April 22, 2016

The Beatles - Stars & Stripes - Live At The Hollywood Bowl

The Beatles - Stars & Stripes - Live At The Hollywood Bowl
Bonus: Candlestick Park 1966 (Note this remaster was released back in 2010)

When the His Master’s Choice label announced that they were releasing remastered versions of the Hollywood Bowl tapes (along with the Candlestick Park 1966 tape recording by Tony Barrow), I seriously had my doubts and was full of skepticism. I kept thinking, do we really need another release of the Hollywood Bowl and Candlestick tapes? My own theory was that this time they could be issuing these concerts from a better source tape (possibly an Apple remastering that snuck out of the vaults?). I’ve been spending a few weeks listening to these CDs and thought they sound great, but they really couldn’t be much of an improvement than what has circulated on bootleg before. Boy was I wrong.

The Candlestick concert is from a small reel-to-reel tape recorder Tony Barrow placed in front of the stage as per the Beatles’ request. It documents their last public concert appearance before a paying crowd. The performance level is stepped up: They are probably giving their best performance of the 1966 tour knowing “This is it. No more tours”. Barrow’s tape is one of the best audience tapes due to the privileged location in front of the stage. Every version I’ve had of this tape always felt like it was further away from the stage than it seemed to have been recorded from. This remastered version brings you literally to the front of the stage. You feel the presence of the Beatles for the first time; as if you’re on the field. There is a power to the Beatles rock ‘n roll that is lacking from all other versions of this tape. The one mistake this label made was attempting to complete “Long Tall Sally” (which will be forever incomplete being the tape ran out during the performance)by grafting in a poor quality studio version of “Long Tall Sally” to complete the song. Why a studio version? If you’re going to fake it, at least use a poor quality live version in an attempt to give it a truer semblance of completion. In fact, why do it at all?

All available Hollywood Bowl shows (from the raw 3 track stereo tapes) are offered up on this set and they too are a major improvement. They sound like they are a generation up from what’s been released. These CDs also do play louder--but upon volume matching the older CDs (I used to a/b), the older discs strain to bring the same quality to my ears. Hearing Lennon open up with “Twist and Shout” from 8/30/65, shows you a rawness that these tapes bring you on this set. The older releases suffer in comparison. When Lennon vocally gives it his all here, you feel it. That doesn’t mean these 3 track tapes are a preferable mix. Having the drums in one channel lessens the punch of the recordings and makes using headphones difficult to enjoy. It plays much better though, out of your stereo speakers. That’s why for the ’64 show I prefer the unissued mono mix by Capitol (it’s much more powerful). Overall, I enjoy George Martin's stereo remixes for the 1977 Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl release. These raw stereo tapes from His Master’s Choice are an essential upgrade to your collection.

This set comes in a hardback book with excellent liner notes. You never expect less than than class, from His Master’s Choice. It comes highly recommended.

Read more: http://beatleforum.proboards.com/thread/1734#ixzz46Xuz8OnD

The Beatles - Stars & Stripes - Live At The Hollywood Bowl
Publisher: Remastered Workshop
Reference: RMW 570/571
Date: 2010

Pitch, phase and level corrected from HMC 010.

Disc 1
01. Intro
02. Twist And Shout
03. You Can't Do That
04. All My Loving
05. She Loves You
06. Things We Said Today
07. Roll Over Beethoven
08. Can't Buy Me Love
09. If I Fell
10. I Want To Hold Your Hand
11. Boys
12. A Hard Day's Night
13. Long Tall Sally
14. Intro
15. Twist And Shout
16. She's A Woman
17. I Feel Fine
18. Dizzy Miss Lizzie
19. Ticket To Ride
20. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
21. Can't Buy Me Love
22. Baby's In Black
23. I Wanna Be Your Man
24. A Hard Day's Night
25. Help!
26. I'm Down

Tracks 1-13: Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA - August 23, 1964
Tracks 14-26: Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA - August 30, 1965

Disc 2
01. Tuning
02. Twist And Shout
03. She's A Woman
04. I Feel Fine
05. Dizzy Miss Lizzie
06. Ticket To Ride
07. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
08. Can't Buy Me Love
09. Baby's In Black
10. I Wanna Be Your Man
11. A Hard Day's Night
12. Help!
13. I'm Down
14. Rock And Roll Music
15. She's A Woman
16. If I Needed Someone
17. Day Tripper
18. Baby's In Black
19. I Feel Fine
20. Yesterday
21. I Wanna Be Your Man
22. Nowhere Man
23. Paperback Writer
24. Long Tall Sally

Tracks 1-13: Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA - August 29, 1965
Tracks 14-24: Live at the Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA - August 29, 1966


April 21, 2016

The Beatles - Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1977)

So much has been said and written about the Beatles -- and their story is so mythic in its sweep -- that it's difficult to summarize their career without restating clich├ęs that have already been digested by tens of millions of rock fans. To start with the obvious, they were the greatest and most influential act of the rock era, and introduced more innovations into popular music than any other rock band of the 20th century. Moreover, they were among the few artists of any discipline that were simultaneously the best at what they did and the most popular at what they did. Relentlessly imaginative and experimental, the Beatles grabbed a hold of the international mass consciousness in 1964 and never let go for the next six years, always staying ahead of the pack in terms of creativity but never losing their ability to communicate their increasingly sophisticated ideas to a mass audience. Their supremacy as rock icons remains unchallenged to this day, decades after their breakup in 1970.
The Beatles' only official live album was recorded over three nights at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, in 1964 and 1965. George Martin had originally wanted to record The Beatles' concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall on 12 February 1964, during their first US visit. Although Capitol Records agreed, he was denied permission by the American Federation of Musicians.

As the effects of Beatlemania became all pervasive, the label decided to release a live album to capitalise on The Beatles' US success. During their first full American tour Capitol agreed to record the group's concert at the Hollywood Bowl on 23 August 1964. George Martin was at the venue, working with Capitol Records' producer Voyle Gilmore on the recording. The concert was seen by 18,700 people.

    "George Martin made such a speech. It sounds like he changed it but I doubt it. There's not much he could do. It was recorded on three-track machines with half-inch tapes. The Hollywood Bowl has a pretty good stereo sound system so we plugged our mikes right in there. I didn't do an awful lot. There wasn't much we could do. They just played their usual show and we recorded it. It wasn't that bad. I kept thinking, 'Maybe we'll get permission to release the tapes.' So I took them back to the studio and worked on it a while. I worked on the applause, edited it down, made it play and EQd it quite a bit.  

The Beatles heard it and they all wanted tape copies. I had five or six copies made and sent over. That's where the bootlegs must have come from. We had a system at Capitol and we knew where all our copies were. The Beatles said they liked the tapes, that it sounded pretty good, that they were surprised but they still idn't want to release it.
I thought the first concert was a little better than the second. I don't know if I would have put them together like they did because doing it that way they have sacrificed an album. They really could have made two albums". 
[Voyle Gilmore 1977] 

The album
Although they had hoped the 1965 recordings would be better than the previous year's, Capitol decided that the quality was insufficient for release. The tapes remained in the record company vaults for several years, and in 1971 were given to Phil Spector to see if an album could be prepared. However, Spector's work came to nothing, and the tapes remained unreleased for several more years.

"Capitol called me a few months back and asked if I could help find the tapes in the library and, of course, I knew right where they were. They wanted to get permission to put them out and thought it would be useful if George Martin was involved, since he knew the boys and had made all their other records".  [Voyle Gilmore, 1977]


In the mid-1970s Capitol president Bhaskar Menon gave George Martin the tapes and asked him to compile an official live album. Although impressed with The Beatles' performances, he found the sound quality disappointing. Nonetheless, in January 1977 he began working with studio engineer Geoff Emerick to clean up the master tapes and assemble a set of songs for release.

    "Bhaskar Menon, the president of Capitol Records, is an old friend of mine. He mentioned these tapes to me and asked whether I would listen to them because capitol was thinking of releasing an album. My immediate reaction was, as far as I could remember, the original tapes had a rotten sound. So I said to Bhaskar, 'I don't think you've got anything here at all.'
    There have been an awful lot of bootleg recordings made of Beatles concerts around the world and they've been in wide circulation. But when I listened to the Hollywood Bowl tapes, I was amazed at the rawness and vitality of The Beatles' singing. So I told Bhaskar that I'd see if I could bring the tapes into line with today's recordings. I enlisted the technical expertise of Geoff Emerick and we transferred the recordings from three-track to 24-track tapes. The two tapes combined 22 songs and we whittled these down to 13. Some tracks had to be discarded because the music was obliterated by the screams." [George Martin]

The recordings were transferred to 24-track tapes to be edited, filtered and equalised. No redubbing of voices or instruments took place. Eventually an album was assembled consisting of recordings from all three Hollywood Bowl concerts.

Six songs were included from the 23 August 1964 concert tapes: Things We Said Today, Roll Over Beethoven, Boys, All My Loving, She Loves You and Long Tall Sally.

Due to an error, the tracklisting for The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl lists all the recordings as dating from 1964 or 30 August 1965. However, three of the songs - Ticket To Ride, Dizzy Miss Lizzy and Help! - originated from 29 August 1965. Unfortunately a technical fault left Paul McCartney's vocals and introductions inaudible during the first four songs of the first 1965 show, rendering a substantial portion of the recordings unusable.

Five songs from 30 August 1965 appeared on The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl: Twist And Shout, She's A Woman, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Can't Buy Me Love and A Hard Day's Night. The album version of Dizzy Miss Lizzy was a composite edit incorporating parts of the 29 and 30 August performances.

Some of The Beatles' on-stage announcements were inconsistent when presented in album form. A Hard Day's Night and Help! are both referred to as their latest albums, owing to the different recording dates.  [extract from beatlesbible.com]

Side A
01 - Twist And Shout

02 - She's A Woman
03 - Dizzy Miss Lizzy
04 - Ticket To Ride
05 - Can't Buy Me Love
06 - Things We Said Today
07 - Roll Over Beethoven
Side B
08 - Boys
09 - A Hard Day's Night
10 - Help!
11 - All My Loving
12 - She Loves You
13 - Long Tall Sally

The Beatles were:

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums


April 04, 2016

The White Album: Mono vs Stereo

It’s been said the most frustrating of the Beatles’ studio albums is also the most frustrating when comparing mixes. The sheer volume and diversity of the music means that it will vary from song to song as to which version is better. “Dear Prudence” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” sound absolutely perfect in mono, but the acoustic guitar in the background has much more impact on the stereo mix. The mono mix also features a version of “Helter Skelter” that is a minute shorter and far more cluttered than the stereo mix. But there are enough positives for each mix that it’s worth keeping both around.

The White Album is literally a toss up when it comes to mono vs stereo. This is the album that every fan should own both versions of – because literally, some songs sound better on mono, some sound better on stereo. For instance, I noticed on “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” the bass is a little too loud, and the guitar bits are more muffled on the mono version. On the flip side tho, the vocals sound much better. So a bit of a trade off. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” always sounded strange on the stereo mix to me. Especially if you have headphones on. The mono delivers a much better sounding version of the song, and this is a good example of why you need to own both version. So to sum up it up: there are moments when the mono version is clearly better – where the drums smack with ferocity and the vocals sound beautiful. But on the same note, there are also times where the stereo mix breathes better – especially on “Helter Sketer”.

The Mono/Stereo Differences
Back In The U.S.S.R.
The airplane overdubs occur in different places on the mono and stereo versions. The Mono version has louder piano, a yell after the opening plane sound, and drumbeats under the closing plane sound. The Stereo version has extra guitar chords at the start of the solo, and shouts and piano during the guitar solo.

Dear Prudence
Stereo version has slightly more treble and fades to a lower volume at the end.

Glass Onion
The edit adds the end orchestral piece. Stereo [a] is lacking Paul’s added vocal “oh yeah” at the end of the break. Mono mix [c] has various sound effects, of which only the whistle after “fool on the hill” was used in the standard mix.

Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
The stereo version has hand-clapping during the intro, the mono version does not. On the mono mix, Paul’s vocals are not double-tracked as they sound to be on the stereo mix which gives the allusion of two or more Pauls singing at once.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The stereo version has some vocal sounds from George at the end, the mono version does not. The Clapton guitar remains loud in mono version after the solo break, not in the Stereo version. Near the end of the fadeout only the stereo [b] has “yeah yeah yeah”, even though it is a few second shorter than [a].

The bird sound effects are quite different between the stereo and the mono release.

The pig sound effects are quite different between the stereo and the mono release. The guitar is louder in the mono version.

Don’t Pass Me By
The mono version is much faster than the stereo, and therefore is shorter. The violin sounds at the end are markedly different. Mono [a] runs faster, and it has more fiddle throughout the song, and different fiddle at the end. The fiddle at the end of stereo [b] seems to a repeat of a bit of the chorus. The edit added the intro. Stereo [c] has only work from 5 and 6 June without the fiddle or intro added in July. It’s at the speed of the stereo mix [b].

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
The stereo version has hand-clapping during the intro, the mono version does not.

Sexy Sadie
The stereo version has two taps on the tambourine during the intro, the mono version only has one.

Helter Skelter
The stereo version has a fade-out/fade-in dummy ending with Ringo’s shout of “I’ve got blisters on my fingers”, the mono version does not ! … this makes the stereo version almost a minute longer. The basic song runs about 3:10 to a pause shortly after Paul’s distorted vocal, too close to the microphone. The Mono version then is edited into more of the same take, with sound effects noises, and fades at 3:36. Stereo version is edited instead to a different part of the take, fading out and then back in again, with another edit, ending finally at 4:29 after Ringo shouts “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”. Is the distorted vocal “Can you hear me speaking– woo!” or “My baby is sleeping, ooh!, dreaming”?

Long, Long, Long
The stereo version is fine, but on the mono, George’s double-tracked vocal is embarrassingly out of synch.

Honey Pie
The stereo version has a shorter guitar solo than the mono version.

Revolution 9
Although the mono was made from the stereo, the opening lines are more clear in mono: “I would’ve gotten claret for you but I’ve realized I’ve forgotten all about it, George, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”. This is evidently a separate piece of tape added during mixing.

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)
The screaming after “come on” in the last verse is different in the Stereo and Mono versions.

Revolution [2]
The song was deliberately distorted during recording and mixing, so since the mono version sounds more distorted and compressed, it’s better! John’s guitar also sounds louder in mono version.

Yer Blues
The 2d generation tape is an edit of two takes, each of the two tapes being itself a mixdown from the original 4-track. The edit causes an abrupt transition at the end of the guitar solos. In stereo, traces of other vocal and guitar parts can be heard throughout the song in the left channel, including something shouted over parts of the vocal and what sounds like another different guitar solo. After the edit, the trace lead vocal suggests we are hearing the first part of the song from the other take. The edit in the mixes added the countdown intro, which is louder in mono. The Mono version is 11 seconds longer, long fade.

I Will
This started as 4 track and was copied to 8 track, so it’s 2d generation. The “bass” (vocal) starts later in mono [a], after the first verse. The stereo version has more prominent bongos.

The last “daaaance” starts twice, maybe a double-track error or a leak from a guide vocal, as heard on stereo [b], but covered up by other sound in Mono version. The stereo version has extra vocals at the end of the second chorus.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun
The 2d generation master is an edit of (copies of) two takes with more material overdubbed. Mono [a] has tapping (organ) on the beat from the start until the drums come in, but it is soft and mixed out 4 beats earlier in [b]. In the “I need a fix” section in stereo [b], by error, although the first line was mixed out, the last “down” is just audible. Mono [a] has louder bass in the “I need a fix” section. Mono [a] has laughter near the very end, just before the last drumbeat, not heard in [b].

Honey Pie
Mono [a] has the full lead guitar break, slightly shortened in the Stereo Version.

Savoy Truffle
Mono [a] has sound effects during the instrumental break, and the lead guitar continues through the break into the refrain after it. The organ is missing from the last verse in the Mono Version.

Long Long Long
Doubletracking starts at the first “long” in stereo [a], the third “long” in [b], and sounds somewhat different thereafter. In mono [b] the rhythm guitar is softer but the lead guitar is louder, especially in the later part of the song.

I’m So Tired
Paul’s harmony at the first “You’d say” is louder in mono [a]. The muttering after the song is part of this recording.

Verdict: Toss Up! (This is the definitive album where listeners should own both the mono and the stereo version of it. Some songs sound better on mono and vice versa).

Conclusion: Chances are that you are wondering what box set is “right for you”. The mono box set entices you because purists will always say that mono “is how the Beatles always intended” them to be heard. Then there is the fact that the mono box set is “limited”. However, we found that the Stereo far outperformed the Mono versions. There were only a couple albums that we could see ourselves arguing as being definitively better on mono. Taking all that into consideration, it’s hard to justify paying $40-60 more for a box set that not only has less content (it doesn’t include Abbey Road, Let It Be, Yellow Submarine, or the DVD documentaries), but overall doesn’t sound as good as the Stereo versions. It is true that mono was originally how most of these album were recorded. But they never sounded better then they do now with the Stereo remasters that will have you listening to the Beatles like you have never before.

There are many differences between the Stereo and Mono versions of The White Album. (The Mono mix of the White Album was only available in Great Britain, it was never released in mono in the US.) The mono version of the song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is missing the hand clapping that can be heard in all other mixes of the song. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, like the Mono version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is missing the hand clapping at the beginning of the song.

What’s a Variation, and Why Do We Care?
One part of being a music fan is playing favorite recordings over and over. Like many people, I’ve found that I have memorized many small nuances of the performance on record. Sometimes, when listening to an old song on a new disk, I’ll detect a difference in what is otherwise a very familiar recording. There may be a voice or instrument in one version that is not in the other, for example. This is a variation. Just when people started noticing Beatles variations is lost in the mists of time, but by the end of the Beatles’ recording career as a group in 1970, lists of variations had become a perennial topic among some fans.

One’s credentials as a Beatles fan need not rest on whether one can recognize most of the variations. Plenty of genuine fans feel this is one of the most obsessive and boring topics imaginable, and would much rather discuss the meaning of the lyrics, the invention of the melody, or the relation of the song to the Beatles’ lives and times. But who cares about all that, eh? No no, that’s not what I mean…

The variations open the door a little bit into how the recordings were made and prepared for release. The differences tell us something about how the sound was fixed on tape and what the engineers did to make records out of them. At least, they tell us something if we care to ask how the variations happened.

Hasn’t this “been done”? Well you may ask. Beatles Variations Lists have certainly appeared before. One reason to compile a list is simply to collate all the previous work on this topic. When it was suggested I put together something about variations, though, I was dissatisfied at simply rehashing old lists. Aside from the copyright violations (not that it’s stopped writers of some of the books I’ve seen while researching this) it did seem a little boring as well. Nearly all of them are just lists.

There are two reasons I’ve done this. Firstly- Collating existing lists does not result in a good list. I found by listening that many of the variations were not well described. Although I decided to be nice and not make this a catalog of the failings of other sources, a few instances are so wildly wrong that I did mention them. There were times when I wondered whether the writers had even heard the record they were describing. The amount of mindless copying from one print source to another has to be seen to be believed. I found that I had to go listen for myself, and quiz people closely to be sure they heard what they said they did on rare disks I couldn’t get hold of.

Secondly- I wanted to understand why they vary. The only list that relates variations to what we know about the recording sessions is a series of articles by Steve Shorten in “The 910″, which was unfortunately limited by space to highlights. As Steve noted in his first article, the publication of Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” in 1988 provided an important framework on which to base an improved listing of variations. For the first time, we had specific information about dates of recording (some of which had been known) and of mixing (none of which had been known, I think). This made it possible to look for variations based on how many times a song was mixed at EMI Abbey Road, instead of the hopeless method of listening to every record released in the world.

Not only is “The Beatles Recording Sessions” a goldmine of information, but Lewisohn lacked the space or inclination to apply his data to the problem of variations. He even calls some mixes unused based on nonappearance in England. Tom Bowers and I did some work on finding those in 1991, reported in the Usenet group rec.music.beatles. It became clear that most of the mixes had been used somewhere, and they accounted for some of the variations that had been spotted previously.

Mark’s excellent work also provides enough information to figure out just how the variants arose. Some of them, especially the earlier ones recorded in 2-track, are editing differences, while others are differences in how the multi-track master tapes were mixed down for record.

Let me emphasize that, with just a very few exceptions, the mono version of a Beatles song is not the stereo version combined into one channel. On the contrary, George Martin mixed for mono first in almost all cases and then did a stereo mix separately. Right here we have a reason for variations, since the same edits and mixing had to be done twice. In some cases there are two or more mono or stereo mixes, providing yet more chances for variations.

The mixes were supposed to sound the same, usually. However, his practice of making separate mono and stereo mixes shows that George Martin did care about how the record would sound in both finished forms, and he may have deliberately mixed some songs differently. Other times, small things are fixed in one mix and overlooked in another, or difficult editing may be done a little better in one of the attempts. George Martin and staff weren’t perfect. That they had problems mixing songs the way they wanted makes the recording process seem a little less mechanical to me.

Obviously the mono and stereo mixes of any song are different. One is mono and one is stereo! Besides that, careful comparison of the mono mix to the stereo mix played as mono would doubtless turn up some differences in emphasis. But what we’re really after here in a variations list is larger game: different edits, sound mixed out in one version, different stereo images, and so on– things that are really noticeable. Well, maybe I stretch the limits on “really noticeable” at times. Forget the ones that seem trivial to you.

Aside from the dubious contribution of Capitol Records USA, I’m not, mostly, listing atrocities performed outside EMI Abbey Road. They’re not genuine, just stupid mistakes mastering records– speed problems, premature fadeouts, defects in tapes, even editing– and the ever-popular mock stereo. Nobody around the Beatles authorized them. Even Capitol is included just out of parochial interest to me and to the large contingent of fans in the USA– although I could argue Capitol’s work is of more than local interest since some other affiliates such as Odeon (Germany) got masters from Capitol. Capitol certainly doesn’t begin and end the tampering stories– there’s that “Penny Lane” from Brazil with a line edited out for no known reason, a “Devil in her Heart” from Mexico with the very end faded off… but I digress. If you live outside the USA, I invite you to catalog your own country’s label’s lack of judgement.

My Favorite Album Of All Time
The White Album is my favorite album ever (by The Beatles or anyone else.) I love it because of all of the different styles of music on it. I love it because of all of the brilliant songs. I love it because of it’s imperfections (“Don’t Pass Me By” comes to mind.) And yes, I love “Revolution #9.”

The Last Beatles Album Mixed In Mono
For most of The Beatles career mono was the standard and the stereo mix was something that was done as an afterthought. The band (and the producers and engineers) worked to get the mono mix just perfect and then would throw together the stereo mix rather quickly, sometimes in a very experimental fashion (as stereo was still very new, people were trying things out to see what worked.) But by 1968 mono was getting phased out and The White Album was The Beatles final album mixed in mono. Their last three albums (Yellow Submarine,

Never Released In The US In Mono
In the US mono had already been phased out and so only the stereo mix of the The White Album was released in the US while in the UK both the mono and stereo versions were released.

Mono Mixes On CD For The First Time
On 9/9/9 (a cool reference to “Revolution #9″) the original mono mixes of The Beatles first 10 studio albums (through The White Album) will be released on mono on CD for the first time.

The White Album is the only one of those 10 albums that was never released in mono on vinyl in the US so it will really be the first release of this mix in the US ever (on any format.) For those of us who think this is the greatest album of all time (and I think there’s quite a few of us!) it’s very exciting to finally get to hear this mix.

The White Album in mono will not be available for individual purchase, instead it will be included as one of the 10 Beatles albums (all with original mono mixes) in the Beatles Mono Box Set

Source: http://www.thewhitealbumproject.com/the-album/mono-vs-stereo/