The Beatles – The White Album

I’ve said somewhere before that The White album is a brilliant single album, but not so great as a double and, though I’ve listened to the album many times, I’ve never actually owned a copy until this week. I picked up a German re-press from 1980, cover in OK condition but no pictures/posters. As long as it plays I’m not that bothered. It was £8, which is pretty cheap for this double album and, even though it sticks right at the end of Blackbird, I’m pretty pleased with it. 

Speaking of the 4 pictures that came with it, these are they:


I used to have these when I was about 14, maybe 15. There was a record shop and the B’s were filed alphabetically near the door and the counter was at the other end of the shop with the Z’s. One day I went it in and was looking at The White Album and realised that the photographs were in there. Quite suddenly they weren’t and I left the shop. I had them up on my bedroom wall for quite a while but they were lost at some point. If you’re judging me, stop it, I was just a kid.

The problem I have with the album is that some of the tracks aren’t, in my opinion, very good. People will disagree of course, and they are quite welcome to, but the George Harrison track, Piggies for example, is just mean spirited and feels like a bad nursery rhyme put to music. It does have cultural significance having been adopted by the counterculture of 1968 as an anti establishment theme song and was, of course, one of the tracks Charles Manson used as part of his Helter-Skelter theory of an American race-related countercultural revolution. Cultural significance doesn’t necessarily translate to good though, and this isn’t.

While I’m being negative, I’d throw out Rocky Raccoon, Wild Honey Pie, probably Glass Onion, definitely Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, Birthday, oh and loads of others.

So my single album would look something like this and, in my opinion, would be a much better proposition.

Back In The U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I’m So Tired
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter

Revolution (Replacing Revolution 1)
Cry, Baby, Cry

And these are the tracks for the Beatles Anthology series released way after the fact, pretty much for enthusiasts only:

Glass Onion
Wild Honey Pie
Rocky Raccoon
Don’t Pass Me By
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
I Will
Yer Blues
Long, Long, Long
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Revolution 9
Good Night

I know, sacrilege, but hey, I’m entitled to my opinion and it doesn’t have to match yours. I was watching some videos of a Beatles collector the other day and there seems to be no subjectivity at all, everything is brilliant and it wasn’t. A lot was of course but not all of it.


I don’t know if you’ve heard of a guy called Rutherford Chang, he collects The White Album and currently has 1,947 copies. That’s Piggies 1,947 times, good lord, that would be painful. His site is here.

On the other side of the coin, Happiness is a Warm Gun is a brilliant track, and was brilliantly covered by The Breeders:

As it says in the Lennon/Ono interview further up the page, it’s a collage, and it really works.

To be honest, I think Revolver is a much better album, and I’m not alone in that opinion. For the record I think Sgt Peppers is overrated as well. I own them both and have been listening to them for years, Sgt. Peppers certainly has its moments and it is undoubtedly a good album, but if I had these three records and only these three records, Revolver would be on the turntable more than the other two even though I really dislike Yellow Submarine, actually, any song that Ringo sings on I find to be generally lacking.

I’ve just read back what I’ve written, it sounds like I hate The White Album, I don’t, there are just some tracks I can do without having to listen to. I think it’s a great album that could have been brilliant.

As a side note, I was talking to my son about this very subject this evening and he thinks my opinion makes me an idiot, he usually has good judgement about these things.



My Beatles Black Album


The Black Album is an unofficial compilation album of solo material by members of the Beatles. It was created by the actor Ethan Hawke, and was used in the 2014 film Boyhood in which he starred for 12 years as it charted the life of his son from age of 6 to 18.  Hawke originally compiled the record to give to his daughter on her 13th birthday in 2011, it was then incorporated into Boyhood in scenes shot later that year, with Hawke’s character giving it to his son as a birthday present.

The dialogue from the film is:

Mason, I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This is the best I could do.”

— Mason Sr. explains The Black Album

I’ve never seen the film but had heard about it so I will definitely be seeking it out. I also made my own Black album, for myself as though it had been presented to me, by me, a future older me to my younger self. Narcissistic or what?!


Some video highlights:

Here is the orginal track list from the film:

john__paul__george__ringo__by_insert_username_hereDisc 1:

1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”

2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”

3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy”

4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”

5. John Lennon, “How?”

6. Paul McCartney, “Every Night”

7. George Harrison, “Blow Away”

8. Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed”

9. John Lennon, “Woman”

10.Paul McCartney & Wings, “Jet”

11. John Lennon, “Stand by Me”

12. Ringo Starr, “No No Song”

13. Paul McCartney, “Junk”

14. John Lennon, “Love”

15. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “The Back Seat of My Car”

16. John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”

17. John Lennon, “Mind Games”

18. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Bluebird”

19. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

20. George Harrison, “What Is Life”

Disc 2:

1. John Lennon, “God”

2. Wings, “Listen to What the Man Said”

3. John Lennon, “Crippled Inside”

4. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful (And You’re Mine)”

5. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Let Me Roll It”

6. John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, “Power to the People”

7. Paul McCartney, “Another Day”

8. George Harrison, “If Not For You (2001 Digital Remaster)”

9. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”

10. Wings, “Let ‘Em In”

11. John Lennon, “Mother”

12. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Helen Wheels”

13. John Lennon, “I Found Out”

14. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”

15. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”

15. George Harrison, “Not Guilty (2004 Digital Remaster)”

16. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Heart of the Country”

17. John Lennon, “Oh Yoko!”

18. Wings, “Mull of Kintyre”

19. Ringo Starr, “It Don’t Come Easy”

Disc 3:

1. John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me (2010 Remaster)”

2. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”

3. The Beatles, “Real Love”

4. Paul McCartney & Wings, “My Love”

5. John Lennon, “Oh My Love”

6. George Harrison, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”

7. Paul McCartney, “Pipes of Peace”

8. John Lennon, “Imagine”

9. Paul McCartney, “Here Today”

10. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”

11. Paul McCartney, “And I Love Her (Live on MTV Unplugged)”


What’s in the bag? (87, 88, 89, 90)

pipes of peace

I have usually considered myself to be more of a Lennon fellow than a McCartney Chap, but I’ve softened on that over the years and I think I can say that I am somewhere in the middle nowadays, although I do sometimes find McCartney to be a bit of a dick sometimes (and that’s not to say that Lennon wasn’t, he just isn’t around to continue to be so). With the re-release of ‘Pipes of Peace’ just passed on October 2nd I thought I’d buy a copy, a used one, for £3.00, just because.

I do have some pre-conceived prejudices about this record, namely the opening two tracks, these being ‘Pipes of Peace’ and Say, Say, Say’ with Michael Jackson. I’ve never really liked either of them, which I appreciate to some will be heresy, but I just don’t, so my hopes rested on the rest of the album, which I’ve never heard and comes to me as fresh material, admittedly 32 year old fresh material though.

I do well remember the video for ‘Pipes of Peace’, which at the time was considered to be pretty good, with McCartney appearing as both German and British soldier, with the whole Christmas day ceasefire theme of 1914. I had thought this was a Christmas number one, but apparently it wasn’t, that was The Flying Pickets with a cover of ‘Only You’ by Yazoo. ‘Pipes of Peace’ hit number one in January and stayed there for 2 weeks, which I’m guessing was not the intention as it seemed to be geared for the Christmas Number 1 spot.

35884bSo, the rest of the album. It’s not bad, it’s not particularly great either. The second collaboration with Michael Jackson, ‘The Man’ is better than ‘Say, Say’ Say’ I think but it sounds like a Michael Jackson track rather than a McCartney track. I quite liked ‘The Other Me’, which sounds as though it was from an earlier period, ‘Hey Hey’ is almost instrumental and could be anybody, ‘Tug of Peace’ seems entirely pointless but ‘Through Our Love’ is OK.

Oh dear, I was trying to find something super positive to wind up on, but I really can’t. The album as a whole seems somewhat half-arsed, a mish mash of ideas and styles and far from McCartney’s best song writing.

Speaking of half-arsed, you just have to look at the cover, and particularly be back of it where it just looks like McCartney has wandered in for 60 seconds and then buggered off having posed 3 or four times and they’ve used the one that’s most interesting, which isn’t at all.

I hate the above video so very much.


WingsLondonTownI Actually bought a job lot of McCartney/Wings albums, and because I feel the need to always try and be at least a little bit positive I shall talk about another one now, and that’s ‘London Town’, which is a decent album, not without its problems but this 1978 release had a consistency of writing and production even if, during the recording, Wings were reduced to a three piece with the return of drummer  Joe English to America as he had become homesick and, and lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch leaving to join the Small Faces.

Wings and McCartney were, at this point, about as big as they had ever been, with the commercially huge ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound’ and the unexpected success of ‘Mull of Kintyre’ in the UK much was expected of them with this next, their sixth, studio album. I’d say it was largely a success, though the public were probably expecting another ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and perhaps for the track itself to be on the album, instead they were presented with a set of well-crafted songs, with a reasonably coherent theme and just one hit single. This being ‘With a little luck’, number 1 in the U.S and 5 in the U.K. There were two other singles from the album, ‘I’ve Had Enough’ and the title track, neither of which fared very well. The track, Girlfriend’ was covered on ‘Off The Wall’ by Michael Jackson, and it’s probably a better version.

It was at this point in the career of McCartney and Wings that they’re flame really began to wane, though it would continue to flicker back to life occasionally. Punk was happening and did change many people’s opinions and what they were prepared to spend their money on. McCartney was very much part of the old guard, who would, of course, continue to receive plenty of support, but fewer and fewer new, younger, fans.

I was caught in-between, being 11 years old in 1977 I wasn’t really sure what I liked, I had all sorts around this time. Black Sabbath, Ted Nugent, Genesis, David Bowie, Beatles, ELO and Wings albums, 7” singles by Sad Café and the Clash, The Tubes and Sparks. I remember wanting a copy of ‘London Town’ but in ’77 I didn’t really have any money for that sort of thing and it was usually my Dad or Brother who bought records, I would occasionally get some of my own as gifts, but rarely. I think that had I bought it, I probably would have been quite happy with it at the time.


Disco Back to the eggAnd then there’s the next release, right after ‘London Town’, ‘Back To The Egg’. The measure of success in the seventies was still singles based, with the majority of albums selling off the back of the success of the 7”. “Old Siam, Sir”, “Getting Closer” and “Arrow Through Me” were the singles and only ‘Getting Closer’ touched the top twenty in both the U.S and UK.

Rolling Stone magazine described the album as “the sorriest grab bag of dreck in recent memory”. Which I think a bit harsh. There are some decent enough tracks on there and I would probably give it more turntable time than ‘Pipes of Peace’, though in fairness that didn’t’ get a good Rolling Stone review either, 2 stars I think, out of 5.

There are very few musicians who can consistently put out really high quality material on every album. They may well realise this of course, but music is a business and sometimes there are contractual obligations that require a release, even if everybody knows it isn’t going to be up to scratch. I don’t think ‘Back to the Egg’ is one of these as there appears to be an attempt at concept and the songs are not all as terrible as Rolling Stone might have you think. If you give them a chance then they are quite listenable.


Paul+McCartney+and+Wings+-+At+The+Speed+Of+Sound+++Wings+Fun+Club+Lyric+Booklet+-+LP+RECORD-558637And the McCartney vinyl lot continues, this time with the aforementioned, ‘Wings at the speed of sound’. I do recollect having this, not me, but an album that was in the house at some point, and I do remember rather liking it. Sometimes having a memory of something, a familiarity, can cloud ones judgement and there’s every possibility that this isn’t as good an album as I think it is. Does that matter? It probably doesn’t and it’s all subjective.

There were two hit singles taken from the album, ‘Silly Love songs’, a number 2 in the UK and 1 in the U.S, and ‘Let ‘em in’ a number 2 in the U.K and 3 in the U.S. It was the tour after this album that resulted in the triple live album, ‘Wings Over America’, which I’ll get to another time.

For me, this album has a consistency that some of the other albums lack, even ‘Cook of the House’ is OK, within the context of the rest of the album, which some have suggested is a day in the life of the McCartney’s, which it may well be, resulting in something both comfortable and familiar. It does remind me, in feel, of Gerry Rafferty, City to City, though this could be time frame related and there isn’t a track that reaches the heights of ‘Baker Street’ here. There also isn’t anything as bad as ‘The Frog Chorus’ either, so that’s a blessing.


I have several more that I’ll get to at some point, but for the time being I have McCartney fatigue and need to listen to something else!I probably should have done these in the correct order as well.