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The Beatles | The Beatles (White Album) 50th Anniversary Box: 27 Unreleased Gems

Some of the Fab treasures buried inside the Beatles' mammoth new box set.

“It was great. It sold. It’s the bloody BeatlesWhite Album. Shut up!” So said Paul McCartney when someone suggested The Beatles’ self-titled magnum opus should have been a single LP.

On the one hand, he’s absolutely right — The White Album, as it’s become known, is one of rock ’n’ roll’s classic double albums. It boasts a ton of hits: Back in the U.S.S.R., Dear Prudence, Glass Onion, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Happiness is a Warm Gun — and that’s just Side 1. Add Blackbird, Birthday, Helter Skelter and Revolution 1 to that list and Macca’s stance speaks for itself.

But on the other hand — and sorry, Sir Paul — there’s also no denying The White Album has its share of filler (be honest, how often do you listen to Revolution 9 or some of the shorter deep-album cuts?). So maybe the ideal length is somewhere in the middle — for my money, I have long believed The White Album would have been a great three-sided record.

But whatever. It’s a moot point. That was then and this is now. The White Album isn’t getting any shorter. In fact, as every Beatlemaniac this side of the Mersey knows, it’s getting longer. A lot longer. This week marks the arrival of the massive White Album 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, a seven-disc behemoth that includes the original album respectfully refurbished and subtly remixed by Giles (son of original producer and fifth Beatle George) Martin; a disc of acoustic demos cut at George Harrison‘s house; three discs of rehearsals, outtakes, alternate versions and jams from the Abbey Road Studios recording sessions; and a 5.1 audio DVD.

Who has time to listen to all that? Well, I do. And to save you some time, I’ve put together a list of 27 previously unreleased cuts that stand out from the pack. So I’ll shut up and get down to business. UPDATED: I’ve attached Spotify playlists for the entire box and my buried treasures list below.

Back in the U.S.S.R. (Demo)
It’s as good a place as any to start: With the first demo of the album’s opening track. This slightly slower, stripped-down twin-guitar version superbly illustrates the laid-back campfire vibe of these home-made takes. Plus they sing “awful flight” instead of “dreadful.”

Glass Onion (Demo)
With just two verses (and slightly different lyrics), it’s more of a sketch. But it’s a treat just to hear John Lennon and McCartney jabbering nonsensically after they mix up the words mid-song.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Demo)
This strummy acoustic version is much closer to a ’60s folk ballad than the finished product. And again, the lyrics are still a work-in-progress.

Revolution (Demo)
Bouncy and breezy and laced with falsetto harmonies and playful asides, it’s the sound of The Beatles having fun together.

Child of Nature (Demo)
If it sounds a lot like Lennon’s Jealous Guy, no wonder: It’s basically the same music with more cosmic, less personal lyrics.

Sour Milk Sea | Circles | Not Guilty (Demos)
Three treats for Harrison fans: Some numbers that didn’t end up on The White Album, but surfaced on later albums by him and others.

Mean Mr. Mustard | Polythene Pam
Enjoy two more tracks that didn’t make the cut here, but showed up the following year on Abbey Road.

What’s the New Mary Jane (Demo & Take 1)
Harrison wasn’t the only Beatle whose work was left by the wayside: Lennon’s kooky psychedelic freak-out — sample lyric: She liked to be married to yeti, he cooking such groovy spaghetti — was also abandoned. Perhaps with good reason.

Revolution 1 (Take 18)
You say you want an epic Revolution? Here you go — a 10-minute version that moves from the bluesy acoustic version into a groovy jam, then on to a noisy denouement. Two takes later, they recorded the version that ended up being broken into Revolution 1 & 9.

Helter Skelter (First Version / Take 2)
Like Revolution 1 above, this is also a marathon recording — but it’s a stomping slow-burner that bears little resemblance to the later version.

Not Guilty (Take 102)
Yeah, you read that right: They did more than 100 takes of Harrison’s bluesy shuffle, but still left it off the album. Sure, the vocals are a little lacklustre. Even so, you gotta wonder what the problem was.

Dear Prudence (Vocal, Guitar & Drums)
Stripped down to its essential elements, it becomes a twinkling, hypnotically beautiful work.

St. Louis Blues | (You’re so Square) Baby, I Don’t Care | Blue Moon | Step Inside Love | Los Paranoias (Studio Jams)
Between recording some of the most beloved songs of our time, the lads blew off steam with bite-sized renditions of rockabilly oldies, blues standards, Paul’s lounge-pop theme for Cilla Black‘s TV show and even an impromptu one-joke flamenco-pun jam.

Helter Skelter (Second version Take 17)
Featuring that familiar searing guitar and some grinding bass work from Paul — along with plenty of howling vocals — this version sounds possessed. “Keep that one,” says Paul at the end. “Mark it Fab!” And how.

Can You Take Me Back (Take 1)
A longer version of this song snippet would end up being the outro of Cry Baby Cry.

Lady Madonna (Take 2 / Piano and Drums) (Backing Vocals from Take 3) | The Inner Light (Take 6 / Instrumental Backing Track)
Work-in-progress segments of the familiar non-album single, along with Harrison’s groovy Indian-influenced number that ended up on the B-side.

Across the Universe (Take 6)
For the final track in the box, here’s one last look ahead with a solo acoustic rendition of the future Let It Be classic.