Our next BIG TICKET DAY item in the 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is one that Beatles fans (like yours truly) have been waiting for. Following last years comprehensive box set devoted the Sgt Pepper album, The Beatles have released an amazing multi-disc remix and expansion of their 1968 opus, The Beatles, better known as “The White Album.”
This is the only gift that you need to get the obsessive Beatles fan on your shopping list, provided that they aren’t so obsessive that they already pre-ordered it so they could get it the day it was released last week. List prise is $159.98, but you can shave twenty bucks or more off of that if you shop around.
The comprehensive, individually numbered 7-disc and digital audio collections feature:
CDs 1 & 2: 2018 stereo album mix–this is a new mix by Giles Martin, based on the original stereo mix by his father and the band.
CD3: Esher Demos–previously only available in low-fi bootlegs, these are recordings the Beatles demoed at their home studios prior to entering Abbey Road to record the album.
CDs 4, 5 & 6: Sessions– 50 additional recordings, most previously unreleased, from ‘White Album’ studio sessions; all newly mixed from the four-track and eight-track session tapes, sequenced in order of their recording start dates. 107 tracks in total
The Blu-ray includes:
– 2018 album mix in high resolution PCM stereo
– 2018 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 album mix
– 2018 Dolby True HD 5.1 album mix
– 2018 direct transfer of the album’s original mono mix
The book has 164 pages and is made up of 3 themes:
• The bulk of the book is taken up with song and recording notes, all written in exemplary detail by Beatles expert Kevin Howlett. He explains all of the different takes and the actual writing and recording process for every track in the set.
• There is a new scholarly essay on the art of the White Album – explaining that it was actually an important moment in the development of modern pop art and it explodes several myths about what people think had been other cover ideas as well as exploring the way rock music and art were starting to grow together.
• Guardian writer and social commentator, John Harris, has also written a fascinating chapter that looks at the reception of the album when it was released and how that has changed in perception and influence over the decades, concluding that this is in many ways perhaps their most influential album, especially in terms of how it has influenced generations of musicians since.
In November 1968, millions of double LPs were shipped to record stores worldwide ahead of that tumultuous year’s most anticipated music event: the November 22nd release of The BEATLES (soon to be better known as ‘The White Album’). With their ninth studio album, The Beatles took the world on a whole new trip, side one blasting off with the exhilarating rush of a screaming jet escorting Paul McCartney’s punchy, exuberant vocals on “Back In The U.S.S.R.” “Dear Prudence” came next, John Lennon warmly beckoning his friend and all of us to “look around.” George Harrison imparted timeless wisdom in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” singing, “With every mistake we must surely be learning.” For 50 years, ‘The White Album’ has invited its listeners to venture forth and explore the breadth and ambition of its music, delighting and inspiring each new generation in turn. On November 9, The Beatles will release a suite of lavishly presented ‘White Album’ packages (Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe). The album’s 30 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most of which are previously unreleased in any form.
This is the first time The BEATLES (‘White Album’) has been remixed and presented with additional demos and session recordings. The album’s sweeping new edition follows 2017’s universally acclaimed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition releases. To create the new stereo and 5.1 surround audio mixes for ‘The White Album,’ Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios in London. All the new ‘White Album’ releases include Martin’s new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original four-track and eight-track session tapes. Martin’s new mix is guided by the album’s original stereo mix produced by his father, George Martin.
The minimalist artwork for ‘The White Album’ was created by artist Richard Hamilton, one of Britain’s leading figures in the creation and rise of pop art. The top-loading gatefold sleeve’s stark white exterior had ‘The BEATLES’ embossed on the front and printed on the spine with the album’s catalogue number. Early copies of ‘The White Album’ were also individually numbered on the front, which has also been done for the new edition’s Super Deluxe package. The set’s six CDs and Blu-ray disc are housed in a slipsleeved 164-page hardbound book, with pull-out reproductions of the original album’s four glossy color portrait photographs of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, as well as the album’s large fold-out poster with a photo collage on one side and lyrics on the other. The beautiful book is illustrated with rare photographs, reproductions of handwritten and notated lyrics, previously unpublished photos of recording sheets and tape boxes, and reproduced original ‘White Album’ print ads. The book’s comprehensive written pieces include new introductions by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, and in-depth chapters covering track-by-track details and session notes reflecting The Beatles’ year between the release of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and recording sessions for ‘The White Album,’ the band’s July 28 1968 “Mad Day Out” photo shoot in locations around London, the album artwork, the lead-up and execution of the album’s blockbuster release, and its far-ranging influence, written by Beatles historian, author and radio producer Kevin Howlett; journalist and author John Harris; and Tate Britain’s Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Andrew Wilson.
The BEATLES (‘White Album’) was the first Beatles album to be released on the group’s own Apple Records label. Issued in both stereo and mono for the U.K. and in stereo for the U.S., the double album was an immediate bestseller, entering the British chart at number one and remaining there for eight of the 22 weeks it was listed. ‘The White Album’ also debuted at number one on the U.S. chart, holding the top spot for nine weeks of its initial 65-week chart run. In his glowing ‘White Album’ review for Rolling Stone, the magazine’s co-founder Jann Wenner declared: “It is the best album they have ever released, and only The Beatles are capable of making a better one.” In the U.S., ‘The White Album’ is 19-times platinum-certified by the RIAA and in 2000, it was inducted into the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Hall of Fame, recognizing “recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance.”
This is quite simply a massive archeological presentation of one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It will dispel some myths, answer some questions. create some new questions and most importantly, thrill any fan of the Beatles with previously unavailable music. There are other, less expensive versions of this set, if your budget is constrained. You can also find a 4 LP vinyl version, and although you can’t wrap it or read the book, it is available from streaming services.