R is for Rock and/or Roll

I was reading my Beatlefan magazine this month and there was a discussion of the album “The Beatles” that had a stark white cover, in contrast with the elaborately colorful predecessor Sgt. Pepper. Beatles’ producer George Martin opined that it would have made a great single album, and maybe it it would have. Though Paul McCartney famously replied, “It’s great. It sold. It’s the bloody Beatles’ White Album. Shut up.” . But what to cut?

Then Internet friend Scott actually made a pared-down list, and that has has forced me to TRY to do the same.

Understand that I heard this album in late November or early December 1968, 40 years ago, when it was brand new. I was in the basement of the Unitarian church in Binghamton in upstate New York, hanging out with Steve, who was a member of the church’s LRY (Liberal Religious Youth) group plus other friends of ours. And we listened to the whole thing sitting around in a circle. We were gobsmacked by the experience. I received the album for Christmas that year, but had to return it because the intro to Birthday skipped; this was, as I recall, a problem for a number of people, not just me.

Side one
# Title Length
1. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” 2:43
2. “Dear Prudence” 3:56
3. “Glass Onion” 2:17
4. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” 3:08
5. “Wild Honey Pie” 0:52
6. “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” 3:14
7. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (George Harrison) 4:45
8. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” 2:43
Side two
# Title Length
1. “Martha My Dear” 2:28
2. “I’m So Tired” 2:03
3. “Blackbird” 2:18
4. “Piggies” (Harrison) 2:04
5. “Rocky Raccoon” 3:32
6. “Don’t Pass Me By” (Starkey) 3:50
7. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” 1:41
8. “I Will” 1:46
9. “Julia” 2:54
Side three
# Title Length
1. “Birthday” 2:42
2. “Yer Blues” 4:01
3. “Mother Nature’s Son” 2:48
4. “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” 2:24
5. “Sexy Sadie” 3:15
6. “Helter Skelter” 4:29
7. “Long, Long, Long” (Harrison) 3:04
Side four
# Title Length
1. “Revolution 1” 4:15
2. “Honey Pie” 2:41
3. “Savoy Truffle” (Harrison) 2:54
4. “Cry Baby Cry” 3:01
5. “Revolution 9” 8:22
6. “Good Night” 3:11

Strategically, I suppose what to keep is of some import. One has to have one Ringo vocal. The drummer left the band during the making of the album and had to be wooed back. While selecting the song he wrote years earlier, Don’t Pass Me By, might have been more pleasing to him, Lennon’s Good Night is a more pleasant tune. Likewise one needs two Harrison songs; Guitar and Savoy Truffle are the strongest. I need to keep some, but not all of Paul’s dance hall tunes. If we keep Obladi, the reference to it in Savoy makes more sense. I suppose we’ll dump the “obvious” Revolution 9 and Wild Honey Pie. I’m also dumping Revolution 1 only because Revolution became a single.

In fact, if it had been cut down to a single LP, wouldn’t there have been another single instead? Other than the songs chosen for inclusion, I’m thinking that Glass Onion might have stood alone, with all those insider Beatles’ references, backed with one of McCartney’s pretty ballads – I’ll pick Mother Nature’s Son.
Which leaves:
Side 1
1. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” 2:43
2. “Dear Prudence” 3:56
3. “Blackbird” 2:18
4. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (Harrison) 4:45
5. “Julia” 2:54
6. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” 3:08
7. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” 2:43
Side 2
1. “I’m So Tired” 2:03
2. “Birthday” 2:42
3. “Yer Blues” 4:01
4. “Savoy Truffle” (Harrison) 2:54
5. “Sexy Sadie” 3:15
6. “Helter Skelter” 4:29
7. “Good Night” 3:11
I’m trying to think as they might have. “Julia”, about John’s mother, wouldn’t be cut. Most of the other songs, notably “I Will”, would have shown up in other albums, either by the Beatles or solo. “Rocky Raccoon” is the cut I least enjoyed making.
Alternately, “Ob-la-di” is the single, b/w “Savoy Truffle”. but that involves perhaps a different song selection altogether.

What sayest thou?

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