March 16th, 2006

New Tilley Hat

Mini Review: The White Album

Hacking away at the large pile of unlistened to CDs and smaller but still daunting pile of CDs to be entered into the Individual Song Database, I finally bit the bullet and entered The White Album, aka The Beatles. I hadn't needed to enter the double CD set before since I was very familiar with the songs, but formally entering them into my system meant a close listen with headphones.

What a great album! The ninth best selling album of all time in the US is near the top of several Music of the Millenium lists. Some of the all-time best songs by one of the all-time best musical groups. While My Guitar Gently Weeps has long been one of my two favorite Beatles songs (the other being Eleanor Rigby) but I had to also give my highest rating to: Dear Prudence, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Piggies (how can anyone live without hearing Piggies now and again?) and Rocky Raccoon.

But you knew that. What really prompted a LiveJournal entry was Revolution 9. It's a very famous song that almost everyone recognizes from Ringo singing, "number nine, number nine, number nine..." but almost no one could tell you anything else about. I don't think I've heard the entire 8:13 since... well, I'm tempted to say ever but I'm sure I made it through the whole thing at least once in college. Certainly, it's not a song in the traditional sense. On the other hand, it is a very early example of what's all-too-common now: Sampling. Revolution 9 doesn't have a plot (that I can discern) but the bits and pieces are edited exceptionally smoothly. This was quite a feat in 1968, when the Killer App was... stereo.

The first two Beatles albums were released in Mono (in the US). One of the reasons The Firesign Theatre made such a splash was their innovative use of stereo. By 1968, the year The White Album came out, stereo was no longer cutting edge but was still a new toy for producers to play with. Indeed, The White Album was released in mono in Britain (along with a stereo release). Revolution 9 uses stereo very nicely; that it still holds up as a piece of engineered sampling nearly 40 years later is testament to George Martin, the Producer.

I will unhesitantly recommend The White Album for anyone. I don't necessarily recommend that you listen to all of Revolution 9 more than once every 30 years or so...

Okay, you can all go back to doing what you were doing.
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