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Beggars & KINGS

After Sgt. Pepper’s… triumphed over Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967’s psychedelia battle, the aftermath saw The Beatles and The Rolling Stones react very differently for the follow-ups. While The Beatles did whatever they damn well pleased, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards realised they had to get much tighter. With new 50th Anniversary editions of The Beatles (The White Album) and Beggars Banquet, John Earls traces their fraught history…

There’s a memorable moment in the Anthology TV series where the surviving Beatles and George Martin are asked if The White Album would have been better as a single record. Ringo Starr suggests it should have come out as two separate albums – “The White Album and The Whiter Album”; George Harrison admits some songs should have been “elbowed off” or saved for B-sides; Martin in particular sternly insists it should have been “condensed into a very, very good single album”.

Paul McCartney is having none of it. Eulogising its eclecticism, he tetchily recites the counterarguments. Then, in a very rare moment of Macca publicly losing his shit, he declares: “It’s great! It sold! It’s The Beatles’ bloody White Album! Shut up!” Even Martin, who plainly thinks his charges had run amok by 1968, demurs: “A lot of people I know think it’s The Beatles’ best album,” before adding in that familiarly unflappable Edwardian schoolmasterly tone: “It’s not my view, but horses for courses.”

What’s clear from the Super Deluxe boxset of the new 50th Anniversary Edition is that The White Album could have been even longer – there are an additional 12 original songs that didn’t make it on to the finished album, of which only The Inner Light was relegated to a B-side. As Harrison summarised in Anthology: “That’s the problem when you’ve got so many songs.


Abbey Road’s researchers combed the vaults in August 2017 for the outtakes and sessions included with the new White Album update. Work began on the new mix of the main album in February, with Giles Martin and Sam Okell again working with Abbey Road mastering engineer Miles Showell.

The White Album was never a goodsounding record,” says Showell. “You can speculate forever whether that’s because of too many hands on the mixing desk, or if it’s because eight-track machines were just coming in and it was the recording challenges of the day. But Giles and Sam have done a spectacular job with this new mix – it doesn’t sound like a 50-yearold record. My job was to just not fuck it up; to keep it sounding exciting, fresh and punchy.”

As with Sgt. Pepper’s…, the trio used multitrack tapes rather than the original masters, with the exception of Revolution 9. “We thought, ‘There’s not much you can do with that one’, as it’s a piece of abstract art. You’d be crazy to try to replicate that.” Using digital workstations, the team went through the four-track and eight-track recordings of The White Album to separate out the various instruments’ tracks. Showell explains: “On a four-track, you’d glue the bass and drums together, to free up three more tracks for other stuff. What we can do now is unstick everything, layer by layer like an onion, so you can then develop a far more natural sound.”

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About Long Live Vinyl

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Issue 21 of Long Live Vinyl celebrates the moment 50 years ago when the two biggest bands on earth went head to head on record-shop shelves. Our cover story tells the inside story of the making of The White Album and Beggars Banquet, while taking a look inside the new Deluxe Editions of both albums – you’ve never heard The White Album like this before! And our special collector’s edition covers enable you to choose either a Beatles or Stones edition – or buy both! Elsewhere this issue, we meet two of the most outspoken characters in the current musical landscape – Richard Ashcroft and Baxter Dury – to hear about their extraordinary new albums, and Heavenly Records founder Jeff Barrett talks us through his remarkable life in music, selecting the records that have soundtracked his career. Tim Burgess sits down for a chat about his O Genesis record label, The Trip visits Liverpool, our Classic Album is A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 hip-hop masterpiece Midnight Marauders and we round up 40 Essential Laurel Canyon records that should be residing in your collection. If all that’s not enough, we bring you the most extensive range of new album, reissue and hardware reviews anywhere on the newsstand.