11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)

I would have discovered this album in retrospect, because most of The Beatles' career happened before I was aware of who they were. But I can imagine the days when they were making their classics - 'The White Album', 'Abbey Road', 'Revolver' and 'Sgt. Pepper'. I am reminded of when the DM production team were first discovering samplers, that level of excitement with new technology. We were all so enthusiastic about trying to break new ground, hopefully creating something innovative that no-one else had attempted before. I get the feeling that around the late 60s, it was very much the same for The Beatles - they were doing things in the studio that no-one else would dare, and as George Martin said in his recent Arena interview, the group members were eternally curious - all of them in different ways. They always wanted to do something different and not repeat themselves. 'The White Album' epitomises that philosophy.

And yet the double album was surely The Beatles' most disparate collection. It was the first undertaken following the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, and released on their own record label, Apple. (The album's original title, 'A Doll's House', was changed when Family released the similarly titled 'Music in a Doll's House' earlier that year.)

It came at a time when the group were well into their 'psychedelic' phase, coupled with enormous tension. At one point Ringo actually quit, then returned when he realized that the album was continuing without him. The main problems however existed between Harrison and McCartney, as George believed he was being treated as a junior member of the group. Combine this with the fact that Lennon insisted that Yoko Ono be present in the studio, and her treatment by Paul and George, who did not want her there. A strange time. Beds were present at Abbey Road, as well as a stream of visitors who would stop in at all hours.

Consequently, the chaos of it all allowed them to explore all aspects of their musical backgrounds - it is that very chaos factor that is so intriguing - fascinating to hear the raw contributions that each writer (including Harrison) brought to the group, knowing as we do now, that each pretty much individually controlled their own song's versions. We don't hear the usual cross-pollination or compromises which so many groups end up making in the studio. What we do hear is George Martin applying his trade to the individual in question, almost as if the recording of, say, one of John's songs becomes an intimate therapy session. A singularly gripping musical experience.

Again, I guess you could compare the scenario in some ways to DM's 'SOFAD' sessions, where we were in the worst possible state as members and yet (and this is clearer with hindsight) creating some of our best work. The stories I hear about the Beatles not being even in the same room together - that was very much the same with us, when one person would be in the studio and the other would be in another city and so on. I remember thinking 'I'm never going to make another record under these circumstances again, because there's no real fun in it, and life's too short'.

For 'The White Album', Lennon turns in two of his best ballads with 'Dear Prudence' and 'Julia', scours the Abbey Road vaults for the musique concrète collage 'Revolution 9', and celebrates the Beatle's cult with 'Glass Onion' and 'Cry Baby Cry'. McCartney doesn't reach quite as far, yet some of his songs are also brilliant - like the music hall romp 'Honey Pie', the mock country of 'Rocky Raccoon', and the (pre)punk-metal roar of 'Helter Skelter'.

Clearly, the Beatles' two main songwriting forces were no longer on the same page. Harrison still had just two songs per LP, but it's obvious from 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', the canned soul of 'Savoy Truffle' and the haunting 'Long, Long, Long' that he had developed into a songwriter who deserved wider exposure. None of it sounds like it was meant to share album space together. Revealing, flawed and genius.

01. Television : 'Marquee Moon' (1977)
02. Lou Reed : 'Berlin' (1973)
03. Public Image Ltd. : 'MetalBox' (1979)
04. Talk Talk : 'Spirit Of Eden' (1988)
05. Steve Reich : 'Reich: The Desert Music' (1997)
06. David Bowie : 'Aladdin Sane' (1973)
07. Radiohead : 'OK Computer' (1997)
08. Massive Attack : 'Collected' (1998)
09. Morrissey : 'You Are The Quarry' (2004)
10. Eno : 'Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy' (1974)
11. The Beatles : 'The White album' (1968)
12. Górecki : 'Symphony #3, Op. 36' (1992)
13. Pink Floyd : 'Meddle' (1971)