ScoreKeeper Reviews THE BEATLES: REMASTERED (STEREO) Box Set
Greetings! ScoreKeeper here scratching the tickle of joy on the blue belly of the universe in time to bring you an album by album account of THE BEATLES: REMASTERED (STEREO) featuring the band's entire studio catalogue digitally remastered in stereo. This fourteen title, sixteen disc set, released by Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music, were immaculately assembled with original UK album art including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film (directed by Bob Smeaton) about the album. Although no plans have been announced for future digital distribution, it is currently being discussed at the label.
I have been an ardent fan – no, disciple of The Beatles for practically my entire life. Much of my own personal journey toward musicianship is paved with the songs of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The first tunes I learned on the piano were Beatles songs. I taught myself bass guitar by picking up Paul's tuneful riffs from Japanese tab books. I'm proud of the fact that "Blackbird" is the only song I can adequately fingerpick on an acoustic guitar (which is not my main instrument) and if a book on the Beatles exists, I probably have it in my library.
On September 9th, 2009, Beatlemania quaked with the release of every studio album painstakingly remastered in stereo over a four year period at EMI's Abbey Road Studios by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell, Paul Hicks, and Sean Magee.
In addition to the stereo remasters, a separate Beatles collection was issued restoring all original mono albums to their original mono format released as THE BEATLES IN MONO boxed set.
What's impressive about the process of this particular remastering project is that although the engineers had access to the absolute latest state-of-the-art audio technology, they exhibited the discipline to utilize it only when absolutely necessary. Unwanted artifacts in the audio including electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance, jagged fades, and bad edits were improved upon with careful consideration not to degenerate the original integrity of each song. Limiting was used sparingly and only on the stereo versions. De-noising technology, often associated with remastering, was also used subtly and sparingly. Only five minutes of the total 525 minutes of music was subjected to this process. No additional reverb was added to the mixes although through equalization and other dynamic manipulation of the audio it becomes clearer within the sonic spectrum and thusly more prominent.
For the past month, I've been listening to each album with critical ears wondering if the effort would stand up against the test of scrutiny. Would another dip into The Beatles catalogue be worth the additional expenditure? Needless to say, I had lofty hopes. I figured if Apple and EMI were going to release each album again on CD and ask fans to pony up more bread to replace their 1987 remasters then it should certainly exceed the value of their worth.
So how do these 2009 remasters differ?
For starters, it should be reiterated that they used the original UK masters and not the US versions which were varied in multiple ways back in the 1960s to assuage American aural palettes. As I soaked up each song, three major benefits to the remastering process became glaringly obvious.
The first and most rewarding benefit can be heard on the vocals. From the leads to the harmonies, each vocal track is stunningly crisp while bathed in a blanket of warmth so rich the overtones hoever endlessly in the air. It's almost eerie to hear John, Paul, George, and even Ringo's voice singing with such dynamic presence and clarity.
The second greatest benefit to these remastered albums is Paul's melodious bass. I've always considered Paul McCartney to be one of the premiere rock 'n roll bassists of our time. His inherent gift for melody has been ubiquitous in his playing since relegated to bass duty during the earliest days of the band. The unique 1962 Höfner 500/1 that Paul plunked was perfectly suited for his particular playing style. While the discerning qualities of the hollow bodied, flat-wound strung Höfner were always present in the '87 remasters, it is even more apparent in the '09 remasters. It's a glorious instrument which gracefully booms beneath the guitars with an ample amount of low-frequency presence without a hint of muddiness.
Finally, the third ingredient to receive the most benefit from the '09 remasters is Ringo's Ludwig drum kit. The snare pops! The kick-drum thumps! The cymbals are brisk and colorful. At times, the clarification of the drums within the mix due to the remastering process kicked them into the foreground a bit more than we're used to. They can get a tad hot for my tastes but I'm willing to embrace the minor negatives together with the emphatic positives.
These albums sound simply fantastic! They're far better than I would have imagined would even be possible. The true gift these albums bring is rediscovery. As a lifelong Beatles fan I'm finding myself listening to familiar tunes for the first time. These should be staple purchases for every Beatles fan while serving as a musical treasure chest for those just now discovering the Fab Four from Liverpool.
Having listened to all the albums several times in their entirety, I went through and picked out a song or two from each one to write about. I compared them with the '87 remasters and made attempts to document the most significant differences between them. You can also click on the album cover to visit the album's page over at amazon.com.
For further information you can also check out The Beatles official web site.
PLEASE PLEASE ME (1963)
"I Saw Her Standing There"
"Twist and Shout"
The very first song on The Beatles very first album, "I Saw Her Standing There" remains one of my all-time favorite McCartney tunes. For a standard rock 'n roll song from 1963 its innovation and musical creativity far supercedes its contemporaries. The entire album was recorded in a single twelve-hour session finishing off with John's shredded vocal chords singing "Twist and Shout" in one glorious take.
On the remastered album, both songs are as clear and bountiful as if recorded yesterday. Presented for the first time in stereo, all vocals, lead and background, are preserved in the right channel along with John's guitar while Paul's signature Höfner violin-bass, Ringo's drums, and George's guitar resides on the left channel. Although I'll forever be fond of the original mono recordings I have to admit that even a purist like myself relishes hearing these early Beatle tunes in true stereo.
WITH THE BEATLES (1963)
"Till There Was You"
If you want a quick quality assessment of the entire remastered collection, "Till There Was You" would be a prime candidate for immediate evaluation. The differences between this version and the original '87 masters are stunning. From a flat 2D mono presentation this song is magically transformed into a thick 3D sonic cornucopia of color. The crisp wooden clarity of the acoustic guitars on the left channel coupled with Paul's sultry voice on the right channel are impeccably blended to maximize each instrument within its sonic space.
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (1964)
"Any Time At All"
This is another one of my personal favorite early Beatles songs. It's a quintessential example of John's broad vocal range. You hear his smooth lyrical vocals on the verses which immediately thrusts into a screaming rock 'n roll lead for the choruses.
The original mono version from the '87 masters now sounds surprisingly congested after hearing this new stereo master. In the new version, Ringo's drums are not as prominent which allows the guitars to creep forward a bit in the mix. As is typical with the majority of the songs on the remastered version, Paul's bass adds a bit more wallop which really drives the energy of this tune. Instead of separating the vocals from the rest of the instruments as on the previous two albums, John's lead vocals, as well as Paul's responding echo, are maintained in the center just slightly left with the instruments split evenly on both the left and right channels. It's a great solution to clarify the mix allowing each instrument to speak without impedance.
BEATLES FOR SALE (1964)
"I'll Follow The Sun"
Although BEATLES FOR SALE is a fantastic album, this particular remaster may be the least impacted of the bunch. Don't get me wrong, the overall sound quality is certainly improved. It just doesn't pack that jaw-dropping wallop the other albums do. The lone exception being "I'll Follow The Sun" which almost sounds like a brand new recording. The character of the acoustic guitar in the left channel was never heard like this in the '87 mono remasters. There's also a more prominent difference between Paul's double tracked vocals on the verses and his single-tracked vocals on the chorus which is spectacular.
This song also serves as an example of how the remastering process accentuates the reverb which is more subtle in the '87 remasters.
"I've Just Seen A Face"
A hauntingly beautiful song, "I've Just Seen A Face" conjures up, for me, painful memories of an impassioned high school breakup, but I digress…HELP! was the first US Beatle album released in stereo. In the '09 remasters the stereo spectrum is kept pretty much the same from song to song. The intent to clarify, clean-up, and improve the sound-quality remains the primary focus and not remixing the tunes themselves. The most noticeable instances of the improved quality wrought by the remastering process can be easily heard on tunes which favor acoustic instruments such as "I've Just Seen A Face." I find myself embracing miniscule imperfections I've never noticed before which were brought out.
It's even more apparent on "Yesterday." The sound-quality here is utterly breathtaking. The acoustic guitar and string accompaniment are rich, colorful, and chock-full of expression. The low G string on the guitar has bite and is not merely an amorphous bass tone as in the previous remasters. It's as if you're hearing the song for the first time. You can hear the rosin on the bows vibrate the rich wooden soundboards of each stringed instrument, fingernails scuffling over the round-wound guitar strings, and the double-tracked vocals on the final cadence of the chorus.
RUBBER SOUL (1965)
If it's unplugged folksy Beatles perfection you desire then look no further than RUBBER SOUL. This album is brimming with four-part vocal harmonies swallowing you up like dips into vats of warm butter. The sheer wall of vocals which smacks you in the opening of "Nowhere Man" is another impressive example of the magic behind this particular remastering process. I struggle with the fact that this was recorded in 1965.
If you're familiar with the YELLOW SUBMARINE remixed/remastered album which was released in 1999 there are some subtle differences between it and the current '09 remasters. The '99 album featured subtle remixes of each song. The wall of vocals on "Nowhere Man" are spread out fairly evenly from the left to right channels with the instruments nestled sweetly in the middle. The current '09 remaster is not a remix so the vocals are kept on the right channel while the left channel is reserved for the instruments. The '99 version sounds fantastic (perhaps a benchmark for the '09 remasters?) and is definitely a treat, but it's wonderful to have the original mix preserved in the '09 remaster.
Since becoming smitten with the remaster of "Yesterday," I've been particularly keen on the improvements of the various string accompaniments the Beatles employed throughout their tenure. None were more iconic than that from "Eleanor Rigby." A pop song sung to strings with no guitars, drums, or bass, "Eleanor Rigby" will forever be a favorite of mine. However, the somewhat dated, high-treble, and high-contrast sound of the original 1966 string recording was always something I wished could have been improved upon. In the '09 remasters, the string ensemble finally gets the treatment it deserves making the staccato strings sound like a full-bodied, multi-dimensional section.
This track was also remixed and remastered for the 1999 YELLOW SUBMARINE album and sounds fuller and more dynamic than the '09 remaster. Although I may prefer the '99 remixed version of the song to the '09 remastered version, it is still a godsend to hear the original integrity of this classic remain intact with the overall sound quality of the original mix enhanced.
This song, along with "Yesterday," are probably my two favorite improvements of all the remastered songs in the catalog.
SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (1967)
"A Day In The Life"
When somebody asks me, "What's your favorite Beatles song?" I always reply, "A Day in the Life." Not necessarily because it's the best or it's the one I'm particularly closest to. Let's face it, it's a loaded question that is impossible to answer. I choose "A Day in the Life" because for me, this is the song that crystallizes who The Beatles were. It's a song that pits the distinct songwriting characteristics of John Lennon with that of Paul McCartney. John wrote and sings the 'A' section which is followed by a cacophonic crescendo of sound peaking at the start of the 'B' section sung and written by Paul. Ringo's stylistic drum fills, the implementation of orchestral overdubs, a rainbow of random audio embellishments, and the languishing sonic crash ending the tune, are all molded together to create, for me, the exemplary work defining The Beatles musical genius.
The '09 remaster is a welcome upgrade. One of the nitpicks I've always harbored towards this song was the sound quality of the piano. It's improved upon in this version although still a bit buried for my taste. The orchestral elements are especially pleasing. The crescendo is very rich and meaty while the low frequencies in the horn blasts to end Paul's 'B' section are accentuated well. Recordings from the 1960s tend to suffer from a loss of lower bass frequencies than modern recordings. They're restored feasibly well in this current remaster. More so than you could hope.
It should also be noted that the new liner notes written specifically for this remastered edition of the album are extraordinary.
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR (1967)
"I Am The Walrus"
As is to be expected, the later you go into the Beatles catalogue, the less dramatic the differences are between the '87 remasters and the '09 remasters. The improvement is still near-miraculous, just not as overwhelming as earlier albums which utilized more archaic recording techniques and less time in the studio.
That said, you'll come across one particular song that still manages to drop your jaw in awe. "I Am The Walrus" is absolutely awesome! The cello, the vocal portamentos, the funky organ, Ringo's drum set, John's nasally vocals, and all the various orchestral elements are impeccably blended to create this humongous wall of color barreling down upon your ears. You begin to realize by listening to the '87 remaster how many elements are lost in the mix and how a careful and well-tuned ear can utilize technology to help reveal some of these elements. This song is a prime example of why I'm so excited about this new catalogue.
YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968)
I thought on this album I would comment upon George Martin's incredible score for YELLOW SUBMARINE (1968). With the Beatles music getting all the attention, Martin's underscore usually gets overshadowed. It's unwarranted because he composed a kaleidoscopic orchestral score worthy of placement along side some of pop-music's greatest songwriting creations.
As with all the songs on the album, the sound quality of the score is vastly improved. If I were a betting man not knowing any different, I would have sworn this was simply a re-recording. The orchestra in the cue entitled "Pepperland" sounds robust and opulent. Most importantly there's a real color separation in the sound between the string quartet with the orchestra, the horn staccatos against the strings, the double-reeds against the woodwinds, and the piano as a solo instrument. All of these elements suffered too much from sonic competition and had a tendency to get lost. This plum remastering of the score really puts the spotlight of success on the engineers who toiled to bring it all together.
THE BEATLES [THE WHITE ALBUM] (1968)
"Helter Skelter is a track we did out of total madness and hysterics in the studio," said Ringo Starr. "Sometimes you just have to shake out the jam!"
When Paul set out to record "Helter Skelter", he wanted to "make a very loud and raunchy rock 'n roll record with The Beatles." Thanks to the brilliant engineering efforts behind this remastered version, Paul might have finally received his wish. One of the more unique songs on THE WHITE ALBUM, "Helter Skelter" is certainly loud with Paul's chunky bass thrashing away in the foreground. Harrison's ripping guitar riffs and Ringo's persistent crash cymbals compliment Paul's shredded vocal screams creating a huge wall of the hardest rock that side of 1970.
If I had to take a guess, I might pick this song as one of the most difficult to remaster as there are so many clashing elements to the music. It's meticulously treated so that all the ingredients are clearer than I've ever heard. It's a treat to hear this hard rock song finally shed it's "wimpy" clothes and step into a recording worthy of its performance.
ABBEY ROAD (1969)
"Here Comes The Sun"
By the time we get to the last Beatles studio album you can probably guess what's to be said about the remastered version. Everything I've observed and mentioned until now is consistent and holds true to this album. The acoustic guitars sound amazing, the vocals are warm and gorgeous, the bass is energetic, and the drum's are crisp and squeaky clean.
What caught my ear on "Here Comes The Sun" are the quirky analog synth and organ tracks which were always blended just underneath the surface of the overall mix. In the '09 remaster they pop out a bit more revealing the song's quirky composition and production. It's rather stunning and quite cool.
LET IT BE (1970)
"Two of Us"
I realized a few years ago I wasn't as much of a Beatles purist as I thought I might have been when I instantly fell in love with the far superior LET IT BE – NAKED album released in 2003. This album was remixed and remastered under the direction of Paul McCartney which essentially took out most of super-producer Phil Spector's frilly orchestral overdubs and other embellishments. This new version took what was one of my least favorite Beatles albums (still loving it though) and turned it into one of my favorites. The purity and skillful craft of the songwriting was elevated to new heights by removing some of the fatty tissue surrounding it.
That said, it is refreshing to once again go back and hear the original Phil Spector "reproduced" LET IT BE album. Several tunes stand-out after benefiting from the remastering process but the one I was most impressed with is "Two of Us" which is transformed from a thinly produced folk ditty to a song with considerable girth and depth. It's musical weight does not deter from the integrity but rather gives it a fuller aural spectrum that is complimentary of the original material.
PAST MASTERS (1988)
I've made numerous references to the improvement of Paul's overall bass sound throughout each album. As I was listening through the catalog marveling at these improvements, I couldn't help get excited to hear my all-time favorite bass work in any Beatles song and that is "Rain." The bass in this song is really treated as the lead instrument with the guitars and drums mixed farther back as supporting instruments. It's melodic, soulful and acrobatically fluid. Coupled with John's intoxicating vocal melody, "Rain" has always been one of my all-time favorites.
The remaster did not disappoint. The bass bubbles up from below the mix and shines brighter than anybody has ever heard it. It bounces and bobbles along with John's hypnotic voice making a great sonic companion. The more I listened, the more I fell in love with it. It's another candidate for a quick assessment of the magic brought forth in these remastered albums.
So are there any negatives associated with this set?
While there is much to gush over about this set there are some small nitpicky things that managed to permeate my radar.
Although the new packaging, liner notes, photographs, and especially the pithy video documentaries are all immaculately assembled, the fact that these discs come in folded cardboard cases instead of the standard plastic jewel boxes makes me worried that they will not remain as pristine as my '87 catalog has over the last twenty years. They'll get dinged up, bent, frayed, and creased easily so it's only a matter of time before the outward appearance of the collection will show its wear.
Although I generally love the crispness of Ringo's snare enhanced throughout the entire catalogue, it often brought it to the forefront of the mix a smidgen too much on a few dozen songs. I find myself wishing I could be at the mixing console able to dial back the drums just a tad. It's a minor detail I'm well prepared to live with.
Two albums in particular, BEATLES FOR SALE and LET IT BE still have a hint of muddiness to the overall mixes which was true of the original '87 remasters a well. There's only so much mastering can do and I completely recognize this. It's not so much a critique of the engineers' skills but the revelation of a desire I've harbored for some time. It's definitely improved upon, but not as dramatically as the other albums are.
When these albums were first announced, I'm sure it brought more eye rolls than applause even amongst the die-hard Beatles fans of the world. Here we go again…yet another dip into the Beatles catalogue? Are you serious?
After living with each song over the past month I can honestly say that these albums far supercede any worries of throwing down the extra bread to add these to your collection. Just before I received the set I thought I'd place them side by side with my '87 remastered CD catalogue and enjoy them both. Having been through the '09 remasters it's a foregone conclusion to assume that I'll forever be listening to these albums exclusively whenever my ears demand a Beatles fix.
I am grateful for this new catalog beyond what my words here have adequately expressed. This is the real deal and I'm vastly impressed with the results.
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Oct. 12, 2009, 9:34 p.m. CST
Yellow Submarine. Just doesn't fit on that album.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:36 p.m. CST
I've been loving these remasters. The version of "I've Just Seen a Face," in its remastered format has been available since the Capitol Album CD releases - which for the past few years has been my example for those who have been waiting for remastered sound. Finally we have the whole catalogue, and finally I my praises can be understood by those who didn't pay up for the Capitol releases.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:43 p.m. CST
...I'm trying to think of something funnier to say than the words "DAN FOGELBERG"...<p>Nope, nothing funnier.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:47 p.m. CST
Interesting... I think Beatles For Sale is one of the highlights for me. Hearing the first four albums in this box set is a revelation. The mono remasters are equally impressive. But also, don't discount the Capitol remasters... they have merit and some of those mono recordings benefit from the added reverb and echo, they tend to sound a little fuller.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:51 p.m. CST
This review answers some question I have concerning this new set, but I am still not sure if I want to replace my original LP's (mono and stereo on all the early albums), and my cd collection with another set.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:58 p.m. CST
The remastered albums are well done, but I wouldn't say you have to go replace the '87 albums right away - if at all. When I have the extra money I will go and get the remastered albums, but it's not a high priority. As for Let It Be Naked, I have to disagree with Scorekeeper. Two Of Us and Across the Universe benefit, but The Long and Winding Road and Let It Be seem to be missing something. It could be just because I was raised on the original recordings, but without the orchestra, but songs feel flat.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:12 p.m. CST
Thanks for that, the best review of this collection which i've been debating purchasing...think im gonna break down and buy it, though i WOULD like to hear your opinion of the remastered "Tomorrow Never Knows"!
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:12 p.m. CST
Thanks for that, the best review of this collection which i've been debating purchasing...think im gonna break down and buy it, though i WOULD like to hear your opinion of the remastered "Tomorrow Never Knows"!
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:15 p.m. CST
Pretty pointless to compare the stereo remasters to the 87 mono remasters. Of course a stereo "With The Beatles" will sound completely different than a mono one (worse, in my opinion). Comparing the mono remasters to the 87 CDs that were mono really shows the improvement the remasters made. I also can't agree that the difference from the 87 to the 09 version gets less as time progresses in the discography. I think especially Abby Road has never sounded so fantastic as it sounds now.<p> But really, that's all not important. What's really important is:<p> Robert Zemeckis is working on a 3D "performance capture" Yellow Submarine remake RIGHT NOW. This man and his cronies will force the zombified, dead-eyed corpses of George Harrison and John Lennon on the world. They will crank up the "action" and the "humor" of the piece. They need to be stopped!<p> Dear Jesus, or Buddha or Krishna or anyone up there - give Robert Zemeckis late stage cancer right now please. Dear terrorists - bomb the shit out of Dreamworks or wherever that abomination is being produced.<p>Fuck you Zemeckis.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:19 p.m. CST
Simply are that the stereo mix on the first two albums feels like it is stretching my brains to the sides of my head, thus causing a headache (see I Want To Be Your Man). All of the albums are tastefully done, to preserve the greatness that is there on every track. I'd also like to say the I much more prefer the Mono remasters. Having listened to the stereo masters my whole life I was wary going into the world of Mono. But all the sounds in Mono sound full, to where in stereo they sound as a bit naked. That is my two cents on the remasters as a Beatlemania. P.S. I agree with Wrath4771. Let it Be is a great album and if you didn't see the greatness you weren't looking hard enough.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:25 p.m. CST
I did a comparison with the old cd & the remastered version is a ridiculous improvement. For one, the strings are sinewy in the original cd while the new version makes it sound as if the string section is playing just a few feet away. "All My Loving" sounds like it was recorded yesterday. I hope more old albums undergo this process (I'm looking at YOU "Ziggy Stardust.").
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:31 p.m. CST
Maybe it's because it's the beatles, but it actually really works even if that wall of sound is some leftover late bee gees crap. All there albums are great though except for yellow sumbarine...lame.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:32 p.m. CST
Blame the bad spelling on it.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:33 p.m. CST
I heard the mono masters were incredible.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:51 p.m. CST
As much as I love The Beatles (easily my favorite band ever), the Mono set is just an elitist audiophile excess. I know it's how all but three of their albums were actually recorded, but the only reason for that was the technology wasn't available at the time of their recording. Going "back to mono" after having the original CD releases since 1987 is a definite downgrade. If you're a completist to the degree that you want every album as it was originally released, I suggest you get a turntable and find everything on original vinyl.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:55 p.m. CST
I only got Meet the Beatles, Revolver, and Rubber Soul so far, and I love it. But I think they brought up the bass waaaayyy too much. Seems like they tweaked the bass stuff in order to 'modernize' the sound.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:07 p.m. CST
The original CD releases of the first 4 albums from 87 WERE mono, because they couldn't manage to finish the stereo remixes they wanted to do (and did with Help and Rubber Soul, later stereo mixes were deemed good). Why did they want to remix those old stereo releases and when they couldn't instead released the mono versions? Because back in the early sixties stereo was what you would call an "elitist audiophile excess". Nobody had a stereo and very little time was spend on the stereo mixes. The Beatles were present at the mono mixing, but not at the stereo. If you compare the both versions of Please Please Me for example the difference is huge. Mono - cool album, stereo - weird mix with some instruments in the left channel and some in the right, like having a battle between the drums and the guitars. Sounds especially distracting on headphones. The only reason the stereo versions are now the preferred ones is people like you who think stereo = automatically better.<p> Long story short: you don't know what you're talking about.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:09 p.m. CST
Sorry, you lost me after the comment: "a purist like myself relishes hearing these early Beatle tunes in true stereo." There are NO TRUE STEREO recordings of those early sessions! The only way to listen to, and respect, any Beatles record up to and including "Beatles For Sale" is with the Mono mixes. I suppose some of the people who enjoy having vocals in one ear and instruments in the other also prefer the Beatles cartoons to their films!
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:13 p.m. CST
Oh, and by the way, the Mono Box is incredible!
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:24 p.m. CST
You guys continue to push your personal agendas. If you want to prove me wrong, then I expect a full review for every box set released from here on out. Homers.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:37 p.m. CST
that is all
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:44 p.m. CST
...to pay off his crippled whore and Yoo Ono.
Oct. 13, 2009, midnight CST
It's definately my favorite Beatles song, but I'm going to have to say that I'm a little disappointed in the remastered version. I've listened to it a few times and the whole part at the end gong where you could hear Ringo's drum seat turning and his sticks clicking are gone. It's a shame really because, like you previously noted, the orchestra has never sounded better. And I find it a bit unnerving with the whole collection that the bass and drums and acoustic instruments are brought out at the expense of the electric guitars. It seems like since they didn't have George and John alive anymore, they didn't get a good total tone out of the electrics from the mix. And since Paul and Ringo were still alive, they brought out their parts a bit louder on the albums. Sure these remasters sound a little fresher, but I'm not giving up the older CD releases.....or my albums.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:06 a.m. CST
Bravo. here's your award for best response. Stereo is one thing, total isolation in different speakers is just plain awkward. Thats why I am glad I have the special issue of the first Pink Floyd album with a mono disc (was recorded at Abbey Road the same time as Sgt Pepper, band was present for mono mix only as well). Kudos dude.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:07 a.m. CST
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:12 a.m. CST
your opinion doesn't amount to shit.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:19 a.m. CST
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:21 a.m. CST
Heavy Metal Jagoff.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:36 a.m. CST
My biggest complaint with the '87 remasters was the muddiness and lack of low end. I think it's just the fact that we are hearing Paul tear it up for the first time since vinyl that may be slightly off-putting. Frankly, as a bass player, I find his fluid, melodic runs (har har) to be a revelation. I never realized how great of a player he was until these new remasters. Lovin it.
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:28 a.m. CST
If ever Pink Floyd release a box set as lovingly done as the Beatles Stereo Box Set (not that crap "Oh, By The Way..."), will it suddenly reveal Roger Waters as a real bass virtuoso?
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:41 a.m. CST
Or is my brain going. Eh, either way, cool news. It'll be fun listening to some of this stuff w/o the acid augmentation I enjoyed in the '90s ... I probably heard stuff that wasn't actually in the songs, lol.
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:08 a.m. CST
Quintessential early Beatles look with WITH THE BEATLES and later years with LET IT BE.
Oct. 13, 2009, 5:15 a.m. CST
And the rest in stereo? What about Past Masters? I wish they'd have made one uber-box with both versions. That said, I've bought Pet Sounds in 5.1, so consider my opinion thusly.
Oct. 13, 2009, 5:54 a.m. CST
McCartney(Bowl of cherries), Ram, Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, London Town, etc. ~ cooler songs, a little more organic and loose, and stuff I'm not completely sick of (some of his new stuff is decent, but not nearly as cool as the old stuff). Then I'll take a few of George Harrison's albums, "All Things Must Pass" being my favorite...
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:08 a.m. CST
That's not Paul double-tracked on the verses, it's Paul and John singing in unison.
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:09 a.m. CST
Dont you think the Beatles have had their chance to hog the limelight? Bloody Scousers. I will take Pink Floyd any fucking day over The Beatles. That reminds me that I need to make my yearly pilgramage to Liverpool to visit my alloy wheels.
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:20 a.m. CST
Sgt Pepper - Overrated .......and its not The Beatles fault that nobody has surpassed them. 12 amazing albums in 8 years - No band comes anywhere near that output of quality.
Oct. 13, 2009, 7:45 a.m. CST
by Kentucky Colonel
They'd release these LP's as originally meant to be released....ON VINYL! I already have all the 09 CDs (at $13.99 I hate to say WalMart is the place to get 'im) and would GLADLY do it again for Vinyl LPs. seriously.
Oct. 13, 2009, 8:04 a.m. CST
by The Jailer
I was hoping you would review "Michelle". I never liked the mix quality on that great song. It needed reworking.
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:13 a.m. CST
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:34 a.m. CST
Had em for $11.99 for the last two weeks and were giving out a $5 gift card when you bought two, so Walmart can go jump off a cliff.
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:42 a.m. CST
by Six Demon Bag
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:37 p.m. CST
by A G
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:49 p.m. CST
just for the record, it was john lennon who played bass guitar on the final version of "helter skelter". he also played the decidedly unskilled saxophone. (see "the beatles recording sessions" by mark lewisohn, entry for monday 9 september 1968, for further details, including amusing quotes from a couple of the engineers on deck that night: "they were completely out of their heads that night. but as usual, a blind eye was turned to what the Beatles did in the studio. everyone knew what substances they wer taking but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio...while paul was doing his vocal, george had set fire to an ashtray and was running around the studio with it above his head...all in all, a pretty undisciplined session, you could say...")
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:01 p.m. CST
Seriously, thanks for the good work here.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:02 p.m. CST
Has 11 albums all the way up to the white album.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:28 p.m. CST
by I am_NOTREAL
I am generally disinclined to rave much about projects like this, but man. Man, is it good. The difference is noticeable right off the bat.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:34 p.m. CST
Didn't we find out recently it wasn't Waters but actually Gilmour playing on bass on the big albums (Obscured by Clouds through the Wall). From what I heard that the bass lines that were written were to hard for Roger to play.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:46 p.m. CST
You got me on the exact release history of the '87 Remasters. Couldn't even do proper research since I already pawned them to get the new ones. Anyway... Given the notorious stinginess, as well as the fervent attention to detail and completism, of The Beatles and their estate, why would they even release The Beatles catalog in a way other than it was meant or intended to be released? Why even produce stereo mixes if George Martin, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison (while he was still alive) didn't approve and assume it was the best way to release them today? If someone is interested in The Beatles catalog as an antiquity, something of a curio to be marveled at for its quaintness, I would suggest they get the overpriced and nearly unavailable Mono set. If they're interested in The Beatles catalog as a kind of "living document" that's still as relevant and vibrant as it was when it was released, go for the Stereo set. I've just had bad aural experiences with Mono albums in the past. Pet Sounds in mono, which is how it was mixed originally, sounds like shit in an echo chamber. The Stereo mix is revelatory. Maybe it all comes down to opinion.
Oct. 13, 2009, 3:17 p.m. CST
Roger Waters is an excellent bass player, all of Gilmour's (and Roger's own) digs notwithstanding. He was the right bass player for Pink Floyd, just as Nick Mason was the right drummer. Virtuosos? No. But that would not have been appropriate for that band, and we wouldn't have the great music they made if any element were taken out. Having said that, the piecemeal overhaul of their catalog is frustrating, and an officially released, comprehensive Anthology/BBC style series of outtakes, demos, live and alternate material is long overdue. (I'd be happy to help them compile it!) Oh, and thelordofhell is just bitter cuz he only listened to MY remasters and he doesn't have his own. For me, I'll never willingly listen to the 1987 Beatles releases again.
Oct. 13, 2009, 3:26 p.m. CST
In general I agree with you in terms of the Beatles being heard in a relevant, dynamic, "living" way for today's audiences (notwithstanding the fact that I do plan to pick up the the mono set myself at some point). But while it might be a matter of opinion, there ARE exceptions. Since another TB'er brought up Floyd (and I went on further about it), Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is REVELATORY in mono, and the stereo version is awful by comparison. (Just as the yet-to-be-re-released quadraphonic version of THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is vastly superior to ANY stereo mix of that album, including the 2003 5.1 remaster.) Bottom line: each format has its strengths and weaknesses, its champions and detractors, obviously. I think they should all be made available for those who want them, whichever version defaults into being the "standard", as long as the remastering is done tastefully and with respect for the intent of the originals. (Though I do have to say the Beatles LOVE is pretty damned cool, too....)
Oct. 13, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST
You can convert stereo to mono,....but not the other way(even though they did back then,,,,,phase&Freq wise). My receiver and even Itunes lets you convert to mono. My personally,.....I want as many tracks(channels) they will let out of the studio.There is a DTS-cd of Abbey Road made with isolated tracks using protools that sounds very very good. But anyway,...sure the mono tracks use diff takes on a few,....but on whole,...the ONLY reason to get the MONO box....is what the HELL should have been in the STEREO! The Rubber Soul and Help! albums suck donkey balls with centered vocals and reverb. Again,...like mononess.....you can add reverb,...but not remove. And even though I hold George Martin in super high regards....that was a damn mistake in 87.....and now they redid it. The 87 versions should have been on the mono set no vice versa. Short of that,....it's all gold.
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:49 p.m. CST
...is the way to hear Sgt. Pepper. Much better album in mono. It's the mix the Beatles supervised themselves over a two week period (while the stereo mix was done by the engineers in two days).
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:58 p.m. CST
Sure in the end it comes down to a question of taste, no doubt about it. My taste in the case of especially Please Please Me and With The Beatles is the mono. They just pack more punch, sound denser and rock more than in the stereo mix. I just don't get the goose bumps the last quarter of Please Mister Postman (the "wait a minute" part) gives me in mono on the other version. But hey, that's the good thing about them finally having released both versions: everyone can get what he prefers. (After listening to the remasters for some time i also gotta say that i got the feeling they spend more time on the stereo remasters than on the mono ones)<p>Doc Hudson: pushing the "mono" button in iTunes is definitely not the same thing as hearing the mono mix of a song. <p>This is mainly just bickering on my part anyway - the day i will be truly happy is when apple releases the complete tapes of every single beatles session ever recorded, so that people can make their own mixes ; )
Oct. 13, 2009, 5:40 p.m. CST
So what's the dynamic range on these CDs? The <10 dB that's the norm today?
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST
Christ! You have to be a bat to hear the differences in these remastered albums.
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:13 p.m. CST
I want the Rutles Quadraphonic SQ Matrix box set!
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:58 p.m. CST
Is that they were recorded on two track. Instruments on one track, vocals on the other. So the only way to separate them for stereo is the hideous far left/far right split. But when I was listening to these two cds in by brother's listening lounge, I turned my chair so the instruments were behind me and the vocals in front. Sounded great.
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:19 p.m. CST
I agree with you the Pet Sounds stereo mixes are fantastic. The difference is that early stereo mixes were done when stereo was new and without The Beatles participation. Pet Sounds was remixed in the late 90s with Brian Wilson's full participation. The Beatles early stereo tracks are more like dual channel mono. Hard pans left and right. Like biglou114 said, they hurt my brain too. The way that Pet Sounds was recorded they have a lot of latitude in mixing stereo versions to place the instruments and vocals in the stereo space. And the results are beyond amazing. If only Capitol would stop releasing only one or two new mixes per year and do some full albums. That would be great.
Oct. 14, 2009, 1:30 a.m. CST
late in the Rubber Soul sessions. <p> The bass on "Rain" and "Paperback Writer" sounds like a Ricky and that sound is all over "Revolver".<p> McCartney used the Hofner from time to time afterwards for its particular short, thumpy sound - but for he most part he took advantage of the superior sound of the Ricky - better fretboard, better electronics. He was very influenced by Carol Kaye's work on Pet Sounds (for example, "Little Help from my Friends", "Getting Better") and couldn't achieve that sound with the Hofner.<p> Interesting that people feel the bass and drums are too prominent. McCartney has said several times that he prefers '60s mixes which tend to have dominant guitars and midrange emphasis.
Oct. 14, 2009, 2:16 a.m. CST
by I Max U Mini
... if I were to choose only one song from With the Beatles to show the difference in Mono and Stereo, I would have gone with "Hold Me Tight".
Oct. 14, 2009, 8:17 a.m. CST
by Geo. Harrison is so amazing!! It's like I had never heard it before... Geo. was definitely the most overlooked Beatle....
Oct. 14, 2009, 10 a.m. CST
... the mono set is absolutely amazing. It's a true shame that EMI didn't release this set in the same quantity as the stereo set or better yet, put each version on each album/CD. I think people would truly understand what the hype was all about.
Oct. 14, 2009, 10:02 a.m. CST
... is like an acid trip in mono.
Oct. 14, 2009, 12:22 p.m. CST
I wish they would have gotten it right and released these on BD a-la Neil Young's archives.
Oct. 14, 2009, 1:38 p.m. CST
Abbey Road is the only one that sounds better in stereo. Paperback Writer is fucking amazing in monaural. In stereo and mono though "I Saw Her Standing There" was the first great Beatles song.
Oct. 14, 2009, 3:14 p.m. CST
METALLICA, it must be done! the first 4 albums and the last 2 need a makeover. the black album, and both loads "sound" awesome, even though they aren't the "best" albums.
Oct. 14, 2009, 3:59 p.m. CST
I had that once :P ....people dont seem to understand that these new mono versions aren't just remastered, they contain the original mono mixes and not the "remixed to stereo with the drums on the left crap" from 87. To me it's not a matter of sounding better it's a matter of hearing the original mixes. If you don't buy the new set, the only way you can get that is to collect original mono vinyl which is going to cost you a hundred times more! Not too mention i have to buy a turntable because I don't do vinyl anymore lol!
Oct. 15, 2009, 1:06 a.m. CST
by Life Proof
a) Abbey Road was never released in mono, nor was Let It Be. There was a mono version of Abbey Road released in Brazil, but it was a fold-down of the stereo. b) THESE ALBUMS HAVE NOT BEEN REMIXED. They are remastered from the original analog masters...the only discs that use the '87 mixes are Help! and Rubber Soul, and the original stereo mixes for these two albums are included as bonus tracks on the Mono set. c) Vinyl versions of these remasters have been confirmed as coming out in March...stereo only, though, no news on mono yet (CURSES!!)
Oct. 15, 2009, 8:21 a.m. CST
by Kentucky Colonel
Gotta run upstairs and see if there is a "Stereo/Mono" switch on my old assed receiver (I know the Pioneer dosen't, but again it's not in a wood & steel case that weighs 80 lbs).
Oct. 15, 2009, 1:16 p.m. CST
can't modern equipment just switch to mono on their own? just mix both channels in one? I remember my old cassette player from the 80s could do it.
Oct. 15, 2009, 4:31 p.m. CST
... can result in phase cancellation - meaning that the sound is thinner and can have a "comb filter" effect.<p> Modern mixers carefully check for this - and regularly check their stereo mixes for phase cancellations in mono.<p> Back in the '60s, when stereo was a novelty in the UK, the mono mix would receive lavish care and attention, the stereo mix would be a rather cursory quick mix for a niche market.<p> The result, in general was there was no meticulous checking to see whether the stereo mix could be summed to mono without artifacts.
Oct. 15, 2009, 5:17 p.m. CST
George Martin said that. All the Beatles preferred the mono mixes until they transitioned completely to stereo. So that they way I'll listen to them.
Oct. 15, 2009, 10:24 p.m. CST
by Life Proof
The mono mixes are, in a lot of cases, radically different than the stereo. This has been mentioned before, but the Beatles themselves supervised the mono mixes of ALL the albums with George Martin. The stereo mixes were all done hastily by Geoff Emerick and co. after, which resulted in losing the spontaneous ideas and lots of studio notes that were conceived during the mono mixing process. What you are proposing is known as a "fold-down" mix, which is not actually a true mono mix.
Oct. 16, 2009, 7:35 a.m. CST
certainly isn't the rooftop gig, if that's what it's meant to be. i don't think its even the beatles.
Oct. 16, 2009, 10:11 a.m. CST
by Life Proof
It's not the rooftop gig, but it is the Beatles.
Oct. 16, 2009, 10:20 a.m. CST
So do any of these sets include a pseudo-stereo version of this song? I've never heard a decent stereo cut of She Loves You anywhere...
Oct. 16, 2009, 11:26 a.m. CST
Oct. 16, 2009, 12:27 p.m. CST
Don't by this..overrated crap..just torrent it and be happy..
Oct. 16, 2009, 12:57 p.m. CST
where's it from, do you know? it doesn't look like their stage style at all...
Oct. 16, 2009, 3:47 p.m. CST
by Life Proof
It's from a rehearsal at Shea Stadium.
Oct. 16, 2009, 4:49 p.m. CST
is the Beatles performing in Paris in 1965.
Oct. 16, 2009, 5:51 p.m. CST
Here's a great blow-by-blow look at the various versions of Let It Be at allmusic.com: http://tinyurl.com/ykbmd32. I'll quote a portion of it. "As the title should make clear, Let It Be... Naked is not Get Back. Where Get Back was designed to be deliberately loose, complete with ragged performances and spoken asides, Naked is a deliberately professional piece of work, with all of the rough edges smoothed down. Consequently, it's not so much an archival release, but more like the audio equivalent of George Lucas' Star Wars special editions, complete with controversies along the lines of Han Solo not shooting Greedo first. Let It Be is recognizable in its Naked form, but it's been cleaned up, mixed up, and altered, gaining the superb "Don't Let Me Down" at the expense of "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae," as the song sequence has been shuffled and the dialogue has been cut out completely (perhaps Paul wasn't too keen on John's mock "and now here's Hark the Herald Angels come" preceding "Let It Be"). Those are merely the obvious changes, too. Throughout the record, there have been edits, splices, and polishes, some of which are a little disarming, such as the lack of the coda on "Get Back" (including no "hope we passed the audition" from John) and a different guitar solo on "Let It Be" (a solo different than either the single or album version). .... But Naked doesn't set the record straight; it further clouds the waters by presenting a third version of the sessions, one that is no more accurate than the original album. It could be argued, in fact, that without Lennon's wiseass remarks and larks like "Dig It" it feels less like the sessions, which were ramshackle (in fact, they were directionless, as the bonus "Fly on the Wall" disc reveals). But it is also true that Naked is a finished album, with polished intros and outros, and is overall slightly stronger on a track-by-track basis. These changes make it a sleeker, slicker album, but it's hard not to miss the off-the-cuff aura of Let It Be, which contained more character and revelations than this revised version."
Oct. 16, 2009, 6:47 p.m. CST
scorekeeper, i registered at the site specifically to comment on this review. you might be a serious musician; i can't tell. you're probably a bit of a gearhead, or at a minimum you like talking about instruments. swell! but this needs some fucking editing. your malapropisms give off the usual AICN whiff of melodramatic overwriting, whatever, but there's a little tincture of dilettantism in there too, baby. a bass guitar isn't 'discerning.' beatlemania does not 'quake.' 'it should certainly exceed the value of their worth' is nonsense. the creativity of a rock song does not 'supercede its contemporaries,' it 'surpasses that of its contemporaries' (and the proper spelling is 'supersede' in any case). 'impedance' is a technical term (you presumably want 'impediment'?). this entire paragraph - "The second greatest benefit to these remastered albums is Paul's melodious bass. I've always considered Paul McCartney to be one of the premiere rock 'n roll bassists of our time. His inherent gift for melody has been ubiquitous in his playing since relegated to bass duty during the earliest days of the band. The unique 1962 Höfner 500/1 that Paul plunked was perfectly suited for his particular playing style. While the discerning qualities of the hollow bodied, flat-wound strung Höfner were always present in the '87 remasters, it is even more apparent in the '09 remasters. It's a glorious instrument which gracefully booms beneath the guitars with an ample amount of low-frequency presence without a hint of muddiness." - is an ungodly fucking jumble that manages to say 'i like the new clear bass sound' without actually communicating any information about that sound. you don't 'pit...with,' you pit *against*. 'a day in the life' might be an exemplary work or something or other, but it does not 'define ____'s genius.' and this sentence - "It's musical weight does not deter from the integrity but rather gives it a fuller aural spectrum that is complimentary of the original material" - contains at least five writerly errors. i know you've got a big hard-on for these albums like pretty much everyone else in the english-speaking world, and i know you're jonesing to talk about the beautiful expensive sonics. go go go. but this is a written medium, alas, and there are few things as frustrating in a reviewer as compulsive overwriting, vocabulary abuse, and banality dressed up in jargon. if you wanna say some shit about some music, SAY IT. but quit skullfucking the english language while you do. WE NEED THOSE EYE SOCKETS. thank you.
Oct. 16, 2009, 6:48 p.m. CST
and here i was, doubting i could dislike this website any more than i already did...
Oct. 16, 2009, 7:52 p.m. CST
What happened to the capital letters in your screed? Anyway, "gracefully booms beneath the guitars with an ample amount of low-frequency presence without a hint of muddiness" DOES communicate some information about the sound doesn't it? If you think Scorekeeper is skullfuxing the English language try reading any of Harry's stuff.
Oct. 16, 2009, 8:25 p.m. CST
by Life Proof
My mistake! I knew it was actually the Beatles at least...the amps and Beatles resonant kick head are a dead giveaway.
Oct. 16, 2009, 11:28 p.m. CST
You ought to swallow some of your own medicine.
Oct. 17, 2009, 12:39 a.m. CST
...your comments are dead-on! ScoreKeeper's article is proof that on-line journalism is about as incompetent and sloppy as it gets. I also want to point out the elementary problems in getting subject-verb agreements in a few of his sentences, and the poor grammar littered throughout the rambling and pretentious article. Good work to you for bringing up points I was too damn lazy to write-up.
Oct. 17, 2009, 6:27 p.m. CST
No way. I've have both mp3 (high bitrate) and the CD of Abbey Road and you can really hear the difference. The mp3s sound squashed. Flac might sound great. But just buy the damned CDs already. I can say having purchased Abbey Road it's well worth it if you love the Beatles. It was like hearing it the first time again.
Oct. 18, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST
by ORGANIZED CHAOS
Hey guys can anyone help me out? I'm torn between the mono and the stereo boxset. On one hand, I heard these new stereo mixes are great and better than the mono ones. Plus I mostly listen to music on my laptop and ipod with earphones and it's apparently really weird to listen to mono with earphones. On the other hand The Beatles themselves said that the mono mixes are the way the records should be heard. I'm kinda torn here. MONO or STEREO? Also does copying a song from the CD to itunes lessen its quality? Or is it just mp3s that are of lower quality?
Oct. 18, 2009, 1:57 p.m. CST
It is a slightly different listening experience from the traditional mono masters.
Oct. 18, 2009, 10:48 p.m. CST
Oct. 19, 2009, 7:39 p.m. CST
by dr sauch
My god, there is no more overhyped band in existence than the Beatles. They're moderately catchy, thats about it.
Oct. 20, 2009, 8:57 p.m. CST
by Peter Franks
Really. How about instead of your nonsensical diatribe, you write your own fucking reviews on your own fucking site. Pretentious ass. Oh, and no one gives a shit why you registered to post here. Fucking douche.
Oct. 26, 2009, 9:49 p.m. CST
McCartney is a asshole. Lennon was just a hippie and Ringo... a lucky motherfucker.
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