Album Of The Year - The Beatles (The White Album)
The great thing about the 50th anniversary re-mastering/re-working/box set thingy of The Beatles – forever known, albeit unofficially, as The White Album – is not Giles Martin’s splendidly vigorous remastering of the amazing collection of the 30 songs from the original album. Nor is it his painstaking trawl through the archives to offer up 50 outtakes – including non-album tracks of the era, such as Across The Universe and McCartney’s first ever performance of Hey Jude.
It is, simply, the official release of the Esher Demos – the post-India trip sound of the Fab Four holed up in George’s house and working on their songs that soon be forever White. Whilst the album has always been thought of as four men working on their own stuff in their own way, their most divisive and divided work in other words, the Esher tapes show them as much a band as they ever were. These are the sounds of four friends working on each other’s new material, helping each other to find the best in themselves and their work, and more than anything, just having each other’s backs. Against the world. It is the sound of a still strong friendship in the midst of a chaotic world only the four of them ever experienced. And, as such, is a million miles away from the fractious images we would see a few months later in the Let It Be movie.
It is a series of delights and in many ways a total revelation for this period of Fab-lore.
And, courtesy of Martin’s subtle remoulding, the whole thing feels so fresh, that it sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.
Which of course it couldn’t – because yesterday was really boring.
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