The track listing for the White Album 50th anniversary reissue was finally released this week, though the item itself won’t be available until November 9 (the same day as the Electric Ladyland reissue). As long rumored, it will indeed include the first official release of the Esher Demos, as well as the requisite remaster of the album itself.

In his preview of the set in Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield rather disingenuously says that the Esher Demos are “the crown jewel of buried Beatle treasures” that “hardcore Beatle freaks have been clamoring to hear for years.” Um, no … they have been in wide circulation as bootlegs for a long time, and any Beatle freak with internet access has heard them many times by now.

I have no desire to talk trash about Rob Sheffield, whom I quite like, but I suspect that he may have been required to say these things as a quid pro quo in return for early access to the real treasure of the reissue: 3 CDs’ worth of outtakes and alternate versions, some of which were previously available as bootlegs, but many of them entirely new. Included are an 11-minute version of “Revolution 1” and a 13-minute “Helter Skelter.”

And though I look forward to hearing them, what I’m most excited about is the studio banter, the back-and-forth among the boys and George Martin. Sheffield offers these examples:

 “Sexy Sadie”:

George H: “It’s getting better all the tiiiime!”

John: “Is it, right?”

George H: “How fast, John?,”

John: “However you feel it.”


John: “Is it better standing up, do you think? It’s very hard to sing this, you know.”

George M: “It’s a very hard song, John.”

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun”:

John: “Is anybody finding it easier? It seems a little easier – it’s just no fun, but it’s easier.”

George H: “Easier and fun.”

John: “Oh, all right, if you insist.”

Not exactly revelatory, I know, but it’s always better with the accents. I for one could listen to Beatles banter all day. Maybe eventually they’ll release all the tapes from all the sessions; I hope it’s before the 100th anniversary. 2068 is a long way off.

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