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OT: newly remastered Beatles albums -- mono or stereo?


Dana.

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We don't yet know they'll be brickwall limiting it to death. There's been some contrary reports about the approach they'll take. We might get lucky like when Bob Lustwid remastered the Stones catalogue -- which, BTW, is about to be wrecked after the recent label-change and brought to "up-to-date standards".

 

As for mono vs. stereo, I find each has its merits. I listened back and forth to the mono vs. stereo version of Pink Floyd's debut album, from the recent box set anniversary edition, and find that I ultimate like the mono version better for its intimacy and emotional depth, but that the stereo version is more fun to listen to when focusing on singling out instruments in the mix and what sounds were used and how they were used.

 

But the truth, of course, is that early stereo tended to be pretty bad, before more engineers got the art down. In particular, much of it was rather hard-panned ot didn't have enough in the centre channel or especially didn't centre key instruments like bass, drums, and vocals.

 

In The Beatles' case, the US vinyl was notorious in not using the correct masters in some cases (and I don't mean the incorrect mastered version of the right mix, but even the wrong take, sometimes being almost a different song as a result). The stereo wasn't true stereo but was electronically derived with, as far as I know, no human intervention to encourage musical results.

 

It was for this reason, and the bastardisation of album song lorder and contents, that I went to the UK pressings the first chance I got. I was thankful the CD's followed the UK versions, but didn't feel the transfers were all that great. Not bad per se, but a bit disappointing. The Yellow Submarine "redo" a few of years back was more revealing, and hopefully a template for how the full catalogue will be handled.

 

That release has no instrumentals, which I kind of liked in that film, but rather more closely follows the song content of the film, regardless of duplication with other albums. I can't remember if the original soundtrack album was deleted in the process. I never picked up the remastered "1" which apparently also was a higher-resolution redo vs. a repackaging of earlier remasters.

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There are only one or two Beatles albums that were intended by George Martin to be heard in stereo. All the early stuff was indeed mixed to 2 track, but Sir George himself has said that as the delivery system...AM radio.. was mono, he used the 2 track deck as an extra 'multitrack'.

 

By the way, if you load some of the original 2 track Beatles work into your DAW, you can learn a bit about editing.

 

My buddy Bill J Oliver is a Beatles fan, and he likes the mono versions better. He says that as GM didn't care about the mono releases, he let the band have a bigger say in the sound and they have bigger bass and drum sounds. I've never compared, so I can't say.

 

I also think that the 'best' versions are on vinyl, and I don't plan to re-buy my Beatle collection once again.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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. The Yellow Submarine "redo" a few of years back was more revealing, and hopefully a template for how the full catalogue will be handled.

I will respectfully disagree with that.

The Yellow Submarine "songtrack" released a few years ago was a scary piece of revisionist history. I do not want these songs remixed. Remastered, yes, but the George Martin mixes to me are an integral part of the work, and should not be messed with. THe most egregious offense though, was having the strings in Eleanor Rigby out of time (noticably late), totally changing the feel of the song. A crime.

All that said - the catalog is in bad need of remastering. I hope they do it justice. As 16 bit CD's are probably on their way out as high end audio media, I am hoping and guessing that they are creating higher resolution masters as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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yeah, nobody liked that Yellow Sub remix, as nobody liked the original Stones remix to CD (circa 1980s...), which had nothing to do with the band or their original vision.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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The 50th anniversary editions will be released in an other three years staring with 'Please Please Me' in March 2013.

 

Mixing 60s music is a tough call. The Stones London US Albums always sounded like crap. The singles were mastered so much hotter. Something like 'Get off my Cloud' or 'Honky Tonk Women' came blasting through car radios, transistors, and cheap victrolas (as did 'Lady Madonna' and many Beatles singles). Some of the CD versions today sound 'bleh' like they never heard of tape saturation.

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What I find ironic is that some of these songs are over 40 years old. Who was that said "Rock 'n roll" will never last? I hope he didn't bet on the ponies. :/

 

 

Mike T.

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I wonder at specificity of terms here.

 

When I looked this up on dogpile, all I read on many sites was that they're being "remastered", the most in-depth comments included that engineers were using noise filtering technology to remove "mic pops", etc.

While one wonders if some of the human quality might be removed (no more Mal Evans counting down the measures in "Day In The Life" or the removal of the airconditioning noise from that song's ending fade ?!), there seems no suggestion that there's "remixing" being done.

 

Honestly, it sounds like they're marketing the video attachments more than anything.

d=halfnote
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I am a purist when it comes to The Beatles. I have heard the LOVE album and admit I liked it, but in a purist-dismissive sort of way.

 

However, I have some friends whose musical taste is beyond question - went to Vegas and saw the Cirque du Soleil performance of LOVE, and were blown away. Apparently even the seating has speakers for the newly-remixed surround sound, the quality is stunning.

 

What I found most interesting (and dismissive) is that so many non-musician folks had suddenly "heard stuff they hadn't heard before" due to the remixes... although as a musician and original Beatle freak, I had heard everything, knew it was there, and was more enamored with Sir George & Son's creative handling of the material than anything else.

 

I'm not trying to go off the topic but in terms of the value of revisits and re-mixes, I really would like to see LOVE live, get the whole sonic experience of what they were trying to achieve, through the visual experience.

 

I also trust George Martin. I think he's the one holding the torch, actually.

 

 

 

 

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Well, we won a "Technical Grammy Award" for our part in Love, but in spite of that, I can't quite get myself to like the mash-up approach. Yet I have a special place in my heart for how George's songs got trandformed, just as I am so glad that McCartney corrected the errors of the Let It Be production to show us what a great song "For You Blue" really is (I used to hate it intensely).

 

I have always wanted to hear how Abbey Road would sound without the disc mastering (as opposed to production mastering) error that was made: "Her Majesty" was supposed to follow "Mean Mr. Mustard", or maybe preceded it -- my notes are at home, and I forget which was the case. I always meant to try that myself on a tape deck, but these days one would line it up in iTunes if one had digital copies of the material (I don't).

 

As I get older, I have less and less of an appreciation for the way the Beatles catalogue was produced. The engineering is magnificent, but I think George Martin overproduced. I often like the rehearsal versions better, as being more intimate. I feel even more this way about Simon & Garfunkle and much prefer Simon's solo work, just as I prefer the individual Beatles' solo work to their collective efforts under Sir George Martin.

 

This is not meant to dis GM, who is extremely talented and whose musicality focused the Beatles and made them popular. Without him they were nothing; just a bar band that would eventually fade to history. It is not enough to be a good songwriter, in terms of reaching worldwide v. local fame. But I think at times he carried his meddling too far. Not really so much on mid-period albums, which in my view remain the strongest.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

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