From Stereogum, The Beatles Announce 50th Anniversary “White Album” Reissue:
The Beatles’ helter-skelter behemoth from 1968, officially a self-titled double-LP, will get the expansive reissue treatment on 11/9, a couple weeks ahead of its original 11/22 release date. As Variety reports, George Martin’s son Giles, who handled last year’s Sgt. Pepper reissue, has remastered the full 30-song tracklist alongside studio engineer Sam Okell. The set will also include 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes; most are previously unreleased, though a few appeared on the band’s Anthology collections. The legendary “Esher Demos” are part of the package as well.
I am beyond excited for this. Followers of this blog already know that I love The Beatles, and their 1968 self-titled double album is my favorite of their works. I will absolutely be picking this up.
The so-called White Album is unique in The Beatles discography as their longest and most diverse release. Each member of the band wrote multiple tracks, though the lion’s share were still Lennon-McCartney originals. This album also features a little help from some friends, including: Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, Jackie Lomax, Maureen Starkey, Patti Harrison and Mal Evans.
After the failed psychedelic film project Magical Mystery Tour this double album was billed as a return to form. It includes some of the most straightforward rock songs of The Beatles middle period. “Back in the USSR,” “Glass Onion,” and “Helter Skelter” still hit hard fifty years after their release. Jams like “Yer Blues” and “Savoy Truffle” could be from any number of Garage and Psychedelic revival groups of the 2010s. There are also some really strange experiments in there too, though. “Wild Honey Pie” and “Revolution 9” are two of the weirdest tracks in The Beatles catalog.
That’s what I love about The White Album, it’s the best of both kinds of Beatles: the art school avant-garde and the working class rockers. It’s also a great glimpse at the individual members of the band. By this time the Fab Four were operating more independently than ever. They were getting married, acting, traveling the world and even making a bit of music on their own. These disparate influences shine through on songs like Lennon’s politically charged “Revolution 1,” McCartney’s music hall inspired “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da,” Harrison’s world weary ballad “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and Starr’s country-western flavored “Don’t Pass Me By.”
In my opinion, this is the most wide-ranging and timeless album of the Fab Four’s career. Nowhere else do you hear all four Beatles supporting each other’s unique talents so clearly. The Beatles, as the album is formally known, spawned no hit singles and is often derided for its admittedly weird moments. Still, I hope its 50th anniversary and this reissue bring it to the ears of more fans. I’m certainly going to give it a few more listens this Fall.