September 23, 2009

Beatles sell 2.25 million albums in 5 days

Beatles sell 2.25 million albums in 5 days
Sep 22, 9:28 PM (ET)
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nearly 40 years after breaking up, The Beatles are still breaking records for album sales.

EMI Group PLC says consumers in North America, Japan and the U.K. bought more than 2.25 million copies of the Fab Four's re-mastered albums in the first five days after their Sept. 9 release.

Most of the records were broken for most simultaneous titles in the top-selling charts by a single artist.

On Billboard magazine's pop catalog chart, for example, the band had 16 titles in the top 50, including all 14 re-mastered CDs and two box sets.

The Beatles' original U.K. studio albums were re-mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London over four years and released to coincide with the sale of "The Beatles: Rock Band" on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii.

September 16, 2009

Remastered CDs Review from TONEAudio



The Beatles Stereo and mono box sets
EMI/Capitol , CD
Beatles’ box in stereo and mono…

Please Please Me: The Beatles Remasters

TONEAudio Exclusive by: Bob Gendron


The cost of owning a good-sounding Beatles record just got significantly cheaper. Arriving 22 years after the band’s catalog was originally issued on compact disc, Capitol’s long-awaited remasters of the Fab Four’s 12 studio albums, Magical Mystery Tour, and the Past Masters collections—as well as the label’s limited-edition Beatles in Mono box set, comprising 10 studio records in their original mono mixes plus the Past Masters set—sound, as a whole, uniformly fantastic. It’s clear that the team of engineers responsible for the four-year project ensured that the world’s most important and famous pop catalog finally received the care it’s always deserved no matter what mix is heard. While hardcore fans will want both the mono and stereo editions, the general populace is almost guaranteed to be content with the widely available stereo versions. Not that everyone will be happy. All accomplishments aside, it’s a foregone conclusion that no matter what the results indicate, certain parties will complain, criticize, and nitpick. Those curmudgeonly detractors and obsessive freaks are better off waiting for the second coming of Christ; rumor is that the payoff will be a lot better.

For the majority of listeners, however, any temptation to spend hundreds of dollars on rare vinyl pressings should erode as they become acclimated to what often resembles hearing familiar records for the very first time. Such are the near-miraculous improvements in the key areas of information retrieval, hidden details, palpable physicality, expanded midrange, transient presence, and frequency response. As expected, the mono and stereo editions have their share of positives and negatives. Yet the benefits of the mono mixes reign supreme through Revolver, no surprise given that original producer George Martin intended for the Beatles’ records to be enjoyed in mono. With Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the tide begins to turn, yet efforts like The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) remain toss-ups for myriad reasons.

There will be little debate surrounding what box set received the superior packaging. Collecting a total of 13 discs in a plain and compact white box, The Beatles in Mono presents each album in replica mini-LP jackets that feature faithful reproductions of the original artwork, labels, and inserts. Protective plastic sleeves shroud the discs, and a re-sealable plastic cover slips over the glossy mini-vinyl CD holders. A booklet containing rare photos and copious notes by Kevin Howlett rounds out the rather economical and practical bundle. By contrast, The Beatles In Stereo set is housed in a shoebox-sized box that opens up to reveal two stacks of digipak CDs. (Unlike their mono counterparts, the stereo discs are available individually.) Enthusiasts should note that the discs slide in and out of the digipaks without any extra padding or protection. Still, the classy packages conform to the original vinyl artwork and contain archival photos, recording notes, and historical notes—but lack inserts and faithful gatefold replication. Each disc also comes embedded with a QuickTime mini-documentary about the respective album. Curiously, the set lacks an accompanying booklet. Not that it matters much.

What does matter, of course, is the sound. And it’s largely excellent, improving in accordance with time, parallel to advances in recording technology and the band’s groundbreaking studio techniques. As previously mentioned, every Beatles album through The White Album was mixed with the purpose of being heard in mono. Capitol’s remasters mark the initial occasion of Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, and Beatles for Sale being available on disc in a stereo mix; the converse is true for Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, and The Beatles. Finally, the mono editions of Help! and Rubber Soul also include the original stereo mix, which makes comparison listening that much easier.

Without diminishing the value and impact of the stereo editions, which blow away their 1987 digital predecessors in every imaginable facet, the mono discs are where it’s at for experiencing the Beatles in the most “authentic” manner. (Officially, no compression or de-noising was used on the mono mixes; a sum total of less than five minutes of de-noising graces the stereo editions.) Specifically, the group’s early records tend to sound unnatural in stereo, as the hard panning seems forced and artificial—which, in actuality, it is. In mono, the Beatles’ music thrives from ultra-dynamic front-to-back layering that, intentionally or not, often gives the impression of a stereo mix. The changes wrought by the remasters are dramatic.

Please Please Me is distinguished by a previously vacant fullness, richness, and enormity. There’s discernible air and echo around the swooping vocals on “Misery,” and resolute imaging on “I Saw Her Standing There”—quite a thrill. And the bottom end—quite possibly the single-biggest enhancement on all of the remasters—registers with a forceful thump rather than a dull, empty thud. No longer an undefined aural morass, “Twist and Shout” explodes with a clean yet musical clarity, the singing more distinctive and immediate, the instruments possessing true timbres and resonant clatter. And who ever notices the expressive “Yeah!” at the end of the take?

Similarly, the mono With the Beatles unfolds with ear-bending vibrancy and liveliness. The rolling vocal harmonizing on “All My Loving” astounds. Across-the-board upgrades in airiness, dimensionality, depth, size, and Paul McCartney’s vastly underrated bass lines are detectable on every song. And whether it’s the now-noticeable presence of the piano or the wonderfully rattling chords on “Money,” or discernible rhythmic rumble on “Hold Me Tight,” the record has received a startling facelift that even Hollywood’s most expensive plastic surgeon wouldn’t be able to configure. With the band long faulted for being too sweet, the mono remasters open up space for the argument that the Beatles possessed an edge—if not a slight mean streak (witness the 3-D imaging of “No Reply” off Beatles for Sale).

Vocal precision, smoothness, and extension become even more pronounced on Help! and Rubber Soul. Ditto for the realistic bottom end, long absent on most Beatles recordings. McCartney’s bass and Ringo Starr’s percussion ride side-by-side, and smart albeit illuminating shades and accents—the tambourine on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” the twangy pitch of the guitar strings on “Ticket to Ride,” the breathlessness of Lennon’s singing on “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” the natural fade-out on “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” Lennon’s sucking of air through his teeth on “Girl,” the barbershop-quartet swoons during “Michelle”—emerge with breathtaking clarity. Enmeshed with the song as a whole, Starr’s Hammond organ playing on “I’m Looking Through You” now comes across as an integral part of the arrangement.

Revolver marks the point at which the mono-versus-stereo debates begin to get interesting. Admittedly, the backward tape loops on “Tomorrow Never Knows” sound cooler in stereo. In addition, stereo is how most listeners are accustomed to hearing music; for some, mono seems bare. Yet all that’s sacrificed with the latter versus stereo is a larger soundstage, a perceived sense of “hugeness,” and the security of familiarity; mono mixes exhibit an organic presence, naturalness, purity, and outright musicality that render moot any tradeoff. The horns on “Got to Get You Into My Life” have never emitted such boldness or pizzazz; the transparency of the chords during “Here, There and Everywhere” and movement of the bounding piano in “Good Day Sunshine” are utterly staggering. Pure genius.

For kicks, comparing the 1987 digital issue of Sgt. Pepper’s to the new remasters lends perspective to just how awful the former are, and how amazing Capitol’s 2009 entries sound. Whereas the previous edition of the landmark record comes across as tinny, lifeless, shrill, flat, and canned—to the extent where listeners are forced to mentally fill in parts they think (and know) should be present—both versions of the revised Sgt. Pepper’s present the album as an entirely new adventure filled with immense detail, holographic soundstages, authentic studio dimensions, and shocking instrumental and textural surfaces that heretofore have been missing in action. Tracks such as “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” seemingly float on an ethereal bed of studio effects, with tremendous top-to-bottom frequency extension revealing trippy surprises such as bells, wood blocks, congas, and various other percussive trinkets that possess a reach-out-and-touch presence.
Sgt. Pepper’s signifies the first instance where stereo gains an upper hand. Compared to the stereo pressing, the mono edition features less impact, punch, and dynamics. In some ways, it’s almost underwhelming when heard against its technologically advanced mate. Ironically, the results seem to argue on behalf of the use of judicious compression—meaning that the strategy can indeed be positive when used for intended dynamic purposes and not taken to loudness extremes as it so often is in modern recordings. And that’s exactly what Sgt. Peppers—and the Beatles records that follow—now resemble; the remasters make them sound like contemporary state-of-the-art albums that are recorded properly and brim with mind-blowing features that never grow tiresome.

And yet, the mono version of Sgt. Pepper’s trumps the stereo in several regards. In stereo, “She’s Leaving” runs slower and lower in pitch; the laughter in “Within You Without You” is quieter at the end; McCartney’s scatting is hardly audible on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”; the psychedelic phrasing on “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” isn’t as clear. Such discrepancies owe to the time lapses that occurred between the mono and stereo mixes as well as the full (or partial) participation of the band and George Martin, both of which favored mono. Such discrepancies are why owning both the mono and stereo mixes of Revolver, Pepper’s, Magical Mystery Tour, and The Beatles borders on mandatory.

Accordingly, the stereo version of The White Album boasts life-size images and discerningly more pronounced frequency extension than its mono counterpart. The immersive experience gives birth to underexposed intricacies (the single snare drum strike that parallels the “shot” in “Rocky Raccoon”), defined footprints (McCartney’s bass purrs and growls), and completely new sounds (“Revolution 1” has what seems to be a horn—who knew?). Differences still abound. The mono version of “Helter Skelter” is shorter, sped up, and without Starr’s renowned “blisters on my fingers” comment. The aircraft effects during “Back in the U.S.S.R.” vary, and there are fewer grunts in “Piggies.” Due such distinctions—and no clear-cut winner between the two versions, although stereo does seem to have the edge—both versions are considered “authentic.”
Again, listeners get to be the bench judge, and most likely, won’t be able to come down on one side or another, which is another benefit of the series.

No painstaking decisions involve Abbey Road or Let It Be, as only stereo versions exist. Each album unfolds like never before—particularly Abbey Road. Thicker tracks such as “She’s So Heavy” come on as indestructible walls of sound replete with phenomenal low-end weight, superb definition, vivid dynamics, and unlimited ceilings and floors. Starr’s drumming on “The End” is absorbing and titanic; it sounds so good, it’s almost difficult to believe this is the Beatles, which, unless one had unlimited funds for collectable LPs, have never sounded great. Depending on one’s perspective, such a conclusion is the ultimate sign that the folks at Capitol and Abbey Road Studios not only succeeded but surpassed most expectations. For if the Beatles remasters signify the last great hurrah of the compact disc, at least the format is going out in style. –Bob Gendron


Remastered CDs Review from NY Times

September 6, 2009
Long and Winding Road, Newly Repaved
By ALLAN KOZINN, NEW YORK TIMES

THE newly remastered CDs of the Beatles’ original albums and singles, which EMI and Apple Corps, the Beatles’ company, are releasing on Wednesday, have less of a gee-whiz factor than The Beatles: Rock Band, which hits stores on the same day. But for those of us for whom the music is paramount — and who will forever refer to Rock Band as “the toy” — the game is a plastic tail wagging a cartoonish dog. And though the compact disc, as a format, may be on its deathbed, these remastered CDs are really the main event.



The complete catalog, in mono and stereo, has been given a careful digital upgrade. These are straightforward transfers of the albums as they were released in Britain, rather than the American versions, which were reconfigured by Capitol Records (to the Beatles’ chagrin). Do not look for bonus tracks: the only extras are making-of documentaries on each of the stereo discs. And although the stereo and mono mixes could have fit together on single CDs, in most cases EMI is selling them separately.

The up side: In most cases this music has dimension and detail that it never had before, and the new packaging reflects each album’s musical and cultural importance. Over all, the new discs sound substantially better than the Beatles’ original CDs, which EMI issued in 1987. The most striking and consistent improvements are a heftier, rounded, three-dimensional bass sound, and drums that now sound like drums, rather than something in the distance being hit. But because each album has its own sonic character, due partly to developments in recording technology during the Beatles’ career, and partly to the growing complexity of their work, some discs are improved more radically than others, and some are hardly improved at all.





Probably the most revelatory of the new transfers is the stereo White Album. From the opening jet engine effects on “Back in the U.S.S.R” to the final orchestral chord on “Good Night,” this album now leaps from the speakers. Gentler songs like “Julia” and “I Will” have a lovely transparency, and hard rockers like “Yer Blues” and “Helter Skelter” — as well as John Lennon’s quirky vision of dystopia, “Revolution 9” — have a power and fullness unheard until now.

“Abbey Road” also benefits considerably. The clearer instrumental profiles serve this rich-textured album beautifully: “Sun King” and “Here Comes the Sun” are unusually supple; the vocal on “You Never Give Me Your Money” no longer has a shrill edge, and Lennon’s proto-Minimalist “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” has never sounded more mesmerizing. Nor has the group’s valedictory jam in “The End.”

And if you are cherry-picking among these reissues, the two-CD singles compilation “Past Masters” should be near the top of your list. The stereo mixes of these songs are often less hard hitting than the mono singles were, but the remastered versions, with their enriched bass, palpable drum sound and improved sense of vocal presence, no longer sound anemic. You find yourself discovering textural details (the percussion overlay in “She’s a Woman” is one such surprise) that show how imaginative the Beatles’ arrangements are.

It’s about time. In 1987 the elation of finally getting the group’s classic recordings on CD, four years after the format was introduced, quickly gave way to disappointment with the discs’ sound quality and presentation. Like many early CDs, several (though not all) of the Beatles’ discs had a harsh upper range. And except for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which was put in a deluxe package with liner essays and archival photos, the 1987 CDs came with minimal, slapdash artwork.

Collectors who had long prized both the mono and stereo mixes of the group’s albums, which have different attractions (and sometimes different vocal takes and instrumental details), and had hoped that EMI would find a way to release both mixes on CD, were upset that the 1987 series offered the first four albums only in mono and the rest only in stereo. In one sense all of the group’s music had made the transfer; in another, about half the catalog was missing.

In a way it still is: the stereo recordings are available either individually for $18.98; $24.98 for double albums, or boxed (as “The Beatles”) for $259.98. But the mono albums can be had only in a 13-disc boxed set, “The Beatles in Mono,” for $298.98, which covers up to the White Album (the last album the group mixed in mono) and includes a mono version of the “Past Masters” singles compilation that includes previously unissued mono mixes of “Across the Universe” and songs from the “Yellow Submarine” soundtrack.

The Beatles and their producer, George Martin, considered the mono mixes definitive, and you don’t have to be a Beatles completist to see why. “She’s Leaving Home,” which drags sappily on the stereo “Sgt. Pepper,” is faster on the mono album, which also has a decidedly more psychedelic sounding “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” a punchier “Good Morning, Good Morning” and a sizzling reprise of the title song. “Magical Mystery Tour” is far more solid and detailed in mono, and the White Album is packed with details you don’t hear in the stereo mix. But by making them available only in a collectors’ box, EMI has made it impossible for many listeners to sample one or two.

To produce the new CDs, EMI returned to the mono and stereo masters prepared for the group’s vinyl releases in the 1960s, which the label says have remained in pristine condition. These are the same tapes EMI used in 1987, but analog-to-digital technology has improved considerably since then, making it possible to get a much more fine-grained, high-resolution digital transfer. And where the 1987 transfers were done quickly, the new set was assembled over four years, with different teams working on the mono and stereo recordings.

As in 1987 there are two exceptions to the “’60s masters only” rule: the stereo “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” discs use the remixes that Mr. Martin made for the 1987 CDs. It may seem inconsistent to present these remixes as the de facto standards, given that Allan Rouse, who oversaw the project, has said that the goal was to produce a series of CDs that sound as close as possible to the ’60s master tapes.

But Mr. Martin’s updates largely match the placements and balances of the originals, and because they were made from the multitrack session tapes, instruments and vocals sound strikingly fresher than in the 1965 versions (which are included in the mono box). Perhaps not surprisingly, given their digital origins, the new “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” CDs, though slightly louder than their 1987 counterparts — as all the new discs are — are identical in matters of timbre and definition. The group’s experimental “Revolver” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” and its back-to-basics “Let It Be,” if not as lapel-grabbing as the upgrades of the White Album and “Abbey Road,” nevertheless benefit from the more distinct instrumental and vocal profiles of the new transfers.

“Sgt. Pepper,” oddly, is a mixed bag. Instrumental textures are crisper and cleaner, and the bass is firmer. And songs like “Getting Better” have shed the piercing treble sound that afflicted the 1987 version. Yet several songs — “Fixing a Hole” and “She’s Leaving Home,” among them — now sound flatter, or less dynamically fluid, than they did on either the 1987 CD or a good British LP.

Among the early albums I have always loved the wide stereo separation of “Please Please Me” and “With the Beatles” — despite its vigorous condemnation by Mr. Martin (which is why they have not been available on CD) — because it lets you hear exactly what’s happening in both the instrumental and vocal arrangements. Those albums sound superb, as do the better-balanced “Hard Day’s Night” and “Beatles for Sale.”

Few listeners are likely to replace their CDs for the sake of new cover art, but it is a distinct attraction. The stereo discs come in three-panel (four for the “White Album”) laminated sleeves, with booklets that include the original liner notes and lyrics (if they came with the LP), contemporaneous photos and new essays about what the Beatles were up to when they made the album at hand and (more cursorily) how the recordings were produced. The discs are pressed on reproductions of the various Parlophone, Capitol and Apple labels on which the albums first appeared.

The video documentaries, embedded as computer-playable QuickTime files on the stereo CDs, draw largely on interviews recorded for “The Beatles Anthology” (1995) and offer a few surprises. With the exception of Mr. McCartney, for example, the group had an almost perversely dismissive attitude toward “Sgt. Pepper.” Ringo Starr says he preferred the group dynamic on the White Album (even though he quit in frustration during the sessions) and “Let It Be” (when the band was at its most fractious). The stereo box also includes a DVD compilation of these video clips.

The mono discs lack the documentaries (and the DVD) and are packaged as copies of the original albums. The covers are accurate down to the quaint way EMI LP jackets were assembled in the ’60s (with glued-down cardboard flaps on the back). Extras like the White Album poster and portraits, and the “Sgt. Pepper” cutouts, are included too, as is a 44-page book of historical notes and pictures.

In the 22 years since the release of the original, mediocre CDs, just about all of the Beatles’ great contemporaries — the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan among them — have had their catalogs upgraded as technology has changed. Beatles fans have been begging EMI to do the same, and although the wait has been long, the new transfers are so good that this thrice-familiar music sounds fresher than ever.

Now EMI should consider moving the catalog to a truly high-definition format, like Blu-ray DVD, adding newly remixed Surround versions like those on “The Beatles Anthology.” With the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first hit coming in 2012, there isn’t much time to waste.


You can get them here: http://beatlesmagazinebootleg.blogspot.com/2009/09/beatles-remasters-2009-flac.html
The Mono Collection here: http://juliocmail.blogspot.com/2009/09/thebeatlesmono2009.html

July 02, 2009

Beatles UK Albums Remastered - Due 09-09-2009

7th April 2009
THE BEATLES' ENTIRE ORIGINAL RECORDED CATALOGUE REMASTERED FOR RELEASE 09-09-09

Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated 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 about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles' core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.

Within each CD's new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. 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.










A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past Masters'). As an added bonus, the mono "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained.

Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time. Source: thebeatles.com

Additional mastering information:






The Stereo Albums (available individually and collected in a stereo boxed set)
The stereo albums have been remastered by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee
All CD packages contain original vinyl artwork and liner notes
Extensive archival photos
Additional historical notes by Kevin Howlett and Mike Heatley
Additional recording notes by Allan Rouse and Kevin Howlett
* = CD includes QuickTime mini-doc about the album
Please Please Me* (CD debut in stereo)
With The Beatles* (CD debut in stereo)
A Hard Day's Night* (CD debut in stereo)
Beatles For Sale* (CD debut in stereo)
Help!*
Rubber Soul*
Revolver*
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band* (also includes 1987 notes, updated, and new intro by Paul McCartney)
Magical Mystery Tour*
The Beatles*
Yellow Submarine* (also includes original US liner notes)
Abbey Road*
Let It Be*
Past Masters (contains new liner notes written by Kevin Howlett)

'The Beatles in Mono' (boxed set only)
The mono albums have been remastered by Paul Hicks, Sean Magee with Guy Massey and Steve Rooke
Presented together in box with an essay written by Kevin Howlett
+ = mono mix CD debut
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help! (CD also includes original 1965 stereo mix)+
Rubber Soul (CD also include original 1965 stereo mix)+
Revolver+
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band+
Magical Mystery Tour+
The Beatles+
Mono Masters

Re-mastering the Beatles catalogue

The re-mastering process commenced with an extensive period conducting tests before finally copying the analogue master tapes into the digital medium. When this was completed, the transfer was achieved using a Pro Tools workstation operating at 24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter. Transferring was a lengthy procedure done a track at a time. Although EMI tape does not suffer the oxide loss associated with some later analogue tapes, there was nevertheless a slight build up of dust, which was removed from the tape machine heads between each title.

From the onset, considerable thought was given to what audio restorative processes were going to be allowed. It was agreed that electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and bad edits should be improved where possible, so long as it didn't impact on the original integrity of the songs.

In addition, de-noising technology, which is often associated with re-mastering, was to be used, but subtly and sparingly. Eventually, less than five of the 525 minutes of Beatles music was subjected to this process. Finally, as is common with today's music, overall limiting - to increase the volume level of the CD - has been used, but on the stereo versions only. However, it was unanimously agreed that because of the importance of The Beatles' music, limiting would be used moderately, so as to retain the original dynamics of the recordings.

When all of the albums had been transferred, each song was then listened to several times to locate any of the agreed imperfections. These were then addressed by Guy Massey, working with Audio Restoration engineer Simon Gibson.

Mastering could now take place, once the earliest vinyl pressings, along with the existing CDs, were loaded into Pro Tools, thus allowing comparisons to be made with the original master tapes during the equalization process. When an album had been completed, it was auditioned the next day in studio three - a room familiar to the engineers, as all of the recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place in there - and any further alteration of EQ could be addressed back in the mastering room. Following the initial satisfaction of Guy and Steve, Allan Rouse and Mike Heatley then checked each new re-master in yet another location and offered any further suggestions. This continued until all 13 albums were completed to the team's satisfaction.


New Notes/Documentaries Team

Kevin Howlett (Historical and Recording Notes)
Kevin Howlett's career as an award-winning radio producer spans three decades. His music programmes for the BBC have included many documentaries about The Beatles, including 'The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes.' He received a Grammy nomination for his involvement with The Beatles' album 'Live At The BBC' and, in 2003, produced the 'Fly On The Wall' bonus disc for 'Let It Be... Naked.'

Mike Heatley (Historical Notes)
Mike entered the music business via HMV Record Stores in 1970, transferring to EMI Records' International Division three years later. He eventually headed up that division in the early Eighties before joining the company's newly created Strategic Marketing Division in 1984. In 1988, he returned to International, where he undertook a number of catalogue marketing roles until he retired in December 2008.

During his career he worked with many of EMI's major artists, including Pink Floyd, Queen, Kate Bush and Iron Maiden. However, during the last 30 years he has formed a particularly strong relationship with Apple, and has been closely involved in the origination and promotion of the Beatles catalogue, besides solo releases from John, Paul, George and Ringo.


Bob Smeaton (Director, Mini-Documentaries)
Bob Smeaton was series director and writer on the Grammy award winning 'Beatles Anthology' TV series which aired in the UK and the USA in 1995. In 1998 he received his second Grammy for his 'Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys' documentary. In 2004 he gained his first feature film credit, as director on the feature documentary 'Festival Express.' He subsequently went on to direct documentaries on many of the world's biggest music acts including The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John, Nirvana and the Spice Girls.

Julian Caiden (Editor, Mini-Documentaries)
Julian has worked with Bob Smeaton on numerous music documentaries including 'Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys' and the 'Classic Albums' series, featuring The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John and Nirvana among others. He has worked on documentary profiles from Richard Pryor to Dr. John to Sir Ian McKellen, Herbie Hancock and Damien Hirst and on live music shows including the New York Dolls and Club Tropicana.

The Abbey Road Team

Allan Rouse (Project Coordinator)
Allan joined EMI straight from school in 1971 at their Manchester Square head office, working as an assistant engineer in the demo studio. During this time he frequently worked with Norman (Hurricane) Smith, The Beatles' first recording engineer.

In 1991, he had his first involvement with The Beatles, copy¬ing all of their master tapes (mono, stereo, 4-track and 8-track) to digital tape as a safety backup. This was followed by four years working with Sir George Martin as assistant and project coordinator on the TV documentary 'The Making of Sgt. Pepper's' and the CDs 'Live at the BBC' and 'The Anthol¬ogy.'

In 1997, MGM/UA were preparing to reissue the film 'Yellow Submarine' and, with the permission of Apple, asked that all of The Beatles' music be mixed for the film in 5.1 surround and stereo. Allan requested the services of Abbey Road's senior engineer Peter Cobbin and assistant Guy Massey and, along with them, produced the new mixes.

Two years later, he proposed an experimental stereo and surround mix of John Lennon's song 'Imagine' engineered by Peter Cobbin. Following lengthy consultations with Yoko Ono, the album 'Imagine' was re-mixed in stereo and the Grammy award-winning film 'Gimme Some Truth' in surround and new stereo. This led to a further five of John's albums being re-mastered with new stereo mixes and the DVD release of 'Lennon Legend' being re-mixed in 5.1 surround and new stereo.

Further projects followed, including The Beatles 'Anthol¬ogy', 'The First US Visit' and 'Help' DVD and the albums 'Let It Be...Naked' and 'Love' along with George Harrison's 'Concert for Bangladesh' DVD and album.

For a number of years now, Allan has worked exclusively on Beatles and related projects.

Guy Massey (Recording Engineer)
Guy joined Abbey Road in 1994, and five years later assisted on the surround remix for The Beatles film 'Yellow Submarine.' This led to The Beatles' 'Anthology' DVD and later, along with Paul Hicks and Allan Rouse, they mixed and produced 'Let It Be... Naked.' In 2004 he left the studios to become freelance and has engineered The Divine Comedy: 'Victory for the Comic Muse,' Air Traffic: 'Fractured Life,' James Dean Bradfield: 'The Great Western' and Stephen Fretwell's 'Magpie,' co-producing the last two. Since leaving, Guy is still a vital member of the team, and has been the senior engineer for the re-mastering project and was responsible for surround and new stereo mixes for the DVD release of 'Help!'

Steve Rooke (Mastering Engineer)
Steve joined Abbey Road in 1983 and is now the studio's senior mastering engineer. He has been involved on all The Beatles' projects since 1999. He has also been responsible for mastering releases by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Paul Hicks (Recording Engineer)
Paul started at Abbey Road in 1994, and his first involvement with The Beatles was assisting engineer Geoff Emerick on the Anthology albums. This was followed by 'Yellow Submarine Songtrack,' 'Anthology' DVD and 'Let It Be... Naked.' Like Guy Massey, he has also become a freelance engineer and since leaving the studios he has been responsible for the surround mixing of Paul McCartney's DVD 'The McCartney Years' and The Beatles' 'Love.' Paul has been in charge of the mono re-masters.

Sean Magee (Mastering Engineer)
Sean began working at Abbey Road in 1995 with a diploma in sound engineering. With a wealth of knowledge in analog and digital mastering, he has worked alongside Paul Hicks on the mono re-masters.

Sam Okell (Recording Engineer)
Sam's first job as a member of the team was in 2006, assisting Paul Hicks on Paul McCartney's DVD 'The McCartney Years,' and during that same year he was responsible for the re-mastering of George Harrison's 'Living In The Material World' CD along with Steve Rooke. This led to him restoring the soundtrack to the Beatles film 'Help!' in surround and stereo, in addition to assisting Guy Massey with the song remixes.

Sam has re-mastered 'With The Beatles' and 'Let It Be.'

Simon Gibson (Audio Restoration Engineer)
Simon joined Abbey Road in 1990. He has progressed from mastering mostly classical recordings to include a much wider range of music, including pop and rock, with his specialized role as an audio restoration engineer. Apart from the re-mastering project, his other work includes George Harrison's 'Living In The Material World,' John Lennon's 'Lennon Legend,' The Beatles' 'Love' and the 'Help!' DVD soundtrack.

You can find them here to enjoy:
http://willempie46.blogspot.com/2009/09/beatles-remastered-set-2009.html

and here for the full set:
http://www.downloadingall.org/2009/09/d-download-beatles-remastered-stereo.html
or here:
http://beatoasis.blogspot.com/2009/09/beatles-stereo-box-set-remastered-flac.html

Album Summary:

Here is an overview of each remastered album:

:: Please Please Me – “ah, one, two, three, farrrr …” counts Paul McCartney as the band open their first album with I Saw Her Standing There in 1963. Much of the album was recorded in one day and it was largely the live act of the time. Twist And Shout was left to the end of the session because of the throat-shredding effect it had on Lennon’s voice. It featured the famed cover shot of the band looking down from a balcony at EMI’s Manchester Square offices in London (recreated in 1969).

:: With The Beatles – Recorded just four months after their debut and featuring George Harrison’s first composition (Don’t Bother Me), With The Beatles contained six covers and standards, like its predecessor. Included is the track I Wanna Be Your Man, which Lennon and McCartney first wrote and donated to the Rolling Stones.

:: A Hard Day’s Night – The first album written entirely by Lennon and McCartney and featuring 12-string guitars and acoustics to enrich the sound. Written as the soundtrack to a Dick Lester-directed film of the same name, with the title coming from a “Ringo-ism”.

:: Beatles For Sale – By now the band’s lives were increasingly hectic, with touring, filming, travelling and recording – and such was the pressure that work began on this album just six days after the final session for A Hard Day’s Night. As such, the band were again relying on a number of covers with Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly tracks included. They were as worn out as they look on the Hyde Park cover shot.

:: Help! – Soundtrack to the second Beatles film with seven of the tracks used in the completed caper. Among the notable tracks are Ticket To Ride and You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, as well as Yesterday which featured only one Beatle, Paul McCartney, plus a string quartet. Although the cover concept was to spell HELP in semaphore, it was thought the arm positions did not look good enough so the album actually spells NUJV.

:: Rubber Soul – The album which many see as the beginning of the ’interesting Beatles’, as the band play with new sounds. Norwegian Wood saw George Harrison tinkering with a sitar, while If I Needed Someone features a Byrds-y jangle and was one of a number of tracks with a country-rock feel. The cover also shows how the band were embracing psychedelia with the bubble writing and stretched photo giving a mind-expanding feel.

:: Revolver – Often seen as a contender for the band’s greatest album. After a much-needed break from constant demands, The Beatles were in full experimental flow. Song structures were becoming stranger and stranger, nowhere more so than on Tomorrow Never Knows with its thudding rhythm, backwards tape effects and total disregard for the verse-chorus approach. She Said She Said was based on an LSD trip the band took with actor Peter Fonda. Elsewhere, opening track Taxman was George Harrison’s response to the band finding themselves in the ’supertax’ bracket.

:: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Probably the defining album of 1967, recorded after the band had quit touring and had begun their ’studio years’. With a lavish cover masterminded by pop artist Peter Blake, for which he was only ever paid about £200, the band had a loose concept about the titular group although this is not reflected in many of the songs. The band spent more than four months in Abbey Road working on the tracks, ranging from the touching She’s Leaving Home to Harrison’s sitar-drenched Within You Without You. The highpoint is A Day In The Life – essentially a Lennon song welded to a McCartney song with an incredible George Martin-scored orchestral build – and with one of the most famous final chords of all time.

:: Magical Mystery Tour – Originally a two-disc EP to accompany a BBC Christmas special, with just six songs, about a bus adventure with a nod to Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters; it was later expanded to an album in 1976 with added tracks from the same period which were not on albums, such as Hello Goodbye, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane. Lennon’s Lear-inspired nonsense song I Am The Walrus later became a live fixture at Oasis’s gigs.

:: The Beatles – commonly referred to as ’The White Album’ due to the plain sleeve, the album captures not only a prolific period of song-writing as the band decamped to Rishikesh, India, but also a troubled few months as tensions within the band boiled over. Ringo Starr quit for a while leaving Paul to drum on some tracks including Back In The USSR. Across a double album, it contains the broadest stylistic range of any Beatles recording including the proto-heavy metal of Helter Skelter and pastiches such as Piggies and sound collage of Revolution 9. While My Guitar Gently Weeps also broke new ground by introducing a featured soloist on to their recordings with Eric Clapton playing lead guitar.

:: Yellow Submarine – Another soundtrack, this time to the animated movie which, although nominally starring the band, was voiced by actors (including former Coronation Street actor Geoffrey Hughes). Some songs had been released before including the title track, while others such as Only A Northern Song and Hey Bulldog were heard for the first time. The album’s second side was an orchestral score composed by producer George Martin.

:: Abbey Road – The last album recorded by the band, but due to the band’s release schedule, not the last to be issued. Contains Harrison’s masterful love song Something, as well as one of the least popular Beatles songs Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. The second side contains a 16-minute medley of song fragments which were pieced together culminating with The End, which was prophetically the last song recorded by all four Beatles. The famed cover features the band walking across the zebra crossing outside the Abbey Road studios.

:: Let It Be – After the squabbles and brief departures of The White Album, The Beatles wanted to make a back-to-basics album, Get Back, where they would rehearse and record together in early 1969. But creative tensions meant the original plan was abandoned and they moved from Twickenham Studios to their own Apple studios to finish recordings. Scheduling conflicts pushed the release into 1970 and the tapes were then given to producer Phil Spector to finish. The album did not appear until May 1970, by which point the band had split. It included One After 909, a song which had been kicking around since the early 1960s, as well as two of McCartney’s most anthemic tracks Let It Be and The Long And Winding Road (although he was never happy with the over-indulgent treatment Spector gave them and erased the producer’s efforts for a new version Let It Be … Naked in 2003).

:: Past Masters – A compilation of the band’s singles (a-sides and b-sides) and alternate version which had not already been featured on albums, put together to allow fans to have an overview of almost the entire Beatles’ catalogue. The new CD version is a double album bringing together the albums which were previously released in two volumes.

Review from Consumer Reports is right on the money....

The Beatles reissues. As Beatles fans are aware, tomorrow also marks the availability of the first remasterings of the full Beatles catalog in more than 20 years—an eternity in digital time. Most reviewers raved about the improved sound of “Love,” the 2006 Beatles’ Las Vegas show (and CD), which includes remastered versions 20 Beatles songs from the team responsible for this week’s reissues.

But there are also reasons to grumble about this week’s re-releases, even before hearing them. The extras are confined to making-of video documentary on each album. Also, though the albums have been remastered in both stereo and mono (the latter being the preferred format by some Beatles fanatics), the reissues do not combine both versions on one disc—as recent reissues for many other 1960s bands have done. Rather, when bought singly, the reissues only carry the stereo version of the album. To get the mono, you must buy the entire catalog, in a box set that lists at $300—if you can even get it (it sold out in advance at many retailers, though a second run is promised). And the titles aren’t being issued in Blu-ray or DVD formats, and hence there are no 5.1-channel surround versions as of yet.

To many observers, including me, the formatting decisions look like an attempt to sell diehard fans those thirty-something-minute-long Beatles albums not just once more, but several times more over the coming years. That’s a little unseemly from a band that’s traditionally been classier than most. —Paul Reynolds.


June 29, 2009

The Story of the Capital Albums Boxed Set mixup



The Story of the Capitol Albums
By Bruce Spizer, Beatles author and historian

The recent internet chatter regarding the mono glitch appearing on the initial production run of The Capitol Albums Volume 2 shows how confusing listening to the Beatles can be when the focus is on the mixes rather than the music. To appreciate the subtle and sometimes not subtle variations between different mixes of the same song, one needs to understand the mixing and mastering processes.

When tape was first used to record music, it had only one track. That meant that once a song was recorded on tape, the volume of each of the instruments and voices could not be adjusted. If the music drowned out the vocals, there was no way to change the balance. With the advent of the two-track recorder, producers and engineers had two independent tracks upon which to record. This gave them the ability to achieve a proper balance between the two tracks when the tracks were reduced down to one track for the master tape. For example, if the instruments were recorded on one track and the vocals on another, the engineer could achieve the desired balance between the vocals and instruments. This process of reducing a multi-track tape onto a master tape is known as mixing.




An EMI one-track tape machine

In the early sixties, many studios used two-track recorders. The first four Beatles singles and first two Beatles albums were recorded on a two-track recorder at EMI's Abbey Road studio. By late 1963, the Beatles began recording on a four-track recorder. During The White Album sessions in 1968, the Beatles began using eight-track recorders for the first time. Songs recorded during the Get Back sessions had additional instruments added in 1970 when Phil Spector transferred the original eight-track tapes onto a 16-track recorder. Today's studios have up to and even beyond 64 independent tracks.

The master tape is used in the production of the format that reproduces the music. This was initially shellac or vinyl records, but later grew to pre-recorded tape formats (reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette, DAT and others), CDs and DVDs.

At first, playback systems could only deliver one track of music, so the mixed-down master tape only had one track. But this began to change with the coming of more sophisticated playback systems. Since the early 1950s, master tapes have been either monaural (mono) or stereophonic (stereo). Mono recordings have only one track of music. If a mono record or CD is played through a system with two speakers, the sound coming out of each speaker will be the same. Stereo recordings have two separate tracks of music. If a stereo record or CD is played through a system with two speakers, the sound coming out of each speaker will be different.

THE WAY IT WAS IN THE SIXTIES

Each of the Beatles albums issued by Capitol Records from 1964 through 1967 was issued in both mono and stereo versions. All but one of these albums, Sgt. Pepper, had song configurations different than the albums issued in England. In the sixties, these unique Capitol albums were how Americans were exposed to the wonderful music of the Beatles. Most Americans were blissfully unaware that the Beatles albums issued the U.S. were different than those issued in England.

During the seventies, Beatles fans began learning about and buying import copies of the U.K. albums. They noticed that the Parlophone albums had either 13 or 14 songs as opposed to the 11 or 12 songs found on the Capitol albums. The Parlophone LPs for A Hard Day's Night and Help! each had the Beatles songs from the film on side one and other Beatles songs on side two. These British discs did not have the film score instrumentals found on the U.S. soundtrack albums. The Parlophone albums also sounded different, and to some listeners, better than the American albums.

The Capitol albums began falling out of favor with those in the know. So-called purists quit listening to the American discs, which were suddenly branded inferior. The party line was that all of the Capitol albums were poorly programmed records full of echo-drenched duophonic crap and drastic remixes. Such statements are unfair and inaccurate.


CAPITOL IMPROVEMENTS OR CAPITOL CRIMES?

Before discussing the mixes appearing on the Capitol albums, it is important to understand what Capitol did and did not do. Because Capitol was not sent multi-track master tapes of Beatles recordings, its engineers could not alter the balance of the instruments and vocals to create new mixes from multi-track masters. However, the engineers could alter the sound of the recordings in other ways.

In the sixties, record companies believed that all songs on a stereo album should sound like stereo. If a stereo master was not available, companies would often create a simulated stereo mix. This was achieved by transferring the mono master to two separate channels and then boosting the low bass frequencies in one channel and emphasizing the high treble frequencies in the other. In addition to boosting the bass and tweaking the treble, Capitol often ran the separate tracks slightly out of sync and added reverb. These simulated stereo mixes were described by Capitol as "duophonic recordings."

The Beatles often recorded songs specifically for release as singles. Because the group's singles through 1968 were issued only in mono, producer George Martin normally did not make a stereo mix for such songs. Capitol's strategy of placing songs on its albums that were released exclusively as singles in England resulted in the company receiving only mono masters for some songs. When these songs were selected to appear on an album, Capitol created duophonic mixes. Capitol's detractors often claim that the company's albums are full of duophonic mixes; however, Capitol only prepared a duophonic mix if it did not have a stereo master at the time the album was compiled.

Although Capitol was sent mono masters for all of the EMI Beatles recordings up until The White Album, the company sometimes chose not to use the mono masters, instead creating its own mono mixes by combining the left and right channels of the stereo masters into single-track mono mixdowns. Internal Capitol documents and acetates identify these stereo-to-mono mixes as "2 to 1 mixdowns" or "mono Type B." The industry often refers to such mixes as fold-down mixes. Apparently Capitol believed that mono Type B mixes gave recordings a fuller sound.
Other differences took place during the mastering process. Capitol's engineers occasionally added echo and reverb to some of the songs. This was done to make the recordings sound hotter.

THE CAPITOL ALBUMS VOLUME 1

The Capitol Albums Volume 1 contains the first four Beatles albums issued by Capitol. Each of these 1964 albums is presented first in stereo and then in mono. Because the first four British albums issued on CD in 1987 are mono only, many of the songs in this box set had previously not been issued on CD in stereo. Many of the stereo and mono tracks in the box set are different than the versions appearing in the standard Beatles catalog.

Meet The Beatles!

With the exception of duophonic mixes made for the songs appearing on the U.K. single "I Want To Hold Your Hand" b/w "This Boy," all of the songs on the stereo version of the album are the same stereo mixes used on the British album With The Beatles (except for "I Saw Her Standing There," which was on the U.K.

Please Please Me LP

The stereo album was mastered by Hal Muhonen on December 19, 1963.
The mono version of the album has Capitol-created mono Type B mixdowns for all of the songs except for "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy," which are the same mono mixes as the U.K. single. Lee Minkler made the stereo-to-mono mixdowns on December 19, 1963. The mono album was mastered by Billy Smith later that day.



British counterparts: With The Beatles LP

The Beatles' Second Album

This uniquely-configured album is full of unique sounding tracks, particularly on the stereo version. The five leftover cover songs from With The Beatles, namely "Roll Over Beethoven," "You Really Got A Hold On Me," "Devil In Her Heart," "Money" and "Please Mister Postman," are the same stereo mixes used on the British album; however, Capitol added a very noticeable amount of reverb to these songs during mastering. Three songs appearing on singles in England, "She Loves You," "I'll Get You" and "You Can't Do That," are duophonic mixes. The other three songs, "Thank You Girl," "Long Tall Sally" and "I Call Your Name," are stereo mixes prepared by George Martin. The stereo album was mastered by Maurice Long on March 17, 1964. The tape box indicates that the songs were "dubbed with E/Q and limiter plus echo."

The mono version of the album uses Capitol-created mono mixdowns for "Thank You Girl" and the five leftover cover songs from With The Beatles. The mono mixes for "She Loves You," "I'll Get You" and "You Can't Do That" are the same as the mono mixes used for the British singles, while the mono mixes for "Long Tall Sally" and "I Call Your Name" are different than the mono mixes that later appeared on the British Long Tall Sally EP. These unique U.S. mixes were prepared by George Martin. The mono album was mastered on March 17, 1964, by Don Henderson, who chose not to add reverb to the songs. Thus, the stereo and mono versions of this Capitol album have a totally different sound.

Something New

All of songs on the stereo version of the album are true stereo mixes. The stereo album was mastered by Maurice Long on July 1, 1964. He did not add echo to the songs as he had done with the previous stereo album.

All of the songs on the mono version of the album are true mono mixes; however, four of the songs, "I'll Cry Instead," "And I Love Her," "Any Time At All" and "When I Get Home," have mixes different than those appearing on the mono Parlophone A Hard Day's Night LP. These unique U.S. mixes were prepared by George Martin. "I'll Cry Instead" is an edit of two takes. The mono version appearing on the Capitol album has an extra verse not present on the stereo mix or the U.K. mono mix. The mono album was mastered by Billy Smith on June 29, 1964.

Beatles '65

For this December, 1964, release, Capitol combined the Beatles latest single and a leftover track from the British A Hard Day's Night album with eight songs from Parlophone's Beatles For Sale LP. The stereo mixes for the latter eight songs are the same as those on the Parlophone LP. "I'll Be Back" is the same stereo mix appearing on the British A Hard Day's Night LP. "I Feel Fine" and "She's A Woman" are duophonic mixes prepared from George Martin's mono mixes for the U.S. single. While most of Capitol's duophonic mixes sound great, these two mixes are muddy-sounding echo-drenched disasters. The stereo album was mastered by Maurice Long on November 9, 1964.

The mono mixes for the eight songs from Beatles For Sale are the same as on the U.K. album. "I'll Be Back" appears in a slightly different mono mix made by George Martin specifically for the American market. "I Feel Fine" and "She's A Woman" are the same mono mixes prepared by George Martin for the U.S. single. Both have more reverb than the U.K. mono mixes. The mono album was mastered by Maurice Long on November 10, 1964, the day after he mastered the stereo album.

THE CAPITOL ALBUMS VOLUME 2

The Capitol Albums Volume 2 contains the four Beatles albums issued by Capitol in 1965. Each of these albums is presented first in stereo and then in mono.

The Early Beatles

This album contains 11 of the songs originally appearing on the Please Please Me LP in England and on the two versions of Vee-Jay's Introducing The Beatles in the U.S. The songs were recorded on a two-track recorder with vocals on one side and instruments on the other. Capitol used the same severe stereo separation mixes that appeared on the British stereo album. "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" are the same fake stereo mixes made under George Martin's supervision for the British stereo album. (No true stereo mix was possible because EMI did not keep the multi-track masters for these songs.)

The mono version of the Capitol album has true mono mixes for "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," but the other nine songs are unique Capitol stereo-to-mono mixdowns.






Counterparts: British Please Please Me LP and Vee-Jay's Introducing The Beatles

Beatles VI

This album from June, 1965, features the six leftover tracks from Beatles For Sale plus the B-side "Yes It Is," the debut of two songs ("You Like Me Too Much" and "Tell Me What You See") that would later appear on the British Help! LP and two songs specifically recorded for the Capitol album, "Bad Boy" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzie." All of the songs except the single "Yes It Is" appear in the same stereo mixes as on the British albums. "Yes It Is" is a unique duophonic mix. The stereo album was mastered by Maurice Long and Wally Traugott on May 14, 1965.

The mono mixes are the same mono mixes as on the British albums, although five of the six leftovers from Beatles For Sale ("Kansas City" being the exception) are identified on the mono tape box as "1 to 1 Remix with Echo & Rev. CCT." This means that these songs have added echo and reverb, although the amount added is, unlike the cover songs on stereo version of The Beatles' Second Album, barely noticeable. The mono album was mastered by Wally Traugott on May 14, 1965.

Help! (Soundtrack Album)

All of the Beatles songs , with the exception noted below, are the same stereo mixes from the British Help! LP. Although a stereo mix of "Ticket To Ride" was made prior to Capitol compiling its soundtrack album, EMI did not send the stereo mix to Capitol. Apparently unaware that a stereo mix of the song was available, Capitol created a duophonic mix of "Ticket To Ride" for its stereo LP. The five instrumental tracks and the uncredited 15-second "James Bond intro" to "Help!" were scored by Ken Thorne and appear in true stereo mixes. The instrumentals were edited from the film soundtrack by John Kraus under the supervision of Dave Dexter. The stereo album was mastered by Hal Muhonen on July 2, 1965.
The only true mono track on the mono version of the album is "Ticket To Ride." The others tracks are unique Capitol stereo-to-mono mixdowns.

Rubber Soul (American Version)

Ten of the twelve songs on this unique Capitol configuration are from the British album of the same title. Except as noted below, Capitol used the same stereo mixes as those on the British album. Capitol used the November 11, 1965 mix of "The Word" rather than the later November 15 mix found on the British LP. Also of note is the false start guitar intro to "I'm Looking Through You" that is present only (at least until 2006) on the stereo Capitol album. The two leftover tracks from Parlophone's Help! LP, "I've Just Seen A Face" and "It's Only Love," are the same as the stereo mixes on the British album. Nearly all of the stereo mixes made during the Rubber Soul sessions have the vocals placed almost exclusively in the right channel, which has little, if any, instrumental backing. The left channel occasionally has backing vocals, but on most songs is limited exclusively to instruments. The stereo album was mastered by Hal Muhonen on November 16, 1965.

A limited number of stereo discs have added reverb that is not present on any other version of the album. These records were pressed with metal parts originating from a later master cut in New York and have W8 in the trail off area to side one and W14 in the trail off area to side two.

Except as noted below, Capitol used the same mono mixes as those on the British album. Capitol used the November 9 mix of "Michelle" rather than the later November 15 mix found on the British LP. The two leftover tracks from Parlophone's Help! LP are the same as the mono mixes on the British album. The mono album was mastered by Billy Smith on November 16, 1965.

GEORGE MARTIN REMIXES FOR CD

By the time EMI and Apple settled their differences and began preparing the Beatles music for release on CD, a decision had been made to standardize the group's catalog throughout the world. This meant that the albums released on CD would be the original Parlophone LPs. The unique Capitol albums were not released on CD and were eventually deleted from the catalog.

The first four British albums were issued on CD in mono only. Because the first two albums were recorded on a two-track recorder, their songs had the vocals in one channel and the instruments in the other. George Martin had recorded the songs that way to get a proper mono mix and only made stereo mixes at the insistence of EMI. When it came time to issue the albums on CD, he requested that EMI use the mono masters. Apparently Martin's request for mono applied only to the first two albums, but EMI misunderstood his directive and issued all four of the albums in mono.
For the release of the next three albums, George Martin took a more active role. Although he believed that the mono versions of these albums were superior to the stereo versions, he recognized that consumers wanted these CDs to be stereo. He decided to remix Help! and Rubber Soul to improve upon his original 1965 mixes and give the albums a more contemporary sound. In the case of Help!, he added echo. For Rubber Soul, he moved the vocals more towards the center.

There was precedent for George Martin remixing his own work. When Capitol prepared its 1976 compilation album Rock 'N' Roll Music, Martin remixed the songs to give them a more contemporary sound.




Capitol's Rock 'N' Roll Music LP

FUN FACTS AND IRONY

The remixing of Help! and Rubber Soul for their 1987 CD release coupled with Capitol's decision to use their original 1965 master tapes leads to the strange situation where George Martin's original 1965 stereo mixes for these albums would not be on CD but for their use in The Capitol Albums Volume 2. Thus, Capitol is preserving the integrity of George Martin's original stereo mixes.

Oddly enough, the songs appearing on the British Help! LP are spread out over three of the four CDs included in the Capitol box set. Because Capitol used George Martin's original 1965 mixes of those songs rather than the 1987 George Martin remixes with echo, we have the reverse of what sometimes happened in the sixties. We now have a British album on CD that has added echo not present on the Capitol albums on CD.

The Beatles catalog first appeared on CD in 1987. These albums have not been upgraded although mastering techniques and technology have improved significantly in the two decades that have passed. While some people believe that the British vinyl albums of the sixties sound better than the Capitol albums, even so-called purists would be hard pressed to argue that the British CDs from 1987 sound better than the discs in the Capitol box sets. That fact of the matter is that they sound flat and lifeless when compared to the Capitol discs. Until the standard Beatles catalog is remastered and released on CD, the Capitol discs are the best way to listen to the Beatles recordings from 1964 and 1965.

These box sets are important not only for historical reasons, but also for providing hours of listening pleasure. They are a sonic delight, bringing the wonderful memories of how Americans grew up listening to the Beatles. It's like listening to the original albums, but without the scratches.

THE MONO MISHAP

The initial production run of The Capitol Albums Volume 2 used improperly compiled masters for the Beatles VI and Rubber Soul discs. Although the discs sound great, they are not historically accurate in that the mono versions of those two albums are stereo-to-mono mixdowns. Oddly enough, The Early Beatles and Help! were originally prepared by Capitol in 1965 as stereo-to-mono mixdowns. So the initial production run of the box set has proper 1965 stereo-to-mono mixdowns for The Early Beatles and Help! combined with improper 2006 stereo-to-mono mixdowns for Beatles VI and Rubber Soul.

Here is an explanation of how the mono mishap most likely occurred. Capitol sent its 1965 stereo and mono master tapes of the albums to Sterling Sound for mastering. Sterling made stereo and mono masters for each of the albums using the original stereo and mono tapes from 1965. Sterling also made stereo-to-mono mixdowns for all of the albums. This was done to determine if the two tracks of the stereo masters were properly phased. Failure to have the tracks properly in phase would result in problems if the tracks were mixed down by radio or television stations for mono broadcast. These test mixdowns were not intended for release and were not sent to
Capitol.

Capitol received reference discs containing the proper stereo and mono versions of each of the four albums. After careful review, Capitol gave its approval for the CDs to be manufactured with the stereo and mono masters it had received from Sterling. Unfortunately, an employee at Sterling mistakenly used the stereo-to-mono test mixdowns of Beatles VI and Rubber Soul when compiling the production masters. Thus, the factories were sent improper mono masters for the two albums.

Capitol was made aware of the error during the production run. Andrew Gardner, host of a Beatles show in Philadelphia, noticed something odd when listening to an advance copy of the box set. He knew that the stereo version of "I'm Looking Through You" has a false start guitar intro not present on the mono version of the song. Much to his surprise, he discovered that the mono version of the song on his CD also had the false start. He contacted another disc jockey, who put him in touch with me.

Although I was on vacation and had not heard the CDs, I knew from Gardner's description of the song that there was a problem. I called Capitol and made them aware of the error. It was quickly determined that the wrong mono tapes were used for Beatles VI and Rubber Soul. Capitol immediately contacted Sterling, who then sent the proper tapes to the factories for use in the remainder of and all future production runs. Capitol also set up a procedure where purchasers of the initial production run can exchange their discs for the corrected discs.

In 1965, Capitol intentionally created two albums worth of new mono mixes when it made stereo-to-mono mixdowns for The Early Beatles and Help! Over forty years later, Capitol unintentionally created two albums worth of new mono mixes for Beatles fans and collectors with its initial production run of Beatles VI and Rubber Soul. As John would say, "Most peculiar, Mama!"

Bruce Spizer is author of the critically acclaimed books, The Beatles Records on Vee-Jay, TheBeatles' Story on Capitol Records parts 1 & 2, The Beatles on Apple Records, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, and The Beatles Are Coming! The Birth of Beatlemania in America, and served as an official consultant to Capitol Records on The Capitol Albums Volumes 1 and 2. - Source: beatlescollecting.com

You can get them here: http://beatlesmagazinemusic2.blogspot.com/2008/08/beatles-capitol-albums-vol-2.html

June 28, 2009

Christmas Messages Covers

Each year the Beatles would send a studio message thanking all their fan club members for a wonderful year. Below are the covers for each year from 1963 thru 1969 and a link where you can get them. Enjoy http://returntopepperland.blogspot.com/2006/11/beatles-christmas-records.html