The BEATLES – ” White Album ” 50th anniversary Set

Posted: September 24, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

The iconic rock band expand their ‘White Album‘ with 50th anniversary sets featuring new mixes and outtakes.  The album, which was the first to be released on the Beatles’ Apple label, was issued in stereo and mono in the U.K., but only stereo in the U.S.

The Beatles announced that they are releasing new versions of The Beatles (White Album) on November. 9th adding new 2018 mixes and a wealth of unreleased demos from the vaults to celebrate the original two-disc album’s 50th anniversary of release in November, 1968.

The mixes for the new packages were done by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell. Their announcement of their release follows the success of their 50th anniversary sets for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 2017 .

The White Albumhad long been seen as the first glimpses of the Beatles as solo artists. Looking back on that time, Paul McCartney writes in the new set, “We had left Sgt. Pepper’s band to play in his sunny Elysian Fields and were now striding out in new directions without a map.” Adds producer Giles Martin, “In remixing The White Album, we’ve tried to bring you as close as possible to The Beatles in the studio. We’ve peeled back the layers of the ‘Glass Onion’ with the hope of immersing old and new listeners into one of the most diverse and inspiring albums ever made.”

The Beatles photographed in 1968.

The largest of the new releases, the seven-disc Super Deluxe set, will have unreleased songs, including three discs of “Sessions” outtake tracks with alternates of album tracks like “Revolution,” “Blackbird,” “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Helter Skelter” (the longest, a spokesman said, is 12:49 and not the legendary 27-minute version) and some Beatles jams such as on the Elvis Presley hit “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care.” The Super Deluxe set will be housed in 164-page hardbound book with detailed track information, rare photos and copies of handwritten lyrics, recording sheets and print ads. It will also be numbered, as was the original LP.

In advance of the album, the Beatles also recorded a group of 27 acoustic-based demos at George Harrison’s house in Esher, Surrey, during the last week of May in 1968. Some of the demos were included on Anthology 3, but a complete set of these Esher Demos, including alternate versions of “Back in the U.S.S.R,” “Piggies,” “Rocky Raccoon,” and “Revolution” along with some songs that didn’t make the album, such as Lennon’s “What’s the New Mary Jane” and “Child of Nature,” and George Harrison’s “Circles” and “Not Guilty,” will be released for the first time in some configurations, answering a longtime wish from Beatles fans. The demos had been bootlegged in lesser quality for years.

There will be several versions of the new releases: Two 180-gram LPs with the 2018 stereo mix; three CDs or four LPs and digital audio with the 2018 stereo mix and the Esher demos; and a Super Deluxe set of seven discs with 6 CDs with two CDs of the new stereo mixes, three CDs of “Sessions” outtakes, a CD of the Esher Demos, and an audio Blu-ray with four mixes — hi-res PCM stereo, DTS-HD Master audio 5.1, Dolby True HD 5.1 and a direct transfer of the album’s original mono mix. That mix included several differences from the stereo version, among them a faster “Don’t Pass Me By,” different animal and bird sounds on “Piggies” and “Blackbird” respectively and an altered ending for “Helter Skelter.”

       

Here are 15 of the most revelatory moments:

1. “Revolution 1”
The legendary Take 18, a nearly 11-minute jam from the first day of the White Album sessions. The other Beatles were surprised to see someone new at John’s side: Yoko Ono, who became a constant presence in the studio. It begins as the version you know from the record: John’s flubbed guitar intro, engineer Geoff Emerick’s “take two,” John’s “okaaay.” But where the original fades out, this one is just getting started. The groove builds as John keeps chanting “all right, all right,” from a low moan to a high scream. Yoko joins the band to add distorted synth feedback, while Paul clangs on piano. She recites prose poetry, fragments of which that ended up in “Revolution 9”: “It’s like being naked…if you become naked.”

The story of this jam has been told many times, usually presented as a grim scene where Yoko barges in, sowing the seeds of discord—the beginning of the end. So it’s a surprise to hear how much fun they’re all having. It ends in a fit of laughter—she nervously asks, “That’s too much?” John tells her it sounds great and Paul agrees: “Yeah, it’s wild!”

2. “Sexy Sadie”
As the band warms up, George playfully sings a hook from Sgt. Pepper: “It’s getting better all the tiiiime!” John snorts. “Is it, right?” Take 3 is an acerbic version of “Sexy Sadie,” with Paul doodling on the organ. Yet despite the nasty wit, the band sounds totally in sync. When George asks, “How fast, John?,” he responds, “However you feel it.”

3. “Long, Long, Long”
George’s hushed hymn has always been underrated—partly because it’s mastered way too quiet. In the fantastic Take 44, “Long, Long, Long” comes alive as a duet between George and Ringo, with the drums crashing in dialogue with the whispery vocals. Giles Martin explains, “I suppose, as is documented here, George was Ringo’s best friend, as he says. That song is kind of the two of them.” George starts freestyling at the end: “Gathering, gesturing, glimmering, glittering, happening, hovering, humoring, hammering, laquering, lecturing, laboring, lumbering, mirroring…” It closes with the spooky death-rattle chord, originally the sound of a wine bottle vibrating on Paul’s amp. “It still gives you the fear when it comes.”

4. “Good Night”
Of all the alternate takes, “Good Night” is the one that will leave most listeners baffled why this wasn’t the version that made the album. Instead of lush strings, it has John’s finger-picking guitar and the whole group harmonizing on the “good night, sleep tight” chorus. It’s rare to hear all four singing together at this stage, and it’s breathtaking in its warmth. “I do prefer this version to the record,” Martin admits. (He won’t be the last to say this.)

John plays the same guitar pattern as “Dear Prudence” and “Julia.” That’s one of the distinctive sonic features of the White Album—the Beatles had their acoustic chops in peak condition, since there had been nothing else to do for kicks in Rishikesh. In India, their fellow pilgrim Donovan taught them the finger-picking style of London folkies like Davey Graham. “Donovan taught him this guitar part. John was like ‘great!,’ and then in classic Beatle style, went and wrote three songs using the same guitar part.”

The other “Good Night” takes are closer to the original’s cornball lullaby spirit. In one, Ringo croons over George Martin’s spare piano; in another, he does a spoken-word introduction. “Come on now, put all those toys away—it’s time to jump into bed. Go off into dreamland. Yes, Daddy will sing a song for you.” By the end, he quips, “Ringo’s gone a bit crazy.”

5. “Helter Skelter”
This Paul song inspired endless studio jams, lurching into proto-headbang noise—they started it the day after the Yellow Submarine premiere, so maybe they just craved the opposite extreme. This take is 13 minutes of primal thud—remarkably close to Black Sabbath, around the time Sabbath were still in Birmingham inventing their sound.

6. “Blackbird”
Paul plays around with the song—“Dark black, dark black, dark black night”—trying to nail the vibe. It isn’t there yet. He tells George Martin, “See, if we’re ever to reach it, I’ll be able to tell you when I’ve just done it. It just needs forgetting about it. It’s a decision which voice to use.” He thinks his way through the song, his then-girlfriend Francie audible in the background. “It’s all in his timing,” Martin says. “There’s two separate things, a great guitarist and a great singer—he’s managed to disconnect and put them back together. He’s trying to work out where they meet.”

7. “Dear Prudence”
Of all the Esher demos, “Dear Prudence” might be the one that best shows off their rowdy humor. John ends his childlike reverie by cracking up his bandmates, narrating the tale of Prudence Farrow that inspired the song. “A meditation course in Rishikesh, India,” he declares. “She was to go completely berserk under the care of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Everybody around was very worried about the girl, because she was going insaaaane. So we sang to her.”

8. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
There’s an early acoustic demo, but Take 27, recorded over a month later, rocks harder than the album version—John on organ, Paul on piano, lead guitar from special guest Eric Clapton. (George invited his friend to come play, partly because he knew the others would behave themselves around Clapton.) The groove only falls part when George tries to hit a Smokey Robinson-style high note and totally flubs it. “It’s okay,” George says. “I tried to do a Smokey, and I just aren’t Smokey.”

9. “Hey Jude”
Recorded in the midst of the sessions, but planned for a one-off single, Paul’s ballad is still in raw shape, but even in this first take, it’s already designed as a 7-minute epic, with Paul singing the na-na-na outro himself. Another gem on this box: an early attempt at “Let It Be,” with Paul’s original lyric showing his explicit link to American R&B: “When I find myself in times of trouble / Brother Malcolm comes to me.”

10. “Child of Nature”
Another treasure from Esher. “Child of Nature” is a gentle ballad John wrote about the retreat to India: “On the road to Rishikesh / I was dreaming more or less.” He scrapped it for the album, but dug it back out a few years later, wrote new words, and turned it into one of his most famous solo tunes: “Jealous Guy.”

11. “JULIA”
One of John’s most intimate confessions—the only Beatle track where he’s performing all by himself. You can hear his nerves as he sits with his guitar and asks George Martin, in a jokey Scouse accent, “Is it better standing up, do you think? It’s very hard to sing this, you know.” The producer reassures him. “It’s a very hard song, John.” “‘Julia’ was one of my dad’s favorites,” Giles says. “When I began playing guitar in my teens, he told me to learn that one.”

12. “Can You Take Me Back?”
The snippet on Side Four that serves as an eerie transition into the abstract sound-collage chaos of “Revolution 9.” Paul toys with it for a couple of minutes, trying to flesh it out into a bit of country blues—“I ain’t happy here, my honey, are you happy here?”

13. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
Paul spent a week driving the band through this ditty, until John finally stormed out of the studio. He returned a few hours later, stoned out of his mind, then banged on the piano in a rage, coming up with the jingle-jangle intro that gets the riff going. This early version is pleasant but overly smooth—it shows why the song really did need that nasty edge. A perfect example of the Beatle collaborative spirit: John might loathe the song, Paul might resent John’s sabotage, but both care too deeply about the music not to get it right.

14. “Sour Milk Sea”
A great George highlight from the Esher tapes—“Sour Milk Sea” didn’t make the cut for the album, but he gave it to Liverpool pal Jackie Lomax who scored a one-shot hit with it. (It definitely deserved to rank ahead of “Piggies,” which remains the weakest track on any version of this album.) “Not Guilty” and “Circles” are other George demos that fell into limbo—“Not Guilty” sounds ready to go at Esher, yet in the studio, it was doomed to over a hundred fruitless takes.

15. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”
A tricky experiment they learned together in the studio, with John toying with the structure and his mock doo-wop falsetto. “Is anybody finding it easier?” he asks. “It seems a little easier—it’s just no fun, but it’s easier.” George pipes in. “Easier and fun.” John replies, “Oh, all right, if you insist.” It’s a moment that sums up all the surprising discoveries on this White Album edition: a moment where the Beatles find themselves at the edge of the unknown, with no one to count on except each other. But that’s when they inspire each other to charge ahead and greet the brand new day.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.