Monthly Archives: November 2018

The Beatles’ White Album Returns to Top 10 on Billboard 200 Chart

The former No. 1 revisits the top 10 for the first time since 1969, following the album’s 50th anniversary reissue.

The Beatles’ self-titled album, often referred to as the White Album, re-enters the Billboard 200 chart at No. 6 following its 50th anniversary reissue on Nov. 9. The set climbs back onto the tally with 63,000 units earned (up 1,499 percent) in the week ending Nov. 15, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 52,000 were in traditional album sales (up 5,596 percent).

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units are comprised of traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). The new Nov. 24-dated chart (where the White Album re-enters at No. 6 and Kane Brown’s Experiment debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard‘s websites on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

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Untold Beatles Stories Emerge As White Album Climbs Charts

more secrets of the recording of the White Album by the Beatles are emerging as it again climbs charts around the world.

Producer Chris Thomas and engineer Ken Scott have been speaking about the double LP, which has the formal eponymous title of The Beatles. The album has already gone platinum 19 times. On the new 50th-anniversary deluxe box sets released on November 9, the album’s 30 tracks are remastered and joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most previously unreleased, in a process overseen by Giles Martin, son of the record’s main producer George Martin.

Scott and Thomas recall John Lennon’s surprising choice of favorite songs; why Ringo Starr walked out at one point; how George Harrison came into his own and stood up to George Martin; and how Paul McCartney fell asleep on the mixing desk after a hard day’s night finishing the White Album.

Thomas, now 71, was working as an assistant to George Martin at his independent production company AIR at the time of the White Album. He watched the early sessions from May 1968 then took time off on a short vacation, he said in an interview at the Arts Club in London: “I came back at the beginning of September. There was a little handwritten note from George Martin on my desk saying ‘I hope you had a nice holiday, I am off on mine now. Make yourself available to The Beatles. Neil and Mal know you’re coming down.’” (Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans were both assistants to the band.) “Talk about thrown in the deep end!” says Thomas. In the first session, he nervously interrupted the group a few times to point out various mistakes and won them over with his production skills.

Scott, also 71, says he started at EMI Recording Studios at Abbey Road aged 16 and worked with the Beatles for some years before being promoted to a full engineer when Geoff Emerick left the sessions in mid-July.

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Ringo Starr Talks New Photo Book, Tour and ‘Sensational’ White Album Remaster

In a candid interview, the drummer reveals what keeps him so busy at age 78, and discusses why he’s hearing 50-year-old Beatles songs in a new way

Former Apple Records Exec Ken Mansfield Reflects on His Front Row Seat to the Beatles’ Final Years

The first time Ken Mansfield heard “Hey Jude,” it was in an empty space at Apple Music’s London headquarters alongside Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. “They brought in a big soundsystem into one of the meeting rooms. We didn’t have furniture yet, so we were on the floor on a brand new green carpet.” At the time, Mansfield served as the United States director for the Beatles’ Apple label, then in its infancy. “They were trying to figure out whether to release ‘Revolution’ or ‘Hey Jude’ as their first single under Apple. Paul was a businessman and he was worried stations wouldn’t play it because it was too long.” At the time, radio hits were only about 2-and-half minutes, compared to the massive seven-minute runtime of “Hey Jude.”

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Paul McCartney’s Tribute to Stan Lee

Paul McCartney has written a tribute to Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, who passed away yesterday:

“A fond farewell to Stan Lee, of Marvel Comics. He will be sadly missed.

“I was lucky enough to meet him. He came over to my office and we sat around for a while chatting about comic books and my admiration for his work. Actually he was suggesting making a superhero who would wield a Hofner bass guitar. The guitar would have super powers and we spent some time imaging what those could be. He had a great sense of humour and I must say the idea of becoming a guitar wielding superhero in one of his comic books was very appealing.

“Sending love to his family and friends and always holding happy memories of this great man. Love ya, Stan!” – Paul

The Beatles’ new remixed White Album box set is a marvel

Ever wondered how the Fab Four might have made their White Album with today’s technology? Wait no longer

We live in the golden age of remixed and remastered box sets, with the doyens of classic rock leading the way. In the past few years alone, music lovers have been treated to deluxe editions from such stalwarts as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. As it happens, the standard-bearers in this evolving cottage industry may just be the Beach Boys, who have all but emptied the vaults in order to quench their fans’ unchecked desires for new content. In 2011, Capitol Records released the Beach Boys’ “Smile Sessions,” which features nearly 400 minutes’ worth of archival material and outtakes. A completist’s wet dream, “The Smile Sessions” include nearly two dozen variations of megahit “Good Vibrations” alone. Talk about getting the excitations, indeed.

But then there is the glaring issue of the Beatles. When it comes to these latter-day forays into lavish repackaging, the Fab Four have been notoriously late to the party. While the Beatles produced one landmark, world-breaking album after another during their 1960s heyday, they have taken a consistently cautious approach when it comes to sharing their blue-chip wares in the digital age. In 1987, the group finally released their original albums on compact disc, belatedly bringing their catalogue to the marketplace some five years after the CD paradigm shift had assaulted the record industry. By the time the Beatles showed up, nearly all of the band’s classic rock peers had made the transformation and reaped the attendant benefits.

Years later, when the industry had shifted yet again, transitioning from physical product to music streaming services like iTunes and Spotify, the Beatles pointedly lagged behind once more, with untold millions of downloads occurring outside of their ken. Finally, in October 2009, the Beatles released remastered editions of their entire back catalogue and made their digital streaming debut on iTunes — some six years after the online music store had opened up shop.

While the Beatles’ tardiness may seem like a blunder of monumental proportions — and there’s little question that significant profits were lost to pirates during the early years of the 21st century — the group’s longstanding restraint has also been the result of a well-honed strategy. By waiting out their competitors, the Beatles have created an event culture in which the chestnuts of their catalogue are reintroduced to the marketplace on a grand scale. With each new format change, Apple Corps is able to ensure that the Beatles enjoy an uncluttered stage in which their masterworks shine brightly, unchallenged by competing artists for their exalted place in the spotlight. If anything, their slow road to the world’s virtual sales floors may have served to heighten their mystique.

And the results speak for themselves: In 1987 and 2009, several of the Beatles’ CDs succeeded in penetrating the upper reaches of the Billboard album charts. In May 2017, when the Beatles released a deluxe edition of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” newly remixed in celebration of the album’s bravura 50th anniversary, they finally joined the box-set revolution. In addition to the remixes, “Sgt. Pepper” was released with an assortment of outtakes and sketches on the road to finished masterpieces. For Beatles fans — long used to scouring bootleg releases for these snapshots of the Fab Four’s creative process — the “Sgt. Pepper” bonanza was literal music to their ears. In short order, the new edition swiftly became an international bestseller.

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Back with the real Beatles: the White Album reviewed – archive, 1968

Fifty years ago, the Guardian printed two reviews of The Beatles and recommended listening to ‘what is likely to be the biggest event of the pop music year’ in stereo

Back with the real Beatles
19 November 1968

The Beatles have accustomed us to look for clues to the meaning of their work. Everyone can look at the cover design of Sergeant Pepper and play “spot the reference.” There’s Stan Laurel and Max Miller; Marlon Brando and Dylan Thomas; but who’s that peering over the top of Paul McCartney’s head?

o, we are encouraged to think, the Beatles are influenced by all these figures. Then: perhaps the reverse. Do we see a gallery of heroes or villains? Or, worse still, a mixture? Or perhaps Peter Blake the designer made his own choice? Since there is no way of deciding between these questions this, interpretative, approach to the Beatles’ work is clear victim of a put-on. Nevertheless the questions go on and on.

Now, look at the cover of The Beatles. Outside, it’s blank white gloss card, with The Beatles blind embossed, plus a serial number (mine’s 0010192, what’s yours?). Inside, a list of the tracks, and black and white photographs of each member of the band, looking quite unlike each other. Tucked in with the discs, the same photographs, loose, in colour. For your bedroom wall. Also a big foldout: one side the lyrics; the other side, a soft-core Richard Hamilton collage of the Fab Four’s history.

The panorama of Sergeant Pepper’s cover design is on the acetate of The Beatles. Most of the tracks on the new album are packed with sounds in the style of other musicians. Back Home in the USSR [sic], to take the first track, contains Chuck Berry (Back Home in the USA), the Beach Boys (409 and California Girls – the last a direct quote), and early Beatles. A full list for all 30 tracks on the album would be of around 60 names.

What is the meaning of this? There are several interpretations. Perhaps the Beatles are quoting musicians they admire. Or, on the other hand, perhaps those they fear – “we can do their thing, better.” Perhaps they have turned their backs on the world (this will be a popular view) and can now only play games. Or perhaps the album is a self-conscious tour de force, parallel to the Holles Street Hospital chapter in Ulysses.

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The ‘White Album’ at 50: A Beatles’ Masterpiece Just Got Even Better

A few years ago, I had the great luxury of spending an afternoon with Ringo Starr. The former Beatle was launching an exhibition of his digital artwork for his Lotus Foundation charity, and was meeting the press. I watched as he gamely answered question after question about his former band, even though it was hardly the reason he was there.

Eventually, we ended up in a small room, just the two of us, perusing a Basquiat on the wall. Starr had recently announced he would no longer sign autographs, but it was just the two of us, and so as we chatted amiably about mutual friends and the album he was working on, I started to slip my copies of Revolver and the “White Album” out of my bag.

Starr stopped me. “Don’t even ask,” he said firmly, but with a smile. “But let me see that.” He took my well-worn copy of the “White Album,” an album he recorded when he was just 28, looking at his younger self and his bandmates in the gatefold, lingering on the image of George Harrison.

“You know what I love about this album?” Starr offered, after a long, reflective moment. “We were a band again. I always say I learned to play chess while we were making Pepper, because it took ages to make and there was lots of waiting around, but on this one, it was us in a room again, playing with each other, making music.”

Somewhere over the past 50 years a legend grew up around The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 album, that the sessions grew acrimonious as they dragged on, and that it was essentially a series of solo recordings that happened to have the other Beatles as the backing musicians, thus marking the beginning of the end for the world’s greatest band.

“I know that’s the story—largely because right after the band broke up, George and John were pretty negative about that period, and then it grew from there—but I honestly don’t remember a cross word between them,” said the legendary producer Chris Thomas, who was a fledgling assistant to The Beatles’ producer George Martin during the sessions. “It took a long time to make, and it was an intensely creative atmosphere, so I understand why they, and George Martin, may have felt that way, but I remember the sessions as a pure joy.”

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Could the White Album be made today?

Could the White Album be made today?

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the White Album, Matt Everitt leads a panel of journalists, broadcasters & artists to discuss how the album has influenced musicians since and asks whether in a world of snackable content, playlists and short attention spans, an artist would ever dare release such a diverse body of work now.

7pm (GMT) Wednesday 7th Nov 2018