From the Stacks

From The Stacks: The Beatles, ‘White Album’ (White Vinyl)

First let’s get the vinyl geeks out of the way: This is the 1978 white vinyl UK reissue of The Beatles, aka The White Album.

We know this by the catalog numbers (PCS7067-7068) and the matrix numbers etched into the runouts on the vinyl (YEX709-712). It still contains all four color portraits and the poster. Sweet!

Are they gone? Okay, let me tell you what this one is doing in my stacks.

My oldest sister went away to college when I was thirteen years old. On many weekends she’d drive home and pick me up, and we’d spend a couple of days getting into trouble. Often “trouble” meant playing Ms. Pac-Man in the campus arcade, trips to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or all night games of Dungeons & Dragons with her boyfriend and his peers. Among these was a bearded dude named Richard whose voice was as loud as his gut was big.

Everything about Richard was super-sized: his personality, his beard, his temper, even his health. The guy somehow managed to go into a diabetic shock that led him to battle three police officers, or so he claimed.  Yes, and his dorm room was full of valuable treasures that somehow all managed to be worth $300. He owned a Vox Phantom guitar with the action set so high that G.I. Joe couldn’t even play it with his Kung Fu grip. Not that it mattered because, “Don’t touch it! It’s worth $300!”

Richard may not have wanted anyone touching his stuff, but he liked to show it off. One Saturday while we were waiting for him to find his dice or his dungeon master’s screen or whatever D&D-related nonsense was happening, he told me to put on a record.

“What do you want me to put on?”

“Anything you want, man.” He pointed to shelf holding maybe 25 records. “That’s just a small part of my collection. The rare stuff is back home. It’s too valuable to bring to school. Somebody would steal it.”

I thumbed through the albums: Styx, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Boston. “What’s this?” I asked, and I held up a plain, white sleeve.

“Don’t touch it! It’s worth $300!” Richard barked.

“What is it?” I asked again.

“You don’t know the Beatles’ White Album?

“Oh yeah, huh,” I lied.

“That copy is super rare. It’s on white vinyl. There’s only, like, 100 copies in the whole world.”

I stuck it back on the shelf and pulled Led Zeppelin II instead, but Richard had lit a fire. The Beatles were a constant presence in my house courtesy of my aunt’s hand me down albums, but her collection petered out at Rubber Soul. That’s not to say that I wasn’t familiar with the band’s output from Revolver onward–it was impossible to be a kid in the ’70s and not know a huge chunk of the Beatles’ catalog–but in terms of knowing their albums in sequence, my knowledge petered out around 1965. I wanted to know The White Album inside out.

Southern preachers piled more mystique on top of Richard’s super-rare album. The White Album was evil, satanic. Just look what it did to Manson, and if that wasn’t evidence enough the Fabs used the Devil’s favorite recording tool, backward masking, in the creation “Revolution 9.” I had to get me some of that.

I bought The White Album on cassette, and then again on compact disc. I bought it on vinyl, too, but never the elusive white vinyl copy. It remains one of my two favorite Beatles albums, alternating the top spot with Rubber Soul, depending on my mood.

As I aged and started to collect my own interesting things that I could yell “Don’t touch! That’s worth $300!” about, I realized just how full of shit larger than life Richard was. His dorm room was cluttered with junk, not super rare collectibles. When I finally stumbled across the white vinyl copy you see here, I think I paid 20 dollars.

While white vinyl reprints are rarer than their black vinyl cousins, they aren’t exactly rare. Aside from the Apple version you see here, there was also a Capitol Records pressing that’s much more common in the U.S. It’s also not a very good pressing, audio-wise, so if you want to listen to your white vinyl White Album you want to find the Apple version.

Richard was right about his Vox Phantom, though. If he’s still kicking around and he still has that guitar, he’s sitting on a couple grand.

Fifty to 75 bucks is reasonable in today’s market for my 1978 Apple white vinyl pressing, but you’ll see this and other printings offered for as much as $200. Happy hunting.

Categories: From the Stacks

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19 replies »

  1. I have this Apple white vinyl beatles album. It’s a french pressing made from white virgin vinyl. It’s supposed to be quieter then vinyl made with carbon black, the disadvantage that it’s more difficult to see the grooves for stylus placement. It has great sound quality and I’ve had it since new – only played on my Thorens TD-125 Mark II.


  2. I bought the white White Album in 1978, I was in high school. Dull purplish Capitol label. The vinyl itself had a couple flaws — the outer edge of disc 1 was very rough, wasn’t cut properly. I would stare at the jagged edge spinning on the turntable, drove me nuts that I had a defective copy. I also saw a bunch of air bubbles under the grooves, didn’t affect play at all. The album is now with all my other vinyl, in Bags Unlimited LP boxes, in storage for … coming up on 20 years now, I imagine.


  3. Nice story and everything, reminds me of the old days to, but what’s it worth now?
    I have a copy, not sealed or anything, but there has NEVER had a needle put to it!
    Why? Because I didn’t like the Beatles, that’s why. I bought it as a young guy with a good collectors eye. Can’t find current value anywhere, until I do, not selling. 😎


  4. I bought the U.K version of this album on July 19, 1978, at ‘Budget Tapes & Records’ in Boise, Idaho, for $21.62 (including $.63 tax). How can I be so exact? Because I thought at the time “Hey, this might be what they call ‘collectible!’, taped the receipt on the shrink, and never played it. Well, 43 years later, thanks to the vinyl boom, it actually is ‘collectible’, and at least according to Discogs worth a ‘median’ of a couple hundred bucks, maybe more because it’s ‘mint mint’.Yes, my teenage premonition proved to finally be true! I don’t need 200 bucks, and frankly it’s worth more to me to laugh about. Nope, won’t play it, I’ve got the mono box. Which also, again thanks to the vinyl boom, has also escalated in value, at least for now.


  5. I found a ’78 UK Apple pressing of the white vinyl yesterday in a used record store for $50. The cover was dirty and it has a couple of tears but the vinyl seems to be in excellent condition. I gave it a quick cleaning with a brush and sprits of cleaner before playing it. I’ll do a more thorough cleaning with my spin cleaner later. I took a look on eBay for what price is being asked for it. I was shocked to see that between $300 and nearly $1K is the asking price for it.


  6. I bought a 1968 French copy from a girl who said it was sealed and new. When She arrived to sell it it was opened. It looked pristine and new so I bought it. I’ve never played it and put it in a plastic bag. I’ve had it 25 years. Anyone know how I can get it appraised? It’s number is SMO 2051/2
    Risqué en pate Blanche triage limite on sticker


    • I have the same one same condition played it a little once just to see how it sounded. Don’t know how much its worth


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