Other Players

2nd Gen Remix & Outtakes Make the White Album New All Over Again

1

(Seems weird putting The Beatles, fergawdsake, under "Other Players." But this isn't an On The Tube experience. It's audio...)

https://www.npr.org/section...

Play the whole 45-minute interview with Giles Martin as he puts you in the room with the Fabs, upends what we thought we knew about The Making Of and the Beatles' inner workings in 1968, and gives us the living room demos and smart modern remixes that suggest what the lads might have done with the raw tracks at the time, had they only had the tech.

Giles' take on the gestalt of the Beatles in 1968 is almost revisionist: the band wasn't almost breaking up, they did help with each others' songs and work cooperatively together, Yoko wasn't a disruption. That flies against most of our prevailing understanding of that period, and I haven't decided whether to see it entirely his way, or to see that perspective as an overlay on the familiar legends.

Giles' lifelong immersion as son of George Svengali Martin in All Things Beatle - but from one generational remove - may help to rose-tint his glasses. I suspect that the surviving Beatles and their widows - all of whom he knows, works with, and who sign off on all the Martin family Beatle projects - may over the years have softened and brightened many of their own memories. That in turn would understandably shade Giles' understanding of an era he knows only from his unique access to the historical record. (He was born a year after the album was made.)

Frinstance, he says he doesn't hear a band on the verge of breaking up, then plays us a take of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" which would have been great as a 3rd or 4th take - but it's the 27th. Likewise, we learn that "Sexy Sadie" took a numbing 107 takes. I don't know if that suggests a band "breaking up" - but it certainly suggests a very rusty band.

In any case, such ruminations are all beside the point. To have access to all the demos and tons of outtakes (which he mixed not as mixes, but so it would sound like we were in the room in the moment) is incredible. But the remixes of the actual masters we're so familiar with (based on the sample in the interview) peel away layers of compression and even EQ, bring parts we only dimly heard into sharper relief, and promise to be something like a revelation.

When I'm really doing a White Album thing, I always have to just give myself up to it. It's lousy background music. It's a long immersive journey, always was - even with the original LP (broken up by short rest stops to flip and change the albums). With the last remaster of the CD, it became even more immersive: you crank it up and let it take you where it wants you to go.

One index to the Beatles' brilliance is that you hear something different in the album - not necessarily musical parts, not even the lyrics, but what and how it means - when you listen at different ages. They wrote lyrics, and set them in musical contexts, that open up differently and reveal different aspects depending on your life experiences and memories at the time you listen. They were young men when they wrote and recorded - but they're not young men's songs. They're songs for the ages.

I'm anxious to grab this box set for the holidays, and discover a favorite album like it's new again.

2

Can't really say that they were a "rusty band", but possibly very anal on what the final album "take" would be.

A lot of the "greats" thought this way, spending a ton of time getting things "just right."

3

Oh no. You gotta listen to it. There's a lot of rust to knock off before they get to anything ready to shine up.

That and/or we hear the process by which material evolved without George Martin there for shape and discipline.

Or is being too critical to suggest they were mortal after all - and in such an experimental mood that they didn't know what they were after till they stumbled over it?

4

I got the boxed set and it swallowed me up for two days. I listened straight through once Many hours) and then again, when I took it for a drive (well, three or four drives). Somehow I hear things different in the car. It’s fun and enlightening listening to them work out the songs from beginning to end.

5

You can tell that they did a version, took it home and listened to it and came back with solutions, played it again, home, more ideas, etc.

6

You can tell that they did a version, took it home and listened to it and came back with solutions, played it again, home, more ideas, etc.

Sure - but it makes you wonder how they managed "Paperback Writer" in 1-1/2 takes. That song is carved in granite now, as many times as we've heard it, as inevitable as the sunrise. But there are a lot of tricks, innovations, and non-obvious ideas in it too.

7

"I guess I'm gonna have to buy the White Album again."---Agent K, MIB

8

Oh no. You gotta listen to it. There's a lot of rust to knock off before they get to anything ready to shine up.

That and/or we hear the process by which material evolved without George Martin there for shape and discipline.

Or is being too critical to suggest they were mortal after all - and in such an experimental mood that they didn't know what they were after till they stumbled over it?

– Proteus

Well, we know that they're mortal. Makes one wonder about the drugs involved at that period of time, or the hangover from them.

I'll take your word on the less than stellar playing, as I don't have a copy and probably won't get it.

I do like the body of work on this album. Played the heck out of it back then.

9

There are audio samples in the NPR interview with Martin, clickable from the link. Those are what I’m going by. Pretty interesting stuff.

10

Here's a couple of really cool "new" videos. The album is on Spotify as well...

11

Listening to these remixes, this fascinatingly unkempt Victorian toy box record becomes yet more jumbled. The horrid fidelity of the extant stereo masters was repaired and finessed in 2009. The results of that sonic upgrade are to date, definitive. I recommend you take a random track and compare the 2018 mix to the 2009 remaster. I'll play my cards face-up- the 2009 is more pleasing.

If you are still weighing the virtues of the 2018 release, then do not attempt this comparison with Helter Skelter, a song that truly has been neutered by the zero-emissions 2018 statute. The hilariously bellowing, fulminating and noxious thunder of this song has had the fury choked out of it. The slithering, clankity Bass 6 and gnarled descending guitar figure are buried with the corpse of the left-right stereo balance. It has made an unbelievably bad (though highly entertaining) song, unbelievably worse.

Cry Baby Cry, one of the most criminally undervalued songs on this record, suffers by brightly illuminating the hesitant piano and electric guitar tuned so flat one can only imagine that George accepted early bird member benefits in the 432Hz club and didn't tell anybody else. Sometimes, obfuscation and shadow are what a record requires. With lavender shades on the parlour lamps, it used to be lovely.

I wanted to like this record. The terrible truth is, they should have ponied-up and got Steven Wilson to do it properly. That day may yet arrive.

In conclusion, I think I'll wait until until the 2068 Centurion Remix in 10.12 Surround Sound by which time I'll have leased my consciousness to to the incumbent Amazon WorldGov and continue to exist as an Ade-Lexa Dot.

12

Listening to these remixes, this fascinatingly unkempt Victorian toy box record becomes yet more jumbled. The horrid fidelity of the extant stereo masters was repaired and finessed in 2009. The results of that sonic upgrade are to date, definitive. I recommend you take a random track and compare the 2018 mix to the 2009 remaster. I'll play my cards face-up- the 2009 is more pleasing.

If you are still weighing the virtues of the 2018 release, then do not attempt this comparison with Helter Skelter, a song that truly has been neutered by the zero-emissions 2018 statute. The hilariously bellowing, fulminating and noxious thunder of this song has had the fury choked out of it. The slithering, clankity Bass 6 and gnarled descending guitar figure are buried with the corpse of the left-right stereo balance. It has made an unbelievably bad (though highly entertaining) song, unbelievably worse.

Cry Baby Cry, one of the most criminally undervalued songs on this record, suffers by brightly illuminating the hesitant piano and electric guitar tuned so flat one can only imagine that George accepted early bird member benefits in the 432Hz club and didn't tell anybody else. Sometimes, obfuscation and shadow are what a record requires. With lavender shades on the parlour lamps, it used to be lovely.

I wanted to like this record. The terrible truth is, they should have ponied-up and got Steven Wilson to do it properly. That day may yet arrive.

In conclusion, I think I'll wait until until the 2068 Centurion Remix in 10.12 Surround Sound by which time I'll have leased my consciousness to to the incumbent Amazon WorldGov and continue to exist as an Ade-Lexa Dot.

– ade

But don't hold back, Ade.

Tell us how you really feel.

13

Truth be told Crowbone, it's extremely enjoyable listening to this album again. It's always been a frustrating record, by virtue of its enormous scope and the dizzying sensation of hopping like a butterfly from flower to flower in a completely random pattern. Some of the flowers are delicious, some distinctly less so, according to the taste of the listener.

There's actually something strangely comforting in the realisation that this record is no less enigmatic and inscrutable than it ever was in this latest form.

14

Adrian, Just an hour ago I was dithering about in our local HMV store repeatedly picking up and putting down this new White Album release. In the end I chickened out -- I already have the 2009 reissue and that's probably enough White Album for me -- and settled for a Nick Lowe CD instead!

My favourite multi-take recordings come in a boxed set of seven vinyl albums covering multiple versions of all Little Richard's Specialty recordings captured by Cosimo Matassa in his little studio (now a laundrette I believe) in New Orleans. Lee Allen on tenor sax, Earl Palmer on drums and Mr Penniman on piano and vocals -- rock'n'roll doesn't get better than that, although I appreciate that the nature of rock music changed somewhat between Tutti Frutti and Rocky Raccoon.

15

I'll bet with absolute certainty of winning, that John Lennon would far rather have that Little Richard Specialty box set too.

What Nick Lowe did you get?

16

"What Nick Lowe....?" Party Of One, with the wonderful What's Shakin On The Hill. I've had this for years on vinyl; thought I needed an update.

18

Thanks for posting! I was sitting listening to it my office and someone stopped by and we both sat in mesmerized silence.

SPOILER ALERT: Right before they play the demo version of "Cry Baby Cry," Giles Martin makes an off-hand remark about how it kind of reminds him of Pink Floyd. And I was thinking, "Wha?!" Then the demo begins, and it sounds like Pink Floyd.

19

I haven't compared versions, mixes or masters (and I think I have a few, legit and notsolegit), but I liked what I heard of the fresh issue. It's cleaner for sure, but that's what makes me hear 'new' ingredients.

20

Released 50 years ago next week -- although it was borne out of tension -- still the results were staggeringly good..None of them were over 28.

They were Vox thru early '68 but had the early silver panel Fenders for this and Let it Be.

21

Another major influence on the sound was plugging straight into the board. Of course these days there’s a pedal for that:

22

Light fades on the stopped wing. Lives were transformed and transfixed by the sheer diversity of the Beatles songs on the original White Album. As great as it was, that was then. Leave it there in the past lest microscopic scrutiny causes it all to lose its lustre and magic. Further examination, no matter how erudite in expression, kills spontaneity, regardless of the number of takes it took to achieve a facsimile of it.

23

No surprise to any of you, I'm sure, The BeaTles offered this amazing work in configurations intended, I believe, to ensure we total wackadoos had to buy multiples to "get it all." Bear in mind, I have the George Harrison Pro-Ject turntable, two Martin-Logan MO20GBL floor speakers, and a Marantz receiver to drive all this.

So, on release day I received the 4 disk set of The White Album: 2 disks, and The Esher Demos, 2 disks. The next day I received the ultimate CD set, with the book, photos, discs, everything but the vinyl and that set's photos.

Day one: White Album Disk 1 looks odd. Even my turntable can't play anything that warped--it undulated on the platter. Try Disk 2, side 3, not so bad, but still skips. Amazon sends replacements and I'm set with the CDs. Second vinyl is the same story. Third set is on its way along with a report to product provider that some boxes (mine) are defective. The Esher Demos are not as severely warped, but are not perfect.

As to the music, I'm trapped all over again. Hearing The Esher Demos on quality meant to be collected is wonderful--my bootlegs were enticing. But, these are lovely, and so very "inside the club" revealing.

We know The BeaTles have been my fixation since my childhood, and George my happiest obsession. But, anyone who doubts the significance of their mastery and their vision just hasn't paid proper attention; even Leonard Bernstein believed they were the best since Schubert and Gershwin.

I'll not compare, directly. But, I have different versions, of everything, depending on where I find myself. So, I do compare, just not side by side. When I notice an omission or an addition, I make a mental note, and still love them ALL.

So, you'll please yourself if you grab a version. The stripped down sets are not so pricey. And, Amazon refunded me a bunch on release date.

Still the same ole BeaTle Lovin Me, here, just a bit happier, Olivia Anne

24

I find the White Album to be the most perplexing to my ears because, over time, I've had favorites come and go.

Piggies, for example, was hated by me as a youngster, and now is one of my favorite songs.

Perhaps it's tracks were designed to be rotationally favorited without ever being coherent as an album?

I wonder, if the Beatles were a modern band, would this album fair better(not that it did badly in the first place) because of the way music is listened to today? Where listeners cherry pick their favorites and leave the rest of the songs in the unplayed zone. One can only wonder.

25

Best re-mix fix goes to George’s “Long Long Long”. It’s finally clear, and it’s as lovely as I always wanted it to be.


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