Beatles archival producer Giles Martin says that on the “White Album” session tapes, the last thing he heard was a band splitting up. Set for release on Friday (November 9th) is the group’s 50th anniversary seven-disc “Super Deluxe Edition” of the “White Album.” Giles, the son of the band’s legendary late producer George Martin, curated the new set and told PostBulletin, that he certainly didn’t purposely scrap any sign of a band in decline, revealing, “If there was anything on the tapes that supported that idea, I would have included it — I would feel obligated. But it just wasn’t there. There are these snippets of conversation between them that are kind of relaxed even after 70 takes. That’s not the sound of a band falling apart. And when they locked themselves in that small room to record ‘Yer Blues,’ that’s not something musicians who are at each other’s throats do.”
Giles, whose first Beatles-related project was the 1995 Anthology CD’s went on to explain, “(The ‘White Album’) was more of a band album. They were trying to get back to playing as a band again. They were less interested in producers and engineers. It wasn’t always a pleasant experience for my father. The students had taken over the classroom, and he was no longer the architect of their sound.”
Giles spoke frankly about whom he aims to serve with each new Beatles-related project he undertakes: “There’s one side of a fence — which is actually more the Beatles’ side — that says, ‘Why should we be playing outtakes? They’re outtakes.’ And there’s the other side (of fans and Beatles collectors) that says, ‘We want everything, and we want it now. I think my job, in a way, is to curate that, to balance that so that it’s all valid. Because once you put something out, it’s out forever. The biggest question I always ask myself, and everyone else, is ‘Why are we doing this?’ We had good reason to go back and revisit Pepper in the stereo world.”
Unlike last year’s Sgt. Pepper reissue, which contained a brand new stereo remix of the original album — this time out, Giles feels it’s actually the outtakes and alternate tracks that drive the collection: “It wasn’t until we started compiling stuff and going through the outtakes and the Esher (home) Demos and everything else that I started to realize that this is probably more about all of the other bits and pieces as it is about the remix. I’m not putting the remix down in any way. I’m really proud of that. I think it sounds really good, and people seem to like it. It’s really the depth of creation about the ‘White Album’ that is the focal point this time. Every project is different, and that’s what’s fun. The thing about the ‘White Album’ is it shows the band taking more control. It was made in different way (than Sgt. Pepper) and that’s reflected in the work that I’ve done on it, I suppose.”
Ringo Starr looked back on the ‘White Album’ as being the project that brought the Beatles back to life to a certain respect, recalling, “I love ‘Yer Blues.’ We’d got through Sgt. Pepper. Yes, it was great, but y’know, for me, I love being in a band, and on the ‘White Album,’ we became a band again. We got in a room (in Abbey Road Studios) that was like eight feet square with everything we needed, and John (Lennon) sang his heart out and we all played looking at each other.”
Paul McCartney admitted that the full band material on the “White Album” underlines the core strength of “John, Paul, George, and Ringo”: “The Beatles were the best. And, y’know, the thing about the Beatles is (they’re) a very good little rock band. It really was a little rock band. Four guys, who when we played something — we locked in. And because we worked so much in Liverpool, then in Hamburg, and then in England, and America — we could read each other. So, yeah, I think we were the best (laughs).”
Photo Courtesy of Apple Corps.