It was 50 years ago today (November 22nd, 1963) -- on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated -- that the Beatles released their second British album, With The Beatles. The collection, which spent 51 consecutive weeks on top of the UK album charts, was released in the U.S. in an altered form as 1964's Meet The Beatles, and featured such instant "Fab Four" classics as "All My Loving," "It Won't Be Long," "All I've Got To Do," "Not A Second Time," "Hold Me Tight," "Little Child," and "I Wanna Be Your Man."
Alongside the Lennon - McCartney originals were George Harrison's first solo composition, "Don't Bother Me," along with peerless covers of the Miracles' "You've Really Got A Hold On Me," the Donays' "Devil In Her Heart," Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)," and "Til There Was You," from Broadway's The Music Man.
After the release of "Don't Bother Me," George Harrison had two sit out two more albums before the band recorded any more of his compositions. Harrison's first wife Pattie Boyd told us that Harrison often felt his material was passed over on Beatles albums to make more room for Lennon-McCartney songs: "I think he felt quite often that Paul didn't think that his songs were quite good enough for a Beatles album. Because he felt that he was being left out quite often -- song-wise. Obviously Paul and John together were terribly prolific, and if not together then individually. It was all, y'know, a question of time."
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It was 45 years ago today (November 22nd, 1968) that the Beatles released their 30-song self-titled double album, which was commonly known as The White Album. The album's release followed the group's extended stay in Rishikesh, India where they studied transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Most of the songs from The White Album were written while the group was in India, including "Back In The U.S.S.R.," "Yer Blues," "I Will," "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill," 'Revolution 1," "Rocky Raccoon," "I'm So Tired," "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da," "Dear Prudence," "Mother Nature's Son," and John Lennon's thinly-veiled attack on the Maharishi, titled "Sexy Sadie."
Other highlights on the album included Eric Clapton guesting on George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Julia," "Helter Skelter," "Glass Onion," "Martha My Dear," "Birthday," and Ringo Starr's first composition, the country-flavored "Don't Pass Me By."
Several songs originally intended for The White Album turned up on later solo albums, such as "Junk," which Paul McCartney released on his 1970 solo debut McCartney; "Child Of Nature," which Lennon rewrote as "Jealous Guy" for his 1971 album Imagine; "Not Guilty," which made its way onto Harrison's 1979 self-titled album; "Circles," which saw release on his 1982 album Gone Troppo; and McCartney's "Cosmically Conscious" which appeared on 1993's Off The Ground album -- with an extended version appearing on the B-side of the title track's single.
Producer George Martin says that the album still sounds more like the work of four solo artists rather than one unified band: "They came back from abroad. . . They'd been away for quite a while after the death of (manager) Brian Epstein. They came back and presented me with 33 songs, which they all wanted to record at once, literally. They said, 'Well, you've got another studio. George has something going in one studio, and I can go in another,' says Paul. I was running from one studio to another, doing a kind of executive role."
The group's biggest hit, "Hey Jude" -- and its B-side, "Revolution" -- were both recorded during sessions for The White Album, but were left off the album after being released as a single the previous August. The Beatles' White Album hit Number One on December 28th, 1968 and went on to top the charts for nine non-consecutive weeks.
Photo Courtesy of Bruce McBroom/Apple Corps LTD.