FEATURE: The Gift of Music: Some Brilliant Pre-Christmas Releases Worth Your Affection

FEATURE:

 

 

The Gift of Music

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PHOTO CREDIT: @freestocks/Unsplash

Some Brilliant Pre-Christmas Releases Worth Your Affection

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I will publish a feature that highlights…

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 IMAGE CREDIT: Reel Art Press

some great music-related items perfect for Christmas soon but, over the next few weeks, it seems like there are some fantastic treasures coming forth that could distract you before then! I have been looking at my bank balance and wondering whether I can afford all the goodness that is being unveiled. The first treat that appeals to me and I think should be on the minds of everyone who loves good music is Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin. In the absence of any Led Zeppelin gigs – those reunion talks never go away! – anyone with even a slight whiff of Led Zeppelin love (that should be EVERYONE) will be able to revel in a collection of photos that show the guys in their prime – a snapshot of what they were about and what the experience of being in Led Zeppelin was all about. For those who want a brief overview; here is a rundown of what you can expect:

Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin is the first and only official illustrated book to be produced in collaboration with the members of the band. Celebrating 50 years since their formation, it covers the group’s unparalleled musical career and features photographs of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham on and offstage, in candid moments and in the recording studio. This definitive 400-page volume includes previously unpublished photos, artwork from the Led Zeppelin archives and contributions from photographers around the world.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Led Zeppelin/PHOTO CREDIT: Neal Preston

If ordered before October 9th, an exclusive 19.7 x 27.8in poster will come with your pre-order from reelartpress.com or from selected independent retailers. To see the list of participating stores, click here”.

There are some fantastic shots in the book and you get a real understanding of who the band were and what life on the road was like. In an age where there are endless Instagram posts and musicians seem less interested in the visual side of things; having a passionate and authoritative collection of Led Zeppelin photos is a great treat! I know there are always Led Zeppelin products coming onto the market – including reissues and new rarities – but there are not many books out there about them. This volume is a definite must for anyone who wants to get inside the head of a great band and have their eyes opened. I am already putting my order in and, as I say, the next few weeks are going to be very pricey indeed! I feel like the music gods are sprinkling treasures before us in the run-up to Christmas in order to empty our wallets. Who am I to argue when there is such gold coming through?! If Led Zeppelin is not your bag then maybe Kate Bush is – an artist I talk about a lot and, rather unexpectedly, we have two Bush-related gifts we can get our money around!

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 IMAGE CREDIT: Faber & Faber

I keep mentioning money but, really, when you have these fantastic products in the market, they are more investments than anything else. I love streaming music and downloading tunes but they are disposal and rather throwaway in many ways. When artists bringing out hardware, whether it is a book or music, then it is a real chance to get excited and buy something, years from now, you will keep dear and hold onto. I have talked about Kate Bush’s lyrics book but, for those unaware, here is a bit of information:

Kate Bush writes some of modern music’s most gorgeous, literary, and complex lyrics, and now a portion of them will be collected in a new book, How To Be Invisible: Selected Lyrics. The cloth-bound book will be out December 6th via Faber, and will feature an introduction from Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, a longtime fan of the singer.

“For millions around the world Kate is way more than another singer-songwriter: she is a creator of musical companions that travel with you through life,” Mitchell says in a press release. “One paradox about her is that while her lyrics are avowedly idiosyncratic, those same lyrics evoke emotions and sensations that feel universal.”

Mitchell, who contributed to Bush’s 2014 Before the Dawn performances, has previously spoken about Bush’s lyrics. “Her songs read like scenes from short stories, or the stories themselves (odd ones),” he wrote in 2011. “It’s hard to think of a novelist, let alone another singer-songwriter, who takes on such diverse narrative viewpoints with Bush’s aplomb: a foetus during nuclear war (‘Breathing’), a weather-machine inventor’s daughter (‘Cloudbusting’), a suicide bomber (‘Pull Out the Pin’) or a dancer whose partner turns out to be Hitler (‘Heads We’re Dancing’)”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: Kate Bush/PHOTO CREDIT: John Carder Bush/Fish People

Aside from artists like Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan – whose lyric book I already own – there are not that many out there whose words captivate me enough to go out and buy a book. Bush is that exception and someone, right from the off, took everyone by surprise! Consider what she was talking about on her debut album, The Kick Inside, and you can understand why everyone fell for her way with language – she spoke about incest, mature love and something utterly beguiling. Her lyrics book, How to Be Invisible: Selected Lyrics will be out on 6th December and I am really excited. Bush’s and genius continued right through her career and even now we are still drooling and picking over Kate Bush’s lyrics. It is a bit hush-hush regarding the designs and which songs will appear – there are no pre-releases teasers – so we will have to guess what form the book takes. Even those who are not enamoured with Kate Bush will find much to love and be able to easily immerse themselves in her fantastic and beautiful world. I cannot wait to see what is included in the book and it will be a real treasure! Although I feel the book will be an incredible thing, The Guardian had some reservations:

Bush named her first hit after a school set text, which is a great way to get everyone to think you’re some kind of poet, the sort of person who reads for fun or something. She also wrote a lot of songs that need to be written down to be seen for their full oddness. Cloudbusting, don’t forget, is about a man struggling to recollect the time that his father was arrested for trying to build a rain-making machine. Yes. Breathing is written from the perspective of a foetus during nuclear war. Hounds of Love is about that picture of dogs playing poker. It isn’t, but you get the point. Even then, lines that work on record don’t always seem the same when written down. Her Mrs Bartolozzi is a deft sketch of the drudgery of the housewife, with dabs of Mrs Dalloway. But on the page, it’s hard to justify charging us £19.99 to read: “Slooshy sloshy slooshy sloshy / Get that dirty shirty clean / Slooshy sloshy slooshy sloshy”.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Kate Bush/Fish People

Maybe there is new Kate Bush music coming next year (I predict there will be) but, out of the blue, she announced she’s remastered her albums and is bringing them out in four different sets. Before her book comes out in December, you can get acquainted with her remastered reissues and it is a nice accompaniment. The four-box release, as CLASH show, brings together all her albums:

Featuring rarities and cover versions, the vinyl and CD sets will be released in two separate batches - the first two on November 16th and the second two on November 30th.

Contents of the boxes are as follows:

KATE BUSH REMASTERED IN VINYL 1
THE KICK INSIDE
LIONHEART
NEVER FOR EVER
THE DREAMING

KATE BUSH REMASTERED IN VINYL 2
HOUNDS OF LOVE
THE SENSUAL WORLD
THE RED SHOES

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PHOTO CREDIT: Kate Bush/Fish People

KATE BUSH REMASTERED IN VINYL 3
AERIAL
 DIRECTOR’S CUT

50 WORDS FOR SNOW

KATE BUSH REMASTERED IN VINYL 4
12” MIXES

THE OTHER SIDE 1
THE OTHER SIDE 2
IN OTHERS’ WORDS
”.

You can pre-order here but I am most looking forward to that fourth boxset! There are some great rarities and Christmas tracks, some B-sides and cover versions that, whilst maybe appealing to the diehard, it is a wonderful study of a complete artist who could tackle any song and make it her own.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Cassell Illustrated

I, like many, have struggled to obtain Kate Bush vinyl and, if you look around, there are few record stores that stock her stuff. You often have to pay a lot of money on Amazon and it is a rather frustrating process! Not only will the albums be remastered and have an even sharper sound; it is great to have the records all in one place so you can enjoy time and time again. I shall move on from Bush and pushing her work but it is exciting there are ‘new’ releases and she is still keeping active. I will mention two more pre-Christmas releases but, right now, another music-related photo collection has just been announced. Whereas Led Zeppelin have been involved in the collation and creation of their book; Amy Winehouse’s tragically short but brilliant life is being brought to our shelves. Here are some details (from DAZED)  that talk about the book and what it is about:

In an interview with Dazed last year, photographer Charles Moriarty shared memories of his friend, Amy Winehouse, as he spoke about his first photobook, Before Frank – which featured an introduction by Dazed’s Ashleigh Kane. Moriarty befriended Winehouse in 2003 when she was a 19-year-old local singer on the cusp of fame after being asked to take some photographs of her in London and New York for her debut studio album, Frank. Now, the photographer is releasing Back to Amy, which features a collection of unseen photographs of the late singer from those sessions.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Moriarty 

“Back to Amy: An intimate portrait of the real Amy Winehouse brings the world a step closer to Winehouse’s unique energy and vitality. Alongside the new images, Moriarty has included a series of new sections, which include words from Winehouse’s mother Janis, as well as band members, and many others who were close to her.

Talking to Dazed about his first book, Moriarty brought up his memories with young Winehouse and said, “I remember asking Amy, ‘What do you want from this?’ and I do remember she wanted it to be as real as could be.”

Despite Winehouse’s confident and carefree demeanour, Moriarity says he had seen the singer’s vulnerability. Her sensitive nature, he believed is what was exploited by many and what led her to such a tragic end. He said, “Amy had things in her life that weren’t all correct and there were issues there, but to then use that as a weapon against her was just upsetting to see. Sadly, I don’t think the media will ever learn from that.” He adds that it’s through these books that he hopes to show the world the real Amy Winehouse.

Back to Amy: An intimate portrait of the real Amy Winehouse featuring rare and unseen photographs by Charles Moriarty – published by Cassell Illustrated – is available now. You can find more information here”.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Moriarty  

I love Amy Winehouse and the book is out now. I am holding off buying it for a few more weeks – need to give the credit card a brief rest! – but it is amazing to see Winehouse from different angles and in different settings. It makes her passing all that more sad and makes us realise what an immense talent she was. Many get that view of her with a big beehive and make-up; the excessive and derailed artist who was hounded by the press. Underneath everything she was this rather cheeky, shy and normal woman who wanted to make music and did not care about all the fame and attention. The book is an illuminating, charming and memorable collection of photos that paint a story of Winehouse and who she was away from the glare of the media. Ensure you get a copy when you can because it is another essential musical purchase. Staying on the theme of books and there is another essential buy you need to be aware of. Rather than a lyric or photo book; Matt Everitt has collated his interview experienced into The First Time: Stories & Songs from Music Icons. The hardback edition is out on 5th November and I would urge people to pre-order their copy about the book:

Taken from the cult BBC 6 Music show, The First Time invites you inside the lives of some of the music world’s most notable legends.

From Alice Cooper to Yoko Ono, Courtney Love to Elton John, follow their lives and careers starting with their first musical memories, first records and first gigs, finding out the songs that have shaped them along the way. With 40 compelling interviews, specially commissioned collage illustrations and a bespoke playlist for each musician, The First Time is a must-have for any music lover”.

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PHOTO CREDIT: @matteveritt 

Music is becoming less visual and physical so here, in a rather spiffing book, we have something worth holding onto and pouring over! I love reading interviews online and hearing them on the radio but bringing them into a book gives us time to pause and reflect. I know Everitt has a lot of experience interviewing and you can feel the passion come through. I have heard a lot of the original interviews on his BBC Radio 6 Music show, The First Time with…, and I know there will be extra little details and additions. In any case, it is hard to find all the older shows and, here, we have this compendium that unites the most memorable and revealing interviews. Get a hold of it and you will not be disappointed.

I forgot to mention the Beastie Boysbook, as Consequence of Sound explains, it is a definite must-have:

Back in 2015, Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock and Mike D signed a deal with Random House to pen their memoir. Now, three years later, the book is finally ready for release on October 30th.

Based on the sheer size of the aptly titled Beastie Boys Book, it’s easy to see why it took the duo so long to complete. The behemoth book spans 592 pages and includes rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook from chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys’ New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors including Spike JonzeWes Anderson, and Amy Poehler, and other surprises”.

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IN THIS PHOTO: The Beastie Boys/PHOTO CREDIT: Bruno Torturra Nogueira

description on the Beastie Boys’ website called Beastie Boys Book as “a panoramic experience” and “a book as unique as the band itself.” It will cover the entirety of the group’s career, “revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the almost impossible-to-fathom overnight success of their debut studio album Licensed to Ill; that album’s messy fallout; their break with Def Jam, move to Los Angeles, and rebirth as musicians and social activists, with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul’s Boutique.” No doubt the book will also touch on the Beastie Boys’ later years, including the tragic death of MCA in 2012.

Pre-orders for Beastie Boys Book are ongoing here”.

I definitely recommend you get behind the book and grab a copy. Again; even if you are not a Beasties fan – how dare you! – then it is a definite great read that shed light on the Hip-Hop scene in New York in the 1980s and 1990s and will give you a humorous and colourful take on the Beastie Boys and what made them tick. The last pre-Christmas music purchase I will mention – I may do a second part if more goodies come to life – is The Beatleseponymous album getting a workover.  I am a massive fan of that 1968 album and consider it to be one of the best from The Beatles! It is a magical, fractured and key work from them – at a time when the members were on different pages and cracks were showing. The thirty-song album mesmerised critics upon its release and has delighted fans ever since. Here, in a fantastic article; Rolling Stone have been looking at the release and what fans can expect:

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 IN THIS PHOTO: The Beatles in London on 28th July, 1968/PHOTO CREDIT: © Apple Corps Ltd.

Everything we know about the White Album is about to change. The Beatles’ 1968 masterpiece has always been been the deepest mystery in their story—their wildest, strangest, most experimental, most brilliant music. But as it turns out, the White Album is even weirder than anyone realized. Especially when you’re hearing it in Abbey Road, the fabled London studio where the band spent five long months making it. Over a couple of sunny days (and late nights) in Abbey Road, Rolling Stone got a one-on-one exclusive tour of the previously unheard gems from the new Super Deluxe Edition of The Beatles (due November 9), forever known as the White Album. Producer Giles Martin, son of George Martin, is a valiant guide, playing outtakes from deep in the vaults, often grabbing a guitar to demonstrate a chord change. “They were a band on fire,” he says. “It’s double or triple Sgt. Pepper—the four walls of this studio couldn’t hold them anymore.”

Part of the White Album mystique is all the drama that went into it—the arguments and bad vibes are the stuff of legend. So the big shock is all the humor, excitement, and camaraderie on display in the new set. Case in point: a previously unknown version of “Good Night” where John, Paul, George and Ringo all harmonize over folk guitar. As Martin admits, “You listen to them sing together and ask, ‘This is the White Album?” 

 

Yes, this is the White Album—and the stunning box set goes deep into the creative frenzy the Beatles surged through in 1968. There’s a new mix from producer Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell, plus four discs of outtakes. The bonus material is full of revelations, especially the crown jewel of buried Beatle treasures: the acoustic Esher demos.

It follows in the wake of last year’s acclaimed anniversary edition of Sgt Pepper. But this is a deeper dive, since the album covers so much ground. With their batteries recharged from their India retreat, all four were hitting new peaks as songwriters—even Ringo, who contributed “Don’t Pass Me By.” They couldn’t wait to get back into the studio. They had no idea how much trauma they were in for. George’s “Not Guilty” went through 102 takes—and still didn’t make the album. Their long-suffering producer bailed after a few months. Ringo not only quit the group for a couple of weeks, he fled the country”.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

“The outtakes defies the conventional wisdom that this is where the band split into four solo artists. “Do you think the perception of the Beatles history has been tainted by their own commentary in the early Seventies?” Martin asks. “That’s what I get. I think post-Beatles, when the champagne cork has flown out of the bottle, and they’ve gone their separate ways, they reacted against it. ‘Oh, to be honest we didn’t work well as a group,’ and that sort of thing. Yet they never slowed down creatively. I quite like the idea of them throwing cups of tea at each other in the studio. I’m mildly disappointed not to find it. But what they’re doing is making a record”. 

The Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions finally unveil the Esher demos, which hardcore Beatle freaks have been clamoring to hear for years. In May 1968, just back from India, the group gathered at George’s bungalow in Esher (pronounced “Ee-sher”) to tape unplugged versions of the new songs they’d already stockpiled for the new album. Over the next days, working together or solo, they busked 27 songs. The tapes sat in a suitcase in George’s house for years. Seven tracks came out on Anthology 3; others have never been released in any Beatle version, including John’s “Child of Nature” and George’s “Sour Milk Sea.” The Esher tapes alone make this collection essential, with a fresh homemade intimacy that’s unique. Martin says, “They’re rough takes, but spiritually, the performances stand on their own.”

not to find it. But what they’re doing is making a record.”

The Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions finally unveil the Esher demos, which hardcore Beatle freaks have been clamoring to hear for years. In May 1968, just back from India, the group gathered at George’s bungalow in Esher (pronounced “Ee-sher”) to tape unplugged versions of the new songs they’d already stockpiled for the new album. Over the next days, working together or solo, they busked 27 songs. The tapes sat in a suitcase in George’s house for years. Seven tracks came out on Anthology 3; others have never been released in any Beatle version, including John’s “Child of Nature” and George’s “Sour Milk Sea.” The Esher tapes alone make this collection essential, with a fresh homemade intimacy that’s unique. Martin says, “They’re rough takes, but spiritually, the performances stand on their own”. 

This edition has new versions of other songs from the same period: “Hey Jude,” “Lady Madonna,” “The Inner Light,” “Across the Universe.” (But not the B-side “Hey Bulldog,” since there aren’t any outtakes—they tried it only once.) They also have a bash at oldies like “Blue Moon” and “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care).” It shows what should have been evident all along from the original record—they sound like a true band, four guys who can’t stop showing off for each other, too passionate about their songs to consider backing down. (Or to notice everyone around them cracking under the strain, even the stoic Mr. Martin. His son explains, “There was no schedule, and he loved a schedule.”)

Of course, the essence of the White Album is that everyone hears it differently—including the Beatles themselves. They clashed over what to include, what to leave out, whether it should have been edited down to a single record. (Years later, in the Anthology documentary, they were still arguing over it.) This edition will fire up those arguments. But even for fans who know the original album inside out, it’s a whole new experience—one that will permanently change how we think and talk about the Beatles”.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

1. “Revolution 1”
The legendary Take 18, a nearly 11-minute jam from the first day of the White Album sessions. The other Beatles were surprised to see someone new at John’s side: Yoko Ono, who became a constant presence in the studio. It begins as the version you know from the record: John’s flubbed guitar intro, engineer Geoff Emerick’s “take two,” John’s “okaaay.” But where the original fades out, this one is just getting started. The groove builds as John keeps chanting “all right, all right,” from a low moan to a high scream. Yoko joins the band to add distorted synth feedback, while Paul clangs on piano. She recites prose poetry, fragments of which that ended up in “Revolution 9”: “It’s like being naked…if you become naked.”

The story of this jam has been told many times, usually presented as a grim scene where Yoko barges in, sowing the seeds of discord—the beginning of the end. So it’s a surprise to hear how much fun they’re all having. It ends in a fit of laughter—she nervously asks, “That’s too much?” John tells her it sounds great and Paul agrees: “Yeah, it’s wild!”

2. “Sexy Sadie”
As the band warms up, George playfully sings a hook from Sgt. Pepper: “It’s getting better all the tiiiime!” John snorts. “Is it, right?” Take 3 is an acerbic version of “Sexy Sadie,” with Paul doodling on the organ. Yet despite the nasty wit, the band sounds totally in sync. When George asks, “How fast, John?,” he responds, “However you feel it.”

3. “Long, Long, Long”
George’s hushed hymn has always been underrated—partly because it’s mastered way too quiet. In the fantastic Take 44, “Long, Long, Long” comes alive as a duet between George and Ringo, with the drums crashing in dialogue with the whispery vocals. Giles Martin explains, “I suppose, as is documented here, George was Ringo’s best friend, as he says. That song is kind of the two of them.” George starts freestyling at the end: “Gathering, gesturing, glimmering, glittering, happening, hovering, humoring, hammering, laquering, lecturing, laboring, lumbering, mirroring…” It closes with the spooky death-rattle chord, originally the sound of a wine bottle vibrating on Paul’s amp. “It still gives you the fear when it comes.”

4. “Good Night”
Of all the alternate takes, “Good Night” is the one that will leave most listeners baffled why this wasn’t the version that made the album. Instead of lush strings, it has John’s finger-picking guitar and the whole group harmonizing on the “good night, sleep tight” chorus. It’s rare to hear all four singing together at this stage, and it’s breathtaking in its warmth. “I do prefer this version to the record,” Martin admits. (He won’t be the last to say this.)

John plays the same guitar pattern as “Dear Prudence” and “Julia.” That’s one of the distinctive sonic features of the White Album—the Beatles had their acoustic chops in peak condition, since there had been nothing else to do for kicks in Rishikesh. In India, their fellow pilgrim Donovan taught them the finger-picking style of London folkies like Davey Graham. “Donovan taught him this guitar part. John was like ‘great!,’ and then in classic Beatle style, went and wrote three songs using the same guitar part.”

The other “Good Night” takes are closer to the original’s cornball lullaby spirit. In one, Ringo croons over George Martin’s spare piano; in another, he does a spoken-word introduction. “Come on now, put all those toys away—it’s time to jump into bed. Go off into dreamland. Yes, Daddy will sing a song for you.” By the end, he quips, “Ringo’s gone a bit crazy.”

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IMAGE CREDIT: Animal Care College 

5. “Helter Skelter”
This Paul song inspired endless studio jams, lurching into proto-headbang noise—they started it the day after the Yellow Submarine premiere, so maybe they just craved the opposite extreme. This take is 13 minutes of primal thud—remarkably close to Black Sabbath, around the time Sabbath were still in Birmingham inventing their sound”.

6. “Blackbird”
Paul plays around with the song—“Dark black, dark black, dark black night”—trying to nail the vibe. It isn’t there yet. He tells George Martin, “See, if we’re ever to reach it, I’ll be able to tell you when I’ve just done it. It just needs forgetting about it. It’s a decision which voice to use.” He thinks his way through the song, his then-girlfriend Francie audible in the background. “It’s all in his timing,” Martin says. “There’s two separate things, a great guitarist and a great singer—he’s managed to disconnect and put them back together. He’s trying to work out where they meet.”

7. “Dear Prudence”
Of all the Esher demos, “Dear Prudence” might be the one that best shows off their rowdy humor. John ends his childlike reverie by cracking up his bandmates, narrating the tale of Prudence Farrow that inspired the song. “A meditation course in Rishikesh, India,” he declares. “She was to go completely berserk under the care of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Everybody around was very worried about the girl, because she was going insaaaane. So we sang to her.”

8. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
There’s an early acoustic demo, but Take 27, recorded over a month later, rocks harder than the album version—John on organ, Paul on piano, lead guitar from special guest Eric Clapton. (George invited his friend to come play, partly because he knew the others would behave themselves around Clapton.) The groove only falls part when George tries to hit a Smokey Robinson-style high note and totally flubs it. “It’s okay,” George says. “I tried to do a Smokey, and I just aren’t Smokey”.

9. “Hey Jude”
Recorded in the midst of the sessions, but planned for a one-off single, Paul’s ballad is still in raw shape, but even in this first take, it’s already designed as a 7-minute epic, with Paul singing the na-na-na outro himself. Another gem on this box: an early attempt at “Let It Be,” with Paul’s original lyric showing his explicit link to American R&B: “When I find myself in times of trouble / Brother Malcolm comes to me.”

10. “Child of Nature”
Another treasure from Esher. “Child of Nature” is a gentle ballad John wrote about the retreat to India: “On the road to Rishikesh / I was dreaming more or less.” He scrapped it for the album, but dug it back out a few years later, wrote new words, and turned it into one of his most famous solo tunes: “Jealous Guy.”

11. “JULIA”
One of John’s most intimate confessions—the only Beatle track where he’s performing all by himself. You can hear his nerves as he sits with his guitar and asks George Martin, in a jokey Scouse accent, “Is it better standing up, do you think? It’s very hard to sing this, you know.” The producer reassures him. “It’s a very hard song, John.” “‘Julia’ was one of my dad’s favorites,” Giles says. “When I began playing guitar in my teens, he told me to learn that one.”

12. “Can You Take Me Back?”
The snippet on Side Four that serves as an eerie transition into the abstract sound-collage chaos of “Revolution 9.” Paul toys with it for a couple of minutes, trying to flesh it out into a bit of country blues—“I ain’t happy here, my honey, are you happy here?

13. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
Paul spent a week driving the band through this ditty, until John finally stormed out of the studio. He returned a few hours later, stoned out of his mind, then banged on the piano in a rage, coming up with the jingle-jangle intro that gets the riff going. This early version is pleasant but overly smooth—it shows why the song really did need that nasty edge. A perfect example of the Beatle collaborative spirit: John might loathe the song, Paul might resent John’s sabotage, but both care too deeply about the music not to get it right.

14. “Sour Milk Sea”
A great George highlight from the Esher tapes—“Sour Milk Sea” didn’t make the cut for the album, but he gave it to Liverpool pal Jackie Lomax who scored a one-shot hit with it. (It definitely deserved to rank ahead of “Piggies,” which remains the weakest track on any version of this album.) “Not Guilty” and “Circles” are other George demos that fell into limbo—“Not Guilty” sounds ready to go at Esher, yet in the studio, it was doomed to over a hundred fruitless takes.

15. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”
A tricky experiment they learned together in the studio, with John toying with the structure and his mock doo-wop falsetto. “Is anybody finding it easier?” he asks. “It seems a little easier—it’s just no fun, but it’s easier.” George pipes in. “Easier and fun.” John replies, “Oh, all right, if you insist.” It’s a moment that sums up all the surprising discoveries on this White Album edition: a moment where the Beatles find themselves at the edge of the unknown, with no one to count on except each other. But that’s when they inspire each other to charge ahead and greet the brand new day”.

This should be enough to exhaust and satisfy the music appetite before Christmas and, as I say, shall keep an eye out and report any new releases that are worth snapping up! This might sound like an expensive rundown but I think everything I have listed is worth getting involved with – not just my tastes and personal recommendations influencing! Have a look through these marvellous musical treasures and I know there is enough in there…

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IN THIS PHOTO: The Beatles recording their eponymous album in 1968/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

TO make you part with some pennies.