After the Show Came the Reality
Fractured, dislocated and expansive, The Beatles, housed in its legendary, embossed plain white sleeve, came out in November 1968 at a time when both the group and the world had changed irrevocably. Maybe everything wasn’t going to be alright as John Lennon was suggesting here on “Revolution 1”.
After writing dozens of songs while meditating in India in the spring, the group returned to Abbey Road (and Trident) and recorded over 30 tracks of new material across summer 1968. When you think of how unrest had begun to simmer within the group’s ranks (Yoko Ono arriving in the studio; Apple forming; Ringo leaving and then returning) and how broad the album’s palette of sounds (bluebeat, heavy metal, folk, doo-wop to name a few), The Beatles still manages to hang together like few other works.
The Lennon and Paul McCartney stereotypes are at once reinforced, yet also dismissed – few would have thought “Good Night” would have come from the pen of Lennon; or “Helter Skelter” from McCartney. Away from the set-pieces, it’s the doodles that delight – George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle” is a fine counterweight to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”; “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey” balances the gravitas of “Revolution 1”.
Given that it also contains Lennon, Ono and Harrison’s nine-minute noise collage “Revolution 9” and McCartney’s genuinely pointless “Wild Honey Pie”, Producer George Martin always opined that it would have made a splendid single album; mentally compiling your own version has since become almost a national pastime.