well written and there is some great piano work here, which Radiohead were inspired to write Karma Police from. But that song is completely different to this one, it’s a nice number here.

Helter Skelter is a proto hard rock/heavy metal piece. It’s not quite that, but sounds fantastic compared to everything else on this double album. It just kicks ass. Everything about it, from Paul’s singing to the harmonies and drumming, is just spot on. A must listen for anyone who wants a reference point for heavier rock and roll. It’s an extended piece with many twists and turns. The ending is fantastic.

Long, Long, Long is a subdued piece compared to what was offered previously. It works very well here. It’s an acoustic and organ keyboard based number with very quiet and subtle singing. Maybe Miles Davis got the idea for his album In A Silent Way from here? But it’s a good listen. The ending is different, too.

The directly political Revolution 1 is an interesting one. It’s one of the highlights of the album, and has some very decent lyrics in it. “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow,” is a great line, for example. It rocks very well, and is worth listening to for sure. Catchy too. It cautions about any sort of political revolutions of any sort, brilliant.

The next song Honey Pie is very much an old fashioned piece by Paul which harks back to pre-1960’s jazz and big band music. If you are a fan of this sort of thing, you may enjoy this one. It’s not outstanding, but still, it’s okay. The lyrics are very whimsical.

Savoy Truffle is a rather silly piece about food and the experience of different tasting desserts. It’s a foodie anthem that is quite catchy. Good work from George Harrison. The brass section here is great.

Cry Baby Cry is a nice childlike song with some psychedelic lyrics for us to hear. It refers to a medieval setting with kings, queens and other noble like characters. Simple and effectively done, the calm before the storm here.

The extended piece Revolution 9 is a weird one. It harks back to John Lennon’s experiments on his own experimental albums done around this time with Yoko Ono. It sounds like a strange LSD trip, and is not really necessary here. Sure, it is well pieced together. But it isn’t needed here at all. Only worth listening to once for most people here.

We finally finish here with the beautiful ballad Good Night. It’s a good way to finish off this album. It’s another childlike lullaby here. Good stuff.

This album is a big mish-mash of things. Unfortunately, it is not as good a listen as the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road albums. Still worth having in your collection as a history based record, but even then, this could have been bettered.

7/10

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