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Monday, February 10, 2014

The Beatles "White Album": The Untold Story

Beatles Playback image
In this, the 50th anniversary year of The Beatles conquering America, interest in the band is the highest it’s been in years, partially thanks to the CBS event commemorating the Fab Four’s break into the States on the Ed Sullivan show. You’ll read many stories about the group and those times in the next few days, but likely won’t see such a rare inside look at what it was like to work with the band recording the songs that today are considered modern standards. Here’s an excerpt from Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, the memoir of engineer/producer Ken Scott (which I was lucky enough to co-write), one of only five engineers ever to work with the band. Here’s a rare look at what it took to finish the band’s biggest selling album ever - The White Album.

The White Album was very different from what The Beatles had done before, and that led to it being much disliked when it came out. People were expecting Sgt. Pepper Number Two, but that was not The Beatles way, as in their world, everything needed to constantly change. People seemed shocked by this album. It was stark and much more basic rock n’ roll compared to Pepper, but thankfully over time it’s grown to become one of the most loved Beatle albums, even climbing to number 10 on Rolling Stone magazine’s “The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.”

The White Album was also different from other Beatle albums in that it was specifically mixed for stereo, and The Beatles were actually there to approve the stereo mixes. They’d never been interested in stereo before as their working process had been to mix a song in mono as soon as it was finished, and then leave the stereo to be mixed a while later, almost as an afterthought. Stereo still hadn’t really caught on in England at the time so no-one, not even the Fab Four, particularly cared about it. 

As in the past, the stereo mixes for The White Album tended to be put off until the last minute again even though they were now deemed to be important. The reason for the importance was not what one might expect though. Paul explained to me whilst mixing the stereo version of “Helter Skelter” that it had to sound different from the mono version. Apparently fans started to buy both the mono and stereo albums and wrote to them asking if they knew there were differences between the versions, so Paul and/or the band saw this as a great way to boost sales." Read more on Forbes.

To read additional excerpts from Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust and my other books. go to the excerpts section of bobbyowsinski.com.
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