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.