The Impact of Beatles’ White Album on Late ‘80s Alternative Rock
The Beatles have long disbanded but their impact on the music industry can be felt to this day. Particularly, it is the band’s “White Album” – which gets its name because of the minimalistic cover – made waves in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s in the alternative rock genre, with several bands admitting they have gotten inspiration from one of the most influential bands.
The White Album
Years before separating, The Beatles were on a roll, releasing the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, although rumors about misunderstandings backstage were already circulating by this point. Still, the project was so celebrated that it became a chart-topper both in the United States and the United Kingdom.
A year later, The Beatles released their eponymous record, which was more fondly called the “White Album” precisely because of its cover which was left completely blank. It was the 9th studio album in the band’s career, taking almost 17 months to materialize.
Although the record was well-received by fans who eagerly awaited its release, there were critics who simply didn’t think it was good enough. And just two years after the successful release of White Album, which sold millions of copies worldwide, the group disbanded and decided to go their separate ways.
This year, the album hits its 50th anniversary and to celebrate the milestone, producers reissued the album on Nov. 9. The “White Album” got a remastered version for the commemoration, the same treatment the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” got last year, much to the delight of the Beatle fanatics.
According to Giles Martin, the producer of the remastered version of the “White Album” and son of late Sir George Martin who originally produced the group’s music, the songs were mostly written by The Beatles in India. He also admitted that the album was harder to remix than “Sgt. Pepper.” The Beatlemania will take pleasure in the new set that comes with 30 tracks, 50 session takes and 27 acoustic demos, most of which weren’t revealed to the public before.
As for the original White Album, it didn’t manage to win as many hearts as some of the other Beatles classics . The New York Times may have underlined some good aspects of it, but was also partially dissatisfied of the entirety, while Time, meanwhile, blatantly used harsh adjectives to describe the album. But this doesn’t mean other aspiring and emerging bands were not taking notes at how The Beatles had done it during the time.
The Beatles had found a way to create live studio performances with ad-libs that made the songs uniquely enjoyable. The uncalled for remarks spiced things up a bit and gave the songs the flavor these needed. More so, it had inspired a lot of bands to follow suit in breaking away from the usual rock genre.
Hüsker Dü, whose three members Bob Mould, Greg Norton, and Grant Hart all hailed from Minnesota, was a known hardcore rock band. Later on, they ventured onto something more by taking cue from The Beatles and deciding to search for a broader audience. They smashed the psychedelic rock and transformed music into much a slower and less aggressive type of rock.
The trio’s album “Zen Arcade” contained 23 songs, perhaps the start of their transition and may be deemed as the proof of their adoption of The Beatles’ style. Interestingly, Hüsker Dü blended melody and hardcore rock seamlessly that they started gaining praises.
Pixies took note from The Beatles as well when they incorporated wide-ranging styles into their music, which was especially evident in the “Surfer Rosa.” Songwriter Charles Thompson was very vocal when it comes to crediting the beloved English band which he said had one of the biggest influences on him.
“Surfer Rosa” furthermore showed just how much impact the “White Album” had on the band. The group recorded a “live in the room” kind of performance that put a distinctive twist on the music, and the engineer, Steve Albini, even placed amps in the bathroom when recording “Gigantic” to capture the echo.
Sonic Youth briefly went to become the Ciccone Youth and released the “Whitey Album,” which aimed to cover The Beatles’ “White Album.” However, the group ended up taking just a cue from the album. The band mostly took inspiration from The Beatles’ style and tried to incorporate it into their songs.
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