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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Dec 2018 > THE WHITE ALBUM THE BEATLES

THE WHITE ALBUM THE BEATLES

This November marks the 50th anniversary of The White Album, a double LP that is as innovative as it is inspirational. John Pickford marks this special birthday with a look back at the history, recording techniques, tense studio sessions and the gear used for this incredible double album…

RECORDING SPOTLIGHT THE WHITE ALBUM

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© Getty Images
© Getty Images
© Getty Images

THE WHITE ALBUM RECORDING SPOTLIGHT

On 22 November, 1968, The Beatles released an eponymously-titled double album, now known universally as The White Album. Recorded as the follow-up to their groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, The White Album contained a multitude of musical styles and sounds across its 30 tracks. Although the group abandoned much of the psychedelic studio wizardry of Sgt. Pepper, they continued their quest for new and interesting sounds, albeit in a more organic, back-to-basics way.

INDIAN INSPIRATION

When The Beatles returned from their trip to India in May 1968, they were armed with around two-dozen new songs. The long, hot days studying transcendental meditation under the tutelage of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi produced a wealth of new songs from John Lennon and Paul McCartney as well as several from George Harrison, now flourishing as a songwriter in his own right. Even Ringo Starr got in on the act, finally completing a tune he’d been playing around with for five years.

The Indian sabbatical hadn’t gone entirely to plan, with Ringo, unable to stomach the spicy food, leaving after only 10 days. Paul McCartney stuck it out for two months before returning home to take care of business concerning the group’s new Apple organisation. When John and George finally arrived back in London in the middle of May, they too had become disillusioned with the experience.

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