HOW THE BEATLES’ ‘ESHER DEMOS’ ENHANCE THE WHITE ALBUM

In an interview a few years ago at Radio.com about the reissue of his Hater side-project, Matt Cameron of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam commented on the deluge of outtakes included in box sets. “It can almost be like an invasion of privacy,” he said. He felt that not every note recorded in the studio is meant to be heard by the general public.

The conversation veered towards the latest installment of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series: it was Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965–1966, an 18-CD collection that contained every surviving take he recorded during those two years, including an entire disc devoted to the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone.” He laughed and said, “Are you really going to listen to that?”

Which brings us to the Beatles. Although they’ve been heavily bootlegged over the decades, they haven’t mined their vaults as much as Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and many of their other peers. There were the Anthology collections, two compilations of BBC recordings and last year’s six-disc 50th anniversary expanded edition of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club BandPepper seemed to be an odd choice for an expanded version. The original album seems so perfect, the idea that it would need any enhancements at all seemed odd. Even the inclusion of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” which were recorded during the same era, felt a bit out of place. The extras were interesting, but not essential.

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