The Beatles (The Original Studio Recordings)
The Beatles (The Original Studio Recordings)
by The Beatles
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Record Label: Emi
Digitally remastered 17 disc box set (16 CDs + DVD) containing all 14 original Beatles albums released between 1963 and 1970 plus the two CD Past Masters collection of non-album tracks and a bonus DVD containing all the mini documentaries that can be found as enhanced tracks on each of the individual CD releases. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere. The albums have been remastered at Abbey Road Studios in London utilizing state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. Within the CDs' new packaging, the booklet includes detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. Capitol.
|Audio CD Release Date:||September 09, 2009|
|Number Of Discs:||16|
|Format:||Box set, Original recording remastered|
|Average Customer Rating:|| based on 523 reviews|
|1. ||I Saw Her Standing There|
|3. ||Anna (Go to Him)|
|6. ||Ask Me Why|
|7. ||Please Please Me|
|8. ||Love Me Do|
|9. ||P.S. I Love You|
|10. ||Baby It's You|
|11. ||Do You Want to Know a Secret|
|12. ||A Tast of Honey|
|13. ||There's a Place|
|14. ||Twist and Shout|
|1. ||It Won't Be Long|
|2. ||All I've Got to Do|
|3. ||All My Loving|
|4. ||Don't Bother Me|
|5. ||Little Child|
|6. ||Till There Was You|
|7. ||Please Mister Postman|
|8. ||Roll Over Beethoven|
|9. ||Hold Me Tight|
|10. ||You Really Got a Hold on Me|
|11. ||I Wanna Be Your Man|
|12. ||Devil in Her Heart|
|13. ||Not a Second Time|
|14. ||Money (That's What I Want)|
|1. ||A Hard Day's Night [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|2. ||I Should Have Known Better [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|3. ||If I Fell [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|4. ||I'm Happy Just to Dance with You [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|5. ||And I Love Her [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|6. ||Tell Me Why [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|7. ||Can't Buy Me Love [from the Film "A Hard Day's Night"]|
|8. ||Any Time at All|
|9. ||I'll Cry Instead|
|10. ||Things We Said Today|
|11. ||When I Get Home|
|12. ||You Can't Do That|
|13. ||I'll Be Back|
|1. ||No Reply|
|2. ||I'm a Loser|
|3. ||Baby's in Black|
|4. ||Rock and Roll Music|
|5. ||I'll Follow the Sun|
|6. ||Mr. Moonlight|
|7. ||Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!|
|8. ||Eight Days a Week|
|9. ||Words of Love|
|10. ||Honey Don't|
|11. ||Ever Little Thing|
|12. ||I Don't Want to Spoil the Party|
|13. ||What You're Doing|
|14. ||Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby|
|1. ||Help! [from the Film "Help! "]|
|2. ||The Night Before [from the Film "Help! "]|
|3. ||You've Got to Hide Your Love Away [from the Film "Help! "]|
|4. ||I Need You [from the Film "Help! "]|
|5. ||Another Girl [from the Film "Help! "]|
|6. ||You're Going to Lose That Girl [from the Film "Help! "]|
|7. ||Ticket to Ride [from the Film "Help! "]|
|8. ||Act Naturally|
|9. ||It's Only Love|
|10. ||You Like Me Too Much|
|11. ||Tell Me What You See|
|12. ||I've Just Seen a Face|
|14. ||Dizzy Miss Lizzy|
|1. ||Drive My Car|
|2. ||Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)|
|3. ||You Won't See Me|
|4. ||Nowhere Man|
|5. ||Think for Yourself|
|6. ||The Word|
|8. ||What Goes On|
|10. ||I'm Looking Through You|
|11. ||In My Life|
|13. ||If I Needed Someone|
|14. ||Run for Your Life|
|2. ||Eleanor Rigby|
|3. ||I'm Only Sleeping|
|4. ||Love You To|
|5. ||Here, There and Everywhere|
|6. ||Yellow Submarine|
|7. ||She Said She Said|
|8. ||Good Day Sunshine|
|9. ||And Your Bird Can Sing|
|10. ||For No One|
|11. ||Doctor Robert|
|12. ||I Want to Tell You|
|13. ||Got to Get You into My Life|
|14. ||Tomorrow Never Knows|
|1. ||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|2. ||With a Little Help from My Friends|
|3. ||Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds|
|4. ||Getting Better|
|5. ||Fixing a Hole|
|6. ||She's Leaving Home|
|7. ||Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!|
|8. ||Within You Without You|
|9. ||When I'm Sixty-Four|
|10. ||Lovely Rita|
|11. ||Good Morning Good Morning|
|12. ||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)|
|13. ||A Day in the Life|
|1. ||Magical Mystery Tour [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|2. ||The Fool on the Hill [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|3. ||Flying [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|4. ||Blue Jay Way [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|5. ||Your Mother Should Know [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|6. ||I Am the Walrus [from the Film "Magical Mystery Tour"]|
|7. ||Hello Goodbye|
|8. ||Strawberry Fields Forever|
|9. ||Penny Lane|
|10. ||Baby You're a Rich Man|
|11. ||All You Need Is Love|
|1. ||Back in the U.S.S.R.|
|2. ||Dear Prudence|
|3. ||Glass Onion|
|4. ||Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da|
|5. ||Wild Honey Pie|
|6. ||The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill|
|7. ||While My Guitar Gently Weeps|
|8. ||Happiness Is a Warm Gun|
|9. ||Martha My Dear|
|10. ||I'm So Tired|
|13. ||Rocky Raccoon|
|14. ||Don't Pass Me By|
|15. ||Why Don't We Do It in the Road?|
|16. ||I Will|
|2. ||Yer Blues|
|3. ||Mother Nature's Son|
|4. ||Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey|
|5. ||Sexy Sadie|
|6. ||Helter Skelter|
|7. ||Long, Long, Long|
|8. ||Revolution I|
|9. ||Honey Pie|
|10. ||Savoy Truffle|
|11. ||Cry Baby Cry|
|12. ||Revolution 9|
|13. ||Good Night|
|1. ||Yellow Submarine|
|2. ||Only a Northern Song|
|3. ||All Together Now|
|4. ||Hey Bulldog|
|5. ||It's All Too Much|
|6. ||All You Need Is Love|
|7. ||Pepperland [Original Film Score]|
|8. ||Sea of Time [Original Film Score]|
|9. ||Sea of Holes [Original Film Score]|
|10. ||Sea of Monsters [Original Film Score]|
|11. ||March of the Meanies [Original Film Score]|
|12. ||Peppeland Laid Waste [Original Film Score]|
|13. ||Yellow Submarine in Pepperland [Original Film Score]|
|1. ||Come Together|
|3. ||Maxwell's Silver Hammer|
|4. ||Oh! Darling|
|5. ||Octopus's Garden|
|6. ||I Want You (She's So Heavy)|
|7. ||Here Comes the Sun|
|9. ||You Never Give Me Your Money|
|10. ||Sun King|
|11. ||Mean Mr Mustard|
|12. ||Polythene Pam|
|13. ||She Came in Throught the Bathroom Window|
|14. ||Golden Slumbers|
|15. ||Carry That Weight|
|16. ||The End|
|1. ||Two of Us|
|2. ||Dig a Pony|
|3. ||Across the Universe|
|4. ||I Me Mine|
|5. ||Dig It|
|6. ||Let It Be|
|7. ||Maggie Mae|
|8. ||I've Got a Feeling|
|9. ||One After 909|
|10. ||The Long and Winding Road|
|11. ||For You Blue|
|12. ||Get Back|
|1. ||Love Me Do [Original Single Version]|
|2. ||From Me to You|
|3. ||Thank You Girl|
|4. ||She Loves You [Mono Version]|
|5. ||I'll Get You [Mono Version]|
|6. ||I Want to Hold Your Hand|
|7. ||This Boy|
|8. ||Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand|
|9. ||Sie Liebt Dich|
|10. ||Long Tall Sally|
|11. ||I Call Your Name|
|12. ||Slow Down|
|14. ||I Feel Fine|
|15. ||She's a Woman|
|16. ||Bad Boy|
|17. ||Yes It Is|
|18. ||I'm Down|
|1. ||Day Tripper|
|2. ||We Can Work It Out|
|3. ||Paperback Writer|
|5. ||Lady Madonna|
|6. ||The Inner Light|
|7. ||Hey Jude|
|9. ||Get Back|
|10. ||Don't Let Me Down|
|11. ||The Ballad of John and Yoko|
|12. ||Old Brown Shoe|
|13. ||Across the Universe|
|14. ||Let It Be|
|15. ||You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) [Mono Version]|
|Average Customer Review: ( 523 customer reviews )
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689 of 718 found the following review helpful:
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Beatlemania lives on! Sep 09, 2009
By Timothy Swan
Who could have ever thought it would have been possible? 09/09/09 has become a red-letter date in the history of Beatle-dom. It could be the repetitive nature of the phrase "Number Nine, Number Nine" featured in the track "Revolution 9" from "The White Album". Or, even the bit of dialogue "dial 9-9-9" from the 1965 motion picture "Help!" However, 09/09/09 has become important for a far better reason.
After more than 22 years of having The Beatles' albums on CD, we are finally treated to the definitive box set of Beatles music. This time, the folks at EMI and Apple finally got things right for a change. While having Beatles CDs is a thrill, it is now even more-so with this brilliant audio collection. For the very first time, their entire recorded output has been remastered for the 21st century, complete with unique liner notes and special digipak-packaging to boot. With the exception of the "Past Masters" set, each disc also contains a brief mini-documentary about that album. These short bits can only be utilised with the assistance of a computer's disc drive. However, the box set does include a bonus DVD disc featuring all of these short sequences together so you can enjoy it on your very own DVD player. What you have here are the original British Beatles albums just like what had been released before; only now, the listener can enjoy the first 4 albums - "Please Please Me". "With The Beatles", "A Hard Day's Night", "Beatles For Sale" - available in true stereo for the very first time. Combined with the remaining 9 albums recorded by the group between 1965 and 1970, this is a masterpiece set, and a special treasure trove of timeless, classic songs that changed the entire structure of popular music as we know it today.
Each CD is carefully and painstakingly put together in a very special 3-border fold-out, which allows the CD to be housed in a slot on the far right-hand side (except for the double discs, which have their CDs fitted inside the packaging). Each title also comes with a special CD booklet containg many unreleased photographs that represent the time when each album was originally released, plus well-written liner notes (including the original notes from the first 4 albums). The "Yellow Submarine" booklet contains both the original UK and US back cover notes together for the very first time. And, what a thrill it is to finally be able to have the photo/comic-strip booklet from "Magical Mystery Tour", that was initially issued in the American LP in 1967, in an official CD release for the very first time. The "White Album" packaging includes the original poster, in a CD sized reproduction, that features the photo collage on one side, and the album's song-lyrics on the other side. This marks the second time that this poster was made available in a "White Album" CD release, following the 30th anniversary reissue from 1998.
The sound quality of the songs are, without a doubt, the very best that I have ever heard before. For the first time, the audio quality of each track is sharp, crisp, crystal clear and truly an audiophile's dream come true. It should also be noted that the songs "Love Me Do" (both versions), "P.S. I Love You", "Only A Northern Song", "She Loves You", "I'll Get You" and "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" are all presented in their original monaural mixes, whereas the remaining songs are all in true stereo. Even "I Am The Walrus" still has its orignal mix of half-stereo/half-duophonic, just like the first time around. All in all, this box set far surpasses all other box sets that have come before.
And, the bonus DVD of the mini documentaries is also well-produced. Each segment features audio comments from The Beatles themselves along with George Martin. This DVD gives a fascinating insight into why these classic albums have stood the test of time so well, and continue to be so popular, even into the 21st century.
Many current and legendary artists have called The Beatles a major influence. One listen to this music and you too will see why. Beatlemania will live on forever!
312 of 329 found the following review helpful:
Finally, The Sound Quality The Beatles Deserve!! Sep 09, 2009
I was disappointed with the 1987 CDs, so I put my Mobile Fidelity albums (state of the art record albums back then, from the master tapes) onto CD around 1992 and have been listening to those since. I long since sold my 1987 CDs. Now I can get rid of those Mobile Fidelity CDs because the sound quality of these remastered CDs exceeds even them.
For those 1987 CDs the first four albums were in mono. I can sort of understand that for the first two, with their distinct, wide 2-track separation. But the second two had four-track and sounded great in stereo. At any rate, I preferred all four in stereo. So went to extreme measures to get it, in quality. Now those are all here in glorious stereo in this set.
I was afraid that they would narrow the separation on the first two albums. Fortunately they did not. If you want to listen to those two with headphones, you may be disappointed with the sound -- get the mono, but listening to them through speakers, several feet away, the stereo adds an outstanding dimension to the sound.
Throughout this set, the bass is more evident, the drums are sharper - the quality just jumps out at you throughout -- a testament to the much more sophisticated digitization techniques they have today than in 1987. A job well done!!
523 of 562 found the following review helpful:
An edition to celebrate the greatest band of all time. Sep 09, 2009
By Paulo Leite
As many of you, I am a huge Beatles fan. To me they are simply the best thing that ever happened to 20th century music. Their songs echo everywhere we go in the works of countless bands they influenced. And they are still beautiful after all these years.
So it was with a lot of anticipation that I bought this stereo set. And as I opened it, I must say I was overwhelmed with all the care, love and effort put by EMI in making this set the Beatles celebration they deserve.
ABOUT THE BOX ITSELF
The whole package comes in a beautifully crafted box with the Beatles logo. Opening it, I found the most beautiful set of CDs. Each one in a digipack reproducing the original artwork. Those digipack editions are very fragile because basically it is all paper. So I do recommend the purchase of this stereo box - so the CDs are kept safe.
The digipacks come with photos and the artwork of each disc is simply gorgeous.
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Wow... I sounds beautiful.
Not only the stereo sounds great, the whole sound looks sharper, clearer and brighter. It look like it was all recorded yesterday (ha!).
Listening to ELEANOR RIGBY, MICHELLE, YESTERDAY, FOR NO ONE, AND I LOVE HER, I FEEL FINE and CAN'T BUY ME LOVE (for example) was a wonderful experience. The recording simply comes to life with a beautiful stereo sound like nothing I ever heard. Those old editions from 1987 really sound awful when compared. For No One is a great example: the french horn part is is much more dynamic and warm.
The later recordings like ABBEY ROAD and GET BACK sound simply amazing. GET BACK (the song) is so clearer I felt I was listening to all instruments live in my room. It sounds like all instruments are really there together without the muffled sound of the old edition (funny I say "muffled" now since I was used to think those old editions were great). It is like listening to it all for the first time.
On ABBEY ROAD, for example, the great string of non stop songs in the middle of the album is so rich I had to play certain segments again (because I was amazed). POLYTHENE PAM and SHE CAME THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW are amazing! - And they left me feeling that The Beatles' lesser known songs must all be rediscovered because they sound so good! George Harrison's SOMETHING almost made me cry.
Finally we have The Beatles we can blast through our speakers and completely obliterate any Justin Timberlake or Jonas Brothers our neighbors are playing. (laughs) Just put GLASS ONION, I AM THE WALRUS or CARRY THAT WEIGHT and look at the neighbors' kids' eyes as they put Kanye West's CD back in its case. (laughs)
I was afraid the stereo separation would feel plastic and artificial - I don't know why - but no, I did not have that feeling while listening to this set. It seems it was all recorded and handled with lots of care, love and cutting edge technology.
This is a great day to celebrate the biggest band ever!
And congratulations to the EMI team who made this possible and put this all together.
I'm very happy.
525 of 568 found the following review helpful:
A Cheapskate's (Relatively) Guide To The Mono and Stereo Re-Issues Sep 10, 2009
By James N. Perlman
Introduction: The following is pretty much a full review of both the mono and stereo reissues largely written in real time as a series of e-mails to an old friend who once owned a legendary record store here in Chicago. The story of the reissues really comes down to the technical limitations of two-track, four-track, eight-track, etc. recordings and the relative complexity of the music of the Beatles. Listening occurred on what would be considered an audiophile system with Quad 988's as the speakers. If following reading this review, you wish to read an expanded essay by me on the box sets, please visit The Beatles Wiki site by Hyperarts.
Please Please Me: The sound on the mono is just amazing. You can hear the echo in the room as John sings Anna. The vocals just soar. Ringo was just so good, even at this early stage and so was Paul. They supported and framed the songs so perfectly. And just think, in twenty-one minutes, or so, Twist And Shout! Stereo can't hold a candle to this, if for no other reason than the left/right "stereo" found later in With The Beatles, Rubber Soul and Revolver.
With The Beatles: As with Please Please Me, the mono sounds so, so, nice. As the stereo has that annoying left/right "stereo," no contest: mono hands down.
A Hard Day's Night: Seems better and more enjoyable in stereo. I think the reason is that they now had four tracks so George Martin could do proper stereo mixes and still have a mostly fresh first generationish sound. Remember, there were only two track available for Please Please Me. However, when they got to Rubber Soul and Revolver, four tracks weren't enough, which required, in some instances, numerous dubs of the four tracks to another four track tape, merging the four tracks to one track, thereby opening up three new tracks. While this degraded the sound somewhat it also made it difficult to back-track and do the after-thought stereo mixes, which is why we have the atrocious "stereo" of Rubber Soul and Revolver. Consequently, the reason the monos of these albums rule has mostly to do with technical limitations. While the mixes on A Hard Day's Night are true stereo mixes, they carry George Martin's idiosyncratic, but really right, decision to put the vocals in the center, the rhythm section to the left and the other instruments to the right. I always have loved how Martin took care to isolate the brilliant work of Ringo and Paul so many times instead of just following the convention of placing the drums in the center. This is why one of Martin's memoirs is entitled: "All You Need Is Ears."
The Beatles For Sale: Comments, preference and reasons for preference similar to A Hard Day's Night.
Help: Well, thank God we have three different versions to compare to make life ever so easy. First, mono is the definitive mix, that's a plus. As a minus, while it sounds richer, it is also a bit muddy compared to the stereo mixes. As for the stereo mixes, the remaster of George Martin's '87 remix does show some limiting in this new incarnation. A bit a hard to dial in the right volume. Sounds fuller, but that's the limiting. Not sure I care for this version too much. As for the `65 stereo version, that comes on the same disc as the mono version, as this album is somewhat acoustic, the absence of the limiting that was done to the new stereo remix/remaster is a plus. The delicacy is there in I Need You. Overall, the "old" stereo is prettier than the "new" stereo. One can argue over whether the "new" stereo or the ""old" stereo is better, I come down on the side of the "old" stereo, I like pretty. But as you get both the mono and the "old" stereo on the single mono disc, the cheapskate in me screams if you had a pistol to your head and only had to purchase one version of Help, it would be the "mono" disc.
Rubber Soul: Mono over stereo, if for no other reason than the left/rt channel mix that plagued Please, Please Me, With The Beatles and Revlover.
Revolver: There is a section of I Want To Tell You where Ringo is just so muscular and explosive in the mono that is missing in stereo and this is before we get to the issue of the left/right "stereo" of the stereo mix. Plus, there is just this overall richness of sound to the mono that is missing in the stereo. That said, it is a bit cooler to hear Tomorrow Never Knows in stereo. But, overall, mono.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: The things you have heard are correct about the mono mix, the clarity and control over the notes, instruments and vocals is all there. Overall, it just sounds better, fuller and richer than the stereo, plus it is what the boys intended. Oddly, the thing that was most breathtaking was She's Leaving Home; just a full, gorgeous, sound. In stereo, it just sounds relatively wrong; thin compared to the mono. That said, because Day In The Life is such a mind-f the stereo is the definitive version of this song.
Magical Mystery Tour: While Pepper's sounded better in Mono, MMT sounds better in stereo.
The Beatles (The White Album): Both versions have their merits, you need both. If you can only go for one, it's the stereo.
Abbey Road: The defining moment of these reissues, and why it took four years, may be found on AR's I Want You (She's So Heavy). Because they couldn't take the tape hiss out without compromising the sound, they didn't. But when it came to John's final "yeah" which was over saturated and clipped previously, they were able to take the clipping out, and for the first time, you can hear all of John's vocal. Second side now, Here Comes the Sun and now Because. Wonderful sound throughout. Can't wait for Ringo at the end.
Let It Be: Now that I have had the time to compare three versions of LIB, an original 1970 EMI vinyl, this remastered CD and LIB Naked, it turns out that LIB is one of the more interesting remaster releases. First, LIB Naked has it all. It is true to the original vision of the Beatles for this music. It has clarity, correct dynamics and musicality. One of the places you can hear this best is in the title track and the differences between the Martin and Spector mixes. Martin got the church-like nature of the song. Consequently, you get more organ and the choir-boy harmonies of John and George, which Spector dubbed over with horns, strings and over the top solos by George. And I'm with Sir Paul concerning the damage done by Phil to The Long And Winding Road. As for the 1970 LIB vinyl, it has its problems from a sonic standpoint, particularly as it is a Phil Spector production. This brings us to this remastered CD. It trumps the 1970 standard vinyl in clarity but not LIB Naked. The real surprise is that the compression added to this remaster actually makes this a more Phil Spectoresque production than the original. And surprisingly, I like it, at least compared with the 1970 vinyl. Still, Naked is what you want.
Mono Past Masters: Right now, listening to the The Inner Light, which I hate, but it sounds so, so, so good in mono that I may actually like it. And, look out, Paul's bass piano notes in Hey Jude are right there as is Ringo's tambourine. Can't wait for Revolution plus the mono songs from Yellow Submarine. The mono Past Masters would have been perfection if they had added a stereo Let It Be and The Ballad Of John and Yoko. After all, the "stereo" Past Masters is actually a mixture of stereo and mono.
So kids, here's where we end. Your core, oddly enough, should be the mono box set. Augment this with the stereo Hard Day's Night, The Beatles For Sale, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles, Abbey Road, Let It Be and stereo Past Masters.
Addendum: As I live in Chicago, and have access to one of the country's remaining great stereo stores, that also boast three incredibly knowledgeable owners and an original Sgt. Peppers British Stereo pressing, following posting this review I went over there to compare the original vinyl with the two new CD reissues. We listened to the reference system, Naim Audio electronic and Quad speakers. There was total agreement on what we heard. First, Pepper's mono CD had better tonal balance than Peppers stereo CD. Pepper's stereo CD had better coloration than the mono, but this was defeated by the harshness of the sound (more on harshness shortly). Thus, overall, between the two CD's we preferred the mono CD. All that said, the stereo original British vinyl pressing crushed both. It had both tonal correctness and coloration.
Now as to the harshness issue, please be mindful that I have listened to these discs on two audiophile systems. Something like harshness is likely to be more prevalent the higher up you get in the stereo food chain. Thus, someone who doesn't have an audiophile system may not experience the harshness at all, but it really is there. This may render some of the stereo CDs more listenable for these people than they were for me, at least when it comes to Pepper's.
9/12/09 THANKS TO ALL: The past few days, following the posting of my review, have been a lot of fun. So many people have taken the time to write me, quite a number saying the review was flat-out the best review of any sort they have read. Others shared memories and feelings about how important this music is to them. Amazingly, two brother, one in Boston one in Paris, found they were reading the same thread and were kind of amazed by the co-incidence. All in all, it has been a very rewarding experience. I thank Amazon for providing this opportunity, and those of you present and future who have/will take(n) the time to play.
70 of 71 found the following review helpful:
Ohhh, LOOK out! He has mono (and stereo). Nov 01, 2009
By Music fan in the Midwest
Fact: The stunning reaction to the mono set took nearly everyone by surprise.
Fiction: You made the wrong choice by buying the stereo set.
Fact: The vocals/instruments separation in some of the stereo albums is wider than the actual crosswalk shown on the Abbey Road cover.
Fiction: You made the wrong choice by buying the stereo set.
Fact: The mono set's enthusiasts' reviews have a lot of merit and are based on more than mere nostalgia.
Fiction: You made the wrong choice by buying the stereo set.
Being a 57-year-old Beatles fan has its advantages, not the least of which is having some perspective on the two current remastered sets from EMI. (By the way, I bought from Amazon the individual stereo CDs -- except for the YS soundtrack -- at low prices and applied the money I saved toward the mono box set, which I had intended to get all along.)
I don't consider myself a Beatles completist. Still, at one time or another over the years I have had and embraced the original Vee-Jay, Swan, and Capitol 45s; nearly all the mono and stereo albums from Capitol (the stereo versions of which I had rebought at least twice by 1980); various British, German, and other European imports (mono and/or stereo, depending on the album); reissued British EPs on vinyl; all the 1987 EMI compact discs; the three "Anthology" sets; the "YS Songtrack" and "1"; the Capitol box sets from a few years ago (which I really like); and now these terrific EMI remasters. And while I have never bought any Beatles bootleg CDs, over the years I have listened to other fans' exhaustive box sets of "Let It Be" and the BBC sessions, all kinds of live shows from around the world, and other entries in the band's unofficial output.
I mention this not in an attempt to impress anyone. There are many of you out there who have heard and own far more Beatles music than I ever have or ever will. But it underscores (1) the substantial amount of music the boys created in a short span of time; (2) the seemingly countless formats and mix variations -- some subtle, some striking -- of specific songs and of the albums themselves despite there being just "a" mono mix and just "a" stereo mix; and (3) the soul connection I have to this body of music. I wish I had experienced one of their live concerts during Beatlemania. But in early December of 1963 I did whip my head around at the dinner table to catch the CBS Evening News report on the growing Beatles phenomenon in Great Britain. That was my first clue. A month later, my mom and I watched a segment on the Beatles that the wry Jack Paar aired on his Friday night TV show in January 1964. And my folks, my kid brother, my grandparents, and I watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. I was hooked.
I should also point out that I'm not an audiophile; my whole sound system didn't cost me more than $3,000. That won't buy speaker wire in some high-end systems. But an actual audiophile (a guy half my age whose expertise and opinions I truly respect) helped me configure my listening room so that my 4-speaker system helps deliver warmth, clarity, presence, and punch whether the music is presented in mono or stereo and regardless of what kind of music it is.
I have listened to these 2009 remasters a lot in the past couple of months. Oh, I mixed in some Byrds and Beach Boys, some blues and jazz, and some country and folk here and there. But I have focused on these remasters.
Overall, I prefer the stereo mixes. And I'm not a stereo-only proponent anymore than I am a mono-is-best proponent. But I like the way the electric guitars ring and chime (especially George's Ric 12-string, which inspired another of my R&R heroes, Roger McGuinn) and the way the acoustic guitars hum. I like how Ringo -- one of my all-time favorite rock drummers -- cracks and thumps his drums. I like how Paul's bass lines, too often buried in the mix in previous vinyl and CD incarnations, prove once and for all just how good the guy was all along. I like how John's rhythm guitar sounds and how his vocal inflections emerge. Most of all, I like how those tight harmonies, whether they're based on the Everly Brothers' vocal arrangements or something the boys and George Martin created from scratch, fill this room. These stereo remasters make this very familiar music sound so fresh and vibrant and clear that I want to buy a round of drinks for the team of engineering professionals who spent four years of their lives to give us this Digital Age treasure-trove.
That said, I do like several of the mono mixes nearly as much and maybe more. Sgt. Pepper is thrilling to hear in its mono presentation. It really is. It's different enough from the stereo mix to draw my wife in from another room to exclaim, "I don't remember THAT being on there!" Another mono mix which arguably tops its stereo counterpart is Please Please Me. This seminal Beatles long-player has never sounded so good. Plus, like its 1987 EMI precursor, the title track -- my favorite of the band's early rockers along with "Twist And Shout" and "I Saw Her Standing There" -- is the version that's free of the fluffed vocals on the last verse. That alone was going to ensure I'd be buying the mono box set in addition to the stereo remasters. "Anna," "There's A Place," "Love Me Do" -- these and other tracks also sound great in mono. (I'm not sure any degree of remastering will spur me to like "Ask Me Why," with its "woo-woo-woo-woo" and "I-I-I-I" refrains, but that's just me.)
The mono remasters of With The Beatles and Beatles For Sale are also top-notch. (Though, again, new and improved sound still won't compel me to listen to "Mr. Moonlight" on a regular basis.) And, The Beatles (the "White Album") in mono is different enough from its stereo counterpart (and so rock-solid) that it too warrants a favorable comparison.
Still, the stereo mixes overall will remain the versions I most often pop into my CD player. They are exhilarating to listen to. So, if you bought the stereo set but have been mentally kicking yourself after having read all the rave reviews of the mono mixes, please know that you chose wisely. You really did. If your curiosity about the mono set hasn't subsided and you can afford to get it, do so. There are enough differences between the two mixes -- beyond their obvious channel separation -- that you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the talent and energy that went into creating each mix back in the day. But -- and this is my one big caution to you -- if you're unaccustomed to listening to classic rock and pop music in mono, you may find it a bit of a jolt to your senses. To your ears, mono Beatles music may indeed sound "muddy," "flat," and "dead" as termed by some fans who've posted reviews in one or both of the two box set forums. Personally I enjoy both mixes being offered in these 2009 remasters. That's because regardless of the artist or the genre of music we're talking about, mono and stereo mixes have both been part of my listening experience since I was a little kid back in the late 1950s. But that may not be true for you; your experience may be based more on one or the other. And so, as much as I dig the mono PPM and mono Sgt. Pepper, as much of a kick as I get from hearing both the subtle and dramatic differences between all the songs and albums presented in both mixes, these great-sounding stereo discs have now formed the core of my Beatles collection.
Ultimately, YOUR tastes and YOUR preferences are all that matter. Not my take on "mono vs. stereo" and not anyone else's. The fact that you are passionate about the music the boys and Sir George created all those years ago is reason enough to rejoice that you and I and millions of other Beatle people the world over finally have these dynamic remasters.
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