Digitally Remastered Beatles Albums - Coming in September

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
This morning's LA Times had an interesting article about how "all 12 studio albums will be reissued in their original UK configurations, with original album artwork and liner notes, as well as new essays, detailed historical notes, rare photos, previously unreleased studio chat among the band members and other extras...consumers should expect a significant improvement in sound quality from the remastering process." This project has been underway since 2005 at Abbey Road Studios in London.

I found this part highly interesting: "All Beatles albums before 1969's Abbey Road were intended by the group and longtime producer George Martin to be heard in mono...The mono mixes of those LPs is the way the Beatles themselves intended you to hear those albums. The stereo mixes were usually done as an afterthought by second engineers without any Beatles present...the mono mixes actually have noticeably different bits musically."

So, all the original Beatles albums (including the sonically magnificent Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [1967] were meant, deliberately, to be heard in mono. It was only with the band's last studio album, Abbey Road (recorded in the summer of 1969) that stereo became the norm, supplanting the mono.

Now, I know that, until well into the 1970s, albums were released in both mono and stereo due to the fact that lots of people didn't have stereo sets for quite some time. But I didn't know that the Beatles preferred mono to stereo. So, I sent the article's author an email.

And here's his response as to why this was so:

Actually, stereo wasn't a significant concern to the Beatles and George Martin until "The Beatles" (aka The White Album) in 1968. In Britain, very few people owned stereo systems in the early to mid-60s. They wanted to make their music sound the best it could for the rank-and-file fan, who usually listened on radio or old-school mono record players.

They absolutely preferred the mono mix of both "Sgt. Pepper" and the White Album. It was only by the time they recorded "Abbey Road" that they were going full-scale into stereo and, if you'll recall, the first stereo single they released was "Get Back/Don't Let Me Down" in 1969.

The stereo mixes on a lot of the earlier recordings were from working mixes that Martin made only so he could listen closely just to the vocals or the instrumentals before they made the final mixes of each recording. He never intended those to be released commercially, yet Capitol in the US demanded stereo versions for the growing audience here, which was a few years ahead of the UK in that respect. The Beatles always hated those releases.

Martin tweaked the 1965 stereo versions of "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" when they were issued on CD in 1987 to correct what he felt were technical mistakes with those mixes. He (and the surviving members of the band at that time) agreed that, because the first four albums were recorded - and were always intended to be heard - in mono, that's why they were issued in mono on CD originally. Stereo mixes of those albums have never been available on CD.

EMI is now making the early Parlophone stereo mixes available in these remasters (as opposed to the Capitol versions that heaped on lots of reverb), even though they weren't the Beatles' own choice as to how that music would be experienced.


So, these new digitially remastered CDs will include the real stereo mixes (that have never been previously released in any format) instead of the "working stereo mixes" that George Martin used and that found their way into the American albums.

AND, a separate boxed set will bring together the original mono mixes of the albums.

Interesting.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
I really, really, really, really, really, really really, really, really, really do not like the Beatles! One of the singers sounds like a guy who is on female hormones. Ugh! Sorry, I just like to rip on the Bugs! ;)
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I really, really, really, really, really, really really, really, really, really do not like the Beatles! One of the singers sounds like a guy who is on female hormones. Ugh! Sorry, I just like to rip on the Bugs! ;)

How can you not like the Beatles? That's (probably) un-American! Plus, they saved us from another ten years of Pat Boone records!
 

Whitefield

Puritan Board Junior
I really, really, really, really, really, really really, really, really, really do not like the Beatles! One of the singers sounds like a guy who is on female hormones. Ugh! Sorry, I just like to rip on the Bugs! ;)

How can you not like the Beatles? That's (probably) un-American! Plus, they saved us from another ten years of Pat Boone records!

They also saved us from another five years of the Dave Clark Five.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I am confused. Were these stereo versions created by Martin, the Beatles, both, or Capitol, or the digital remastering process?
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I am confused. Were these stereo versions created by Martin, the Beatles, both, or Capitol, or the digital remastering process?

Apparently, they are the stereo versions of the first four (UK) albums done by Parlophone Records (the Beatles original label in the UK when they signed with EMI in 1962). These albums were first released in mono only (at the Beatles' insistence) but the stereo mixes were legitimately done, at the time. But they are only now being issued officially for the first time.

The stereo albums that we (geezers) all bought back in the '60s from Capitol Records (the group's American label - owned by EMI since 1955) were based on those "working mixes" that George Martin made for his own private professional use. Also, Capitol whipped some extra reverb on those mixes. As the LA Times article stated, the Beatles always hated those American versions of their original British albums. This was because of (1) the stereo sound and (2) re-ordering of the material on the albums. One of the American albums, The Beatles Second Album (I think it was called) was invented out of whole cloth by putting together cover recordings of other people's material that the group had recorded.

By the time of, I think, Rubber Soul (1965 - generally considered to be their best album overall, by the way) or maybe Revolver (1966), the Beatles had enough financial clout to be able to tell the Americans at Capitol to "put 'em out the way we make 'em" or else.

I think I've got this right. As usual with all things Beatles, the history is complicated.
 
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