The best cover

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Latest posts by Ed Park (see all)

Via original Dulblogger Hua, here’s an interview with Rutherford Chang, an artist whose current show/exhibit consists entirely of White Albums (my kind of exhibit!).

Q: Are you a vinyl collector?
A: Yes, I collect White Albums.
Q: Do you collect anything other than that?
A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.
Q: Why just White Album? why not Abbey road? or Rubber Soul?
A: The White Album has the best cover. I have a few copies of Abbey Road and Rubber Soul, but I keep those in my “junk bin”.
Q: Why do you find it so great? It’s a white, blank cover. Are you a minimalist?
A: I’m most interested in the albums as objects and observing how they have aged. So for me, a Beatles album with an all white cover is perfect.
Read more here and click through for some great pics.
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14 Comments

  1. Attn Dullblogger Mollie—Scranton reference!

    “A: None of the Beatles freaks I’ve talked to so far know about this. From inspecting the markings on the end-grooves, I see that all my albums in the 2,600,000’s were manufactured in the Capitol Records Los Angeles factory, whereas the albums in the 2,800,000’s were all from the Scranton factory. So maybe some numbers were lost in-between.”

  2. This is really cool. I wish I were there to see this exhibit. I had to content myself with pulling out my first-run White Album (one of four versions I own, the others being a late 70s reissue, a plain double CD, and the 30th anniversary miniature replica edition). The number is A1809324. The original owner mended the top edge with masking tape that is now the color of butterscotch, the bottom edge with clear transparent tape. I had to “fly in” the poster and giveaway photos from my own copy because the originals were missing. No one cares about this but me.

  3. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    No one cares about this but me.,
    Not true, Devin. I spent many years obsessing over my vinyl. A few months ago I sold all my Beatle vinyls to a local record shop. My Let It Be Vinyl has the note “Phil Loves Ronnie” etched into the end groove. Now I’m wondering if I had something valuable.
    Someone should write a book about the White Album poster. All of those weird photos; John looking gaunt, Ringo with his canary shirt, the bathtub photo… The White Album photo collage is begging for a scholarly examination.
    I think Manson and his horrible helter skelter obsessions have cast an ugly shadow over “The Beatles” album. That, and Lennon rambling about “us and a backup band.” Lennon blurted all sorts of nonsense to interviewers, and probably forgot half the stuff he spouted. Manson was criminally insane. I never cared for the term “white album.” It’s time “The Beatles” album sued for defamation.
    – hologram sam

  4. I guess what I meant, Sam, is that nobody but me cares about MY vinyl. Most of it is not especially rare or unusual (though I do have a pretty good butcher cover), but I can remember where I got nearly every item–the US mono Revolver at a garage sale, Five Nights in a Judo Arena in the Village right after I moved to New York, the bootleg compilation cassette at a bodega in Peru. Other people’s memories get old very quickly, but your own are forever young.

  5. “bootleg compilation cassette at a bodega in Peru”

    I’d love to see a picture of this, Devin.

  6. Avatar Ed Park wrote:

    My first White Album wasn’t even an album — I stayed up late one Friday because the local AOR station was playing all four sides. I hadn’t heard most of the songs on it yet. I bent an index card into the tape case and wrote “The Beatles” in small letters on the side without lines.

  7. That’s totally sweet, Ed. 🙂

  8. Avatar matt m wrote:

    Thanks for posting this, Ed. I’m glad you all got wind of it.

    Recess is an interesting anomaly for soho. This show is part of their “session” project, an open-submission sandbox approach to public gallery space very unlike other efforts nearby. They do continuing ed for artists, have grant studio space available, and run a free lecture series for the public.

    I’ve been meaning to see Chang’s show for at least a month (the “middling reception” was on the 7th but I was out of town). With luck I’ll be able to make it this week.

    PS: I second the request for a scan of the bootleg cassette. Similar grey-market items I saw in Colombia tended to be festooned with pictures of sexy ladies in bikinis, regardless of content…

  9. Avatar Mudarra wrote:

    I care about it, Devin. I love seeing other people’s record collections, or reading about things in their collections. On a related note, old vinyls carry cultural history. People used to write their names on records. A few of my parents’ records (from which my first Beatles albums came) have our last name written on them. Some people began embellishing the name-writing on records. I once picked up an In A Gadda Da Vida with an elaborate psychedelic design painted on the side 2 label. (This anonymous cultural artifact, purchased in the 1980s from a street seller in Astor Plaza, cost me 25 cents.) I also own a copy of the “The Magic Garden” (with Paula and Carol), covered with multiple autographs by both Paula and Carol, as well as the owner’s marginal notes next to each autograph explaining when and where the autograph was obtained.
    It seems that people stopped writing names on records sometime in the 1970s. When I was in Russia, I noticed that Russian families, too, had old records with their names written on them, but, as in America, their newer records did not. (In Russia, though, the name-writing may have stopped because of increasingly frequent shortages of consumer items, and thus increases in their perceived value. Why it stopped in America is unclear to me.)
    I also own four copies of the White Album (none with names on them, though), which is the maximum number of copies of any particular album I own. My copies include one numbered vinyl, one un-numbered vinyl, one 30th-anniversary CD, and one 2011 “remaster” CD. (Devin, at the risk of launching a conversation about audio quality – which I’m NOT trying to do – I’m curious as to why you don’t own a 2011 remaster copy.)

  10. Mudarra: What’s the 2011 remaster? I do have the White Album in the 2009 remaster, in the “Stereo” and “Mono” box sets (thanks for reminding me). But if there’s an even newer 2011 remaster, I’m not familiar.

  11. Avatar Mudarra wrote:

    Sorry, I meant the 2009 remaster! (Didn’t mean to get anyone’s hopes up for a new product.)
    Today I’m stuck indoors grading student papers. But I was so inspired by this thread of comments that I’ve laid my 4 White Album copies out on the table in front of me as I work. (Mmmmmmm… White Albums….)
    The first edition, of course, has much heavier cardboard and and heavier, glossier paper for the posters and inserts. So, it’s got reasons to please besides just the number. Also, the inside photos are more natural, whereas the photos on the reprint (as on many later album reprints) are higher contrast. (This was rectified on the 2009 CD, but not on the 1998 30th anniversary CD, which is otherwise pretty faithful.)
    Similar to Devin’s, my first edition White Album was missing the portraits, but I found a set of all four (sans album) at a Park Slope flee market and “flew” them in.m (I learned that book collectors call this a “marriage,” as in when they “marry” a coverless hardbound book to a dustcover from another copy.)

  12. Avatar Mudarra wrote:

    Sorry, I meant the 2009 remaster! (Didn’t mean to get anyone’s hopes up for a new product.)
    Today I’m stuck indoors grading student papers. But I was so inspired by this thread of comments that I’ve laid my 4 White Album copies out on the table in front of me as I work. (Mmmmmmm… White Albums….)
    The first edition, of course, has much heavier cardboard and and heavier, glossier paper for the posters and inserts. So, it’s got reasons to please besides just the number. Also, the inside photos are more natural, whereas the photos on the reprint (as on many later album reprints) are higher contrast. (This was rectified on the 2009 CD, but not on the 1998 30th anniversary CD, which is otherwise pretty faithful.)
    Similar to Devin’s, my first edition White Album was missing the portraits, but I found a set of all four (sans album) at a Park Slope flee market and “flew” them in.m (I learned that book collectors call this a “marriage,” as in when they “marry” a coverless hardbound book to a dustcover from another copy.)

  13. Hey, Mudarra, we lived in Park Slope for many years. I even think I know which flea market you’re talking about (Seventh Avenue, outside the grade school? I bought a lot of old vinyl there myself).
    I hadn’t noticed the differences you note in the WA photos; never having seen a set from the first pressing, it’s interesting to know.
    I’ve always liked the embossing of the title in the early runs. I’d need to check Bruce Spizer to see when they quit doing that and went to the plain flat “Beatles” in dark lettering.

  14. Avatar pamela wrote:

    I went to Rutherford Chang’s exhibit in NY and spoke with him. It was a Beatle fan’s dream to walk into that little gallery and see hundreds of white albums on the walls and in bins. From beat up, faded copies to some that were better preserved, but obviously old. A few had been drawn on (though why anyone would deface a Beatles album, I don’t know). He was buying them from people for a minimal amount of money (like $10), but I would never part with my copy.

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