The LP that prevented a Beatles album title

Naming an album is hard work, and nobody knows that better than The Beatles. The majority of the band’s LPs have titles that originated from songs – Please, Please Me, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let It Be all come from this tradition. But it was when the Fab Four decided to zag from this tradition that they stumbled on some of their most iconic titles.

Take, for instance, their folk-infused 1965 LP Rubber Soul. The band’s preoccupation with Motown and American R&B caused them to jokingly refer to their own take on the genre as “plastic soul”. McCartney could even be heard referring to “plastic soul” while the band was tracking the 1965 single ‘I’m Down’. Similarly, the band favoured the multiple meanings that could be found in the title of their follow-up, 1966’s Revolver. Was it a reference to the spinning of a record or to a gun? The answer was ambiguous, and that’s just the way they liked it.

By 1968, The Beatles had dispensed with album titles altogether. For their massive eclectic, and wildly varied double LP The Beatles, no album title could be decided on by the time they had to officially distribute the album. While the official album title is simply The Beatles, most fans, writers, and even band members quickly came around to calling it The White Album, which remains the unofficial-official title of the album today.

As it turns out, however, The Beatles did have a more traditional name for the album originally. According to Ian MacDonald’s 1997 book Revolution in the Head, the band had planned on calling the LP A Doll’s House during recording sessions. However, four months before the album’s release, another album with a similar name was released. British progressive rock group Family put out an LP called Music In a Doll’s House in the summer of 1968, forcing The Beatles to find an alternative album title.

When Paul McCartney met with artist Richard Hamilton, Hamilton suggested something simple. “Richard asked, ‘Has there been an album called The Beatles?’ So I referred back to EMI and they said, ‘No. There’s been Meet The Beatles!, Introducing The Beatles in America, but there’d never been an album called The Beatles,’” McCartney said in the book Many Years From Now. “So he said, ‘Let’s call it that’; which is the official title of the White Album.”

“So now he was saying, ‘Let’s call it The Beatles and have it white, really white.’ I was saying, ‘Well, I dunno. It’s a great concept, but we are releasing an album here,’” McCartney added. “This is not a piece of art for a rather elite gallery, this is more than that. I see the point. It’s a nice idea, but for what we were to people, and still are, it doesn’t quite fit, we’re not quite a blank space, a white wall, the Beatles.”

“Somebody ought to piss on it or smudge an apple on it for it to become the Beatles, because a white wall’s just too German and marvellous for us. So the idea then emerged to do the embossing,” he also said. “Maybe if we emboss the word ‘Beatles’ out of the white, that’ll be good. We’ll get a shadow from the embossing but it’s white on white. It’s still white. That’ll be nice. But I still wanted something on the white, an idea, like the apple smudging.”

Check out ‘Wild Honey Pie’ down below.

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