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500 Greatest Albums

Here’s our list of seminal international albums including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones among others

Rolling Stone India May 19, 2011
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10. The Beatles (The White Album) – The Beatles

Beyond its stylish minimalism, the essentially blank cover of The Beatles, better known as the White Album, served a symbolic purpose. The band could find no honest way to visually represent itself as a coherent unit. Each of the three main songwriters was pursuing his own vision, with the other members, however reluctantly, serving as backup musicians. Once a whole far greater than the sum of its parts, the Beatles were now a tense alliance of daunting individual talents. The Beatles became a double album in part because John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all insisted that their favorite songs be included. “I remember having three studios operating at the same time,” Harrison said of the sessions. “Paul was doing some overdubs in one, John was in another and I was recording some horns or something in a third.” Ringo Starr grew so frustrated that he quit the band for a time. The others festooned his drum set in flowers to celebrate his return. What didn’t suffer in this atmosphere was the music. From the plangent yearning of Lennon’s “Julia” to the exuberance of McCartney’s “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and the prayerfulness of Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (featuring a solo by Eric Clapton), the White Album is an exhilarating sprawl ”” some of the Beatles’ most daring and delicate work. “I think it was a very good album,” said McCartney. “It stood up, but it wasn’t a pleasant one to make.”

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