Monday, November 26, 2018

The Beatles: 50th Anniversary White Album - Esher Demos/Instrumental Backing Tracks Mix


On November 9, 2018 The Beatles released their 50th Anniversary edition(s) of the 1968 White Album. For many (including me), it's the best rock 'n' roll double album ever made and recorded in arguably the best year in rock 'n' roll history. It was released to the world on November 22, 1968, which happened to coincide with the 5th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. 

The six, yes 6 CD Super Deluxe Set includes 107 tracks or 5 hours and 26 minutes remastered by George Martin's son Giles Martin. Giles to many Beatles fans, is 'the keeper of the flame.' I end this week's playlist with Giles being interviewed about the White Album. 

Here is the Super Deluxe version for purchase on Amazon.

Here is the streaming version on Amazon Music.

One of my most favorite Christmas shopping memories was driving down to the La Cumbre Plaza shopping center in Santa Barbara to Christmas shop with my next door neighbor Ron Zieman and his family. Ron was on a mission from God to get The Beatles White Album for Christmas, as it was not yet available in our small town of Santa Maria, CA. I was along for the ride, but I remember Ron's expression as I believe he found it in a department store and held it up like the Willy Wonka 'golden ticket.' When we got back home, it was never Christmas wrapped, but rather unwrapped quickly from it's shrink wrap and we were listening to it in Ron's bedroom on his portable record player that night. 

Fifty years later, I realize the magnitude of 1968 on the world, but I had no idea how the music of that time would shape my life in such a profound manner. It in fact helped me look at the world from a bigger prism than my small town projected. The music and particularly The White Album came to me in my 13th year and today, frames a place in time when I was just starting to grow up. 

Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated on April 4th, and Bobby Kennedy on June 6th, 1968. On the night of June 6th, the California Primary, my dad and I stayed up to watch the race and results and I remember it as a bonding moment as we talked with my questions and his explanations about how this game was played.  I went to bed with Bobby winning and then was awakened by my dad with the news. I'll never forget the look on his face as he told me. This was a beginner's punch in the gut lesson of politics, swirling and evolving in my head.

Then in the fall, the White Album is released and it's simply a masterpiece of music. No concept album here, an eclectic mix of styles all blended to expand a young person's perceptions of music, and thinking. For example, as a 13 year old, John's line in Revolution"But if you go carrying pictures of chairman MaoYou ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow" was synthesized by me to- think for yourself, not to blindly follow a leader or the crowd.



The 50th Anniversary mix gives us all more Beatles to listen to. It includes the 27 rehearsal 'Esher Demos' made in one magical day at George Harrison's house shortly after the group had returned from their trip to India together. These demos were taped on George's reel to reel tape recorder in late May of 1968 and before the band entered Abbey Road Studios to cut the album. 

For a deeper look, read Rob Sheffield's article in Rolling Stone - The Beatles’ Esher Demos: The Lost Basement Tapes That Became the White Album

Last week, I was so excited to find the Super Deluxe (all 107) tracks posted on YouTube that I had to write this blog and include it here. 

For the Playlist this week, I've mostly assembled the Esher demos coupled with the instrumental tracks, out takes and remix tracks from the 50th Super Deluxe Set to make my own little White Album. These tracks capture the acoustic and harmonizing Beatles- all of whom seem to be having a wonderful time together. There has been a lot said about the internal discord of the making of this album that would eventually lead to the breakup of the band. But I agree with Giles Martin, if you listen to his interview, he says he can't hear the discord but rather the genuine Beatle banter and laughter on all the audio he poured through to do this 2018 remix.

So what's your favorite songs on the White Album, old or new mix? Let me know in the comments section below if you like.

This go around, my favorite is the lads singing backup vocals to Ringo's lead on Goodnight (Take 10 With A Guitar Part From Take 5).  

Take it from the 1968 thirteen-year old and the current sixty-three year old as it is agreed,
The White Album is a marvel to listen to at any age.

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