50 years ago, The Beatles released what is considered by many, one of the greatest albums of all time. The double album featuring 30 tracks, although technically self-titled, quickly became known as simply, The White Album. Now, five decades later, Spotify has facilitated the release of The Beatles White Album Experience, a 107 track audio-visual playlist that has attempted to not only rework the original 30 songs, but also provide an insight into the making of the iconic record via previously unheard demos and rehearsals.
Scattered throughout the playlist are short videos, some which feature Ken Howlett and Giles Martin (George Martin’s son) discussing the album and particular tracks such as “Cry Baby Cry” and “Helter Skelter”, while more artistic clips serve as music videos for tracks “Back In The U.S.S.R” and “Glass Onion”.
Ultimately, the 2018 mixes of the 30 tracks don’t really provide any different of an “experience” to the originals, after all how do you make great songs even greater? In saying that, the sound is pretty excellent and certainly provides a pleasant listening experience. While the new mixes don’t necessarily offer anything remarkable, the remaining 77 tracks are a different story.
The Esher demos, explained in one of the videos with Kevin Howlett, allow a remarkable insight into the making of The White Album and the Beatle process. As Howlett explains, while seven of these demos were released in the mid 1990s, for the first time ever, all 27 acoustic demos are being made available to the public. Often discussed and anticipated, the Esher demos are what turn this playlist into an experience. The little bits of chatter between the band, the count-ins, the giggles, the acoustic beginnings of some of the greatest songs of all time; these demos truly feel very special.
In addition to demos, the playlist offers and abundance of rehearsals of most of the 30 tracks. From take 1 to take 102 and everywhere in between, these rehearsals once again deliver on the promise of an experience, allowing a rare insight into the development of these legendary songs.
Rather than album artwork, mobile streaming of the playlist is accompanied by short videos that play on a loop, featuring each Beatle, alone or together. This addition is another little extra to add to the experience and is sure to be appreciated by the majority of fans.
Certainly one for the fans, The Beatles White Album Experience is a fascinating and heart-warming peek into the making of one of the greatest albums of all time. While the 2018 mixes are nothing to write home about, the Esher demos and the collection of rehearsals and studio outtakes make the “experience” an incredibly pleasant one.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Beatles White Album Experience is out now.