About the music on this album:

This album was originally going to be called A Doll's House, after Ibsen's play.

In early 1968, The Beatles set out for Rishikesh, India, to study Trascendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Others along for the ride included Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Mia Farrow, and her sister. For the Maharishi, having the Beatles was a major public relations coup, and he was thrilled. But, after only a little month, Ringo got fed up and went back to England, and Paul followed him within two weeks. George and John stayed quite a bit longer because of their deeper interest in Hindu religion and spirituality. But, even they left after discovering that the Maharishi had made a sexual advance towards one of the students (see "Sexy Sadie").

Even if The Beatles didn't find God on their trip to India, they did find a wealth of new material. They forswore LSD for the trip, and smoked only an evening joint. This lack of drugs is thought to have helped in their creation of so much new material. Many of the songs, especially the simpler ones, were written while in Rishikesh, and then perfected back at Abbey Road.

"Wild Honey Pie", for example, was based on a sing-along that they did at the Maharishi's retreat. "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" was based on a tiger-hunting American who stayed at the retreat for a few days. Revolution in the Head says that "Blackbird" was inspired by a blackbird flying into Paul's window one morning, although during his recent concert tour of America, Paul claimed that it was written as a metaphor for the civil rights movement (note that this is offered as a possibility in the book), and that in England, they call girls "birds."

By the time that they got back, they had about 23 songs written, most of which made it to the album. Those that didn't make it were released on Anthology 3 and on various solo albums. Most of the songs written while in India are acoustic songs, which makes sense because the only guitars that they were able to bring were their acoustic guitars. It is an oft-pointed-out fact that during the recording of this album, each Beatle was essentially acting as a solo artist while the others played as a back-up band. Even this is somewhat inaccurate, because the members of the band often weren't even in the studio at the same time.

As is mentioned above, Paul would sometimes replace Ringo's drum parts with his own after Ringo left the studio. Most agree that Ringo knew this, but just kept quiet. At one point during the recording, he actually quit the band for a few days before returning to the studio to find his drum kit draped in flowers.

Also, randomness played a major part in the creation of this album. By this point in their careers, the Beatles had come to see all accidents as containing meaning (from Revolution in the Head), and all meaning as being accidental. This caused them to play around with a wide variety of different techniques on the album, many of which are mentioned in rp's writeup. "Revolution 9" is the most obvious example of this, being the longest track that the Beatles recorded, as well as the strangest.

Basically, this album has something for nearly every musical taste. Even if you don't think that you have, you've probably heard a song or two from this album. I advise everyone to give it a listen, because it's truly smashing, and deserved to be a lot higher on VH1's list.

About the cover of this LP:

The Beatles1968 self-titled double album has one of the most famous and simplest album covers in the history of popular music. The album's plain white cover belies the complexity of the lyrical and musical content; this is one of the most diverse albums ever recorded. At first glance, the white cover of The Beatles seems to indicate nothing about the album. This is especially true when it is compared to the far more complex covers of other records of the time such as Tommy, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But despite the cover's outward appearance, this plain white cover actually speaks volumes about the music and the men who wrote it.

Because of its cover, The Beatles is more popularly known as "The White Album." On the right side of the cover, the words "The BEATLES" are printed, slightly askew. On an original vinyl copy, there is a lithographed number below the title, which indicates which copy of the album it is. Opening the album reveals an unnumbered track-list and four famous, small, and simple black-and-white pictures of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. But as soon as the needle touches to the white vinyl of side one, this apparent simplicity washes away.

In some ways, the album really is simple. Compared with the grandiose orchestral arrangements on the band’s other releases of the latter half of the 1960s, the acoustic sounds on many of the songs might seem plain. Such a characterization of this album would be shortsighted. By this point in their careers, The Beatles had come to believe that true meaning was derived from accidents. As such, this LP’s primary trait is variety: "Blackbird" is a simple acoustic only song and "Helter Skelter is an extended electric jam session. "Don't Pass Me By" is a bluegrass-style number, while "Back in the U.S.S.R." is a standard rock 'n' roll piece. "Ob La Di, Ob La Da" is a reggae song, and "Revolution 9" is an eight minute collection of sound clips. The album begins with a jet engine and ends with the whispered words "Goodnight everybody, everybody everywhere, goodnight," and has a thousand other seemingly random pieces in between. With such a diverse group of songs, a plain white cover is the only way to truly indicate the scope of the album. The cover is perfect in its simplicity.

A plain white cover doesn't give any preconceptions about the songs, and allows the music to speak for itself. Whereas some album covers might indicate what the songs are about, a plain white cover forces the listener to listen and decide for themselves. Each song is a new experience, unfettered by the songs around it. A complex picture or graphic on a cover indicates that each of the songs somehow relates to it. Placing nothing on a cover indicates nothing. A plain cover is the perfect forum for a diverse collection of songs conceived on the notion of randomness. There is no more perfect cover for The Beatles than plain white.

I really love Revolution in the Head, and get lots of information from there. You should buy it.