2018 marks the 50th anniversary of one of The Beatles’ definitive works ‘The White Album’. The double LP stands as a thirty song masterpiece, one which helped to solidify The Beatles place in music history, nestling between albums ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ and ‘Abbey Road’ with the trifecta proving the exclamation point on the bands dominance of the late 60s.
The album which came two years after the band ceased touring to focus on studio time in 1966 was never designed to be played live, and the four members never took the stage to do the iconic album justice in front of adoring fans.
To mark the anniversary, some of Australian finest musicians will grace The Melbourne Arts Centre and attempt to bring to life this stunning album in its entirety with ‘The White Album Concert’, on the 13th & 14th of July. This will be the third time that Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Tim Rodgers (You Am I) and solo-artist Josh Pyke perform the album with the help of a 20 piece band, after two sell out tours in 2009 and 2014.
Tickets are currently on sale, with the two Melbourne shows marking the beginning of a nine date national tour, Sydney and Brisbane join Melbourne as the lucky cities to host two dates.
Historical Context of ‘The White Album’
The Beatles 1968 self titled album, which became known as ‘The White Album’ because of its blank white cover, would act as the band’s most creative yet dangerous piece of work. Coming two years after a hiatus from touring and acting as the direct follow up to what appeared to be at the time the crowning jewel that was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, the band was in a tense state when the sessions for the album started at Abbey Road Studios.
The sessions for the album were mired in controversy, with accusations that the band was undisciplined and at times fractious throughout the sessions. According to an article in The Beatles Bible the band had many external factors clamping down around them during the recording process.
“After Sgt Pepper changed the world, the world keenly awaited The Beatles’ next step. They had released just the six-track Magical Mystery Tour EP and the Lady Madonna single since then, and there was widespread speculation in the press that they were a spent force”.
“While recording the album, the group was in the process of launching the multimedia business Apple Corps, while coping with various upheavals including drug busts, changing relationships and substance abuse”.
“The Beatles were old hands at dealing with such pressure. They turned away from the elaborate excesses of Sgt Pepper, recording instead a simple collection of 30 songs under an even simpler name: The Beatles” – the Beatles Bible.
Despite the complications during recording and the somewhat underwhelming response to what the public had hoped would be a second volume of Sgt Pepper’s, ‘The White Album’ grew in stature over time, coming in at number 10 in the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Little did the world know that two years after the release that The Beatles would cease to exist, never to reunite in their original form again. Fifty years later, the adventurous double LP is still regarded as one of The Beatles’ best, giving birth to songs that have lived on in musical history such as ‘Revolution ‘, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Blackbird’.