Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Beatles for Sale

The other day, I mentioned in passing that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, a 1967 album from the British band the Beatles, didn't spawn any singles. What I didn't realize until today was that their album The Beatles, popularly known as the White Album, had no singles issued from it as well.

The weird thing is, "Hey Jude" was recorded on July 31, 1968, smack-dab in the middle of the White Album sessions, which extended from May 30 to October 14 of that year. "Hey Jude" was released as a single on August 26, and would go on to be the biggest Beatles single ever: It sold 8 million copies and stayed at Number One for nine weeks in the fall of 1968. It was the first release on the Apple label, which may be why the Beatles wanted to put it out as a special, standalone single, but it was apparently never intended to appear on the White Album.

John Lennon did want to put "Revolution 1" out as a single in the summer of '68, but the other Beatles felt it was too slow, which occasioned the recording of what we now know as "Revolution," which surfaced as the B-side to "Hey Jude." (The other guys were right.) The Beatles came out on November 22, 1968, and I'm sure radio paid some sort of attention to it, but I don't know exactly what. "Everybody says we must do this and that but our thing is just rocking," said Lennon at the time of the album's release. "You know, the usual gig. That's what this new record is about. Definitely rocking."

The Beatles were back in the studio by January of 1969, for the abortive Get Back sessions, and indeed "Get Back" would be their next single, released on April 11, 1969. Sometimes you hear about George Harrison whining that he never got the A-side of a Beatles single until "Something," but that's obviously a little wind-aided; if there had been any singles taken from the White Album, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" would have been an obvious choice, along with "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." "Wild Honey Pie," not so much.

Now it's true that not just many but most of the Beatles singles derived from non-album tracks (or at least pre-album tracks), but it's also true that singles were taken from Help! ("Help!" b/w "I'm Down"), Rubber Soul ("Nowhere Man" b/w "What Goes On"), Revolver ("Yellow Submarine" b/w "Eleanor Rigby"), Abbey Road ("Come Together"/"Something"), and Let It Be ("The Long and Winding Road" b/w "For You Blue"), among others. But not the White Album.

You know something else that was cool about the White Album? When it came out on cassette tape, they didn't use the blank white cover with the embossed name on it. The cover of the cassette version looked like this:


  1. It's too bad Sgt. Pepper and The White Album had no singles released until like a decade later. If their songs had been released back then they probably would have had thirty or more number one hits.

  2. I had the cassette, which is why I always referred to The Beatles as "The Black Album with Crappy Foil Stamping."