Monday, November 12, 2018
The White Album, 2018 Stereo Remix: Track By Track
Friday saw the release of "The Beatles," better known as "The White Album," in a stunning new 50th anniversary deluxe edition, with demos, session outtakes and a new stereo remix by Giles Martin, son of Sir George. Here is my track by track analysis of the new remix.
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Right from take-off, this song has new life. The hand claps are more pronounced, the drums are louder, the whole band sounds alive. Even Paul's vamping at the end seems new, as I only just noticed it.
Always a fave on the record, this new remix sounds as crisp as ever, with sounds I am hearing for the first time, especially on the fade-out, where you can now actually hear Mia Farrow adopting her fourth kid.
Those STRINGS! Lennon's VOICE! This is now a powerhouse. Also noticed Lennon's primal vocals for the first time.
Wild Honey Pie
What used to be a throwaway is now a throwaway in a new stunning 2018 stereo remix.
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
I was always on the fence about this song. I quite like the Esher Demo. Even Take 2 is exciting, with John asking Yoko is she could see the lyrics. But, the new remix didn't add much, except now I hear a countermelody on the singalong coda that I swear sounds exactly like "Quando Quando Quando."
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Original lyric now inserted in original spot: "I look at you Paul, see the smug look you're sporting, still my guitar needs to be turned up." Brilliant.
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
This new 2018 remix makes the original from 1968 sound 50 years old. Amazing.
Okay, I can't do all four sides. Sorry.
Truth is, I am truly blown away by this whole set. I have mentioned a number of times how "The White Album" is not anywhere near my favorite from the Fabs, and yet I can't stop playing this new remix.
I think our friend Richeye nailed it with this:
"Giles remix of the album itself is stellar. There is a power in the band that wasn't there, yet the songs don't really sound any different."
One of the best examples of that statement is the instrumental take of "Birthday." While not on the record proper, this version sounds like a well-oiled, hard rocking band. Even The Beatles "heavy metal" song, "Helter Skelter," never quite hit that high, regardless of Paul's howling. Whether due to George Harrison's untreated, one-note solo, or just the careful production, it always sounded like a failed experiment. But what you hear on the "Birthday" session could stand up next to a track from the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This band has balls! I can only imagine and hope, that while in the studio rehearsing, The Beatles were as loud and sweaty as most rock bands. I think that revelation now helps me hear a different band when I listen to the final product.
Another striking moment is the guitar version of "Good Night" with all four harmonizing, which got its own piece in the New York Times. Surely, this track was never a go-to, with its cheesy strings and Ringo's not quite vocalizing. Here, in this early take, Lennon employs his "Dear Prudence" guitar-picking, while the boys sing along. It's a beautiful piece of music, but what stands out is how much they don't sound like The Beatles. "Beatles Harmonies," by and large, is a term. Bands have been employing "Beatles Harmonies" since the Fabs broke up. Yet, on this track, it's hard to point out any singular voice other than Ringo's. These are not "Beatles Harmonies." My little mind was blown.
The "Pepper" remix seemed to correct a 50 year old stereo mix, and did so with great success. If you compare the 1967 edition with last year's edition, you'll hear a difference. It feels fixed. What's happening on the 2018 "White Album" is subtle, yet to my ears, more effective. It has somehow, miraculously, turned a record, that for years has been thought of as a collection of songs made by a band coming apart, into a brilliant, coherent, rock and roll record.
Play it loud!
Posted by Sal Nunziato at 5:49 AM