The Beatles - The Beatles (1968), 8/10

Whether you agree or not with its infamous status, the individual hits on this record are undeniable and cover the entire four sides. Yes, there are novelty tracks and yes, it’s a bit bloated, but it is still one of the best single albums from the most popular band in rock music. "Back in the U.S.S.R." is as energizing an opener as any, followed by the beautifully simple and endearing "Dear Prudence". We then get a clever curveball for fans from John in "Glass Onion" ending with a charmingly haunting close, I find Lennon’s contributions to be the strongest in the mix. Yoko chanting with John in "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” tells a nice little story with a pleasant arrangement. George's best contribution is surely "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", featuring Eric Clapton, personifying the dissonance in the group at the time. It's deeply poetic and the descending and ascending melody creates a singular appeal even amongst this track list. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" presents a delightful listen, containing three parts "the Dirty Old Man", "the Junkie" and "the Gunman" according to John; it's a fun exercise to anticipate the open and close of each part, and it is certainly one of the most successful songs on the record. We then get another great track from John in "I'm So Tired", one of his best. It's a bit on the nose as an anecdote about his insomnia while in India, but works wonderfully here, especially sandwiched between "Warm Gun" and "Blackbird". Then "Blackbird" precedes itself as a beautifully written and executed political statement, and while it is an overpraised ballad, it still holds its own as a worthwhile individual song. Paul's "Rocky Raccoon" is an utterly fun tale and one you're sure to come back to, its story is supremely visual even with its silly meanderings and hokey narrative. Disc two starts off quite electric, especially with track two in "Yer Blues", containing one of John's best vocal performances and resulting in one of the best songs the Beatles recorded. Also, I'm sorry but how can you not enjoy "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey" with its soaring guitars and the "c'mon" chants, it’s simply infectious. Paul's most important and most satisfying performance certainly comes from "Helter Skelter", a charged, heavy, sexually charged track bringing the energy sky high before the album’s experimental shift. The infamous and ambitious "Revolution 9" was not the Beatles' only experimental work, but certainly the most successful in its aim and ambitions, presenting a cacophonous yet supremely focused sound. I can't think of a more poetic way to end the record than with an avant-garde sound collage followed by a floating, swaying lullaby. A massive undertaking executed fairly well, and while it does have its flaws, it is a successful musical statement and an undeniably important part of rock history.