Bleached: The Beatles’ White Album Effect on the US Alt-rock Explosion of 1988-95

The Beatles’ White Album has been credited with a lot of things over its 50-year history, but how about as the single biggest influence on US alternative rock as it burst into the mainstream in the late ’80s and early ’90s? Well, it’s not as crazy as you might think.


Pixies frontman Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Black Francis) recently revealed the genesis of the many incendiary tracks on the band’s 1988 Surfer Rosa album, probably the most celebrated record to have come out of the whole alt-rock era. He claimed that his “most well-known songs come from something that just happened one day — you come up with a chord progression, you throw down a lyric and boom”. The track “Something Against You”, particularly, was recorded firmly in the tradition of the raucous burst of 12-bar blues to be found on side two of the Beatles’ eponymously named double LP of 1968, universally known as the White Album: “[It’s] just a little riff, we played it fast in a punky way, I scream one line on one particular spot. It’s almost an instrumental, it’s minimalist, like the Beatles’ ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?'” (Uncut, September 2018).

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