Music played on a vinyl record has a quality different from any CD or MP3. Vinyl albums have a classic sound, which can't be replicated, and give listeners a more authentic listening experience. In each month's Groove & Needle article, we'll take a closer look at one must-have album for your vinyl collection.
The Beatles Alternate White Album is a set of three LPs, which include previously unreleased demos as well as alternate and acoustic takes. This special 50th Anniversary Edition of the White Album was compiled by George Martin's son, Giles.
In addition to the final mixes of the songs included on the White Album, the Alternate White Album features the Esher demos, which were recorded during a casual songwriting and jam session at George Harrison's house in spring of 1968. Many of the song ideas shared during this session were written earlier that year while the band studied Transcendental Meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's retreat in Rishikesh, India.
Although the group found inner calmness during the retreat, that peace was destroyed as soon as they returned to the states; there was much work to be done regarding the launch of multimedia company, Apple Corps, as well as many changes in the band members' personal lives. “We had hoped this time to do a lot of rehearsing before we reached the studios … but, as it happens, all we got was one day," shared Paul McCartney in a public statement. By the end of the songwriting session, the Beatles completed an acoustic run-through of the demos for their upcoming White Album.
In addition to professional and personal pressures, the Beatles also faced the immense burden of producing an album which was better than the last: the iconic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. “What I was going for was to forget Sgt. Pepper. That was Sgt. Pepper and that’s all right, but it’s over!" John Lennon knew that he wanted to take the next album in a different direction. "So let’s get back to basic music and let’s not try and string everything together, and pretend it’s a show.” Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band demonstrated extensive production elements, with overdubs and alterations of parts throughout the album, but Lennon hoped that the White Album would have a more organic recording process-- that the band would play together during the takes.
The name 'Esher demos' comes from the location of the session (Harrison's house), which was the London suburb of Esher. Lennon's house was not chosen due to tension from his impending divorce, and McCartney's townhouse in central London was too close to city distractions.