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655448 Posts in 26187 Topics by 3726 Members - Latest Member: DerekTaylorIsAGenius February 26, 2020, 10:28:05 AM
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Author Topic: Best of 1968: White Album or Friends  (Read 934 times)
GoogaMooga
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« on: January 31, 2020, 05:04:55 PM »

Hello! I need your help. I am writing a book about the best albums for each year in the LP era, 1952-1999. All the choices have been made, ten albums per year, highlighting the best one each year. But for 1968, I can't make up my mind whether it should be The Beatles (White Album) or Friends. I love both and think Friends is a near perfect album, unlike the sprawling mess that is the White Album. But Friends doesn't have a song quite like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Friends is laid back, more like easy listening. Flawed as it may be, White Album does have a few stand-outs, of which While My Guitar is absolutely top notch. Please help me decide.
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rab2591
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2020, 07:26:59 PM »

As a cohesive, succinct, harmonious album Iíd say Friends. If youíre looking for an album that has a handful of absolutely incredible songs but is surrounded by lackluster tracks, Iíd say White Album.

Friends makes a mellow statement, itís this slice of a fantasy life that is full of little birds, ocean waves, children, and lovers. It has so many different styles of music, and it even takes a weird turn with that bombastic ending that completely shatters that mellow mood - the Boys take you on a harmonious tour of a beautiful world and then snap you right out of it in the end.

White album has definitely grown on me over the years, but it is so long that I lose interest in places. Dear Prudence is one of my favorites. It has a lot of my favorites on there, but as an album it doesnít feel like a trip I want to take often.

That being said, I am likely completely in the minority with this opinion. Iím sure some will reply with convincing reasons why the White Album is by far the better album. If youíre writing a book, and youíve obviously done your research, then go with your gut reaction - that is likely the correct answer.
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2020, 09:06:02 PM »

I find it hard to even rank "The Beatles" among Beatles albums. I have the choice between a bunch of 30 minute albums (well, okay, Pepper and Abbey run a little longer), and this nearly two hour double album!
"Friends", on the other hand, is over in LESS than 30 minutes. But I do like it pretty well up till "Diamond Head" - I know i'm supposed to hear it as a continuation of the "Smile" vibe, but I just find it boring. And then the album closes with an absolutely awful, off-key track about "Transcendental Meditation".
If I wanted the perfect song to meditate to, it certainly wouldn't be this one. I'd choose "Be Still" or "All I Wanna Do".
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SBonilla
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2020, 07:27:48 AM »

Hello! I need your help. I am writing a book about the best albums for each year in the LP era, 1952-1999. All the choices have been made, ten albums per year, highlighting the best one each year. But for 1968, I can't make up my mind whether it should be The Beatles (White Album) or Friends. I love both and think Friends is a near perfect album, unlike the sprawling mess that is the White Album. But Friends doesn't have a song quite like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Friends is laid back, more like easy listening. Flawed as it may be, White Album does have a few stand-outs, of which While My Guitar is absolutely top notch. Please help me decide.

Who's your publisher?
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GoogaMooga
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2020, 10:44:19 AM »

Hello! I need your help. I am writing a book about the best albums for each year in the LP era, 1952-1999. All the choices have been made, ten albums per year, highlighting the best one each year. But for 1968, I can't make up my mind whether it should be The Beatles (White Album) or Friends. I love both and think Friends is a near perfect album, unlike the sprawling mess that is the White Album. But Friends doesn't have a song quite like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Friends is laid back, more like easy listening. Flawed as it may be, White Album does have a few stand-outs, of which While My Guitar is absolutely top notch. Please help me decide.

Who's your publisher?

I can't divulge that right now.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 10:48:25 AM by GoogaMooga » Logged
krabklaw
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2020, 11:23:11 AM »

Well since this is a  Beach Boys forum, I vote for Friends. I always liked Transcendental Meditation anyway.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2020, 05:03:43 PM »

Friends gets my vote.

you can say Friends doesn't have a While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but neither does the White Album have a song like Friends which I find much more interesting, exquisitely arranged, and beautiful than anything on the White Album and beyond. and I do love the White Album.

I also love Transcendental Meditation which is dissonant in places but never off-key. it's a modern jazz-influenced powerhouse, in fact.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2020, 05:06:48 PM by bossaroo » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2020, 06:26:54 PM »

Yes, I would add that Transcendental Meditation is in fact one of the strongest tracks on Friends, one of the most memorable. I went back and listened to Friends again, because it's been many years - too long, really. It's a lovely album, breezy and laid back. I get what they are trying to achieve and I think they succeed brilliantly. It's a more complete work of art compared with the White Album. But still, I am not sure it is greater. It has some stand-outs: Little Bird, Busy Doin' Nothin', Breakaway, Anna Lee, but nothing that can match a track as monumental as While My Guitar.

Interesting that both albums tie in with the study trip to India to visit the Maharishi - well, it was only Mike from our band, wasn't it?

I think I will choose White Album as album of the year for 1968.
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RubberSoul13
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2020, 06:37:35 PM »

Friends doesn't even come close to the White Album. That being said, I'd pick "Odyssey & Oracle" over either of them !
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2020, 07:59:30 PM »

Friends is incredible. Up there with Pet Sounds and the Smile Sessions for me. Too bad it didn't get a remix.
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2020, 09:38:19 PM »

Friends doesn't even come close to the White Album. That being said, I'd pick "Odyssey & Oracle" over either of them !
I think i'd go with Something Else by the Kinks. David Watts, Death of a Clown, Waterloo Sunset, Funny Face, Two Sisters...
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John Brode
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2020, 10:11:59 PM »

I find it hard to even rank "The Beatles" among Beatles albums. I have the choice between a bunch of 30 minute albums (well, okay, Pepper and Abbey run a little longer), and this nearly two hour double album!
"Friends", on the other hand, is over in LESS than 30 minutes. But I do like it pretty well up till "Diamond Head" - I know i'm supposed to hear it as a continuation of the "Smile" vibe, but I just find it boring. And then the album closes with an absolutely awful, off-key track about "Transcendental Meditation".
If I wanted the perfect song to meditate to, it certainly wouldn't be this one. I'd choose "Be Still" or "All I Wanna Do".
What about Transcendental Meditation sounds off-key? The harmonies (both the saxes and Brian's vocals) have always sounded extremely spot on to me.
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2020, 03:09:55 AM »

That being said, I'd pick "Odyssey & Oracle" over either of them !

YES. One of the best albums ever made.
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2020, 03:45:45 AM »

You can exactly half the White Album and it becomes an amazing record. Half of the album is basically what should've been B-sides
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Emdeeh
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2020, 06:46:00 AM »

Both albums are spotty for me. I prefer the White Album (skipping the pretentious #9 altogether).
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2020, 12:13:22 PM »

I love "Friends", but it's not even close. The White Album is a tour de force of all sorts of musical styles and flavors. They're all on fire together and seperately. "Friends" is amazing, but doesn't even come close.

I've already gone over the "Beatles vs. Beach Boys" thing here. All I can say to the original poster is that you're not going to get a particularly objective answer on this question if you pose it on a *BEACH BOYS* board!  LOL Same would be true on a Beatles board.

Of course, the reality is that I'd guess only a Beach Boys board would "Friends" get more than 10% of the vote.

To reiterate, I *love* Friends. I dig it, and I'd also say they *left off* tons of great songs we got years later ("A Time to Live in Dreams", etc.).
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2020, 02:06:18 PM »

I love "Friends", but it's not even close. The White Album is a tour de force of all sorts of musical styles and flavors. They're all on fire together and seperately. "Friends" is amazing, but doesn't even come close.

Agreed. That's pretty much what I was going to say. Smiley

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GoogaMooga
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2020, 02:11:19 PM »


I've already gone over the "Beatles vs. Beach Boys" thing here. All I can say to the original poster is that you're not going to get a particularly objective answer on this question if you pose it on a *BEACH BOYS* board!  LOL Same would be true on a Beatles board.

That is precisely why I posed the question here!  Cheesy I think, as a band, The Beach Boys are better than Beatles, even at the cut-off point of 1970. I wanted to test the strength of "Friends" in a place where it would have a fighting chance. Because, as you say, in reality, the response would be overwhelmingly in favor of Beatles' White Album. And "Friends" deserves better than that. It is Brian's favorite Beach Boys album (although that choice has varied over the years). I have now youtubed the first few tracks off the White Album. And I have made up my mind. I keep mentioning While My Guitar here, but really the White Album contains quite a few more songs at that level.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2020, 02:12:36 PM by GoogaMooga » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2020, 02:25:23 PM »


I've already gone over the "Beatles vs. Beach Boys" thing here. All I can say to the original poster is that you're not going to get a particularly objective answer on this question if you pose it on a *BEACH BOYS* board!  LOL Same would be true on a Beatles board.

That is precisely why I posed the question here!  Cheesy I think, as a band, The Beach Boys are better than Beatles, even at the cut-off point of 1970. I wanted to test the strength of "Friends" in a place where it would have a fighting chance. Because, as you say, in reality, the response would be overwhelmingly in favor of Beatles' White Album. And "Friends" deserves better than that. It is Brian's favorite Beach Boys album (although that choice has varied over the years). I have now youtubed the first few tracks off the White Album. And I have made up my mind. I keep mentioning While My Guitar here, but really the White Album contains quite a few more songs at that level.

On a Beach Boys board, it'll have more than a fighting chance. I'd be stunned if it lost.

The White Album is much, much more than just "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." That's a great track, but there are other more impressive elements. McCartney alone is a tour de force of insanely varying musical styles.

"Friends" deserves far more attention and accolades than it has ever had from the mainstream. But it doesn't need to be celebrated off the back of minimizing the White Album.

There's a reason the vast majority of music aficionados would rank the Beatles above the Beach Boys. They're not paying the BB's enough attention and respect in many cases, but they're right about the Beatles.

Again, I adore the "Friends" album; the first four tracks stand tall with the best work of their career. And while I even like the more esoteric, challenged stuff from the latter portion of the album, I have no problem saying that "Passing By" or "Diamond Head", or even "When A Man Needs a Woman" or "Transcendental Mediation" are very much sub-White Album quality, save "Revolution 9".

A while back there was a yearly head-to-head on Beatles and BB albums, and while again the thing skewed comically in favor of the BBs nearly across the board, I have to say there really wasn't a year where the BBs came out ahead. It obviously gets much, much closer in 1966-67, but just as Brian reached his peak, the Beatles had Revolver and Sgt. Pepper! I mean, out of all the stuff to hold the BB's up against, why the Beatles? It does the Beach Boys a disservice.

Even most of the BB's would name the Beatles ahead of the BBs. Truly. Howie Edelson mentioned in one of his Fabcasts that he was talking to Al Jardine one time and mentioned that many BB fans feel the BBs are better than the Beatles (loosely paraphrasing here) , and he said Al laughed. Al found it comical to suggest such a thing. I think Brian (and likely Carl and Dennis were they still around) would generally agree.
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2020, 02:31:32 PM »

A while back there was a yearly head-to-head on Beatles and BB albums

Here's the link for 1968: http://smileysmile.net/board/index.php/topic,25763.0.html

Beatles won 17 votes to 11.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2020, 02:44:26 PM by B.E. » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2020, 07:12:46 PM »

White Album, hands down. 
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« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2020, 04:09:55 AM »

Ranking music is mostly pointless. The White Album is such a culturally significant record, so it's hard to argue with that choice, even though I think it sounds a little forced and patchy; personally, as a listener, I prefer Friends and it's not even close. It's one of my favorite albums by anyone, together with another handful of BB albums from the 60s. That said I think I do understand why it didn't really sell at the time, at least in the US (iirc it was a moderate success in the UK). It's pretty much the same with Wild Honey and Sgt. Pepper, even though that's a Beatles record I actually like very much.
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« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2020, 06:59:07 AM »

Lots of great albums in '68 -- Electric Ladyland, Begger's Banquet, Music from Big Pink, Lady Soul, Odyssey and Oracle, etc. But just between the White Album and Friends, I'd choose the Beatles' sprawling, messy masterpiece over the quirky charm of Friends.
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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2020, 09:38:01 AM »

This is even more Apples v Oranges that most Beatles v BB comparisons. Friends is a very personal album by a genius struggling against an impending breakdown whereas the White Album is a three very ego-driven guys making groundbreaking, extroverted  solo tracks using the others as backing musicians. Friends is rarely a rock album in the way that Sunflower is whereas the WA is the rockiest The Beatles ever became. Friends is perhaps more timeless whereas the WA is a better embodiment of 1968's musical trends and possibilities. The WA is better produced and of course we have a remix; I think Friends is still stuck with a 2001 remaster unless anyone knows differently.

The WA includes all the best tracks The Beatles had available to them given that they didn't include singles and John wasn't happy with the recording of Across The Universe. The Beach Boys had better material lying around but it was unfinished and Brian wasn't well enough to do the work to get it up to scratch, and nobody was helping him AFAIK. Dennis was coming good and his stuff alone blows away many WA tracks, but he's still the George Harrison of the group at this point.
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« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2020, 10:15:20 AM »

I'd go with The Beatles White Album over Friends without hesitation.  Friends is a great album, but The White Album is so much more.  I like everything on it.  I have even listened to Revolution 9 countless times over the years.  I'm sorry but it's not even close for me.
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