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A Comprehensive Look At The Beatles Self-Titled Double Album Masterpiece

My First Listen

By Joe Stewart | 26 November 2009

I have this vivid memory of standing around a folding table with five or six friends late on a Saturday night in November of 68′ as we all listened to the new Beatles album for the first time.

I was a fourteen year old high school freshman when I first heard what would later collectively be known as the White Album. It happened on the first Saturday night following the Thanksgiving holiday in November of 1968. I was, along with a handful of friends, working the cloakroom at our local high school dance. Around 11 o’clock that night, just as we were wrapping it up, a friend walked in with an impressive looking unopened copy of the double cassette box set edition of the new Beatles album.

Cassettes were a relatively new thing back in 1968 and we watched anxiously as he carefully removed the cellophane wrapping from that beautifully packaged black slip-box case.

The Beatles was available in a double-cassette box set version.

Little did we realize at the time what awaited those of us who would soon purchase the vinyl album version which came with the headshots of the four beatles and a full-color fold-out poster, with the album’s song lyrics on the reverse side.

Our friend had also thought to bring along one of those single speaker cassette players popular at the time so we could all hear it. The listening experience that night was a lot like hearing it over an AM Radio, not so unusual back then as we’d heard most new music for the first time over the AM airwaves. We started with side-one of the first cassette and continued listening intently over the next hour and a half. Today, over 50 years later, the album still has the same kind of impact on me as it did that night I first heard it. It became, more than any other single album, the one indispensable part of the playlist comprising the soundtrack of my life.

Released as a double-album on vinyl containing four unique sides each playing like a different act in a four act play. The album itself folded open each side containing one record. It also included four full-color photographs of each of the Beatles and a large poster that unfolded to reveal a collage of photographs haphazardly thrown together on one side, and the lyrics to each song printed on the reverse side.

Those photographs were images, both past, and present, of the band. One image revealed a mellow John Lennon sitting cross-legged and naked in bed with Yoko Ono. Another, a relaxed Paul McCartney floating in the bath, Ringo Starr in a bright yellow Edwardian shirt, and a contemplative George Harrison in black and white. All packaged inside this strikingly plain white sleeve with only The Beatles embossed on the cover along with a unique stamped serial number.

I received my first copy as a Christmas present later that year. Since then I’ve repurchased it in so many different packaged variations (i.e. on cassette, 8-track, real-to-real tape, colored vinyl, CD’s, DVD 5.0 Surround Sound, mp3’s, even once on a USB-stick) that I’m not sure I can remember them all.

Joe Stewart

26 November 2009

McCartney’s Radio Luxembourg Interview 20 November 1968

McCartney Interview
Two days before the new album’s UK release Paul McCartney gave this exclusive interview […]

The September 1968 Rolling Stone Inter­view with John & Yoko

The September 1968 Rolling Stone Inter­view with John & Yoko
The Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Colt interviewed John Lennon and Yoko Ono in September 1968 […]

Newly Remastered Version Of ‘The Grey Album’ Released

The Grey Album Remastered
Colorado-based recording engineer John Stewart was recently on his way to a date and blasting Parliament Funkadelic when he got the urge to listen to something else […]

My First Listen

By Joe Stewart | 26 November 2009

I have a vivid memory of standing around this folding table with five or six friends late on a Saturday night in November of 68′ as we all listened to the new album for the first time.

I was a fourteen year old high school freshman when I first heard what would later collectively be known as the White Album. It happened on the first Saturday night following the Thanksgiving holiday in November of 1968. I was, along with a handful of friends, working the cloakroom at our local high school dance. Around 11 o’clock that night, just as we were wrapping it up, a friend walked in with an impressive looking unopened copy of the double cassette box set edition of the new Beatles album.

The Beatles was available in a double-cassette box set version.

Cassettes were a relatively new thing back in 1968 and we watched anxiously as he carefully removed the cellophane wrapping from that beautifully packaged black box case. Little did we realize at the time what awaited those of us who would soon purchase the vinyl album version which came with the headshots of the four beatles and a full-color fold-out poster, with the album’s song lyrics on the reverse side.

Our friend had also thought to bring along one of those single speaker cassette players popular at the time so we could all hear it. The listening experience that night was a lot like hearing it over an AM Radio, not so unusual back then as we’d heard most new music for the first time over the AM airwaves. We started with side-one of the first cassette and continued listening intently over the next hour and a half. Today, over 50 years later, the album still has the same kind of impact on me as it did that night I first heard it. It became, more than any other single album, the one indispensable part of the playlist comprising the soundtrack of my life.

Released as a double-album on vinyl containing four unique sides each playing like a different act in a four act play. The album itself folded open each side containing one record. It also included four full-color photographs of each of the Beatles and a large poster that unfolded to reveal a collage of photographs haphazardly thrown together on one side, and the lyrics to each song printed on the reverse side.

Those photographs were images, both past, and present, of the band. One image revealed a mellow John Lennon sitting cross-legged and naked in bed with Yoko Ono. Another, a relaxed Paul McCartney floating in the bath, Ringo Starr in a bright yellow Edwardian shirt, and a contemplative George Harrison in black and white. All packaged inside this strikingly plain white sleeve with only The Beatles embossed on the cover along with a unique stamped serial number.

I received my first copy as a Christmas present later that year. Since then I’ve repurchased it in so many different packaged variations (i.e. on cassette, 8-track, real-to-real tape, colored vinyl, CD’s, DVD 5.0 Surround Sound, mp3’s, even once on a USB-stick) that I’m not sure I can remember them all.

Joe Stewart

26 November 2009