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   The Beatles White Album experimental 1978 Capitol pressing LP-025

ITEM #: LP-025
Description: Beatles "white album" — 1978 (purple) Capitol label, experimental "color splash/marbled" white vinyl (two variations!); VERY rare!
Record Label: Capitol
Catalog #: 11841
Year of Release/Pressing: 1978
Record: NM/VG-
Jacket: VG++
Price: $3,000

Here it is: a copy of one of the rarest of the Beatles' records! Apparently there was a lot of experimentation going on at the Capitol records pressing plants in 1978, at least with Beatles records (I'm not aware of any of these odd pressings of other Capitol records artists). Looking through price guides over the years I've seen listings of various Beatles albums, pretty much all pressed in 1978 on the purple Capitol label, in clear vinyl and different colored vinyl, and also what is described as "color splash" or sometimes "splattered" vinyl. Pricing guides generally list "various color combinations" for the color splash vinyl version of this album, but I have only ever found evidence of a gray splash vinyl (the first price guide listing I ever saw of this pressing that was not just the regular white vinyl pressing, was of a gray splash vinyl), and a copy with one red color splash vinyl and one pink/peach color splash vinyl. I've never seen or heard of another copy of a gray marbled version of this pressing, though.

This copy has one disc that is gray-splashed/marbled white vinyl with a small reddish smear (disc 1/2), and another disc that is reddish-splashed/marbled white vinyl with a bunch of tiny reddish flecks (disc 3/4), but both discs are only faintly colored (although disc 1/2 is more obviously colored than disc 3/4); includes the four photos of the Beatles (each VG++ to NM), but does NOT include the poster. There is a scratch on side 4 that looks fairly deep, and it goes across most of the tracks (otherwise both discs would be NM)...and there is a little bit of sticker residue on the front cover in the upper left corner (otherwise the cover is NM/NM-).

It is important to note that Capitol did press and release a white vinyl version of this record in 1978, using the purple Capitol label, and they also pressed and released some other Beatles albums on colored vinyl in that same year; but these other pressings, using clear vinyl or various splatter/splash/marbling/etc. patterns, were never officially released by Capitol—these other pressings were in-house experimental pressings, and I've yet to find any official (or unofficial) info on how many of these oddball pressings were made, what they were (as far as the colors/etc.), whether there were any other artists whose material was pressed like this in 1978, or anything at all, other than the fact that experimental pressings exist and that they all seem to be various Beatles albums pressed in 1978 on the purple Capitol label. It's quite possible that there were a lot of people at the Capitol plants that did this in and around 1978, but again: those copies would never have been distributed to record stores for sale to the general public. There is a website called that has a lot of detail (and some great pictures) of some of the more vibrant experimental color splash pressings, but I think that website is more focused on Canadian pressings (apparently this experimentation was happening in the mid to late '70s at a Canadian Capitol plant, as well as at least one plant in the US) and it doesn't mention the White Album experimental pressings at all.

I found one listing online of someone selling a copy of this pressing of the White Album with their copy listed as gray splash vinyl, and while it was a more vibrant splash pattern than mine only one disc was gray splash vinyl (the other disc was just a plain white vinyl). I also found an old listing for a red and white splash/pink and white splash copy, with one disc red splash and the other more of a pink splash, but I'm not sure how long ago that one was actually up for sale. I also found an old listing for a copy that was a purple splash (it looked more like a purple vinyl with some white splashes towards the center), and that was disc 1/2; and then with that copy, disc 3/4 also had what was described in the ad as "primarily white with a small brown splash on one side near the center"...which also describes my disc 3/4 pretty well, excepty that they don't describe the additional reddish colored specks that I see in my disc 3/4 (*however*, the ad for that purple splash copy does describe the purple splash disc this way: "Upon close inspection the purple disc also reveals a small number streaks and specks of red , blue as well as very faint waves of black"...which certainly reminds me of the specks of red in my disc 3/4, and the streaks of black/gray in my disc 1/2; perhaps that copy and my copy were made by the same Capitol employee?). Other than that I haven't found any other information online about these experimental pressings.

I came across this particular record when I was working in a used record store in the mid '90s. That store generally catered to older record collectors, so there was a lot of Nat King Cole and Al Martino and the well as a good bit of Beatles stuff at any point in time, but less focus on the psychedelic stuff specifically, and rock 'n roll in general. One day, though, the store owner brought in a huge load of amazing Beatles stuff; apparently a collector had passed away somewhat unexpectedly, and his widow had no idea what to do with all of his records and so she contacted my boss, who was well known to folks in that age group in that area as being the authority on records from the '50s and '60s. He bought the whole collection from her, which I believe may have included some other stuff besides just Beatles records, but all I was interested in were the Beatles records.

I knew my boss had taken most of the best stuff off the top for his own personal collection (he mentioned a couple of butcher covers that were in the collection, that I noticed never came up for sale...), but there were still some amazing things that were suddenly for sale at the shop. I had a box of records in the back that I was basically just working off whenever I came in each weekend—I never drew any actual cash payment for my time working there—and so a few little gems went in that box as soon as I got a chance to go through the new stuff (the mono copy of the Yesterday & Today trunk cover that I'm also selling, LP-016 [which will be available for sale soon...], is one of several nice examples of that batch of records). I remember that I really wanted the complete Mobile Fidelity Bealtes LP collection that was in that bunch, complete with alignment tool—but that was out of my price range at around $700 or whatever it was at the time, so I opted for other records, including this one.

I honestly thought the smear on disc 3/4 (the milder of the two discs in this set) was a manufacturing defect when I first glanced at it, and I was about to just pass on it and not get this record at all...but then I looked at the other disc, and the gray smears/splatters were just too stark to be a manufacturing error, in my mind. Granted, no pricing guide that I had seen at that point had made any reference to anything other than the plain white vinyl pressing of this album on this label in 1978, and it wasn't all that sought after so I probably would have passed on it if wasn't for the gray splatters on disc 1/2. Something just seemed too purposeful with that disc, and it seemed highly unlikely that Capitol Records' quality control in 1978 was so bad that such an obvious imperfection as the splatters on disc 1/2 could make it through, and yet somehow the set still also have another, different imperfection on the other disc as well.

Plus the markings in the runout areas seem to be a little different from any other Beatles records that I've seen: Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched then scratched out): SWBO-1-101-G83; Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched): SEBX-1-11841; Pressing Plant ID (Runout sides A & C, etched): . -----<|; Matrix / Runout (Runout sides A, B, C, & D, stamped): MASTERED BY CAPITOL; Matrix / Runout (Runout side B, etched): SEBX-2-11841 G11; Matrix / Runout (Runout side C, etched then scratched out): SWBO-1-101-H83 #4; Matrix / Runout (Runout side C, etched): SEBX-13-11841; Matrix / Runout (Runout side C, etched; "Jay" is in cursive script, "X" is in a square box): Jay [X]; Matrix / Runout (Runout side D, etched): SEBX-4-11841 G9

Book value for a NM copy of this version of this release (or at least, the closest thing the price guides have to this one) is between $2,000-3,000:
CAPITOL (11841 "The Beatles").......................................2000-3000 (1978)
(Two discs. Splash-colored vinyl. Includes several color combinations. Experimental only.)
  (from the Rockin' Records 2018-2019 Record Price Guide)

...which places the value of this copy at about...oh, I don't know—how much is something worth when that something may well be the only one of its kind in existence? Being how rare the splash/splatter/marbled copies of this pressing are, and the fact that this copy appears to be a particularly rare variation, and being that this exact variation is not even noted in the pricing guides yet (and since it could possibly be the only one like it in the world), I think it would be a fine investment at the current $3,000 price. And remember: while a first state "butcher cover" copy of Yesterday & Today may have a higher price tag than this, you can actually FIND butcher cover copies for sale; good luck trying to find another copy of one of these experimental pressings of the White Album, especially a gray marbled one. At least, I've never seen or heard of another one.

The pictures below are of the actual record for sale; click on one of the gray dots below the three smaller pictures to bring up the slideshow of all 27 pictures of this record. To see a larger image of any picture, click the name of the image (from the list below the dots) and a new window will open with the full-size image.

LP-025 pic A (front)    LP-025 pic B (front02)     LP-025 pic C (back01)

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Front #2
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First Disc #1
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First Disc #2
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First Disc #3
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First Disc #4
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First Disc #7
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First Disc #8
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First Disc #9
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First Disc #10
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Second Disc #1
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Second Disc #2
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Second Disc #4
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Second Disc #6
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Second Disc #8
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Second Disc #9
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Second Disc #10
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Scratch #1
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Scratch #2
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Scratch #3

LP-025 pic A (front)   LP-025 pic B (front02)   LP-025 pic C (back)   LP-025 pic D (gatefold)

LP-025 pic E (firstdisc01)   LP-025 pic F (firstdisc02)   LP-025 pic G (firstdisc03)   LP-025 pic H (firstdisc04)

LP-025 pic I (firstdisc05)   LP-025 pic J (firstdisc06)   LP-025 pic K (firstdisc07)   LP-025 pic L (firstdisc08)

LP-025 pic M (firstdisc09)   LP-025 pic N (firstdisc10)   LP-025 pic O (seconddisc01)    LP-025 pic P (seconddisc02)

LP-025 pic Q (seconddisc03)   LP-025 pic R (seconddisc04)   LP-025 pic S (seconddisc05)

LP-025 pic T (seconddisc06)    LP-025 pic U (seconddisc07)   LP-025 pic V (seconddisc08)

LP-025 pic W (seconddisc09)   LP-025 pic X (seconddisc10)   LP-025 pic Y (scratch01)

LP-025 pic Z (scratch02)   LP-025 pic Z-a (scratch03)