Music Features

“Let Me Reintroduce To You…”: The Beatles In Stereo (Part 3)

Part 3: "And in the end..."

“There was a lot more individual stuff.  For the first time, I think people were accepting that it was individual.” — George Harrison

If Brian Epstein’s death in 1967 wasn’t indication enough that The Beatles might possibly fall to pieces without guidance, their next album, the oversaturated double-LP simply titled, The Beatles, may have been.

Later referred to as “The White Album” due to its blank slate of a cover, The Beatles was for the band a return to rock n’ roll, though it was less of a group effort than its title suggests, the album’s significance now rooted in familial dysfunction and a wealth of unedited ideas.  It was also the first Beatles album released on their fledgling label, Apple Records. 

Recorded over a period of twenty weeks using separate studios at times, The Beatles resulted from a period of songwriting that took place during the band’s meditative stretch in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  For as much romance as the band still carried throughout their music, The Beatles possesses a robust dreariness and semi-morbid tonality that arises with self-effacing sarcasm (Glass Onion), playful and violent sing songs (The Continuing Story Of Buffalo Bill), carnality (Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?), and depression (Yer Blues).

But, it also has moments of warmth (Dear Prudence), softness (Blackbird), and passion (While My Guitar Gently Weeps).  Though erratically conceived and at times burdened with filler (Wild Honey Pie) and pretension (Revolution 9), The Beatles is regarded as a triumph in spite of its attempts to fail because it so perfectly represents discord. 

For the stereo mix, I was ecstatic to finally hear Harrison’s Long, Long, Long in full detail.

Following were two soundtrack albums, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be, the first of which was basically a Sgt. Pepper throwback for an animated film.  The second was meant as the live companion to a film intended to illustrate The Beatles at work.  No overdubs or studio intervention; a return to the live dynamic. 

Instead, the film illustrated the widening rift felt by the group and the album carries that same air of bitter finality about it, even though Let It Be wasn’t technically their last album as a band.  

Between The Beatles and Let It Be, I always felt that either Lennon or McCartney had the biggest presence.  Firm in his resolve to ditch Pepper, The Beatles seemed to feature Lennon prominently as the determined rock n’ roller, seemingly unattached from his three bandmates.  Let It Be belongs to McCartney, his contributions being the most memorable aspects of the album and his performance of Get Back its iconic finale.

With Abbey Road, however, egos were thankfully checked and The Beatles left on an amazing note, the phrase “come together” almost a subliminal pep talk to a band clearly at its end. 

The celebratory nature of the album’s famous B-side winds up the band’s perfect farewell with snippet-length rock jams juxtaposing John Lennon’s conviction (Come Together) and frustration (I Want You (She’s So Heavy)).  You don’t get the feeling that everything is all right when you give Abbey Road a listen, but you do get solace in the form of a drum solo and a quote:

“And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love/You make”

As I’ve revisited these albums over and over again for a couple weeks now, all while witnessing the hoopla surrounding the reemergence of The Beatles in terms of their history and their music, their deep-seeded importance is no more or less understood by me. 

By others however, as their music can now speak clearly for the first time in years to new generations of listeners, these albums have a chance at a new life and a new level of understanding.   

There’s a reason this music means so much, and that reason is simply this:  Everything you know, is thanks to these four lads from Liverpool that got together, made a band, and changed the world. 

And, now that you know that, you can hear it, too.