The Beatles White Album has reached the half-century mark. At the time of its release, the band had begun its downward spiral toward dissolution. Yoko Ono, outside projects, and tensions among members led to a sprawling, non-cohesive, and disparate album of brilliant music. The individual tracks were better than the whole as songs such as “Back In The USSR,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Rocky Racoon,” and “Birthday” have become essential parts of rock history.
To mark the albums 50th anniversary, the music has been released in a number of formats including a four vinyl LP set and a huge 6-CD plus Blu-ray including a hard-cover book that provides everything you ever wanted to know about the album and more. However, unless you want absolutely everything by the Beatles, then this 3-CD edition, currently being reviewed, is more manageable and price conscious.
The first two CD’s cover the material from the original release. Giles Martin, son of original producer George Martin, has re-engineered the original tracks with modern day technology. The result is a vibrancy not heard on the 50 year old material.
The individual instruments have an increased clarity and there are more layers and textures to the music. Sometimes its the small things such as the discovery of harmonies toward the end of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Di” and the piano on “Rocky Racoon” becoming more prominent.
The third disc is some of the more interesting Beatles material to see the light of day. Titled “The Esher Demos;” it is a series of acoustic tracks recorded at George Harrison’s home. While rarely do all four band members appear on a track, the music has a laid back and finished feel. It gives the songs from the album a different feel.
The Beatles White Album: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is an interesting and technological upgrade of a classic album that has aged well. The tracks may still not have a cohesiveness but individually the songs don’t get much better.