If The White Album hadn’t been a double

Over on Gavin Burrows’ blog, Lucid Frenzy Jr., we’ve been discussing how cohesive the Beatles’ Revolver album feels, and how relatively incoherent The White Album seems.


One reason that Gavin suggested is:

It may also suffer from the common affliction of double albums. A bit of judicious pruning would have left us with ‘Dear Prudence’ (did you see what i did there?), but disposed of ‘Honey Pie.’

The thing is, I really like Honey Pie.

So then I wondered how different people’s ideal single-album White Albums would be. Are there songs that everyone would retain? Are there songs that everyone would dump?

As released, The White Album had 30 tracks (8, 9, 7 and 6 on the four sides) — just over twice as many as Revolver‘s 14. Those White Album tracks are:

  • 1.1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • 1.2. Dear Prudence
  • 1.3. Glass Onion
  • 1.4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • 1.5. Wild Honey Pie
  • 1.6. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  • 1.7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • 1.8. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
  • 2.1. Martha My Dear
  • 2.2. I’m So Tired
  • 2.3. Blackbird
  • 2.4. Piggies
  • 2.5. Rocky Raccoon
  • 2.6. Don’t Pass Me By
  • 2.7. Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
  • 2.8. I Will
  • 2.9. Julia
  • 3.1. Birthday
  • 3.2. Yer Blues
  • 3.3. Mother Nature’s Son
  • 3.4. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • 3.5. Sexy Sadie
  • 3.6. Helter Skelter
  • 3.7. Long, Long, Long
  • 4.1. Revolution 1
  • 4.2. Honey Pie
  • 4.3. Savoy Truffle
  • 4.4. Cry Baby Cry
  • 4.5. Revolution 9
  • 4.6. Good Night

So I decided to pick out the fifteen that I would have retained to make a single-album version, had I been George Martin. I also resequenced them into two sides of an album. (The rest of the songs could have gone on a bonus disc.)

Before I list my selections, you might want to try the same exercise, so you can do it without being influenced (in either direction) by my selection.

Here’s mine:

  • 1-1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • 1-2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • 1-3. I’m So Tired
  • 1-4. Julia
  • 1-5. Blackbird
  • 1-6. Dear Prudence
  • 1-7. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
  • 2-1. Helter Skelter
  • 2-2. Sexy Sadie
  • 2-3. Martha My Dear
  • 2-4. Mother Nature’s Son
  • 2-5. Honey Pie
  • 2-6. Rocky Raccoon
  • 2-7. I Will
  • 2-8. Revolution 1

And now that I look at that listing, I think it stands up pretty well against any of the Beatles albums.

Did I miss any of your favourites? Include anything you hate?


54 responses to “If The White Album hadn’t been a double

  1. Great selection, though I have to disagree on some of them. Here’s my selection. Was not as easy as I thought it would be, but I’m happy with the outcome.

    01.01 Helter Skelter
    01.02 Blackbird
    01.03 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    01.04 Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
    01.05 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
    01.06 Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    01.07 Long, Long, Long

    02.01 Dear Prudence
    02.02 I’m So Tired
    02.03 I Will
    02.04 Birthday
    02.05 Revolution 1
    02.06 Julia
    02.07 Cry Baby Cry
    02.08 Good Night

    Back to the U.S.S.R. I think will surprise many with it’s omission, but I’ve always hated that song. Even when playing the vinyl, I would start one track over.

  2. I would have to include Savoy Truffle – for me, it makes the cut on the fantastic guitar solo alone. I’d also take Cry Baby Cry over Rocky Raccoon, I Will or Julia (which always sounds out of tune to me). And I want Piggies as well. Seeing as Let It Be Naked (the superior de-Spectored version of Let It Be) has the better version of Revolution with the distorted guitar and screams at the beginning, I would happily lose that one too.

  3. You left out Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da? Are you genuinely ill?

  4. Not in a rejigged order…

    Back in the U.S.S.R.
    Dear Prudence
    Glass Onion
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    I’m So Tired
    Yer Blues
    Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
    Sexy Sadie
    Helter Skelter
    Revolution 1
    Cry Baby Cry

    …which, despite both of us leaving out Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, reveals you to have a McCartney and me a Lennon bias. (Though of course you could argue Hey Jude, recorded in the same sessions but left off the original album, should be on there.)

    Both of us took Piggies out but left Helter Skelter. Had neither appeared, would the Mason killings never have happened, or would Charlie have just come up with a crackpot theory about something else? (Probably the second one!)

  5. If you’re going to leave Helter Skelter on the album, which is important historically and musically unusual, you have to leave on Revolution 9. You can leave off Revolution 1, though – the single version (as included on Let It Be Naked) is much, much better.

    I used to skip the White Album as well until I realised that, thanks to the magic of playlists / unchecking songs in iTunes, I could just say “No, sorry, those songs aren’t good enough” and get rid of 11 tracks out of 30. I add on Glass Onion, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da (even though the version on the Anthologies was better), Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey, Long, Long, Long, Savoy Truffle, Cry Baby Cry (did you get bored towards the end of the album and start pruning tracks more viciously?), and Good Night because it’s a good end of album track. But this probably doesn’t all fit on two sides of an LP.

  6. Gavin, I just realised you only picked 14 songs. The rules allow you 15, so you can rescue one more from oblivion.

  7. Mmm… tempted to go with Pat and plump for the Savoy Truffle.

  8. Pending Gavin’s additional vote, the standings after four lists are in (mine, Colin’s, Pat’s and Gavin’s) shows that SEVEN songs made the cut for all four of us (Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Happiness Is a Warm Gun, I’m So Tired, Blackbird, Helter Skelter, Revolution 1) and five don’t get any love at all (Wild Honey Pie, Bungalow Bill, Don’t Pass Me By, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?, Revolution 9).

    That’s keeping Revolution 1 in Pat’s selection despite his comments, since if we’d been sequencing this album in 1968 we would have known nothing of Let It Be Naked, and because he’d already picked equal numbers of tracks to add and drop.

    These winners and losers are mostly unsurprising, I suppose. I might not have guessed that Happiness Is a Warm Gun would be so popular, and I rather expected someone to stand up for poor Revolution 9.

    On reflection, I’d add Cry Baby Cry into my own selection, and make space by dropping Rocky Raccoon. But I won’t go back and rewrite history.

  9. Gavin, it’s generally true that (if pushed to prefer one over the other, which is a bit silly) I admire Paul’s melodies more than John’s. But obviously there are plenty of counter-examples. What’s pretty much beyond doubt is that the two of them working together — even if only at a distance — wrote far better songs than either wrote after the break-up. I think only Maybe I’m Amazed and maybe Imagine stand with the best Beatles songs.

  10. John may have been the more ‘Stonesy’ so i suppose it follows you’d favour Paul. Generally I’d agree they worked better together, even when one was more acting as a foil to the other than a full-on collaborator. And generally I prefer the Beatles to the solo efforts.

    But my overall favourite album of the lot is ‘Plastic Ono Band’. By some margin.

  11. Dammit, Gavin, now I’m going to have to listen to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. (At least, I assume you didn’t mean Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band.)

  12. You know most people don’t bother listening to me at all, don’t you?

  13. I got distracted. I realised that the part of Perfect Day that’s mindwormed me is David Bowie’s delivery of “You made me forget myself” in the BBC all-stars version (here). So instead I’ve started listening to Station to Station, hoping to fill another gap.

  14. Well this time you’re ahead of me! If pushed to come up with a favourite Bowie album, I’d be split between ‘Low’ and ‘Station To Station.’ Bowie fans seem generally to divide between ‘glam trilogy’ and ‘Berlin trilogy’ adherents. I like both, obviously, but as a Krautrock nut would definitely be a Berlinner.

    Probably needless to say, but I just couldn’t bear that BBC version of ‘Perfect Day’ Why not make ‘Hey Jude’ into a bloody song about paying your license fee? “Hey Jude/ Don’t be afraid/ You can choose between/ Different means of payment…”

  15. Sorry, Gavin, the BBC version is just plain better than Lou Reed’s. It just is. I know that such things naturally tend to be tasteless messes (e.g. Band Aid), but this time it’s not. It’s perfectly constructed, with the right people singing lines that they bring a sense of life to.

    I tried fairly hard to like Ziggy Stardust, but haven’t succeeded. So this is Bowie’s second chance with me. If it doesn’t work, he gets one more try before I give up :-)

  16. No Stones, no Dylan, no Ziggy, no ‘Glass Onion’ or ‘Yer Blues’? And now that BBC ‘Perfect Day’ is supposed to be better than the original??? Is there one of those emoticons that’s a sulky face?

    (More seriously, the Berlin era is radically different to the glam stuff. Knowing you, though, you may have a better in with the earlier more singer-songwriter era, ‘Man Who Sold the World’ or ‘Hunky Dory.’)

  17. The Stones we’ve covered — I don’t think there’s much more to say about them, except to note that I was rather pleased with myself when, reviewing Gimme Shelter in 1999, I came up with the phrase “rebel without a chord”. (Oh, and you may enjoy my comments on Sister Morphine.

    Dylan: all I can say is I’ve given it my best shot. I’d very conservatively estimate I’ve listened through complete Dylan albums 25 times. There comes a point where it’s just throwing good listening time after bad.

    I’ve got no actual objection to Ziggy Stardust, I just don’t see why it’s such a big deal. I do like Starman, but Dar Williams’ cover is much better than the original.

    Glass Onion is fun, but doesn’t make my top fifteen. Yer Blues on the other hand is about the least inspired thing the Beatles ever did. Almost uniquely among their songs, it could have been by almost anyone. I’m truly astonished that you’d pick it.

    I’ve thought about giving The Man Who Sold The World a spin, on the title alone. Sounds more like a Philip K. Dick short story than an album.

  18. This is back to the thing about Lennon being the most Stonesy Beatle. You obviously don’t get off on music that’s raw or raucous. Which is, you know, fine. But for me, while ‘Yer Blues’ might not be one of the absolute best Beatles tracks, for me it definitely made the cut for the single ‘White Album’.

    People generally seem to prefer ‘Hunky Dory’ to ‘Man Who Sold The World.’ But I like it a lot. The opening and closing tracks are particular favourites of mine.

  19. I’m delighted by music being raw or raucous. The problem is, the Stones weren’t very good at it. The world is full of bands that do that kind of thing better than the Stones (or indeed the Beatles). Led Zeppelin are just the tip of the iceberg.

  20. Mmm, not sure how much I see Zeppelin as an example. For all their heavy riffing I think they are quite musically sophisticated, at times even proggy. When you listen to them, it’s hard not to kind of have a baseline of blues in your mind, and picture them as rising up from that baseline. From memory, I think you said once you didn’t like Sabbath? They’d fit the definition of ‘raw’ more in my mind.

    I think reduction can be as much an aesthetic choice as addition, choosing what to take out as important as choosing what to put in.

  21. It’s certainly true that Zeppelin (despite some outrageous stealing) did more than merely regurgitate the blues. It’s also true that, for all their sophistication, the sounds they produced are much more primal and powerful than the Stones’. In a rather different way, you could say the same for Deep Purple, especially on their live albums. So it seems what you’re enjoying about the Stones is not so much the rawness of the sound as the lack of invention. Well. I can’t get on board with that.

    Regarding Black Sabbath: their early work is certainly very clodhopping, though not without a certain charm. I think that the couple of albums they made with Dio (Heaven and Hell, The Mob Rules) are much more interesting, and better.

    Reduction as a choice: yes, absolutely — so long as that is a foundation to build something else on. To pick an obvious example, I like a lot of music where the whole band is stripped away and it’s just a voice and guitar: but not because it’s so reduced, but because that reduction clears the path for the actual songwriting to be more sophisticated than could come across with a more powerful arrangement. Similarly, the Chopin preludes are probably my single favourite work of classical music, because stripping them right down to piano alone opened the path for Freddy the Chop to play the most brilliant harmonic and textural tricks.

    But simplicity for its own sake? No thanks, I have things to be doing and places to go. If I’m going to listen to music, it had better have some actual substance to repay me for my time. Two chords and a lyric consisting of one repeated line is a waste of my time.

  22. Pardon me if I go on for a while here…

    Describing me as getting off on “a lack of invention” makes me sound like someone who only ever eats meat and potatoes, no matter what day of the week it is. I don’t think that’s really true. For example, I’ve always maintained that the one good thing about Oasis is that they demonstrate so clarly what a blind alley the whole ‘re-enactment’ school of music really is. If you try to sound like the Beatles and Stones you don’t sound like the Beatles and Stones. You sound like someone trying to sound like them. As soon as we invented a way of recording music, all of that was made redundant. The Oasis approach should have gone out with the wax cylinder.

    But music’s like a tree. A tree neeeds new growth, new branches. But it also needs it’s roots. And after spending some time on the fresh growths, the Beatles went back to the roots for a bit. That always made sense to me. The results were admittedly uneven. If you were saying this about ‘Birthday’, I’d be in full agreement. Yet the only limit I can see on ‘Yer Blues’ is that it’s a kind of warm-up exercise for ‘Cold Turkey.’

    I agree with what you say about reduction. But my point was a different one. It may work better if you think of it in terms of visual art. Adding something, if you add the wrong thing, is like taking something away. And taking something away, if you take away the right thing, becomes like adding something. It’s like changing the number of protons in an atom. The whole thing becomes something else. “Two chords and one repeated line” would genuinely formally describe a lot of music I listen to, which I think is awesome!

    In retrospect I’d have to admit I’m not entirely sure ‘Yer Blues’ does all that. It may be better explained by the ‘watering the roots’ analogy. But now we’re on the subject, for an example of something that does, think of Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’. Ozzy doesn’t sing over the guitar line, he sings the guitar line. He puts words to it, but it’s the guitar line he’s singing. It gives the whole think an efficiency, a power and force, that conventional instrumentation lacks.

    (Incidentally, when you said the stuff about Dio, you did know Sabbath fands tend to see those albums the same way Beatles fans see Oasis? They’re pretty much treated as anathema!)

  23. PS You know, thinking about it, ‘Wild Honey Pie’ is actually not bad at all. I wonder if it just escaped our pick lists through being so short…

  24. Huh, I hadn’t realized that you’d ended up talking about David Bowie.

    I have to say, I do think that Ziggy Stardust is both Bowie’s best album (or, at least, the album that best exhibits Bowie’s unique strengths) and one of my favorite albums of all time.

    I don’t know that I’ll convince you of anything, but I did try to make the case for the virtues of the first song on the album, “Five Years.”

    Also, I have to say, I was ready to think you were crazy when you said the the Dar Williams version of “Starman” was better than Bowie’s, but having listened to it, I can see why you’d say that — her version is impressively good.

  25. Thanks, NickS, you make a good case for Five Years, and listening to it again now I appreciate it more. Perhaps I’ll go back to the whole album and really listen to it, rather than just letting it wash over me.

    Although I generally hate spoken-word intros, I think the one on Dar Williams’ Starman is just perfect, in how it sets a mood and invites you to subconsciously construct a backstory without spelling it out. I know I mentioned Philip K. Dick once in this thread already, but listening to her version always feels like reading a PKD short story. (My eldest son is reading the collection We Can Remember It For You Wholesale at the moment, and finding it appropriately fascinating.)

    Finally, and belatedly: Gavin, I agree that Iron Man works really well. But it’s a novelty. To do that for one song is a stroke of brilliance; to do it repeatedly would be abject.

  26. Thanks. I do think Ziggy Stardust is, so famous and so definitively (perhaps quintessentially) seventies that it can take some work to figure out how to appreciate it on it’s own terms rather than as a historical artifact.

    “Five Years” is one of the best songs, so not all of them have quite that much texture and emotional detail, but he is able to consistently mix grand drama with moments that are very specific and grounded in a way that I really respond to. For example, in “Starman” the line, “Don’t tell your papa or he’ll get us locked up” immediately roots me and brings home the image of kids listening to something crazy on the radio.

    The mention of PKD is an interesting one because while his version of grand drama is very different than bowie’s, he also gets a lot of his power from his particular vision of mundane life. See, for example, the opening of the (excellent) “The Exit Door Leads In”:
    Bob Bibleman had the impression that robots wouldn’t look you in the eye. And when one had been in the vicinity small valuable objects disappeared. A robot’s idea of order was to stack everything into one pile. Nonetheless, Bibleman had to order lunch from robots, since vending ranked too low on the wage scale to attract humans.

    “A hamburger, fries, strawberry shake, and –” Bibleman paused, reading the printout. “Make that a supreme double cheeseburger, fries, a chocolate malt –”

    “Wait a minute,” the robot said. “I’m already working on the burger. You want to buy into this week’s contest while you’re waiting?”

    “I don’t get the royal cheeseburger,” Bibleman said.

    “That’s right.”
    (Until I quoted that I hadn’t thought about how sarcastic a name, “Bob Bibleman” is — it may be mundane, but PKD never plays it completely straight.)

    Going back to David Bowie, part of why I don’t like Station to Station as much as some people do is that a song like “Wild As The Wind” is all drama with none of that weird specificity. It doesn’t grab me as all. Whereas Low, in which Bowie drains most of the drama out of his singing, is an amazing album and one of my favorites — but I still think it doesn’t show his range in the way that Ziggy Stardust does.

  27. Though I’m more of a ‘Low’ fan I’d certainly agree with NickS that ‘Five Years’ is the finest track on ‘Ziggy’, and indeed one of Bowie’s finest songs. A large part of its appeal of is the way it doesn’t spell things out, hits you with this un-named apocalypse that it never explains or rationalises. Rather than being a fixed narrative it becomes a kind of space you can hang out in, making of it what you will.

    Not sure if I follow the argument over ‘Wild is the Wind’, though. Yes, I like the emotionally blached-out feel of ‘Low’. But ‘Wild is the Wind’ is surely no more dramatic than ‘Five Years’.

    Mike, I think it’s time to bring up Can, whose virtual mission statement was to do repetition repeatedly. The story of the band’s like a Zen parable – all accomplished and respected musicians, mostly older than the average band member of the time, skilled enough to play almost anything. So of course they decide what they really want to do is play metronomic trance-out music till the cows come home. However much I love the Beatles, Bowie, Sabbath or the Stones, Can eclipse all of them in my heart. Try out ‘Mother Sky’.

  28. My argument is that “Wild Is The Wind” has the drama but none of the surprises — and is less interesting than either Ziggy or Low the latter of which has much less drama but plenty of surprises (the abstractions of “drama” and “surprise” don’t quite fit, but I’m overgeneralizing to to make the point).

  29. My feeling on Wild is the Wind is that it’s not an interesting song at all. But the performance is just superb. He seems to savour every syllable. It has that in common with the better Frank Sinatra performances, even though stylistically it’s a million miles from anything Sinatra would have sung. So it’s still by some distance my favourite Bowie song.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Gavin’s take on why Five Years works as well as it does. It’s a real art to lay out a story so powerful without actually saying what’s happening.

    I’m listening to Can’s Mother Sky as I type this, and actively hating it.

  30. [About five minutes later, though it feels more like five hours]

    Thank heavens that‘s over.

  31. Blimey! I’m glad I didn’t pick Sleep!

  32. Pingback: A Single-Disc White Album | Allyn Gibson

  33. Pingback: The Beatles, Helter Skelter (November 1968) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 6 | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  34. Side 1:
    1. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
    2. I Will
    3. Wild Honey Pie
    4. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
    5. Happiness Is A Warm Gun

    Side 2:
    1. Honey Pie
    2. Don’t Pass Me By
    3. Piggies
    4. Rocky Raccoon
    5. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey

  35. Wow. I would never have landed on that combination! We only have three tracks in common!

    I guess it just shows what a wild ride The White Album is, that it can split opinion so radically.

  36. I would not change a thing. Let It Be!

  37. JohnLenintheCommie

    Here it goes:

    Side One:
    1. Back In the USSR
    2. Dear Prudence
    3. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
    4. I’m So Tired
    5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    6. Blackbird
    7. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide

    Side Two:
    8. Birthday
    9. Yer Blues
    10. Savoy Truffle
    11. Sexy Sadie
    12. Cry Baby Cry
    13. Hester Skelter
    14. Julia


    Hey Jude b/w Glass Onion
    Revolution b/w I Will
    Ob-la-Di-Ob-La-Da b/w Long Long Long

  38. To follow standard Beatles rules (one Ringo song, two George songs, about equal split between Paul and John), I would go:

    SIDE 1

    Back in the U.S.S.R.
    Glass Onion
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    I’m So Tired
    Martha My Dear
    Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    Honey Pie/Wild Honey Pie

    SIDE 2

    Dear Prudence
    Don’t Pass Me By
    I Will
    Helter Skelter
    Savoy Truffle
    Cry Baby Cry
    Revolution 1+9 (should have been mixed together)

  39. Back in the U.S.S.R.
    Dear Prudence
    Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    Happiness is a Warm Gun
    Glass Onion
    Mother Nature’s Son
    I’m So Tired
    Helter Skelter
    Revolution I
    Savoy Truffle
    Cry Baby Cry

    This albums honestly weaker for me in my opinion, as a few of these aren’t even my favorites (mostly the McCartney tracks).

    While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Savoy Truffle are some of Harrison’s best Beatles songs, so they should always stay.

    And this albums acoustic stuff is pretty strong (Dear Prudence, Blackbird, Julia, Mother Nature’s Son, Cry Baby Cry) so I kept all of those that are particularly good.

    As a Lennon fan, I would’ve liked to put in some more of his, namely Bungalow Bill and Everybody’s Got Something to Hide, but I tried to be impartial so there’s almost an even split of Lennon and McCartney.

  40. Well, Noah, there’s no obligation to maintain a Lennon:McCartney balance! I think you should just pick whatever you think makes the strongest album (even if that includes Don’t Pass Me By :-) )

  41. Lance Uppercut

    So I might be circumventing the standards placed on this thread so far but I consider anything recorded within The White Album sessions fair game, and I’m also going to do more trio-esque album where Paul and John get 5 while George gets 4, cause I think it would have been awesome had George gotten a bigger chunk of the running time (I actually would have given him 5 but I need at least ONE Ringo song and I’m not willing to have George have more than Paul or John cause that would be too outlandish for even me to consider) Onwards to the album…

    Side 1
    1- Hey Jude
    2- Dear Prudence
    3- Piggies
    4- Sexy Sadie
    5- Not Guilty (Take 102)
    6- Rocky Racoon
    7- Happiness is a Warm Gun

    Side 2
    8- Long, Long, Long
    9- Birthday
    10- Martha My Dear
    11- Revolution (The Single Version)
    12- The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
    13- While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    14- I Will
    15- Good Night

    A few I painfully had to leave off include Ob-La-Di, Helter Skelter, Glass Onion, and Savoy Truffle.

    I wanted to somewhat keep the schizophrenic feel that the original double album had, which is the main thing that makes this album unique in the Beatles catalog, so I made an effort to keep some of the odd songs (Piggies, Rocky Racoon, Bungalow Bill, Long Long Long) but not enough that I kept songs that seemed more odd than listenable (Wild Honey Pie, Rev 1). I quite enjoy this mix and generally think the White Album would have been better served as a single album. But hey, to each their own.

  42. Interesting choices, Lance — though perhaps a bit cheeky to include Not Guilty!

  43. I can’t believe I just discovered this thread.

    Great discussion. I can’t envisage a different White Album, I’m so used to the existing one. Plus I can actually identify the exact date I first heard it, which somehow helps. It is still my favourite Beatles album.

    Interesting points on the Stones, Deep Purple and Zeppelin. I may be in the minority who rank the Stones’ best stuff (e.g. Jones and Taylor eras) as the equal or better than Zeppelin or Purple. Still love all three.

  44. Glad to have you here, Mark.

    My sense is that a lot of people rate the Stones pretty highly. I’m in the minority.

  45. You definitely have to listen to the right era. Which means very little after 1974.

  46. The Stones album I know best is Sticky Fingers (1971), which I believe is usually considered among their best. It does very little for me.

  47. Finally corrected the name field!

    It’s interesting how we view the different albums. I’d put Sticky Fingers right up there with my all time favourites.

  48. For the record: I re-did this exercise without reference to my initial selection. This time I landed on mostly the same selection, but I dropped Rocky Raccoon and Mother Nature’s Son for Cry Baby Cry and Good Night (because it’s such a good album closer). It’s reassuring that my taste turns out to be pretty constant — but what on earth was I thinking when I omitted Cry Baby Cry first time around?

  49. In Bill Wyman’s run down of all 213 Beatles songs, from worst to best — which is infuriating, but well worth a read — he propses his own single-disc White Album. He only has 13 songs rather than the 15 I allowed myself. Here’s what he comes up with:

    “Back in the USSR”
    “Dear Prudence”
    “Martha My Dear”
    “Don’t Pass Me By”
    “Cry Baby Cry”
    “Revolution 1”

    “Helter Skelter”
    “I’m So Tired”
    “I Will”
    “Sexy Sadie”
    “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

    The inclusion of Don’t Pass Me By baffles, especially in light of the near-universally admired Happiness is a Warm Gun not making the cut. He also includes Cry Baby Cry, which is very defensible — as I wrote above, “On reflection, I’d add Cry Baby Cry into my own selection, and make space by dropping Rocky Raccoon.” Otherwise, the differences from my selection are the absence of Mother Nature’s Son and Honey Pie, both of which I have to admit are dispensable.

  50. I just saw this topic this morning! As a lifetime Beatles fan, I always had ideas of how to compress The White Album to one disc.

    Here are my choices:

    Side 1:

    1. Back In The U.S.S.R
    2. Dear Prudence
    3. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    4. Blackbird
    5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    6. I’m So Tired
    7. I Will

    Side 2:

    1. Hey Jude
    2. Revolution (single version)
    3. Savoy Truffle (love George’s guitar and Ringo’s drums)
    4. Ob-La Di Ob-La Da
    5. Cry Baby Cry
    6. Birthday
    7. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide
    8. Martha My Dear

  51. You want to end on Martha My Dear? I like the song, but I don’t see that it has the gravity for that. (Also, I am not quite sure it isn’t cheating to include Hey Jude and the single version of Revolution. Isn’t that like putting Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane onto Sergeant Pepper?)

  52. You have a good point. I would substitute “Revolution” with “Yer Blues” and replace “Martha My Dear” with “Don’t Pass me By”

  53. Arrgh — you punish me, for my temerity in questioning you, by putting Don’t Pass Me By into the album! And as the closing track! Now we can’t be friends. (Just kidding.)

  54. These aren’t a collection of my favorites from the White Album…just the songs I suspect could have made the final cut. I left off “Revolution 1” I also thought it was important to give Harrison 3 songs…and I used 14 tracks as my cutoff.
    1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
    2. Dear Prudence
    3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    4. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
    5. I’m So Tired
    6. Blackbird
    7. Savoy Truffle

    8. Birthday
    9. Helter Skelter
    10. I Will
    11. Julia
    12. Sexy Sadie
    13. Don’t Pass Me By
    14. Long, Long, Long

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