The Beatles’ self-titled double album, better known as The White Album for the complete lack of artwork on its sleeve, was released by the band in 1968. Ranked number 10 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, the record was written and recorded during a period of turmoil for the group, but nonetheless reached the number one spot on the charts in the United Kingdom and United States. A follow up to the critical, commercial and cultural smash Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album is known for the range of styles explored by the band, which divided critics and fans in determining the album’s worth as a work of art.
On Monday, April 5th at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, Classic Albums Live – a band of top Canadian musicians – will recreate, note for note, this landmark in popular music.
Not a tribute band in the traditional sense, Classic Albums Live will not dress up and play the part of John, Paul, George and Ringo but rather will go about the task of performing the album’s thirty tracks as sonically identical to the original recorded material. The band has performed locally previously, giving their “music first” treatment to albums by such artists as Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac.
The eclectic styles of music found on The White Album should provide a special challenge for the group – and a treat for the audience – as the album features over 30 different instruments including electric and acoustic guitars, four- and six-string bass guitar, Hammond organ, drums and assorted percussion, electric and acoustic pianos, harmonium, mellotron, harmonica, timpani, trombone, trumpet, flugelhorn, violin, cello, saxophone, clarinet, tuba, French horn, and viola. Add into the mix the sound effects and studio manipulation that had become signature features of The Beatles’ recordings by the late ’60s, and attendees can look forward to not only a night of great songs, but also a particularly interesting look into the recreation of a legendary recorded work that, even as The Beatles were at the height of their global fame and influence, was likely never intended to be reproduced live, even by themselves.
Rolling Stone described the reasons behind the album’s sprawling nature:
Each of the three main songwriters was pursuing his own vision, with the other members, however reluctantly, serving as backup musicians. Once a whole far greater than the sum of its parts, the Beatles were now a tense alliance of daunting individual talents. The Beatles became a double album in part because John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all insisted that their favorite songs be included.
While allmusic.com reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote:
Each song…is an entity to itself, as the band touches on anything and everything it can. This makes for a frustratingly scattershot record or a singularly gripping musical experience, depending on your view, but what makes the so-called White Album interesting is its mess.
Featuring such classics as “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Blackbird” and “Julia”, and covering styles ranging from ballads, distorted punk anthems and lush pop takes on chamber music and ’30s dance hall music,The White Album remains a massive influence on musicians of many genres.
Tickets are on sale at the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre box office or by calling 539-2300. Tickets are $35.00 for those 19 & Over. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm.