November 12, 2018

"I blame 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,' and not just because reviewing the six CDs and Blu-ray disc of the 50th-anniversary box set of The White Album involves..."

"... hearing Paul’s idea of comedy ska in pristine and appalling Dolby True HD 5.1, alternate takes and all. The creation, recording, and release of 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da' represent everything that broke the Beatles. Together with Lennon’s sonic collage 'Revolution 9,' it explains why The White Album may well be the best Beatles album and why it has some of the worst Beatles music."

We'll endlessly struggle with the John-or-Paul question. Here we are 50 years after the release of the white album. That quote is from Dominic Green in The Weekly Standard, where prissiness about spelling out the word "shit" leads to puzzling displays like:



What's "granny music s?" I wondered for a good long second that I'll never get back.

Anyway, there's a lot more in that Green piece about White. Check it out.

60 comments:

mockturtle said...

The Beatles were so overrated.

Shane said...

Loved the production, packaging and selection.
I have skipped through "Honey Pie" for forty years as more McCartney schmaltz, although it beat "Goodnight" for overall listenability.

But the instrumental "Honey Pie" -like the instrument only "Eleanor Rigby" and a cappella "Because" is absolutely brilliant, and, with the heavy early take of the casual "Helter Skelter" two of the early standouts.

robother said...

Sounds like the Beatles could've used some of that civility bulls .

rhhardin said...

I remember remarking at the time that I liked the orchestral versions of Beatles songs better than the Beatle's versions. Still true, probably, though I haven't tested it.

Earnest Prole said...

The Beatles Shite Album.

rhhardin said...

I also remember a "parting shot" from an Oberlin music theory professor that someday I'd like Mozart. The mass in C minor was good but I knew that at the time. It's the rest of the stuff that's too predictable to listen to.

rhhardin said...

It's like it was written by a child.

tcrosse said...

'Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da' invites one to sing 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini' as an obbligato.

gilbar said...

The Beatles? Who were they? some band from the eighties or something?

Glen Filthie said...

There is nothing more pathetic than a greasy, stinky elderly hippie. Thankfully all the Boomers will be dead soon.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

If you listen to Paul in any interview, the questions asked in any interview are the same. Who broke up the Beatles. They are always trying desperately to get Paul to rat out why it all fell apart, and trash the other members - esp. John and Yoko.

Paul is always very gracious. I like that about him.

I like the song Ob-la-Di. Better than any of the candy coated sameness/weirdness from the current crop of blonde pop stars.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

MockTurtle - you take that back!
*-)

Joe said...

Hum. Coincidentally, I recently listened to "The White Album" for the first time in about 30 years. One thing came to mind immediately:

"The White Album may well be the best Beatles album and why it has some of the worst Beatles music."

Truer words seldom written.

rightguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Galle said...

Bunch of insufferable bastards in my opinion. I did like 'One Down Three to Go' though it wasn't by the Beatles.

rightguy said...

I don't like the White Album and I believe that the Beatles were a transcedent pop-rock group. On their records, the Beatles were usually much greater than the sum of their huge parts. But many of the tracks on TWA were solo Beatles tunes where the other guys were more like barely willing session players. They only sang together on a few choice tracks like Birthday and Back in the USSR, which BTW are two of the best tracks. George Martin didn't want anything to do with the project.

Ken B said...

Distill the best of the White Album, improve it 500% — still less than the outtakes from Pet Sounds.

Ken B said...

I see Hardin’s grasp of Mozart equals his grasp of women.

Ann Althouse said...

"Obla-di Obla-dah" has some edge. There's the shouted out "Bra!" And there's the gender flip, where Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face.

It's a little harder to see the edge. Lightness hides darkness and comedy can be more cutting than heavy-handed things like whatever was supposed to be so leaden of Lennon's.

Chris N said...

At Peace Pavilion West, we’ve incorporated parts of The White Album into healing chants and Self-empowering sayings written on the walls of The Human Pagoda.

Stop by for a visit off Rte 9.

Ken B said...

“All we are saying, is give peace a chance” is pretty leaden and heavy-handed. That's Lennon sans McCartney.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernandistein said...

Better than any of the candy coated sameness/weirdness from the current crop of blonde pop stars.

Better than candy coated sameness is not a high standard.

Chris N said...

Also, The Beatles embody a global awareness in which the Self can freely explore higher states of communal and environmental awareness.

Stop by the eco pods and sample some of our goat cheeses. Off Rte 9.. We’re all just humans being.

Ken B said...

Speaking of candy coated sameness, and hard edges ...
The Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967, and almost did in 1968. The top selling song of 1969 was Sugar Sugar by the Archies. The best selling single of the era was In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry.

Fernandistein said...

My preferred Beatles' songs are Paperback Writer (B-52s version, not as weird as it should be) and Taxman (Junior Parker version)

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Do Do Do De Da Da Da! I'm calling the Police !!

Rob McLean said...

The Beatles were so overrated.

MockTurtle - you take that back!

No, he's right. I'm the biggest Beatles fan ever (already have my copy of the new White Album) and I agree they were horribly overrated...because the very best often is overrated. (Think Michael Jordan in basketball.)

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

Lucy's in a fight with Linus.

tcrosse said...

Judy's in disguise with glasses.

Etienne said...

I bought the white album when I was a teen. It cost $11 if I remember right. It was a lot of money. Much more than the other albums.

I took it to my neighbor friend who had a big console stereo and we listened to it.

Basically it was crap to me, and I sold it to him for $1 off retail. He wanted it just for his collection.

Thinking back, the only song I liked was Birthday because it was a rocker. The rest was pretty much goofy studio band (AKA) Monkee's quality crap.

PM said...

The best Beatle album is Side 2 of Abbey Road.

mccullough said...

The White Album was 20 years old when I got into the Beatles at age 16.

The best 10 songs on the album would be a Hall of Fame album. But the shit songs and mediocre ones really do detract from it.

For me, Rubber Soul and Revolver hold up as Hall of Fame albums.

James K said...

“I see Hardin’s grasp of Mozart equals his grasp of women.”

I think that was a joke.

But whoever said Mozart is “predictable” hasn’t listened to, say, Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni, among many others.

Yancey Ward said...

It is an odd album. I don't particularly like it, and I don't think it compares well to any of their other albums, many of which I adore.

Marcus said...

Earnest Prole said...
The Beatles Shite Album

Very, very witty. Well done, sir.

The inclusion of the crap songs ruined it for me. In my age group (I was 13 when it was released but didn't hear it until about a year later), if you listened to "The White Album", all the shite songs were "cool" and if you didn't "get" them and appreciate them, you weren't. So we all pretended to like Revolution #9 and the rest. What the hell did my contemporaries know? I certainly listened to all sorts of crap though the 60s are still my favorite decade for music. I CRINGED that "Sugar, Sugar" made the end-of-the-year #1. THAT was NOT cool. But again, what did I know?

Agree that side 2 of Abbey Road is some of the most amazing music I've ever heard. The medley alone: some artists made full songs of the bits and pieces, that's how strong it was.

I could listen to it right now. The White Album? No. But I might buy this 50th anniversary set to hear the variations and such.

THEOLDMAN

Bricap said...

Granny music would be something that was a hit before your mother was born, right?

Revolver is my favorite album. Tomorrow Never Knows blows me away every time I hear it, so far ahead of its time.

The White Album seems like part of a push toward the end of their time together. That and Let it Be and Abbey Road. They were done as a group. Seems a lot of bands go through this phase at the end, and either we don't see it when it's happening, or we don't want to admit it's happening.

eddie willers said...

Agree that side 2 of Abbey Road is some of the most amazing music I've ever heard

I'm guessing that Abbey Road is next up for a new deluxe release. All I am asking for is to make a version of side two with no friggin' breaks!

The digital breaks in the CD version is so jarring that it KILLS the momentum. It's one long piece, by gum.

tcrosse said...

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Gordon Scott said...

Cretins. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da is perfect garage rock, just like Mellencamp's Hurts So Good. If you want to get a crowd dancing, follow some slow soulful slow-dance ballad with Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da. Everyone gets out of their chairs, and not to throw stuff, either.

Sam L. said...

I can't even generate enough interest to care.

Bill Peschel said...

I got to this in the first paragraph and knew he couldn't be taken seriously:

"it was when Ringo, sick of the endless studio jams, bad vibes, and general lack of appreciation, walked out and the others, showing how little they appreciated him, took turns at playing the drums."

They played the drums because they had to keep working, idiot. They garlanded his drum kit when he agreed to return.

See, in group dynamics, one person is usually the butt of the jokes. It defuses tension away from savaging the person you want to, and deflecting it on the scapegoat. Usually, it's the drummer who performs this function.

Ringo also had another function in the band: He was rock-steady, mellow, and funny. John and Paul mined his phrases for songs like "A hard day's night."

So during all this bickering and in-fighting, when Ringo stood and said, "I'm done," they were shocked and not a little bit scared. They were like children bashing at a favorite toy and seeing it break.

Seeing him misrepresent their response means this guy doesn't understand group dynamics and is taking the easy way out to ascribe a single cause to their break-up, which is a facile and immature judgment.

Bill Peschel said...

"The Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967, and almost did in 1968. The top selling song of 1969 was Sugar Sugar by the Archies. The best selling single of the era was In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry."

And what are we arguing about today in 2018?

Etienne said...

Just remember, if you buy anything Beatles related, Yoko get's 50%.

So it goes...

Jay Elink said...

Bill Peschel said...
"The Monkees outsold the Beatles in 1967, and almost did in 1968. The top selling song of 1969 was Sugar Sugar by the Archies. The best selling single of the era was In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry."
****************

I've always liked the bit on "The Simpsons" where Homer wears earphones and sings to "Yummy Yummy Yummy, I've got Love in my Tummy", totally oblivious to Neil Armstrong intoning "That's one small step..." on the TV.

Paco Wové said...

𝄞 Booo-min'....
On a Monday afternoo-oon......

Mountain Maven said...

Drugs ruined the beatles, the greatest band ever.

Todd Galle said...

The Beatles: They were never that great.

alanc709 said...

The Beatles were the greatest boy band ever. Then they became the greatest rock-n-roll band ever. Hard to see them as over-rated.

Pugsley the Pug said...

That opening piano riff in Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da was John Lennon being angry at Paul for his seemingly endless takes on the song. Supposedly, he yelled at Paul something about how he felt the song should start and then literally banged away on the keyboard. Plus, both Lennon and Harrison really disliked the song, probably because of the numerous takes. Harrison made a snarky reference to the song in “Savoy Truffles”. The album does seem like solo project songs by each Beatle with the other members being the back up band. Some songs were good; having Eric Clapton on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was brilliant on Harrison’s part. “Revolution #9” was horrible and a vanity project on Lennon’s part. I would list “The Beatles “ (aka “The White Album”) towards the bottom of their albums in ranking the albums. Still better than most music out there, especially modern music. Basically, the beginning of the end of the greatest rock band of all time. I have always wondered if they would have survived by taking breaks from each other like the Rolling Stones and if they had hired competent management for Apple Corp to run the business side of their company instead of trying to do it themselves.

JMW Turner said...

For some reason I refuse to believe that Mungo Jerry or The Archies will ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
When I first listened to The White Album in the fall of1968,I was struck by how Good most of the songs were, and how Bad a few of the others were. By this point, the prime creative drivers were no longer listening to any authority figures are it manifested through ventures such as a disastrous forey into retail and an unedited White Album. Still, for me, a Boomer, the least Beatles song is preferable to most of the shite that succeeding generations have put out. So there d**kheads!

Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene said...

Yesterday, I was stage mgr for Stage E01 of the Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, featuring The FAB, a local band whose repertoire is 400 Beatles songs. As the torrent of 30,000 runners passed us at Mile 3.6, the reaction to the music was amazing. Joy, excitement, recognition -- regardless of the demo. It's the soundtrack of several generations.

Unknown said...

Dominic Green is a jazzy writer (he's the son of Benny Green). Like a good jazz guy, he has mastered the classics and then puts his own spin on it. I think he's terrific.

surfed said...

Parlour Game: make one good 14 song album from the sprawling two recird set. It's what Sir George Martin wanted...

Njall said...

1. Back in the USSR
2. Dear Prudence
3. Obladi-Oblada
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
6. Blackbird
7. Birthday
8. Everybody’s got Something to Hide
9. Sexy Sadie
10. Helter Skelter
11. Revolution 1
12. Long, Long, Long
13. Savoy Truffle
14. Cry Baby Cry



Njall said...

Worked with these two women who were Beatles snobs. They question once came up, what’s the best Beatles album? They pooh-poohed that, how can someone pick just one? I said that Sgt. Pepper was my emotional favorite- my first Beatles album. Rubber Soul was my favorite in terms of percentage of songs liked. White Album in terms of songs deeply loved - Dear Prudence, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Sexie Sadie have always meant a lot to me. But, as some have said, Abbey Road, especially side two, is the best in terms is technical and lyrical excellence.

William Chadwick said...

No strong interest in taking sides in discussions on popular music; but I've always had a weak spot for the second side of ABBEY ROAD. To me, it's like a rock'n'roll symphonic poem; and "The Long and Winding Road" always gets me verklempt.

William Chadwick said...

Oh, and I wanted to add, listening to ABBEY ROAD, I can understand why according to a recent biographer, although she by and large despised rock music, Ayn Rand also had a soft spot for the Beatles.

Zach said...

I think his dream album suffers from cutting Revolution #9. If all you're going to do is a greatest hits, why make an album?

At this stage in their career, they'd already had plenty of hits. Move the hits onto singles, and try for more weird stuff.

Zach said...

In fact, that doubles as a theory of the breakup.

At that point in their career, having an album where all of the best songs were the conventional, sure-fire hits was a bad sign. Where's "A day in the life"? Where's "Come Together"?