I Gotta New Drug
Rabid fans never quite quench their thirst for more Beatles. Everyone wants to intimately connect with the musicians and the only channel for us mere mortals would be via audio.
A new drug hit the streets last November and it is called the Esher Demos.
This brilliantly raw compilation is your conduit to The Beatles. Finely tuned ears will notice the impromptu hand-claps, the banter, the intimate chatter, the guitar-picking, and so much more. The brilliance of the disc will give you goosebumps and, sadly, leave you wanting more.
Included with last November's release of the remastered album "The Beatles," aka "The White Album," the Esher Demos is a bonus. This separate disc contains 27 tracks that were recorded at the end of May, 1968, at George Harrison's home, which was named Kinfauns, in Esher, England. The band decided to play their individual songs for each other, in a private environment, prior to heading to EMI Studios to record. The venue chosen for this event was George's home, simply because he owned a professional-grade four-track tape recorder that they would use to capture their tracks.
What will you hear? As usual, Paul McCartney, the always prepared student, came to class ready to crank out pop-ish contributions, such as "Obla-Di Obla-Da," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Blackbird," etc. The songs were very organized and succinctly performed. Nothing less than we would expect from the driven pop idol. Finely tweaked, light, airy and sunny, Paul sets his sunshine bar pretty high. But my favorite tune from the session was a song which did not make it onto the White, "Junk." And it is hardly "junk," though the lyrics are not complete, the melody is a beautiful product which Paul eventually releases on a solo album years later.
Conversely, the main course, the meat if you will, is provided by John Lennon and George Harrison. Meaningful, substantive work by the two Beatles who were using their music as the conduit for their emotions.
One of The Beatles' finest recordings, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," begins in infancy sans the driving urgency of Eric Clapton's lead guitar, a few lyrics which were later changed, but mostly heard in this acoustic version is George Harrison's heartache and grief...you can almost taste the salt of George's tears in the demo. Stripped of a wall of sound, George's words are passionate and moving. George unveiled three songs at Esher that day which were not chosen for the White. "Circles," "Sour Milk Sea," and "Not Guilty" are dripping with George's venom. At this moment in the world of Beatle, George was increasing his frustration. He was the little brother who was poo-poo'd and not taken seriously. But George had real advice for his brothers: "no one belongs in a sour milk sea," "I'm sorry about your ......, I don't want to upset the Apple cart, I'm not guilty."
A little backstory: The Beatles had been studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Yogi, in Rishikesh, at the suggestion of George. The Beatles were pretty stressed at this moment with the unwavering madness of Beatlemania, marriages, impending divorce, babies, drugs, affairs, and the loss of their beloved manager, Brian Epstein. The band was in the process of starting Apple Corp. and, oh yeah, they had to keep producing music for the record company. So in an effort to "find the answer" and have a reprieve, the four packed their wives/girlfriends and went to Rishikesh. In some stolen (and not stolen) moments, John and Paul wrote a number of songs. It's been reported that George frowned upon this, as he felt that focus should be upon spiritual awareness. The three songwriters returned with a thick file of songs.
Knowing the emotion of John Lennon, it's no surprise that John's songs were the most direct and emotional.
On our "She Said She Said" radio show, John Lennon expert Jude Southerland Kessler and I analyzed and dissected four of the Esher Demos. You can hear it here:
You can purchase the remastered White Album which includes the Esher Demos, here:
Enjoy my tribute pages to George Harrison in "Recipe Records-A Culinary Tribute to The Beatles." Get your copy at