RUTHERFORD CHANG - NEW YORK, NY

At the time of this interview, Rutherford Chang had 693 copies of the Beatles’ White Album on display at a gallery in SoHo.

Rutherford Chang – We Buy White Albums

Rutherford has a unique vinyl collection. He only collects the Beatles first pressing of  The White Album.

I met him in Recess gallery where he exhibits his collection.

In this show Chang is creating a record store that stocks only White Albums. But rather than selling the albums, he buys more from anyone willing to part with an original pressing in any condition.

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Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. who are you? where did you grow up?

A: I’m an artist living in New York. I grew up in California.

Q: Did you grow up in a house of Beatles fans? When did you first hear about the Beatles? and about the white album?

A: My parents are from Taiwan and didn’t listen to the Beatles, so I didn’t grow up with the music. I bought my first White Album at a garage sale in Palo Alto for $1 when I was 15 years old.

Q: So how did you get familiar with the Beatles?

A: They are the biggest band.

Q: Tell me about your current exhibition “We Buy White Albums”.

A: My collection of White Albums is on display at Recess, a storefront art space in SoHo. It’s set up like a record store with the albums arranged in bins by serial number, and visitors are invited to browse and listen to the records. Except, rather than sell the albums, I am buying more. I currently have 693 copies.

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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.

Q: Do you care about the album’s condition?

A: I collect numbered copies of the White Album in any condition. In fact I often find the “poorer” condition albums more interesting.

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It’s alive!!

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George wasn’t their favorite.

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Q: Are you interested in the personal history behind each album? Who were the owners?

A: I am, but often this information is not available, so it becomes an imagined history based on the condition of the albums.

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People used to have good handwriting.

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This copy came with a note from the seller about when he bought the album while serving in the Coast Guard in 1969 and lived near my current address in New York. He had fond memories associated with the album and wished the same for me.

Q: Are you collecting as an artist or as a music fan?

A: I’m collecting them as cultural artifacts.

Q: Do you listen to vinyl records on regular basis?

A: I listen to the White Album every day.

Q: You play it every day, non- stop. What are you trying to achieve?

A: While at Recess, I’m listening to and recording the albums and documenting the covers. The albums I listen to get put up on the “staff picks” wall. At the end of the exhibition, I will press a new double-LP made from all the recordings layered upon each other. It will be like playing a few hundred copies of the White Album at once, each scratched and warped in its own way.

 

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Q: I’m trying to figure out if you’re a vinyl collector, or a music aficionado or an artist making an art piece with an object that happens to be a Beatles White album? Can you expand on that?

A: I’m making an art piece using White Albums as material. But the process also very much involves collecting vinyl and listening to music.

Q: Do you buy records other than the White Album for your art project?

A: I occasionally buy other records, but I don’t consider these part of my collection. I “collect” only White Albums.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of collecting first edition white albums? and why just first editions?

A: I got into collecting multiple White Albums because every copy tells a story. Each one has aged uniquely over the course of the last half-decade. The pressings from 1968 were numbered, implying that it is a limited edition, although one running in excess of 3 million.

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Los Beatles. Latin edition.

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One more artistic interpretation.

Q: Is there any connection to the vinyl resurgence that is going on these days?

A: I think the resurgence of vinyl collecting is a reaction to the absence of physicality in digital music. Each vinyl record is very much an individual object that matures over time, which is especially apparent with the White Album collection, comprised of identical yet unique multiples.

Q: Why only numbered ones? They could be a bit pricey, don’t they?

A: The serial numbers make them part of a set. There are enough numbered copies that I still manage to acquire them at reasonable prices.

Q: What happened here?

A: This album is extra white because it was painted white by its owner.

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Q: What was the most and the least you had paid for an album?

A: The most I’ve paid was $20. The least I’ve paid was $1.

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Q: How do you get them?

A: I’ve been collecting White Albums for 7 years, mostly on the Internet, and am now also buying copies brought to me by customers at “We Buy White Albums.”

Q: Do you ever receive albums for free? For the sake of art?

A: I will happily accept donations.

Q: How far will you go to purchase them? Is there an amount you won’t pay?

A: So far, I’ve only been buying “cheaper” copies because I find these as interesting if not more than the expensive ones.

Q: Have you had any interesting encounters with sellers? any funny or weird stories?

A:  I’ve come across some good eBay listings. For example: A2058935  was described as, “someone must have been smoking dope while drawing on the front cover both records have scratches but play ok.” Visitors to “We Buy White Albums” frequently offer their White Album stories as well. One told me that when he was a kid he would go over to his friend’s house to listen to the album. Except his friend’s copy had “Sexy Sadie” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” scratched out because he was afraid that if his parents heard these songs they would confiscate the album.

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Q: It seems like the white album is a popular album for listener’s self interpretations. Like a clean white canvas. So many of your albums are re-imagined, written on, or abused. Have you noticed that?

A: The covers have certainly been well loved/abused! The white canvases have been personalized with everything from scribbled names to elaborate paintings. I keep wondering if Richard Hamilton foresaw that all this would happen to the covers when he designed it back in 1968.

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Is that a Lucio Fontana?

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Someone was popular.

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Q: 2,700,000 to 2,800,000 you have nothing. what happened there?

A: I’m really not sure, but guessing that maybe these numbers weren’t printed. Or maybe, though statistically unlikely, I just haven’t come across any in this range.

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Q: I’m really curious now. Aren’t you?

A: Of course I am. I want to buy them.

Q: I’m sure you can find some answers out there. Maybe talk to some other Beatles collectors?

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.

Q: What will you do with the records once the show is over?

A: The collection has been ongoing and will continue after the show. There are a lot more White Albums out there!

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We Buy White Albums
January 8 – March 9, 2013
Recess, 41 Grand Street, New York

http://www.recessart.org/activities/6753
http://rutherfordchang.com/

188 Responses

  1. very interesting subject Eilon! i never really considered that people would use the White Album as such a canvas. I always see the albums left white. And the fact that it is one of the most famous LPs ever makes this weird obsession deeper.

    maybe next he’ll do a similar project with Phil Collins’ “No Jacket Required”. Of course the sleeves should be empty. We don’t need Phil’s music anyway.

    how is the book coming along?
    cheers!
    andujar

  2. NJtoTX

    I guess We Buy “The Beatles” would have been ambiguous, but there are quite a few bootlegs of other artists with “white” covers and labels, too. Cool idea. My copy, serial number A2426925, has tape on the edges, torn sleeves, and is missing the inserts.

  3. …I will think fondly of this article the next time I’m dealing with a “what-are-all-the-matrix-numbers-on-your-Beatles-records” customer (yes they exist and DO expect you to have memorised the numbers)….. and think, Ha!, you pale by comparison….pale by comparison.
    Amazing collection, amazing article…. thank you both.
    Tony @TooTonerecords

    1. the argument about the “resurgence of vinyl” is as ubiguitous as it is wrong: since the introduction of cds, “resurgences” of vinyl have been regularly announced in the media. however, while the relative proportion of vinyl sales (in comparison to cds) may be growing, sales of vinyl in absolute numbers are down, exactly as sales of cds are down, too.

      references to “decreased physicality” are also not convincing, in my view: there is as little that is “physical” about hearing a vinyl record as is physical about a cd – or an mp3 file, for that matter. you can take that from me, as an avid collector of vinyl for over 40 years…rather, the purported “physicality” is a fallacious attempt to justify the periodic reprinting of said articles!

      1. insta

        I disagree about no correlation with physicality in MP3s and the vinyl resurgence. Instead, I agree with author here. I only started buying records again after my obsession with getting lost in the MP3 cloud and not ever listening to linear music as albums ended with the mp3. I am so much happier with needles and grooves. It slowed my life down, made it nice an d cozy, and it sounds awesome.

      2. Kurt

        You write “sales of vinyl in absolute numbers are down.” This is incorrect. In 2013, vinyl sales were the highest they have been since 1993.

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  5. I haven’t smoked pot and gotten stoned for many years now but listening to that included clip of the first side totally took me on a journey, and an experience.
    What exactly did I hear?
    There’s something special going on here!

  6. Antonio Labao

    Wow, this has got to be one of the most imaginative and interesting artistic expressions I’ve ever heard of. As a record lover and dealer, I often come across records that were part of people’s lives. In that, I mean that these objects not only belong to their respected owners, but often transcend into becoming time portals that encapsulated a period of the owners’ life. I had a box where I kept things found in record albums. There was everything from horribly interrupted lyrics, suicide notes, both regular & nude photos of both the owners and or their loved ones. Other things included fresh currency notes of various denominations and values, newspaper clippings and articles about things that were both related and unrelated, etc…
    I guess what was most immediate and impressive was how some people would insist on adding to to existing cover art as I see with this exhibition.

  7. Lee

    What a fascinating article. I clicked on this wondering how, exactly, an exhibit could be made out of just White Albums but it never occurred to me that the album’s owner would use it as a blank canvas. This a great slice of social history here. Thanks.

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    1. Jack Elliott

      I don’t know is Amy Whit is a coincidence or not, but it did get my attention..I received a white album, among others, for my birthday, Feb 17th.. It had been in storage for many years and is in perfect condition. Of course I will not sell it but reading about Mr Chang was quite interesting to say the least.. I am retired in CA where Rutherford bought his first.. I have never been to New York,but you know what dreams are made of. Hope to hear from you Amy..

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  10. Steve Roberts

    Far out, it reminds me of an art installation by John & Yoko of a room with everything in it painted white. Also, we had a shop here in Melbourne Australia that sold mostly Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica album – the window was full of only that, and the owner had written a PhD thesis about it.

  11. Rutherford! Dude I’ve missed you since Gunn days. My white album is from the decommissioned vinyl collection of the PA library; it has the Abedon photo of the quiet battle missing… And came in a protective plastic case its one of my favorites in my collection. I’m in the City too. Hopefully we meet up brotha!
    Cheers mate,
    Ean

  12. Chris

    According to Bruce Spizer, author of “The Beatles On Apple”:

    “Queens Litho’s second run [of US LP covers] probably included covers numbered in the range of 2,800,000 to nearly 3,000,000. Examples include No. 2807496, A2847103, A2858939, No. 2892246 and No. 2965544.

    Burt-Co did a third and final run of numbered slicks in late 1969 or early 1970. These cover numbers begin around 3,000,000 and return to the “wide A” prefix. Examples of these cover numbers include A 3002698 and A 31167606″

      1. AD

        I agree. It bothers me that someone would waste their time with something like this, listening to the white album every day and being so obsessive with the whole idea because of the sheer volume of amazing new music coming out. Open your mind a little bit. I bet Paul hates listening to the Beatles by now.

        1. maus

          And yet you both waste your lives away on outrage junkiness over something that harms no one and improves the lives of some that enjoy concepts.

        2. ED

          It’s pretty cool! I think someone should tell Yoko Ono about this. I bet John Lennon would have thought this was a great art concept. I sure do. I think it also shows that fans of The Beatles have always been a part of their creative process and are a part of the phenomenon, too. It’s healthy to have a focus on detail. I’d like to thank Rutherford for being the one to finally do this!!

      2. robotics1

        Where do I start?
        As art:
        1. Conceptually it’s a one liner.
        2. It’s an act of curation, collation and mediation – as if that was enough to transmogrify it into ‘art’, and it’s curator into an ‘artist’.
        3. Done to death since Duchamp, the ‘readymade’ is an easily accessible ‘style’ rather than something requiring any real conceptual thought.
        4. As an art school lecturer, I see this approach time and time again. Everything from rubber bands to photographs of greyhounds.
        5. Mr Chang has chosen to take this approach, this time by displaying examples of an ‘iconic’ sleeve, safe in the knowledge that this piece of ‘cultural capital’ is both ‘cool’ and accessible to the mainstream.
        6. It also helps that the White Album is, well, white. Surefire signature colour of ‘conceptualism’.
        7. It doesn’t say anything new, about anything new (in direct and stark contrast to what the design of the album said itself about the world at the time – specifically the music industry, marketing strategies and the power of the Beatles).
        8. The only artistic endeavour in all of this exists on the personalised sleeves, which have been appropriated as ‘narratives’ and re-presented in a gallery setting by Mr Chang, as his ‘piece’ entitled ‘We Buy White Albums’. (I am by no means suggesting that drawing/painting/sculpture etc are the only valid forms for ‘art’, it’s that I can’t see the ‘art’ anywhere else!)
        9. With the above in mind, it is merely a display of one persons ability to buy stuff online, display it and call it art.
        10. It will merely elicit (and has done so far) responses such as ‘cool’ & ‘really interesting’, in my opinion the two most pernicious reactions one can have to a piece of ‘art’.

        Want to hear more (I could go on)?

          1. Broadway

            I think the point is that this is clearly an art project, and it’s BORING AS HELL as an art project; painfully obvious and one-note. However, your readers approach it from a vinyl perspective, perhaps thinking “wow, I’d like to look at so many different copies of the same record for a laugh.” If I may be so bold, I sensed you had some difficulty in that regard when you interviewed Rurtherford (i.e., you were trying to figure out if the “project” was about vinyl or art). From a record collector’s point of view, it’s a rare situation to see so many copies of the same record. From an art lover’s (or art teacher’s or art historian’s) perspective, it’s painfully juvenile and boring.

          2. robotics1

            @ Broadway @AD – you both hit the nail on the head! From a vinyl perspective it’s just painful … I could have carried on as a record collector (which I am): This person doesn’t seem to really know or care about music. This is an exercise in cataloguing. Like @ Broadway said it’s BORING AS HELL (& if you’re into vinyl you’ve seen loads of the same record in one place, loads of times, at loads of places: any record store that sells remaindered stock, distributors’ warehouses, merch stands at gigs, record company offices … Exactly AD – Life’s too short!

        1. Keith S

          Your comments made me want to kick MY computer in. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” With that said, you have the right to criticize what you don’t like. You also have the right to move on if you’re not interested and allow someone to be passionate, about whatever their personal interest is, without cutting them down when they don’t measure up to your personal criteria.

          1. Luap

            Life and art are not about constant praise. What’s the point in putting yourself out there if you don’t want people’s honest opinions? Why stay away from criticism? I see no problem with robotics1 smartly and intellectually pointing out what he/she thinks is wrong with this particular “art project.” The rude comment was followed by an intensely articulated response that fully backs up his/her point of view on the matter. If you don’t want to see negative responses to things, I suggest you stay out of the comment sections of every website on the internet.

        2. Deepinder Cheema

          Harsh. I think you have a jaded palate. Mr Chang has not appropriated anybody’s narrative he is presenting it by assembling the collection. I’m not sure he has approached this venture wanting to create anything new just to see where he ends up with his idea. I’m a collector of records for the music, also I like to acquire copies which are original have interesting variations and in mint condition so I am coming to this from outside conceptual art for I am particularly struck by the observation of the absence of 100, 000 limitations in the series. I like his choice of album. I like the fact that of course it is white regardless of how it has been used in presenting artistic idea’s previously. I wish him well and hope he will make further discoveries along the way that neither he or yourself would have predicted.

        3. Kevin

          The ability to buy stuff online, display it and call it art seems to be pretty important and unexplored. I also think the most conceptual could be described as a “one-liner.”

        4. what Hamilton says

          Richard Hamiltion had this to say about his design in William Turnbull’s documentary “Beyond Time”:

          (in response to Paul McCartney’s question of what to do for the album artwork)

          “If I were you, taking notes of what you did for the previous album – Sgt. Pepper’s was so filled with activity, it might be nice to have a clean sheet, just do a white cover. This was, I suppose, adopting my habit of always looking for the opposite. On the spur of the moment I thought it would be quite interesting to do this cover, which you could say, I suppose, is ‘conceptual'”.

        5. Sam

          Agree with your stance entirely. It is a vacuous and pretentious endeveour as art. Quite annoying really. But it’s only annoying because it’s presented as art. This is not art. It’s a collection of White Albums, which is fine if you like collections of things, but it’s not art.

  13. Matt Jungblut

    First off, what an excellent idea. Next, I am sorry that I am nowhere near my home of NYC for the next few months – although if you’re still set up somewhere in the NY area in June, I’d love to see this collection. Sorry, I will be keeping my first additions – they are too personal.

    My wife thought that I was obsessed, but I’ve only five vinyl copies and five CD copies of the White Album….

    I also have a question, about your 100 copies of the first side, do you have any mono (UK only if I recall) copies playing? I would assume that since some of the tracks run at different lengths between the mono and stereo, that it would lead somewhere interesting…. have you found any other differences between the different versions from either different plants or countries?

    Have fun!

  14. This is fascinating. What’s Ruitherford’s take on the White Album being an exemplar of Modernism? It’s White, Square and repeatable and fits easily within pretty much all ideas of Modern thought. I read that Revolution #9 is probably the most widely distributed product of avant-gradism, too.

    In other Beatles / Art news, I’ve been photographing all the Abbey Roads in England. I’ve documented the whole process here – http://bryaneccleshall.co.uk/Abbey_Roads.html

    My basis was a search on Microsoft AutorRoute (remember that?), done in 2003. For about nine years I detoured and detoured until I’d collected all 133 Abbry Roads in England. Since ‘completing’ that task, I’ve discovered that a few more exist. Some may have been built since my search and others look – on Google Earth – like insignificant tracks.

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  17. Bill Mankin

    Listening to your Side 1 X 100 has evoked something I was not prepared for: profound sadness at the fading of individual experience and joy into the cacophony of the years, and the knowledge that even the masterful creations of The Beatles will continue to fade into the background noise as the decades continue to pass. However, this is leavened a bit by an awareness that each of those album pressings represents the joy or bliss of at least one individual listener, and they have all been multiplied over and over and over… and that isn’t it wonderful that this is what life, and the world, is made of – so many individual moments of joy and bliss! My own White Album bliss is 0723697.

      1. Bill Mankin

        I don’t understand the point of the registration process, since the on-line form seems to only ask for favorite side and song, and geographic location. What’s the point if it fails to ask for the album’s registration number?

    1. g h

      I appreciated the fact that they posted Side 1 x 100. Made this whole project come alive. Each album has its own fingerprint. Its own groove. Its own sound…good comment.

  18. Herk

    This is so awesome, about a year ago I was selling a copy of the White Album on ebay and noticed that there was the same person bidding on every single copy no matter how horrible the condition was, I wonder if it was him!

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  20. That’s quite interesting! It’s also fun to read the divergent opinions in the comments. I think John would have liked it, though. It’s funny, a couple of days ago I photographed my own White Album for a Facebook post about almost meeting Ringo. Mine is embossed but has no serial number. I bought it some time in the late 70s. It’s still in very good condition so it’s quite nice to look at it, but it’s fun to see the “customized” copies in that Mr. Chang’s “store”!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151480889607922&set=a.10150812831797922.477329.675067921&type=1&theater

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  22. Brn

    I love this idea ! It shows that music is life. All these custom records are some people life.
    I would like to meet you and see all your records.

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  24. Mark Satlof

    I’ve got between 500 and 600 copies of early pressings of the Velvet Underground and Nico, the so called Warhol Banana album. so I can empathize with Rutherford!

  25. Karen Ann Ormes

    Dear Sir Chang (Thought that you might enjoy a virtual knighting! ) Love your unique, creative concept. Haven’t looked at my copies of the White Album “the Beatles” in years and will now dig into the collection for numbers… Hoping that Yoko stopped in to see you on her 80th birthday just the other day? She would be intriqued with your concept , I think. Just when you believe everything has been already done or thought of–you have a White Album Only Collection that has now become internationally known! Guinness Book of World Records ( no pun intended) might be interested? Good luck, and keep us all posted on your progress! Beatles Wishes, Karen

  26. Kevin

    I agree with those who sverely criticize this as conceptual art.

    And from a music fan’s perspective:

    Vinyl collectors always follow the adage that “Condition is everything”

    Here we see: “Condition is nothing”

    This show is zero from both perspectives.

    Anyway, the Beatles copied the white cover concept from the jazz singer Jeri Winter. Her company put out a totally white cover about 10 years before the Beatles. Get it? Winter:Snow:White. The album never sold well at all. Jeri Winter, being a classy lady, never sued the Beatles. And they never said thank you for the idea!

    1. Ed

      Maybe some knowledge about why the band made an album cover like this could explain some things. It was a statement against fanciful album covers that were the rage at the time. I don’t believe it was a reference to snow. More like a new start. The reason that Jeri Winter album that came out in 1958 never sold well is probably because that was the era of singles, and it wasn’t a rock and roll album. I highly doubt the idea was copied directly from the jazz singer’s album, knowing the process they went through to get to the White Album.

      Your view as a vinyl collecting music fan is fine if you are looking for pristine copies. The concept here is far different. Each pressing of the album was individually numbered and therefore identifiable. Each has had a unique journey.

      It is more like he is putting a puzzle back together that was distributed out to three million plus people throughout the world. It’s almost as if this was the intended outcome of the album cover’s concept. That’s what makes it cool from another music fan’s perspective.

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  29. Mauricio

    Congratulations to Chang for his idea and details of the art installation. When he wants to make a longer exposure, accepting copies not originals, my White Album is a remastered copy in Brazil in 1988 (sorry…), but complete and in excellent condition. Let me know if there is interest … Greetings “vinyl maniacs”!

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  31. TIm S.

    It sure beats Herb Albert’s “Whipped Cream and Apple Delights”! I know of a record store that acquired so many of those from donated collections that the covers filled an entire wall.

  32. What an amazing idea! So incredibly unique on so many different levels!
    It would be cool to see this done with other albums as well; however it wouldn’t work as perfectly as this.
    It must be surreal to walk into a record store and see nothing but white albums.
    I hope he sells copies of the record he presses from all the originals.

    ps – Excellent photography as always Eilon

  33. There are fascinating aspects to this and annoying ones. I wonder if Mr. Chang knows how to read the lacquer, mother and stamper codes on UK EMI pressed records. That’s actually more important for collectors who care about sound than are the serial numbers on the jacket. Good records are meant to be carefully cleaned and properly played not catalogued for an art exhibit though I do find this whole thing fascinating. Though when I see clean UK pressing turned into “art” my stomach does twist into knots.

  34. Hopi

    Great interview! I’d be interested to know if Yoko Ono has visited Recess to see this exhibit. She still lives in Manhattan, doesn’t she? Coincidentally, one of her own art installations, (the one where she and John Lennon first met), was done all in white. So, Rutherford Chang, have you met Yoko Ono? Has she come to the gallery to see your exhibit? Inquiring minds wanna know!

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  36. Steven R.

    Robotics, No disrespect (I mean that), you’re obviously a smart cookie, but you come off as a pretentious oaf. Who give’s a rat’s a$$ if it’s “art”? It’s 700 first edition copies of The White Album, in varying states of degeneration and adornment, all in one place! Yes, that’s both “cool” and “really interesting”. And what’s wrong with that I’d like to know (so to speak)? You send like the “real sour square” or the “(not so) well known drag” from the days of yore. Lighten up before instant karma gets you. Now it’s time to say goodnight. Kudos to Mr. Chang for his inspired weirdness.

  37. GVC

    I couldn’t agree with robotics1 more. I’ve been visiting this blog for years and this the first post that made me angry. Why? The answer is in the question Ellon asks Chang ‘Do you collect other vinyl?’ and its obvious he does not give a damn about vinyl apart from his ‘precious art project’. What a let down for the rest of us vinyl lovers.

    1. Why is this a let down?
      I don’t think this should be taken SO seriously. It’s a fun, interesting presentation of found objects. Heavily promoted by The Beatles, but most importantly, tells us a story about their previous owners.

      I’m sorry if this lets you down, I hope you’ll enjoy the other side of it. And yeah, you are right, Rutherford is NOT a vinyl collector per se. He’s an artist that deals with a medium that’s close to our hearts. Actually, I understand why you’re upset, but hope you’ll manage to enjoy it.
      Peace
      Eilon

  38. Eilat

    Wow…what can I say, but WOW….Rutherford, I love what you’ve done here…I live in Argentina – just the other day we were at a friend’s house – a group of Beatle fans, and he brought out the vinyl collection. We started making up phrases with the titles in Spanish…some of them are so badly translated, and it was a hoot!!!

    I couldn’t help but wonder if there is any chance my album is in there somewhere…My mom sold all my vinyls without so much as asking or telling me about it, about 16 years ago. So…this, what you’re doing, makes me feel wonderful again…!! If they ended up in the hands of someone like you, with so much love for “the Boys”, I’m more than satisfied.

    Love the audio – the mix and sounds are unbelievable. THANK YOU and the very best!!!

  39. JC

    For the first time in 20+ years, I pulled out the vinyl.
    I may be romanticizing it, but it sounds better than the CD.

    Alas, a flood a few years back destroyed the cover, I don’t know what # it would have been.

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  44. Dug

    I’ve got my own music collecting compulsion so this really hit the spot. Back during my used record store browsing days, I was always curious about the various owner-added cover art and wondered how someone would be so blasphemous! Even more abundant than White Album graffiti was The Who’s “Who By Numbers” with the connect-the-dots completed and colored in.

    I couldn’t quite make it through this whole audio clip though. Ima gittin dizzy.

  45. Henk

    Wow, i just found out that I’m not the only one……..

    I own about 50 white albums
    For me the best album of all times.
    I’m also listen to it every day.
    I collect them from all country’s and all pressings.
    The one’s i like most: german press nr. 918, the two separate lp’s from russia, the one’s with songstickers on the sleeve and the red wax pressings from Japan.

    Henk ( The Netherlands )

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  52. Chuck Currie

    My White Album was a four track, reel-to-reel tape (original release, not a copy made of the album) sent to me by my father and sister while I was in Vietnam. It was played nightly at our EM club. I brought it home, played it often, then sold my tape deck. The tape went into storage…still might be there.

    Nice article…thanks

    Cheers

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  54. Responsible D

    Whether the purchase and exhibition of multiple copies of the album constitutes art may be a debatable point, but it has to be admitted that there’s a really haunting quality to that composite recording.

    The different copies all begin at essentially the same point, but each album has lived a unique life that has imparted a unique signature. Playing them together allows us to hear the range of those varied experiences. To me the composite recording conveys something basic but meaningful about the experience of life and time, the many different paths that can originate from the same starting point, and how different (or not) those paths can be.

    One question though – can anyone explain why some of the recordings run so far ahead (or behind) the others? It seems pretty clear that the mismatches grow larger as the tracks play forward. Has he simply failed to precisely match the rates of rotation for each individual record when it was played? Or was there that much variance in the original pressings? Or does poorly maintained vinyl shrink and shorten the length of the groove, in an amount that depends on the storage conditions?

    In any event thanks Rutherford, you gave me a new experience.

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    1. JJ

      You can tell if it’s the “first” pressing if it’s A0000001.

      Aside from that, the first few million white albums were printed in different factories in different countries. Rather than going by “first pressing,” the collectable white albums are usually classified by the numbers and mono vs stereo pressings. As Chang mentioned in the interview, the numbers go up to the early 3-million. The numbering was discontinued sometime in 1970.

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  63. david bager

    At least I don’t feel like a lunatic now , or as my wife say’s….. you are a hoarder!!!??? I have about 4/5 cd’s and 15 different copies, each with their own sound characteristics. I have moderately low 50,00 and 173,000 mono UK’s, a German 1st pressing 48,000 a Frenchwhite vinyl, a Japan red vinyl mono’82, a Brazil mono with the #9 speed variations, a direct metal master on and on she goes………

  64. Daniel Elzinga

    I have a copy of the Beatles White Album, printed on white vinyl. It is rare as I know it. This record has been played very little and is in excellent condition. It includes the poster and photos of the band members. How much would you offer me for it

    Thanks,
    Dan

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  70. Michael

    This is a great project – I really wish I’d thought of it myself! What astonishes me is how many people seem to be angry about it in the comments. Let and let live. I don’t like Titian but I don’t go around writing angry posts on museum websites!

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  72. MDFloyd

    So many haters. Can’t you just respect the passion and effort put into this collection? He clearly enjoys collecting, cataloging and displaying his efforts for all to see. All you complainers, whiners and haters are the same people who see a beautiful 57 Corvette and only notice the small blemish in the chrome. He’s not asking for praise or even acceptance from anyone, he is just sharing something that he loves. Yes, this is a forum and you can express your opinions but you don’t have to be so hateful. Sitting alone in the lunch room has really taken it’s toll on you…

  73. El Crab

    Great Article, Great concept. I like the idea behind the “we buy white albums” store.
    the recording that accompanied the article was very interesting to hear. All those combined layers of pops and hisses and music is eerie and haunting. I love it.

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  81. Julie Fanselow

    In an era when we virtually inhale music — when it’s possible to digitally download this classic in 2 minutes — it’s easy to forget (or have no memory of) the visceral, physical joy and adventure that vinyl and its packaging brought us. Thanks for the cool story and especially the 1 x 100 posting.

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  94. Thank you for a fascinating tale. I have recorded my own version of The White Album, twice. Once when I lived in White Street and called it The White Street Album, complete with snow-covered sleeve, using old cassettes and a Portastudio, and more recently with more modern stuff, such as ProTools and a MacBook. I find this collection of songs utterly compelling and endlessly strange. Contrary to what some seem to think, I don’t think there is a second of filler on the records, and every song is incredible for its time. I learned all the parts of all the instruments, and some of them are very difficult indeed, and I did all the vocals and everything else. I got right inside The White Album, and it is a true work of art. Nobody will ever get close to the chemistry they had, even when they were at each other’s throats, and it is so sad that music today is so appalling. I also loved the fact that Mr Chang didn’t seem to be terribly keen on providing long, involved answers, making the interviewer plug away to try and get something deeper. Most interesting. I think what Mr Chang is doing is a wonderful thing, and I hope he find some albums with the missing numbers. :)

    1. James

      Craig, very cool, very cool what you did. :-) This whole thing Chang is doing is awesome. I may send him my beat up WA just because I like what he is doing. Take it easy.

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  100. James

    It never occurred to me to draw on my White Album. To me it would be like painting a on the Mona Lisa to a certain extent. Sure I had seen some with writing on them but never even wanted to buy them or do the same to mine. Now if John or Paul had put a little message on the cover telling us to take your best shot and draw something cool then I would have found an old copy and did but saved my own personal copy clean. I only have one White Album that is numbered and it is A3056525 with some pen marks around the B and S in Beatles and the back cover had something drawn on it but someone has painted over it with I think white out. I guess I could draw something on this one since the LPs are scratched up a bit and is missing all inserts. Then I would like to send it to Mr. Chang…someday.

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