The Beatles – The Half-White Album

The Beatles - The White Album

Much is being written about The Beatles at the moment because of the long overdue CD remasters, so “hey“, thought I, “why not add some more writing about The Beatles to the Internet?!

A lot of the talk provoked by the new re-issues is about the mono vs stereo mixes.  That’s a fascinating aspect of sixties recordings about which I have learnt a lot over the past week but I won’t go into that here, as I still don’t think I know enough about this to talk confidently on the subject. What I will do though is give my opinion on the old question of “What if The White Album was not a double album, but just one record?“.

I want to get one thing straight before tackling this: although The White Album is hard work due to its length (something many double albums suffer from) there is nothing on it that I think should have been left in the archives.  When I go back in my time machine, rather than simply give half of the record the complete chop, I will simply split it into two albums – one extremely good and one just rather good.   I had also wondered about whether those tunes not making the cut for the primary album could have been issued as EP tracks, rather than a second album.   For instance, maybe Revolution 1 and Revolution 9 could have joined their cousin Revolution (un-numbered, and arguably better than number 1) on the Hey Jude single, turning that into an EP.  The recently unearthed longer version of Revolution 1 revealed that it would have been quite possible for Revolutions 1 and 9 to segue straight into each other and the flip side of Hey Jude/Revolution would have been a good place for this. Anyway, back to my first thought – a straight split into 2 albums…

I think possibly my most controversial choice is to leave Dear Prudence for the secondary LP.   I know it’s a popular song, but to my ears it’s based on fairly crude melodies, with somewhat trite lyrics.   So I’m sorry but I’m going to simply re-edit the end of Back In The USSR and leave off Dear Prudence.  Those less cynical than me will still get to hear this anyway, on the 2nd LP.   I’ve also tried to make the 2 LPs well balanced, with a fair distribution of songs sung by each Beatle, not just what I consider to be the best 45-minutes from the sessions (the 2nd side of LP2 I’m actually leaving the same as side 4 of the double album).   So, here I go back in my time machine to 1968, and The Beatles release two LPs; one very good one in October 1968, and one just rather good in December:

THE BEATLES Vol.1 (informally known as The Brilliant-White Album)

Side 1 (23 minutes):
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Glass Onion
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
I Will
Don’t Pass Me By
Happiness Is a Warm Gun

Side 2 (22 minutes):
Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter

THE BEATLES Vol.2 (informally known as The Off-White Album)

Side 1 (23 minutes):
Dear Prudence
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
Rocky Raccoon
Yer Blues
Long Long Long

Side 2 (24 minutes):
Revolution 1
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9


8 thoughts on “The Beatles – The Half-White Album

  1. avatarPhil Cope

    Now, Albert Freeman is a fine man and his taste in music has shaped the lives of literally some Bradfordians but hold the phone here.

    Lennon’s primal Yer Blues and the whirlwind of avant garde noise that is Revolution 9 replaced by the Ringo song that everyone skips and McCartney’s song about his bloody dog! This will not stand!

  2. avatarAlbert Post author

    Actually Phil, I do regret leaving off Yer Blues, and although it would be a John for Paul swap, thus messing with the balance, I’d happily swap Yer Blues for Martha My Dear. However, I’m afraid Ringo stays – it’s either Don’t Pass Me By or Good Night, and the latter is just a little bit sickly.

  3. avatarTez Burke

    Half of the White Album is the Beatles at the absolute peak of their powers; the rest is self-indulgent twaddle that deserved no better than to rest alongside “What’s the New Mary Jane” and “The Commonwealth Song” in the bottom of Neil Aspinall’s filing cabinet for over thirty years. The Beatles were in good company though – the Who’s Tommy from the following year is another double LP that has a truly great single album within, but padded with incidental filler and tosh, and let’s not even begin to discuss the contents of Beach Boys albums immediately post-(Smiley) Smile.

    Your edit is good, Albert, though I’d probably swap “Bungalow Bill” and “Rocky Raccoon” for “I Will” and “Mother Nature’s Son”.

  4. avatarRob Walsh

    As I may have already said to Prince Albert, the problem with the Beatles was that they weren’t the Rolling Stones.

    My hard and fast rule about double albums is, as Tez suggests, there are none that wouldn’t make a far far better single album.


  5. avatarAlbert Post author

    I’m starting to think I should have found a way to include Yer Blues and Savoy Truffle, and not been so mathmatical in making the LP balanced. But what to leave off if those two go on? Tell you what, here’s a radical idea – why not just make it a double LP..!? 😀

  6. avatarJohn Hebden

    I think my main beef with Albert’s selection would be the non inclusion of ‘Long, Long, Long’. I read in last weeks Radio Times that Stuart Marconie regards it as the best Beatles track. In spite of that, I would still say that I also think it is the best Beatles track – seriously atmospheric, beautifully melodic, a little bit mystical and the falling bottle at the end.
    Less importantly, I would include ‘Yer Blues’ and ‘Dear Prudence’ and get rid of ‘Glass Onion’ (too much of it’s time), ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ (drifts off into nothingness) and Ringo.

  7. avatarTez Burke

    I wouldn’t include “Yer Blues”; John Lennon sounds even less convincing in this idiom than most of the other white British men that were jumping the blues bandwagon at the time. The version of it that Lennon recorded with Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell as “The Dirty Mac” on Rock’n’Roll Circus also reinforces what Rob says, in that the Beatles weren’t the Stones.

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