Monday, April 1, 2019

The Beatles - A Doll's House

The Beatles – A Doll’s House

(soniclovenoize “White Album” single-LP reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  Revolution 19
2.  Honey Pie
3.  Not Guilty
4.  Don’t Pass Me By
5.  Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

Side B:
6.  Helter Skelter
7.  Wild Honey Pie
8.  What’s The New Mary Jane
9.  Can You Take Me Back
10.  Goodnight

After being probably the most highly requested reconstruction on my blog, I finally did the impossible and reconstructed the ultimate single-disc version of The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled release, aka The White Album.  Not only does this reconstruction whittle down the massive, bloated, filler-filled 30-song collection to its core essentials, it also represents the very best material The Beatles recorded during this period. 

After spending several months under the tutelage of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in early 1968, The Beatles emerged from Rishikesh, India with nearly 40 new compositions.  Uninterested in filtering only the best material to be featured on their follow-up proper to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles choose to record almost all of the material they had written, collecting it all onto the band’s first double album set.  Furthermore, although the songs had all predominantly been written on acoustic guitars in the Indian wilderness, each song’s arrangement was pushed as far as possible into drastically different genres—from electric blues to ska, from sound collage to western balladry, from ragtime to proto-metal. 

The resulting self-titled album—dubbed The White Album due to its entirely white cover—has been a controversial release.  With 30 songs of varying quality, the track order is a mess and each song incongruent with the one another.  Many feel the album could be drastically improved by pairing it down to one disc.  Not only could one reduce the album to the best songs, but one could also sonically unify the album to sound more cohesive.  But could it be done? I believe my reconstruction solves all of these problems and is the quintessential single-disc White Album, what The Beatles probably should have originally released in 1968.  
Side A opens with the flagship song of the album, “Revolution 1”.  Here, using both the standard stereo mix from the 2009 White Album Remaster and the Take 18 from the White Album Deluxe box, I was able to sync the full ten-minute track with its sister piece “Revolution 9”, also taken from the White Album Deluxe; thus presented is the closest to John Lennon’s true artistic intent for the song, what I call “Revolution 19”.  Finally, one can understand the relationship between “Revolution 1” and “Revolution 9” and how the two fit together, and it rightfully sets the tone for this cutting-edge Beatles album.  Following is one of Paul McCartney’s most complex and riveting pieces, “Honey Pie”, taken from the 2009 Remaster.  The very best of George Harrison’s material from this era follows: “Not Guilty”, taken from the White Album Deluxe.  It features additional EQ and stereo panning to make the vocals stand out and match the rest of the album, and faded out as George had intended as per it's rough 1968 mono mix.  Next is frankly one of the best songs of the album, the fantastic “Don’t Pass Me By”, complete with its restored orchestral introduction taken from Anthology 3.  Side B closes with Paul McCartney’s tortured romantic plea, a philosophical query that comments on the Greco-Roman concepts of lust, while simultaneously juxtaposing it with the post-modern notions of psychological abandonment due to a lack of peripheral perception.  Of course I can only refer to the masterpiece “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, taken from the 2009 Remaster of the White Album.

Side B opens with one of The Beatles most sophisticated compositions, the slower, early twelve-minute version of “Helter Skelter” taken from the White Album Deluxe, a recording that essentially invented Krautrock.  Here it is reedited for logical cohesion.  The album takes a turn for the serious and decidingly dramatic, with “Wild Honey Pie” from the 2009 Remaster.  Next is one of John Lennon’s very best compositions of his later Beatles-period, the full length, original 1968 mix of “What’s The New Mary Jane”, taken from the White Out bootleg.  With a short excerpt of “Can You Take Me Back” from the White Album Deluxe to break the tension, A Doll’s House concludes the only way it possibly could: with Ringo’s “Goodnight”.

The resulting album becomes one of The Beatles most forward-thinking albums.  A Doll’s House pushes boundaries, invented numerous musical genres and is generally ahead of its time… while still remaining an enthralling yet challenging listen.  A revolution indeed!

Sources used:
Anthology 3 (1996 CD)
The Beatles (2009 Remaster)
The Beatles (2018 Deluxe Edition)
White Out (2015 bootleg, Ass Blaster Records)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro & Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included