In 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, Tom Moon calls The Beatles album, which is simply called “The Beatles,” “The Tension Album.” I believe that’s a pretty good designation for the album that, for years, I thought really was called “The White Album.” However, I learned a while back that this is not the proper name for this strange, double-record collection of songs. It is called “The Beatles.”
It is noted by a recording engineer that the recording sessions for this album were the first time that the members of The Beatles brought personal issues into the studio with them. The sessions were, apparently, disastrous. Engineer Geoff Emerick “describes the climate as ‘poisonous.’ He writes: ‘If John had made a nasty crack about the Maharishi that George resented, they would have a go at each other while gathered around a microphone to do backing vocals…If George dared question any of Paul’s suggestions, Paul would get in a snit.'” It was, apparently, McCartney who dubbed the album, “The Tension Album.” They seemed to “retreat into their own zones to do their own things–with or without help from the others.”
This project differs from others in its lack of unification. It is scattered, at times almost dissonant. There is no unifying theme at all, as the tracks jump from one thing to another. Stylistically, it is also all over the place. “The wheels are falling off. Profound dissolution is in progress. And these guys, God bless them, are still singing. Sometimes even together.”
It was released in 1968 on Apple records. Mr. Moons lists these key tracks: Dear Prudence, Wild Honey Pie, Back in the U.S.S.R., Blackbird, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Julia. My favorite track on this album is, without a doubt, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I’m also a big fan of Rocky Raccoon, Glass Onion, Back in the U.S.S.R., and Helter Skelter. Christi, my wife, likes Helter Skelter, as well. In a rare departure from my normal thing, I want to share a video of Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Prince, and others, performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It’s a tribute to George Harrison, performed in 2004.
Also, here is a video clip of “Helter Skelter.” The video footage doesn’t seem to be a complete performance of the song, but some scattered footage, which may or may not include some of the performance of the song. Who knows? At the end is John Lennon’s infamous declaration, “I got blisters on my fingers!!!”