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'Looking Through a Glass Onion: Deconstructing The White Album' Review

November 16, 2016, 12:00 am

Composer Scott Freiman’s love for The Beatles runs so deep, he’s considered one of the world’s foremost Fab Four scholars (yes, scholar). Thus, with his new filmed lecture, Looking Through a Glass Onion: Deconstructing The White Album, Freiman channels his obsession into a full-blown academic affair, creating a blow-by-blow of the recording processes behind the band’s iconic 1968 self-titled album (known to most as The White Album)—also the best-selling record of the 1960s. Period. By the time recording began, John, Paul, George and Ringo rarely performed live and certainly didn’t tour, but what they did do was sequester themselves in the famous Abbey Road studio, perfecting recording techniques, founding Apple Records and slowly coming to grips with their own neuroses in regard to one another. Freiman delves into such storied events as the fabled trip to Rishikesh, India at the behest of George (though, we learn, they were all pretty into it), the seldom-heard Kinfauns demo recordings, the uncredited musicianship found throughout The White Album (Eric Clapton’s solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” anyone?) and beyond, painting a picture of The Beatles as actual, fallible human beings who had the capacity for brilliance, obviously, but who could also be spiteful or even immature. The pressure, we imagine, was horrible. Freiman breaks songs down track by track, isolating certain elements to showcase the complexities of fan favorites like “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird” and many others. However, with the lecture at just under 90 minutes, he can’t possibly examine everything that went into the album. What we do learn is fascinating—for Beatles fans anyway. Those who don’t find the studio process all that interesting won’t be swayed by the backstories enough to be hooked, and the ultimate allure of the film comes down to how much one loves the band. If it’s a lot, you’ll also love the lecture, which will be screened only once on Friday Nov. 18 at 7 pm; if it’s anything less you can probably skip it. (Alex De Vore)

Looking Through a Glass Onion: Deconstructing The White Album
Center for Contemporary Arts,
87 min


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