Sunday, January 13, 2008

Razor's Retro Reviews: Beatles White Album side 4


Side Four

We’ve reached the end, and I’d like to say that it’s a good end, but to use cliched analogy, side 4 is to the White Album as Ringo is to the Beatles.

Revolution 1 (Lennon)

This is not the song you think it is; well, it is, but not the same version. Everyone knows the raucous distortion-filled song that makes you want to jump out and start kicking ass: that song is simply called ‘Revolution’ (notice the absence of the #1). Revoltion 1 is basically the same song, but on valium. Let me explain:

The initial version, the valium version, was suppose to be the B-side to the ‘Hey Jude’ single, but Paul, George and Ringo told John that it was too slow. It might have something to do John recording the vocals while lying on his back in the recording studio. Lennon was a bit irritated by this criticism (especially from Ringo I bet, the nerve of the guy), so he decided to make the song as ferocious as possible (possibly while imagining himself beating Ringo to death with a bong), and that’s the version most people know and love. In contrast, the slower version was renamed ‘Revolution 1’, and buried at the end of the white album. It is the Courtney Love to 'Revolution''s Kurt Cobain.

Interestingly, Lennon says ‘in’ at the end of the ‘when you talk about destruction don’t you know that you can count me out’…so I guess he was undecided at the time. Check it out at about the 0:50 mark of this clip:

Honey Pie (McCartney)

This song is not related anyway to the weird ‘Wild Honey Pie’ from side 1. It has a vaudevillian sound to it, which is par for the course in this clusterfuck of an album. Within this context (and in any other), it’s a completely forgettable song.

Savoy Truffle (Harrison)

Not to be confused with the truffle shuffle, see here:

Harrison wrote this song simply by looking at the different types of truffles on a box of chocolate he had in front of him. I don’t know if that’s genius or just plain stupid. Genius would have been waiting a decade or so and basing the song on the Goonies (above). Apparently, he wrote it as a tribute to his good pal (and future wife-stealer) Eric Clapton's addiction to chocolate. It’s a catchy tune, but once again, forgettable, which is not surprising given the innanity of the song's premise.

I’d like to say that this is the weirdest song on the album, but it isn't even close. We’ve yet to reach the limits of this album's fucked-upedness.

Cry Baby Cry (Lennon)

This was written by Lennon as a sort of nursery rhyme, albeit a really dark one. Instead of soothing the baby, he wants it to cry. Of this song, Lennon said, ‘a piece of rubbish’. That’s a little harsh, especially when it happens to be on the same side as a song that really is a piece of rubbish, but clearly it isn’t one of his best efforts.

You’ll be surprised to find a completely unrelated short song by McCartney tacked on at the end, which is usually known as ‘Can You Take Me Back’. People often confuse it as being the beginning of the next, ahem, song…

Revolution #9 (Lennon)

This is fucked up, pure and simple. Lennon let Yoko Ono’s ‘avant garde’ style influence him and the end result is a hodge-podge of random noises and voices. Avant Garde refers to styles that challenge the norm and are innovative and experimental.

The track begins with Lennon repeatedly saying ‘Number 9, Number 9, Number 9…’. For all you Simpson fans out there, you certainly recall their take on it when Barney was paired with a Japanese conceptual artist and they hammered out the song ‘Number 8, *barney belch*, Number 8…’ (B-Sharps episode).

When you first start listening to it, you sort of expect it to break out into a real song at any moment. But, there will come a point where you realize that it will just keep going; it is at this point that you just stop and say to yourself, ‘What the fuck is going on?’

This track has been analyzed to death, but I won’t offer a detailed analysis because it’s crap. McCartney fought hard to keep this off the album, but Lennon won in the end.

There are a few interesting facts about this song that I would like to point out:

a) The track samples ‘A Day in the Life’ at some point, and it’s probably the first known use of the ‘sampling’ technique, which has been used over and over again by the rap world. Man, is there anything in music that the Beatles didn’t try first? The implication: the Beatles are to blame for P diddy and Vanilla Ice. Somebody had to say it.

b) Vincent Bugliosi, the attorney who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson, theorized that Manson believed that the song made reference to ‘Revelations 9’ of the Bible, which speaks of Armeggedon and the battle to end all battles. I find that verse #4 backs up this theory pretty well: They were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those people who don't have God's seal on their foreheads.

Ummm…probably not the right symbol…

Here’s the ‘song’:

Good Night (Lennon)

And so we’ve reached the end, with a song appropriately titled, ‘Good Night’. Actually, considering how this album has been, it seems a rather inappropriate end to this album. Although written by John Lennon, it is sung by Ringo Starr and backed up by a 26-piece orchestra. How nice of John to throw Ringo a bone. It was written by John as a lullaby for his son Julien and it has the desired effect of putting you to sleep, which is probably a good thing following Revolution #9. THAT shit will keep you awake at night.

Here’s a Ringo Starr tribute accompanied by the song:
And there you have it, side 4 of the Beatles’ White Album, a less than glamorous way to end an all together fantastic album.

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