It would be hard to find a more diverse album than this one!
It begins with the fairly conventional, if raucous, ‘Back In The USSR’. Then things start to get more offbeat with ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Glass Onion’, and then onto mainstream pop with the pop classic, ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’.
George Harrison’s tender vocals on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ are sublimely aided by Eric Clapton’s mesmerising guitar solo, and is one of George’s masterpieces.
‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ continues the rather offbeat, darkly humorous aspect of the album, and then more mainstream pop follows with ‘Martha My Dear’. Then we have a bewildering mixture of music from the folksy ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Mother Nature’s Song’ through the hard rock of ‘Helter Skelter’ to the meandering maze of apocalyptic sound effects that is ‘Revolution 9’. It’s only appropriate that Ringo’s incongruous, but lovely, lullaby, ‘Good Night’, should end the album.
There’s so much to catch the ear here. ‘Birthday’ even sounds like Steve Jones has snuck in there as a child prodigy, ‘Long, Long, Long’ is a strange melancholic track of wistful beauty, and ‘Revolution 1’ a slow version of the ‘Hey Jude’ B-side. ‘Honey Pie’ sounds a disarmingly authentic Vaudeville song, and ‘Cry Baby Cry’ a scary modern fairytale. ‘Rocky Raccoon’ is a bar room song, sung by Paul McCartney, straight out of a cowboy movie, and McCartney’s vocals are extended like never before, or since, on this LP. ‘Sexy Sadie’ is a sly dig at the Maharishi, and ‘Julia’ is John Lennon’s haunting, and crushingly moving, lament to his tragic mother. ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ works somehow, despite lyrical repetition. Overall, the lyrical content is bolder than anything The Beatles had produced on previous albums. George Harrison supplies some wacky humour via ‘Savoy Truffle’, and the infamous ‘Piggies’. Though only the truly twisted could see this as a call to arms to kill society’s elite.
It seems amazing today that the top group around would release a double album, and not issue a single from it, but that was the case with this album.
Whilst there were a lot of ‘out there’ tracks, it’s a fairly 50/50 split with more commercial material. This is an album that, in turns, beguiles, entertains, moves, and even, through some of its remarkably strange sounds, and Lennon’s often graphic and acerbic vocals, disturbs.