The Beatles release ‘White Album’ November 22, 1968

The Beatles, also known as “The White Album”, is the ninth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. A double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band’s previous LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968.  The album’s songs range in style from British blues and ska to pastiches of Chuck Berry and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Most of the songs on the album were written during March and April 1968 at a Transcendental Meditation course in Rishikesh, India.

The group returned to EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London at the end of May to commence recording sessions that lasted through to mid-October. During these sessions, arguments broke out among the foursome over creative differences.  Another divisive element was the constant presence of John Lennon’s new partner, Yoko Ono, whose attendance in the studio broke with the Beatles’ policy regarding wives and girlfriends not attending recording sessions.  After a series of problems, including producer George Martin taking a sudden leave of absence and engineer Geoff Emerick suddenly quitting, Ringo Starr left the band briefly in August.  The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the break-up of the band by 1970.

On release, The Beatles received favourable reviews from the majority of music critics, but other commentators found its satirical songs unimportant and apolitical amid the turbulent political and social climate of 1968.  The band and Martin later debated whether the group should have released a single album instead.  Nonetheless, The Beatles reached No. 1 on the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States, and has since been viewed by some critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.

Revolution” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Three versions of the song were recorded in 1968, all during sessions for the Beatles’ self-titled double album, also known as “the White Album”: a slow, bluesy arrangement (titled “Revolution 1“) that would make the final cut for the LP; an abstract sound collage (titled “Revolution 9“) that originated as the latter part of “Revolution 1” and appears on the same album; and the faster, hard rock version similar to “Revolution 1”, released as the B-side of the “Hey Jude” single. Although the single version was issued first, it was recorded several weeks after “Revolution 1”, as a remake specifically intended for release as a single.

Inspired by political protests in early 1968, Lennon’s lyrics expressed sympathy with the need for change but doubt in regard to some of the tactics. When the single version was released in August, the political left viewed it as betraying their cause. The release of “Revolution 1” in November indicated Lennon’s uncertainty about destructive change, with the phrase “count me out” recorded instead as “count me out – in”. Although Lennon subsequently espoused the need for Maoist political revolution, particularly with his 1971 single “Power to the People“, in one of the final interviews he gave before his death in 1980 he reaffirmed the pacifist sentiments expressed in “Revolution”. In 1987, the song became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for a television commercial, which prompted a lawsuit from the surviving members of the group.