Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Beatles "The Beatles"

Speaking of absent thematic unity, the next double album of 1968 came from The Beatles themselves. The greatest, most ambitious group of all time might have been expected to produce something really special when given extra room to explore but instead delivered the opposite. The fact that much of the music was recorded by one or two Beatles separately from the others may account for the paucity of imagination and lack of bite to the music.

Much of the music is sluggish and the songs drag. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun" are leaden and seem to get slower as they go on. Other songs are childish such as "Bungalow Bill" and "Rocky Raccoon". "Helter Skelter" goes nowhere and takes too long to get there. Overall, the writing and the playing lacks conviction. Only "Back in the USSR" and the acoustic numbers are worth hearing again, and even then the gorgeous and clever "Blackbird" is ruined by that stupid metronome for no good reason.

Too often, the world's most innovative group seem intent on creating pastiches of other music such as Chuck Berry, doo wop, soul, blues, music hall, country music, ska (although "Ob-la-di ob-la-da" is more like a calypso in its narration of the story of Desmond and Molly Jones), heavy metal etc. A lot of the record sounds like dull American rock music.

The fact that a lot of the pieces were recorded singly and independently by each of the group means that none of the pieces have any sort of swing to them and are never fully realised as compositions, cf. the much more successful "Abbey Road" album.

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