The White Album, Heard in 1968 and Pronounced Boring. And Now?
As a special segment in this week’s music popcast, we revisit the Beatles’ White Album, which friends with good ears have proclaimed the most exciting restoration work in the newly remastered Beatles catalog. Is it a great record, though? (Come on: be honest.)
Our guest is Nik Cohn, author of books including “Triksta,” “The Heart of the World,” and a pioneering rock critic, who tore a strip off the White Album in a review for The New York Times published in December 1968. Back then, at the age of 22, a Briton in love with street culture and disenchanted with the encroachment of high-art aesthetics into pop, Mr. Cohn felt that the Beatles were a rugged little group who’d gone soft. Jeering at its narcissism and lack of direction, he called the White Album “boring almost beyond belief.” He hears more in it now, but he’s still not particularly impressed. I try to hang on to my affection for it. And what do you think?