The White Album Listening Party
November 22, 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of one of The Beatles' most remarkable releases. The two-album set was officially called THE BEATLES, but it became known forever after as The White Album. It was the top-selling of all The Beatles' albums and ranks #11 on the all-time album sales list.
Emerging from what many called their three-album psychedelic period that produced Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine, The Beatles' White Album was a wildly diverse collection that included instant classics ("Back in the U.S.S.R", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Dear Prudence", "Blackbird"), gentle ballads ("Mother Nature's Son", "I Will", "Julia"), raucous electric rock ("Helter Skelter", "Yer Blues") amusing ditties ("Honey Pie", "Savoy Truffle", "Rocky Raccoon"), and surprising experimental tracks ("Revolution #9"). The writing and performing styles of the four individual Beatles became distinct. Many Beatle fans and historians point to the White Album as the beginning of the break-up of the Beatles. In little over a year, the band would be dissolved.
Award-winning producer Paul Ingles recalled being 12 years old in 1968 and listening with his best friend to this challenging and, at times, disturbing collection in the basement of his suburban Maryland home. "I knew I couldn't play this one on the family stereo upstairs," says Ingles. "A lot of the music seemed naughty, tortured and edgy." In an effort to re-create that listening experience, Ingles invited about a dozen Beatle fans into the studio to listen through to the album again and share both their memories and more current observations about the landmark music.
Among the guests were Beatle author Steve Turner who shared the stories behind each of the White Album tracks. Also, a panel of musicians helped listeners tune into the musicality of The Beatles, calling attention to a certain bass line here, a drum lick there, a production trick over there. Other friends shared stories of dancing to "Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da", dropping acid to "Glass Onion", or being scared to death by "Helter Skelter" and wishing for a return of the ol' mop-tops. In addition to Steve Turner, Paul's guest list included musicians Jon Spurney, David Gans, Kristy Kruger, Douglas Grant, and Rob Martinez. KUNM radio personalities Scott MacNicholl, Luciano Urbano, Suzanne Kryder, and Travis Parkin joined in as well.