(photo credit: Apple Corps Ltd.)

NYC Gets a Sneak Peek of the New Beatles’ ‘White Album’ Reissue

Producer Giles Martin unveiled previously unreleased tracks as part of a new package to mark the album’s 50th anniversary

In hindsight, it is remarkable that even as personal and musical differences were pulling the members of the Beatles apart by 1968, they were still unified in crafting and recording unforgettable songs with a combination of drive, vision and perfection. Such was the case with the now-legendary self-titled double album (a.k.a. the White Album) released in that year. For all its stylistic diversity and at times unwieldiness — from folk and proto-metal, to avant-garde and of course rock and pop — the music from that mammoth 90-minute collection of 30 songs betray any notion that the group’s working relationship was fractured in the studio (at least not until the Let It Be sessions).

(© Apple Corps Ltd.)

That’s the sense one gets from producer Giles Martin, who played some of the cuts off of the upcoming new reissue of The Beatles to a select group of press people and invitees earlier this week at the famed Power Station recording studio in New York City. Marking The Beatles’ 50th anniversary this year, the reissue will be available in three configurations: a 7-disc (6-CD/1 Blu-ray) super deluxe version that contains a new remix of the original album, the Esher demos, and 50 mostly previously unreleased songs from the sessions; a deluxe version consisting of 3 CDs or 4 LPs containing both the remixed album and the Esher demos; and a standard 2-LP vinyl of the remixed original album.

After being treated to a video trailer for the reissue, the packed audience inside the studio got a sneak peek of some of its tracks as Martin explained that the rationale and process that went into producing the package. One got the sense from hearing him the magnitude involved in curating the Beatles’ recorded work, a responsibility that was not lost on him. “There’s a huge privilege that goes with that,” said Martin. “I realize that I am incredibly lucky to be able to walk into Abbey Road and get a tape out of the vault and press ‘play.’ You can’t take that for granted.”

Invitees watched a preview of ‘The Beatles’ reissue trailer at the Power Station (David Chiu)

Martin started off the presentation by playing five Esher demos, songs that the Beatles first recorded at George Harrison’s home in May 1968 before the group formally began producing the songs in the studio. These were ‘unplugged’ versions of “Back in the USSR,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” and “Sexy Sadie,” along with tracks that were not on the original album: Harrison’s “Not Guilty,” which subsequently appeared on his 1979 self-titled album; and John Lennon’s “Child of Nature,” which was later reworked as “Jealous Guy” on the Imagine record.

Afterwards, Martin played a couple of unreleased tracks from the sessions; they also revealed some surprises as well as some interesting and funny studio chatter. Among those were a more bluesier rendition of “Cry Baby Cry”; a stark-sounding but still wistful “I Will”; an outtake of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the latter with that soaring guitar solo by Eric Clapton; and a folkish version of “Good Night” that contrasted with the orchestral-laden final master on The Beatles.

Producer Giles Martin at the Power Station talking about working on ‘The White Album’ (David Chiu)

Finally, a couple of the remixed tracks from the reissue were unveiled during the playback: “Dear Prudence,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” and of course the explosive “Helter Skelter.” Like what Martin did on last year’s Sgt. Pepper reissue, these new remixes presented these Beatles songs with a more vibrant sound than ever before. One could pick up certain details that might have been missed before and now can be heard in a new light. For example, an astute person in the audience noted that Ringo Starr’s drumming sounded more prominent and rocking, which was definitely the case on the remixed “Helter Skelter.”

“When I press ‘play’ on a tape machine at Abbey Road, the Beatles don’t sound old to me,” Martin told the audience. “And they’re not old. Recording is a beautiful thing. It’s a time capsule, and the performances are so good, and the tape quality is so good. It’s like they’re in a room with you. If I’m privileged enough to hear that, then everyone else should be.”

The special anniversary releases of The Beatles will be out on November 9 via Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe.

© Apple Corps Ltd.

The BEATLES (‘White Album’)

Tracklists

Super Deluxe [6CD+1Blu-ray set / digital audio collection]

CD 1: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Dear Prudence

Glass Onion

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Wild Honey Pie

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Martha My Dear

I’m so tired

Blackbird

Piggies

Rocky Raccoon

Don’t Pass Me By

Why don’t we do it in the road?

I Will

Julia

CD 2: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Birthday

Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide

Except Me and My Monkey

Sexy Sadie

Helter Skelter

Long, Long, Long

Revolution I

Honey Pie

Savoy Truffle

Cry Baby Cry

Revolution 9

Good Night

CD 3: Esher Demos

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Dear Prudence

Glass Onion

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Happiness is a Warm Gun

I’m so tired

Blackbird

Piggies

Rocky Raccoon

Julia

Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide

Except Me and My Monkey

Sexy Sadie

Revolution

Honey Pie

Cry Baby Cry

Sour Milk Sea

Junk

Child of Nature

Circles

Mean Mr. Mustard

Polythene Pam

Not Guilty

What’s the New Mary Jane

CD 4: Sessions

Revolution I (Take 18)

A Beginning (Take 4) / Don’t Pass Me By (Take 7)

Blackbird (Take 28)

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide

Except Me and My Monkey (Unnumbered rehearsal)

Good Night (Unnumbered rehearsal)

Good Night (Take 10 with a guitar part from Take 5)

Good Night (Take 22)

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Take 3)

Revolution (Unnumbered rehearsal)

Revolution (Take 14 — Instrumental backing track)

Cry Baby Cry (Unnumbered rehearsal)

Helter Skelter (First version — Take 2)

CD 5: Sessions

Sexy Sadie (Take 3)

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic version — Take 2)

Hey Jude (Take 1)

St. Louis Blues (Studio jam)

Not Guilty (Take 102)

Mother Nature’s Son (Take 15)

Yer Blues (Take 5 with guide vocal)

What’s the New Mary Jane (Take 1)

Rocky Raccoon (Take 8)

Back in the U.S.S.R. (Take 5 — Instrumental backing track)

Dear Prudence (Vocal, guitar & drums)

Let It Be (Unnumbered rehearsal)

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third version — Take 27)

(You’re so Square) Baby, I Don’t Care (Studio jam)

Helter Skelter (Second version — Take 17)

Glass Onion (Take 10)

CD 6: Sessions

I Will (Take 13)

Blue Moon (Studio jam)

I Will (Take 29)

Step Inside Love (Studio jam)

Los Paranoias (Studio jam)

Can You Take Me Back? (Take 1)

Birthday (Take 2 — Instrumental backing track)

Piggies (Take 12 — Instrumental backing track)

Happiness is a Warm Gun (Take 19)

Honey Pie (Instrumental backing track)

Savoy Truffle (Instrumental backing track)

Martha My Dear (Without brass and strings)

Long, Long, Long (Take 44)

I’m so tired (Take 7)

I’m so tired (Take 14)

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Take 2)

Why don’t we do it in the road? (Take 5)

Julia (Two rehearsals)

The Inner Light (Take 6 — Instrumental backing track)

Lady Madonna (Take 2 — Piano and drums)

Lady Madonna (Backing vocals from take 3)

Across the Universe (Take 6)

Blu-ray: The BEATLES (‘White Album’)

Audio Features:

: PCM Stereo (2018 Stereo Mix)

: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (2018)

: Dolby True HD 5.1 (2018)

: Mono (2018 Direct Transfer of ‘The White Album’ Original Mono Mix)

Deluxe [3CD digipak / 180-gram 4LP vinyl box set (limited edition) / digital audio collection]

The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Esher Demos

Standard 2LP Vinyl [180-gram]

The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix