June 29, 2019

Beatles Past Masters – Mono Mixes in Stereo by Mirror Spock

I recently became aware of this series of Beatles bootlegs. They are very high quality and in many cases reveal sounds buried in the stereo mixes. This is a real treat for fans who can get their hands on them. Below is a review of the Past Master Vol 1 & 2 editions. Here are comments from him directly:
Meticulously declicked from pristine vinyl, with vinyl noise only reduced; all tape sounds preserved for full ambience and air. Some of you already know about my breakthrough in extracting and keeping the "center" channel from the stereo, and and left and right channels minus the center from the stereo, thus separating the stereo into multichannels. My process has been improved since I released a demonstration song.

The Beatles Mono Masters – Mono Mixes in Stereo

A much welcomed surprise from Mirror Spock arrived a few weeks ago, THE BEATLES MONO MASTERS – (mono mixes in stereo) and I must say this has been one of the most delightful remix CDs that I’ve had the privilege of cranking up on the stereo.

Headphones do not do these discs justice. As with the original mono mixes he worked from, these remixes have more snap and punch; more so than the true stereo counterparts from EMI. The remixes bring out subtleties buried in the mono mixes or enhance the bass, drums and rhythm guitars. There is actually more clarity in some of these remixes than I ever expected to hear. It’s like a breath of fresh air and honestly, I’m amazed at what can be done by a non-professional outside of a studio environment. I know Mirror Spock has been working on perfecting these for quite some time now. I think the wait was worth it. Are they perfect? Most are. Some tracks do exhibit artifacts, but I believe it’s mostly unavoidable. The Beatles original recordings were never perfect anyhow.

I have no idea if anything but the mono recordings were used but they certainly match up with the original mono mixes in terms of where oddities come into play or where they contained noticeable differences vs the original stereo mixes. There is nice stereo separation. It feels natural and not contrived. Obvious care was taken to make these remixes as palatable as possible. As noted by some collector’s, “She Loves You” seems a bit problematic, but I never liked the way the backing track comes off on this studio recording. It always sounded cluttered to me. It’s certainly played to get attention. I think it gets enhanced in this mix. Songs on the first disc like “I Call Your Name”, where in original mono the cowbell seems to jump out of your speakers – now it jumps off them but in stereo. The cowbell in the original stereo mix never felt this distinct. “I’m Down”, John’s guitar comes alive. The power of this song will knock you out.

On the 2nd disc Ringo’s drumming on “Rain” is more pronounced and forceful. When the bass drum kicks in on “Lady Madonna” you’re literally knocked off your seat. “The Inner Light” never sounded so appealing before. A few of the later tracks, such as “Revolution”, “It’s All Too Much”, “Across the Universe” seem a bit harsh. These later period recordings are denser. I guess this makes it more difficult to make it free of artifacts. The bonus tracks on each disc are centered vocals and for disc #2, Mirror Spock centered the guitar on “Revolution”. I like it. It makes a powerfully recorded song that much more powerful.

There are two additional discs in this series by Mirror Spock, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. I’ve only given them curiosity spins so far. They appear to be just as well executed.

Overall this is a commendable remixing effort by Mirror Spock. It must not have been an easy remixing job working from mono recordings – and I’d never be one to explain how it was done even after someone explains it to me!

Mirror Spock
Reviewer: Howard Fox (aka Beatle Bob)


More info available here:

June 23, 2019

Help! Movie Blu Ray Review

After the massive success of “A Hard Day’s Night,” director Richard Lester was given more money and more creative freedom to direct “Help!,” a film seen as a disappointment by many at the time, including The Beatles themselves, but historically appreciated (as are most things John, Paul, George, and Ringo). The Beatles 1965 classic has been given a loving restoration, particularly in the sound department, and accompanied by interesting special features and attractive packaging. It’s a great gift idea for The Beatles fan in your family.
HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

How has the movie held up? So-so. It’s easier to appreciate some of the manic energy of the piece, a style that would influence everything from The Monkees to “Spice World,” but the film kind of wears out its welcome in terms of wacky behavior and doesn’t contain nearly enough actual music for a huge fan of The Beatles such as myself. There are only seven songs in the film, including hits like the title track, “Ticket to Ride,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” and “Another Girl.” The goofy plot, modeled as a spoof of Bond movies in a way to fully capitalize on everything popular in the mid-’60s, gets grating more quickly than I remembered but one has to admire the “let’s have fun” spirit of the whole thing. Even John Lennon reportedly came around to liking the film.

As for the Blu-ray, the new audio mix is stellar. The video is so-so but the audio track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is something every Beatles fan will enjoy. Special features are thorough and the packaging includes a booklet with stills and promotional material for the film. It’s an unexpected treat for music fans in a season in which the Blu-ray market is often dominated by the dreck that played the multiplex in the first quarter of the year. “Help!” may not be the best of The Beatles but most fans of the band want everything related to the Fab Four and they’ll be more than satisfied.

Directed by Richard Lester, who also directed the band’s debut feature film A Hard Day’s Night, Help! made its theatrical debut in 1965. The story follows The Beatles as they become passive recipients of an outside plot that revolves around Ringo’s possession of a sacrificial ring, which he cannot remove from his finger. As a result, he and his bandmates John, Paul and George are chased from London to the Austrian Alps and the Bahamas by religious cult members, a mad scientist and the London police. In addition to starring the Beatles, Help! has a witty script, a great cast of British character actors and features 7 classic Beatles tracks.

Special Features:
o The Beatles In Help!: 30 Minute Documentary About The Making of The Film, With Richard Lester, The Cast and Crew
o A Missing Scene: Featuring Wendy Richard
o The Restoration Of Help!: An In-Depth Look At The Restoration Process
o Memories Of Help!: The Cast And Crew Reminisce
o 3 Theatrical Trailers
o 1965 Radio Spots

“Help!” was released on Blu-ray on June 25, 2013.

Source: http://www.hollywoodchicago.com/news/22629/blu-ray-review-the-beatles-help-given-loving-hd-restoration


The Beatles’ second feature film, 1965’s Help!, is on the way on Blu-ray. On June 24 (June 25 in North America), Help! makes its eagerly awaited Blu-ray debut in a single-disc package pairing the digitally restored film and 5.1 soundtrack with an hour of extra features, including a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film, memories of the cast and crew, an in-depth look at the restoration process, an outtake scene, and original theatrical trailers and radio spots. An introduction by the film’s director, Richard Lester, and an appreciation by Martin Scorsese are included in the Blu-ray’s booklet.

Help!’s Blu-ray edition follows the 2012 release of The Beatles’ digitally restored Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour feature films on Blu-ray, DVD and iTunes with extensive extras. Help!’s restoration for its 2007 DVD debut wowed viewers, earning five-times platinum sales in the U.S. and praise from a broad range of top media outlets around the world, including USA Today heralding the DVD as “a grand re-release,” The Guardian’s appreciation of the film’s director, Richard Lester, saying “Lester matches The Beatles’ ‘star’ power with smart, colourful visuals and casual surrealism,” The Los Angeles Times’ restoration rave: “With dynamic compression that was standard in the 1960s lifted for the digital age, the full range of the group’s musicality comes through – it’s like several coats of dust have been cleaned off an old master’s painting,” and four-star reviews from Rolling Stone and MOJO with the latter saying, “They really don’t make them like this anymore.”

Directed by Richard Lester, who also directed the band’s debut feature film, 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night, Help! follows The Beatles as they become passive recipients of an outside plot that revolves around Ringo’s possession of a sacrificial ring, which he cannot remove from his finger. As a result, he and his bandmates John, Paul and George are chased from London to the Austrian Alps and the Bahamas by religious cult members, a mad scientist and the London police.

In addition to starring The Beatles, Help! boasts a witty script, a great cast of British character actors, and classic Beatles songs “Help!,” “You’re Going To Lose That Girl,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” “Ticket To Ride,” “I Need You,” “The Night Before,” and “Another Girl.”


Help!’s Blu-ray package pairs the digitally restored original film with these extra features:

• “The Beatles in Help!” – a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film with Richard Lester, the cast and crew, including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of The Beatles on-set.
• “A Missing Scene” – a film outtake, featuring Wendy Richard
• “The Restoration of Help!” – an in-depth look at the restoration process
• “Memories of Help!” – the cast and crew reminisce
• 1965 Theatrical Trailers – two original U.S. trailers and one original Spanish trailer
• 1965 U.S. Radio Spots (hidden in disc menus)




The Beatles:

John………..…………………………………………………………John Lennon
Paul………………………………………………………………Paul McCartney
George……….…………………………………………………George Harrison
Ringo……….……………………………………………………………Ringo Starr

Clang………………………………………………………………….Leo McKern
Ahme…………………………………………………………………Eleanor Bron
Foot…………………………………………………………………………….Victor Spinetti
Algernon…………………………………………………………………………Roy Kinnear
Superintendent………………………………………………………………Patrick Cargill
Bhuta…………………………………………………………………………….John Bluthal
Jeweller………………………………………………………………Peter Copley
Doorman…………………………………………………………………Alfie Bass
Abdul…………………………………………………………..…Warren Mitchell
Lawnmower…………………………………………………………Bruce Lacey

Cross channel swimmer………………………………………………Mal Evans
Women in street……………………Dandy Nichols and Gretchen Franklin

Director ……………………………………………………………Richard Lester
Producer …………………………………………………………Walter Shenson
Screenplay…………………………………..Marc Behm and Charles Wood
Story by………………………………………………………………..Marc Behm
Director of Photography…………………………………………David Watkin
Production Manager……………………………………………….John Pellatt
Art Director………………………………………………………Raymond Simm
Colour Consultant and Titles…………………………………Robert Freeman
Costume Designer…………………………………………………….Julie Harris
Musical Director………………………………………………………Ken Thorne
Songs composed by…………………..John Lennon and Paul McCartney
and by George Harrison
Songs performed by…………………………………………………The Beatles
Songs produced by……………………………………………..George Martin



‘Help!’ follows in the great tradition of classic comedy chase movies.

In this instance, John, Paul, George and Ringo, find themselves being pursued across the world by not one but two groups of fanatics with separate agendas.

Ringo possesses a ring with a large red stone set in the middle, sent to him by a fan. Unknown to him this artifact is the sacred sacrificial ring of Goddess Kaili: the deity of an Asian religious cult led by Swami Clang (Leo McKern).

The younger sister of High Priestess Ahme (Eleanor Bron) has been selected by Kaili’s thuggish followers as a human sacrifice. However, panic breaks out when, as she is about to be dispatched by the ceremonial-sword wielding fanatic, Swami Clang, he realizes that she is not wearing this religious bauble.

The human sacrifice is promptly placed on hold.  Clang, Ahme and a bunch of bumbling henchmen organized by Blutha (John Bluthal), set about tracking down the wearer with the aim of retrieving the ring by covering Ringo in bright red paint and sacrificing him in the process.

Even before he realizes he is the object of these fanatics attention, Ringo finds that he can’t slip it off his finger. It’s stuck!

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Clang, the lovely Ahme is a secret Beatles fan with a shine for Paul.


These cult followers of Kaili frantically pursue The Beatles first, through London, then up the snow-covered Austrian Alps, followed by Buckingham Palace across Salisbury Plain and finally along the sandy beaches of the Bahamas.

Amidst this turmoil, two scientists named Foot (Victor Spinetti) and Algernon (Roy Kinnear) have become involved, being called in by the Government to try and remove the ring from Ringo’s finger. Algernon is a harmless fool, however, Foot is a megalomaniac and sees the ring as a means to “rule the world!” and is prepared to go to extremes to get his hands on the ring.  Following up the rear is dapper Scotland Yard Police Superintendent (Patrick Cargill).

Fortunately, all attempts to remove this religious artifact from Ringo’s hand are thwarted at every turn often by John, Paul and George. This wild chase eventually culminates on a beach in the Bahamas when the ring suddenly falls off Ringo’s finger and those in pursuit are suddenly afraid to pick it up in case they themselves become splattered with red paint and selected as the sacrificial victim!


• ‘Help!’
• ‘You’re Going To Lose That Girl’
• ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’
• ‘Ticket To Ride’
• ‘I Need You’
• ‘The Night Before’
• ‘Another Girl’

Source: https://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=220220

June 21, 2019

A Hard Day's Night Movie Blu Ray Review

A Hard Day's Night (Criterion)-Review Date June 20th, 2014 by Steven Cohen

Overview -

Meet the Beatles! Just one month after they exploded onto the U.S. scene with their Ed Sullivan Show appearance, John, Paul, George, and Ringo began working on a project that would bring their revolutionary talent to the big screen. 'A Hard Day’s Night,' in which the bandmates play slapstick versions of themselves, captured the astonishing moment when they officially became the singular, irreverent idols of their generation and changed music forever. Directed with raucous, anything-goes verve by Richard Lester and featuring a slew of iconic pop anthems, including the title track, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Should Have Known Better,” and “If I Fell,” 'A Hard Day’s Night,' which reconceived the movie musical and exerted an incalculable influence on the music video, is one of the most deliriously entertaining movies of all time.

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Beatles. The Fab Four. Legends, icons, and lasting pop culture sensations -- what is there really left to say? In fact, so much has been written about the band, that I'm sure even my previous sentence lamenting the fact that there's nothing left to say about them, has already been written countless times before. Still, the relentless coverage is fully deserved. After all, though once just four humble lads from Liverpool, the group is collectively responsible for producing some of the most popular and enduring musical hits ever recorded. And as their fame shot up in America, right at the height of Beatlemania, they of course… made a movie. From director Richard Lester, 'A Hard Day's Night' is an innovative, experimental foray into satirical, surreal comedy, loose plotting, and frenzied musical performances. A highly influential work, the film essentially lays down the groundwork for a whole new form of movie musical, paving the way for pop music videos as we know them.

The basic plot focuses on the famous quartet over a single day as they rehearse for a live television concert. We follow band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (all playing themselves, of course) as they take a train ride, practice their songs, and chat up women, all while they continuously deal with mobs of fans, controlling managers, and overbearing press. Though there actually is a script, the story is essentially negligible, with the film's goals extending far off the usual narrative path, aiming for a more unconventional and almost nonsensical mixture of episodic comedy and melodic delight.

The humor itself is a fun blend of dry, witty one-liners, and odd, absurdist sensibilities –- which all end up mixing perfectly with the band members' actual personalities. Quick snippets of snarky banter and sarcastic observations are placed against more overtly wacky scenarios and reality bending visual gags that pay homage to silent cinema sensibilities. Likewise, frequent non sequiturs and meaningless observations are thrown into a gleefully haphazard series of sequences that see the band struggle to deal with the pressures surrounding them. Thankfully, not all of the laughs are purely irrational, and complementing the seemingly random, surreal humor is some occasionally biting satirical commentary on the pitfalls of fame and the superficiality of shifting trends. Some highlights include poor Ringo's unsuccessful attempts at enjoying the simple things in life, George's run-in with some shallow trend setters, and a lively press party that sees the band unleash an amusing assault of quick-witted jabs at the unsuspecting (and often oblivious) journalists.

Going along with the narrative's decidedly loose construction, the musical performances themselves often come in the form of arbitrary breaks from the normal flow of the story. To this end, songs simply occur matter-of-factly with no real attempt at transitions or plot ties, yet somehow the filmmakers manage to maintain an effortless flow and rhythm throughout the entire runtime. A more traditional approach is taken for the climax, however, which sees the band literally play for a television concert. Multiple cameras capture every angle, giving the viewer an intimate and multifaceted view from both the audience and the group's perspective. Of course, the opening sequence itself, set to the title track of the film, is perhaps the movie's most iconic scene, and The Beatles running through the streets of Liverpool has become an indelible motion picture image, loudly ushering in a new kind of filmmaking -- complete with a catchy, memorable hook.

Brilliantly tying the film's loosely constructed web of comedy and song together, is director Richard Lester. Bringing an innovative and energetic visual style to the screen, Lester basically pioneers an entirely new method of filming musical performances. Many scenes forgo classic coverage in favor of a more improvisational, free-flowing approach that relies on unconventional editing techniques. The frenzy of Beatlemania is perfectly captured through montages of shaky close-ups depicting screaming fans and pandemonium on the streets. Fast moving zooms and pans all add energy and excitement, following the band wherever they go. Lester also plays around with frame rates, using slow and fast motion to capture the group's free-spirited whimsy. And all of this kinetic style creates a kind of invisible throughline, connecting the songs and story in a purely cinematic way.

While there's no denying the movie's heavy influence and impact on creating a new kind of synergy between film and popular music, 'A Hard Day's Night' doesn't quite hold the same impact that it once did. The movie has aged remarkably well and never really feels dated per say, but techniques and stylistic choices that once seemed radical and subversive in 1964 are now rather standard and common place. Of course, this isn't a real fault of the film itself. In fact, it's just further proof of how remarkably ahead of its time it really was. With that said, the movie's effect can't help but be slightly diminished by the generation of imitators that followed.

With their albums, The Beatles helped shape popular music as we know it, and through their first attempt at big screen success, they help establish an entirely new form of moviemaking. Lester's irreverent mishmash of zany nonsense, sharp satire, exciting visuals, and great music, results in a genuinely original and downright groundbreaking accomplishment. It may not hold the impact it once did in 1964, but 'A Hard Day's Night' remains an entertaining, funny, and artfully constructed peek into the fascinating world of celebrity and rock and roll -- giving playful cinematic form to the madness that is Beatlemania.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Criterion presents 'A Hard Day's Night' in a Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. A BD-50 Region A disc and two DVDs come packaged in a foldout case housed in a cardboard slipcover with spine number 711. An extra thick booklet featuring an essay by critic Howard Hampton and excerpts from a 1970 interview with the director is also included.

Video Review

The movie is provided with a black and white 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 1.75:1 aspect ratio. Director approved and taken from a new 4K scan sourced from the original 35mm camera negative and two fine-grain master positives, the picture here is very impressive, giving the movie the top quality video presentation it deserves.

Compared to the previously released 1080i Alliance disc, this new transfer offers a huge upgrade in every conceivable way. While that disc had a soft, flat, and slightly washed out image with occasional signs of damage, here we get an absolutely beautiful presentation. The print is in great shape with only very minor specks and lines from time to time. A natural layer of grain is apparent throughout, giving the picture a rich, filmic quality. Clarity is strong, with a pleasing level of fine detail and a solid sense of dimension. The black and white photography features strong contrast with bright whites, deep blacks, and a well-balanced grayscale. Thankfully, there are no artifacts to speak of.

This Criterion release of 'A Hard Day's Night' gives fans an exceptional video presentation, offering a big improvement over the previously available Canadian import.

Audio Review

The film is presented with the original English LPCM Mono track and a newly mixed English LPCM stereo track and English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Enveloping but respectful, this is a fantastic surround sound remix, opening the audio and music just enough without overpowering the original design work.

Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there are no major signs of pops, background hissing, or crackle. The soundstage itself is very restrained, remaining respectful to the original mono design, though speech is appropriately positioned in the center channel, sound effects are subtly expanded across the front speakers, and faint ambiance is spread to the rears (a moving train, screaming fans, etc.). Where the remix really shines, however, is with the music performances. From the moment 'A Hard Day's Night' comes bursting from the speakers, it's clear that great care has been taken to present the songs, and the audio features fantastic fidelity with a rich and full sound. Separation is great throughout the soundstage, spreading the music all around the room in a smooth and natural manner. Bass activity is also solid, giving a little extra kick to the rock tunes.

Likewise, as was the case with the video, this 5.1 track is leaps and bounds better than the inconsistent 5.1 mix used on the Alliance release (which was really more of a mono/2.0 hybrid). With that said, the transition from narrative scenes to musical performances can still be a tad jarring, as there is a clear increase in audio quality (though this is also the case in the mono and stereo mixes.) I also sampled the original mono and stereo tracks, and they also offer great audio experiences. Of course, the mono track features a comparatively tiny and flat soundfield that lacks the full resonance of the new mixes, but it really is impressive in its own right and it's great to have the film's original audio as an option.

Supervised by sound producer Giles Martin (son of George Martin, The Beatles' original producer), the new 5.1 track does a great job of expanding the audio in subtle and respectful ways. Likewise, fans also get the original mono track and a 2.0 option, offering three great ways to listen to the movie.

Special Features

Criterion has provided a great assortment of supplements including a commentary and several documentaries. With that said, a few of the previous featurettes from the Alliance release are not included here, but most of the information shared in those pieces is also touched upon in separate supplements here. All of the special features are presented in 1080p with Dolby Digital 1.0 audio and no subtitle options (unless noted otherwise).

    Commentary by Cast & Crew – Produced in 2002, this track features actors John Junkin, David Janson, Jeremy Lloyd; cinematographer Gilbert Taylor; associate producer Denis O'Dell; and many other members of the cast and crew. The large group offers a steady stream of trivia and anecdotes from the production and touch upon how certain shots were accomplished, what it was like working with the band, locations, wardrobe, influences, editing, casting, and insights into The Beatles' personalities. Though it can be a little hard to tell who is talking from time to time, this is an informative track.
    In Their Own Voices (HD, 18 min) – This is a reel of 1964 audio interviews with the band set to stills, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the film. The band discusses how they got involved in the project, the writing process for the title track, their experience shooting the film, what it was like to act as themselves, and how they go about dealing with the press. Serving as the only supplement that features participation from the actual Beatles, this is a great inclusion that fans should enjoy.

    Anatomy of a Style (HD, 17 min) – In this featurette, story editor and screenwriter Bobbie O'Steen and music editor Suzana Peric analyze five music scenes from the film. The duo elaborate on the movie's use of style as content, its experimental editing techniques, its shot selection, and the unconventional manner in which it uses music to tell a story.
    "You Can't Do That": The Making of 'A Hard Day's Night' (HD, 1 hr & 2 min) – Presented in 1080i with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this is a 1994 documentary hosted by Phil Collins that traces the movie's production. Audio snippets from the band are repeated from one of the previous supplements, along with interviews from the director, cast, crew, and even Roger Ebert. The participants discuss the origins of the film, the writing process for the music and script, the use of adlibbing, cut songs, the visual style, and the movie's lasting impact. We also get to see an outtake performance that was not used in the final edit.
    Things They Said Today (HD, 36 min) – Presented in 1080i with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this is a 2002 documentary that offers another look back at the origins of the film, its production history, and lasting impact. Interviews with director Richard Lester, George Martin, producers, studio execs, and other crew and cast members are included, along with some behind-the-scenes footage and stills. All of the participants offer some interesting bits of trivia and stories from the set dealing with the improvisational style of filmmaking used and the band's impossible popularity. There are some repeated stories and trivia, but fans will still want to check this out.
    Richard Lester (HD) – A short film by director Richard Lester featuring Peter Sellers titled 'The Running Jumping & Standing Film' (11 min) is presented in 1080i. In addition, a 2014 video essay called 'Picturewise' (27 min) is included as well. The piece focuses on Richard Lester's overall career and his work on 'A Hard Day's Night.'
    The Beatles: The Road To A Hard Day's Night (HD, 28 min) – Here we get a 2014 interview with Beatles' author Mark Lewisohn discussing the band's early career leading up to 'A Hard Day's Night.' Filled with lots of interesting trivia, this is a great inclusion.
    Trailers (HD) – The film's 2000 rerelease trailer (2 min) and its 2014 rerelease trailer (2 min) are included in 1080i and 1080p respectively with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Final Thoughts

Richard Lester's 'A Hard Day's Night' is a highly influential and entertaining musical comedy that brings Beatlemania to the big screen in style. While some of its impact has dulled over time, the film is still a playful and innovative piece of motion picture history. Improving upon the previous release in every way, the new video transfer is exceptional. Likewise, fans are given three great audio options, including the original mono soundtrack and a new, very respectful 5.1 remix. Supplements are plentiful and informative, though it would have been nice to hear retrospective interviews from the surviving band members. Still, this is an all-around fantastic release from Criterion –- one that is easily a must own for any big Beatles fan and highly recommended for all film fans. 

Source: https://bluray.highdefdigest.com/11627/aharddaysnightcriterion.html

May 25, 2019

How The Beatles Made 'The White Album'

Fifty years ago, just before the holidays in 1968, The Beatles put out not just a new album, but a double album, something relatively unheard of at the time. The album art was a stark, white, glossy cover with raised, slanted lettering that simply said, "The Beatles." That self-titled album, with its 30 songs that span genres from American country music to avant-garde tape collage, has come to be known as "The White Album." And in celebration of its birth 50 years ago, The Beatles label Apple Records has scoured the archives for a new deluxe edition of the album that, for the first time, includes previously unreleased, early demo recordings, studio outtakes and stunning remixes in both stereo and 5.1 surround.

Today we've got a conversation with the man who produced this 100-plus song celebration, Giles Martin, whose father, George Martin, produced "The White Album" back in '68 (along with most everything else The Beatles ever made). In this interview with Giles Martin, you'll hear some of the early demos, outtakes and remixes. But he begins by describing the process of making of the "The White Album," how it turned out to be a much-less planned and much more organic process than ever, and how that frustrated George Martin.

You can hear the full conversation (and the music) with the play button at the top of the page and read edited highlights below.

The Beatles "White Album" Super DeLuxe - What's new?

Mike Carrera finds out what's new on the new super deluxe edition of The Beatles' "White album"
This is a quick fan review from the forthcoming Box Set The Beatles (aka The White Album) Super Deluxe Edition, focusing only on disks 3-6  containing the demos and outtakes versus what’s been already out on past official and bootleg releases. We'll see what’s new and what’s not.

By Mike Carrera

Esher demos: The bootleg version in circulation is an off-line recording made by George to John so there are some ambient noises sometimes and chats between George, Paul and John before, during or after some demos not heard on the 2018 master tapes mixes. The 2018 edition of the Esher tapes are all way better in terms of audio quality, and they are also all in stereo, where bootleg editions were all in mono. So, disregarding audio quality, we are comparing this official release with the best bootleg of Esher demos, and also with the versions officially released on "Anthology 3". We have found that in some cases, you will need to hang on to your bootleg edition, in order to have an as complete as possible representation of the track in question:


Disc 3:

  1. Back In The U.S.S.R. (Esher Demo) 3:00

Same as on bootleg.

  2. Dear Prudence (Esher Demo) 4:47

Partially NEW. Two seconds longer here than on bootlegs, the initial chord heard at the intro is slightly longer.

  3. Glass Onion (Esher Demo) 1:55

Partially NEW. Completely different mix from "Anthology 3", John’s talk heard at the intro on the right channel on CD 1 of the third Anthology volume has been mixed out here. The mix done by George Martin with the two overdubs can be heard on the left and right channel, while on this new mix it’s all more centred. The end is new, John can be heard singing something like “Chicago, Chicago”.

  4. Ob La Di Ob La Da (Esher Demo) 3:10

Three seconds longer on bootlegs, and at the end we can hear Paul and George talking - but this comes from the off-line recording while they were doing the copy for John, so it’s not part of the actual demo.

  5. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (Esher Demo) 2:40

The bootleg version runs 2:54, here in the new mix the intro chat is slightly edited plus all the end: John continuing singing after the song has ended and Paul and George talking.

  6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Esher Demo) 2:41

Partially NEW. George’s count-in is new, but the bootleg version (which runs 2:35) has an organ overdub and post ambient noise (Paul humming and George talking in the background) and this new version has the organ mixed out, but at the end you can hear it very low with it headphones. It seems the unedited bootleg version comes when they did the organ overdub while the tape was running, because if we listen closely while Paul is humming, the tape continues without any editing signal and the same organ now continues with a few notes, before overdubbing the next song on the original tape: “Circles”.

  7. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Esher Demo) 1:55

NEW. Here is the unheard double tracked demo for the first time. John doesn’t catch some phrases with his first vocal track at some points or sings in different keys and adds extra verses at the end and also extra guitar notes. Very interesting. The "Anthology 3" version is the single vocal and single guitar track running 2:14 that also has a false start not present in the new mix, but lacks the second vocal with additional verses from John.

  8. I'm So Tired (Esher Demo) 3:08

The demo length is the same here as on bootlegs, but on the latter we can hear some chat from George at the end, three seconds longer than this 2018 mix.

  9. Blackbird (Esher Demo) 2:33

Even though this and the bootleg start at the same time, on the bootleg you can hear some chat from George and a comment “Ok Mal” and Paul saying “ok?” as well as some extra noise. But on this new mix, those bits were erased from the left channel as we can hear at 0:07 the sound coming in from left channel that was covered with “hiss” during the first seconds.

  10. Piggies (Esher Demo) 2:03

Partially NEW. George’s first “One” count-in is new, he then start again with “One, Two…” but at the end on the bootleg version we can hear George saying “living Piggie lives” and some extra noise of some background tape or distorted guitar. The bootleg version is 2:06. The official edit on "Anthology 3" was in mono, but like all the other Esher demos here, this is also presented in stereo. 

  11. Rocky Raccoon (Esher Demo) 2:41

This new mix and the bootleg are the same versions, but on the bootleg there's an additional 16 seconds at the end, of some chat between John and George.

  12. Julia (Esher Demo) 3:54

Partially NEW. The first two seconds here are new: John saying “Hellooo Paul”. On the bootleg version at the very end we can hear some birds that were cut out on this new mix, but at the intro and again after Paul says “OK” you can hear some birds as well (at least if you listen through headphones).

  13. Yer Blues (Esher Demo) 3:29

Two extra seconds at the end on the bootleg version allow us to hear John talking, whereas on this new mix he's missing.

  14. Mother Nature's Son (Esher Demo) 2:22

There seem to be no differences between this and the bootleg.

  15. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (Esher Demo) 3:01

The bootleg version has some post song chat from Paul, but the rest is the same.

  16. Sexy Sadie (Esher Demo) 2:24

The bootleg version runs 2:29 and there are extra noises when the song ends, some guitar noise or amp, and George coughing.

  17. Revolution (Esher Demo) 4:04

The bootleg version starts with one extra second on the intro (a guitar string noise is heard), and the end is 10 seconds longer (and this 2018 mix has an early fade out) while the song is still playing it's final chords and John is singing at least three more times “all right” while also fading out, but not as early as in this new mix.

  18. Honey Pie (Esher Demo) 1:57

There seems to be no differences between this and the bootleg.

  19. Cry Baby Cry (Esher Demo) 2:25

No differences between this and the bootleg - but on the latter we can hear in the background some ambient noises and chat at the end, and a sound of a harmonium or organ but it’s not part of this song, still interesting to hear a different tape of the ‘Esher demos’ although not with the same quality as the 2018 mix.

  20. Sour Milk Sea (Esher Demo) 3:41

NEW. A huge surprise to find out we are getting a new and unheard demo of this song, completely different from the bootleg. Here is a double tracked vocal acoustic demo (with percussion from Ringo(?) and handclaps) lasting 3:41 with different vocals from George, different count in and different end while the bootleg version lasts 3:25 and is a also a double tracked vocal demo with acoustic guitar, tambourine, bass and some electric guitar fill ins. Also the bootleg has extra 21 seconds of post chat between George and John.

  21. Junk (Esher Demo) 2:34

John’s final comment is slightly longer here than the bootleg version, otherwise no differences.

  22. Child Of Nature (Esher Demo) 2:35

No differences between this and the bootleg.

  23. Circles (Esher Demo) 2:15

Partially NEW. The “one” from George’s initial count-in is missing here while it’s complete on the bootleg. The bootleg also includes two stray organ notes before (while Paul is talking) and also another one just when George counts in “two”. Paul’s voice can also be heard after the count-in of “three”, but all of this was erased in creating this new mix. The organ overdub is more prominent on the bootleg but this official mix has an almost perfect and clear vocal (double tracked) mix not heard before. The organ’s final chord is slightly faded out in the 2018 mix while it’s complete and with a few seconds of post chat on bootleg. After hearing the bootleg version and this official mix, we can assume what we have on bootleg is a copy of the organ overdub live on top of what was recorded earlier, while the 2018 version is a final mix not available before.

  24. Mean Mr Mustard (Esher Demo) 2:03

Partially NEW. A completely different mix from the one available on "Anthology 3", here everything is more centred (mostly vocals) while on "Anthology" we can hear the original demo on the left channel and overdubs with double vocal on the right channel. The 2018 mix is six seconds longer, with some extra chat from John and tape noises.

  25. Polythene Pam (Esher Demo) 1:25

A completely different mix from the one available on "Anthology 3", contrary to "Mean Mr. Mustard", the two vocal tracks are separated here (left channel original demo, right channel overdub) but more clear on "Anthology 3". It’s two seconds longer now, without the fade out.

  26. Not Guilty (Esher Demo) 3:04

Since the bootleg tape comes from an off-line recording, we can hear some comments from George and John from time to time on the very background, while on this 2018 mix it’s a perfect recording but the end is complete on the bootleg, because it's five seconds longer (we can hear Paul? And John chatting and also an extra guitar note).

  27. What's The New Mary Jane (Esher Demo) 2:40

Partially NEW. The count-in from John is truncated on the bootleg (One/ee/Four) while it’s complete here (One, two, three, four), other than that, there is nothing new. At the end of the tape on the bootleg version there is a click from a tape being stopped, this is not present on the new mix but it’s not part of the demo, but an ambient noise when George was copying the tape for John (we presume?)
George and Ringo during a break in the studio sessions. Photo: © Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.


Disc 4:

  1. Revolution 1 (Take 18) 10:26

NEW. The basic take (drums, guitar and piano) that was used to create the final version, at this stage this take has many overdubs recorded: double tracked vocals by John, mellotron, a bass and many electronic sounds and Yoko’s tape also heard at the end, some bits from this take including John’s screams were used in ‘Revolution No 9’, but still misses the distinctive guitar overdub all through the song. We can note that the “Take Two” heard on the intro is not coming from any “take two”, it actually says “Can I take two?”. This take 18 are without any backing vocals from Paul and George. At 07:35 Paul starts singing “Love Me Do”. Take 20 RM1 is available on bootleg and comes from this very same take when it was bounced to another 4-track tape but adds some extra overdubs (backing vocals, extra tape loops effects, the unused “Mama, Dada” chorus, another John vocal, etc)

  2. A Beginning (Take 4)/ 0:55

Partially NEW. The same take is already available on "Anthology 3", where it's not linked with ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ (so the end is clearer than on this new mix). but here for the first time is the engineer’s announcement  From Take 1 (unlisted) “This is introduction to Ringo’s Don’t Pass Me By ”  and edited together with engineer’s announcement for “Take 4”. The change of sound is very noticeable during the two slates.

  Don't Pass Me By (Take 7) 4:50

NEW. The violin starts on the official version at 00:39, while on this unmixed Take 7 it starts almost right away. There is also no intro on the piano as heard on the official version, here the piano starts directly with the drum beat. The original Take 7 presented here is one minute longer than the released version (3:50) because it doesn’t have one verse edited out on the final mix. The vocal track is the same as the released version also with Artificial Double Tracking (ADT) but we can hear Ringo singing the full end of the song, something that was faded out on the Anthology Version: “I want you to make me happy.. happy… happy…. ‘cause that’s what I want” and linked together with a real surprise: the original title of the song, Ringo is heard at the end saying “This is Some Friendly” while the others are whispering the same. The "Anthology 3" version is more than a minute shorter (2:40) than the official version and more than two minutes shorter than this 2018 outtake.

  3. Blackbird (Take 28) 2:15

NEW. The take runs 1:55 while the rest is Paul talking with George Martin and there is also a female voice heard near the end (Francie Schwartz?) when Paul says that it's better to sing quieter. According to Kevin Howlett, the tape box of this was mislabeled as Take 9 while “Take 4” from "Anthology" is actually Take 23!

  4. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (Unnumbered Rehearsal) 2:43  

NEW. A real jewel here was discovered while researching for this project, only three minutes survived from this instrumental rehearsal.

  5. Good Night (Unnumbered Rehearsal) 00:39

NEW. Apparently the spoken introduction tryouts done by Ringo were recorded after the next track, another similar (but not the same) tryout is found on the "Anthology" video during the medley of "White Album" outtakes.

  6. Good Night (Take 10 With A Guitar Part From Take 7) 2:31

NEW. With a combination of two takes, a splendid mix with the unused vocal harmonies from John, Paul and George. One of the highlights from this boxed set. But there is actually more than one guitar, Take 7 is a combination of three guitar recordings done by John on top of Take 5.

  7. Good Night (Take 22) 3:46 Partially

NEW. The very same take as used on "Anthology 3", it has a slate and some extra chat at the intro not heard before (the first 15 seconds are new) but the rest of the intro is the same but mixed slightly differently. The "Anthology" take is edited with Take 34 at 1:59 and ends at 2:34 while this is the full Take, lasting more than one minute longer. The liner notes of the "Anthology 3" album mention that this is a rehearsal take, while the new documentations prove that this is Take 22, another survivor of the erasing, along with part of Take 21.

Photo: © Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.

  8. Ob La Di Ob La Da (Take 3) 2:54

NEW. In the same vein as the very well known “acoustic” version Take 5 also on "Anthology 3" and many bootlegs and the unreleased "Sessions" LP, this is the same take before overdubs but ADT in Paul’s vocal is present and also in some parts a double tracked vocal is heard (during the “Happy ever after in the marketplace” line starting at 2:14), plus backing vocals from John and George doing the “la la las”. What is missing from this Take 3 and present on Take 5 are the congas, saxophones and extra percussion.

  9. Revolution (Unnumbered Rehearsal) 2:16

NEW. Another discovered rehearsal fragment that survives, having been thought erased. Main and backing vocals are already present at this stage including some low “shoo-bee-do-wop” by Paul.

  10. Revolution (Take 14 Instrumental Backing Track) 3:25

NEW. Still to be added piano by Nicky Hopkins and another guitar part by John are not present at this take yet. It also has a slightly different and unedited ending.

  11. Cry Baby Cry (Unnumbered Rehearsal) 3:02

NEW. Also known as “Version one”, another surviving rehearsal tape was found, and just a fragment is presented here. John’s vocal is already present.

  12. Helter Skelter (First Version Take 2) 12:53

Partially NEW. Known as “Version one”, the now very famous slow version of this song sees the light of day being released in full. However, there is fade out involved, so we can’t hear how it actually ends. Kevin Howlett says we can hear this take in it’s entirety lasting 12:49, but it actually continues until 12:53 where there is a fade out. So maybe the third and most famous 27 minute take starts linked after Take 2? Just like Take 2 starts with a jam already in progress (from the end of Take 1?) and six seconds later we can hear the engineers’ “Take two” announcement. The "Anthology 3" version was heavily edited to a total of 4:35 using the “best” parts of this long take.

Long Long Long tape box © Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.
Disc 5:

  1. Sexy Sadie (Take 3) 3:08

NEW. We can hear George singing a few lines of ‘Getting Better’ over the intro. Part of the initial chat between John and George was already available coming from the "Rockband" intros (“How fast John?”, “however you like, you know?.. feel it!), the rest is new and with a fade out at the end, so we can’t hear the actual ending.

  2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic Version Take 2) 3:02

NEW. An undocumented second take on the session tape box was discovered for this project. Recorded the same day and after the famous Take 1, which was also on "Anthology 1" and many bootleg releases (unedited and edited). George and Paul are the only members of the Beatles here.

  3. Hey Jude (Take 1) 6:44

NEW. Another surprise for those collecting bootlegs, different from the other, mislabeled “Take 1” which is circulating and never heard before until now, recorded July 29, 1968, the second take from this same session appears on "Anthology 3". George is playing some electric guitar riffs on this take as well.

  4. St Louis Blues (Studio Jam) 00:50

Nothing new, there is even an early fade out.

  5. Not Guilty (Take 102) 4:28

Partially NEW. The full length performance from beginning to end without any early fade out. The first five seconds are new, starting with the “Take 102” announcement and ending with post-song guitar riffs which can also be heard on the "John Barrett Tapes" bootleg but are more prominent here as the bootleg has a fade out but runs a few more seconds longer during the final riffs. So we still need both to get the complete take.

  6. Mother Nature's Son (Take 15) 3:11

NEW. Paul trying to sing some parts differently. The take runs 2:29 while the rest is Paul and George Martin talking.

Photo: © Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.
  7. Yer Blues (Take 5 With Guide Vocal) 3:57 
NEW. John comment at the end that “it’s getting better”.

  8. What's The New Mary Jane (Take 1) 2:06

Partially NEW. 35 seconds were already available coming from the "Anthology" video or DVD but mislabeled as “Take 2” on bootlegs, now this full breakdown take is available.

  9. Rocky Raccoon (Take 8) 4:57

Partially NEW. Already available on the "Anthology 3" album, the intro there is more complete as we can hear a guitar note that was edited out in this new mix, the talk between John and Paul is the same. The "Anthology" version ends at 4:10 so now we have almost 40 seconds of an unheard passage with improvised lyrics from Paul, a real highlight for those expecting nothing new with the choice of the same take as on the "Anthology".

  10. Back In The U.S.S.R. (Take 5 Instrumental Backing Track) 3:09

NEW. No extra comments since it’s already out.

  11. Dear Prudence (Vocal, Guitar & Drums) 3:59

NEW. A real surprise where you didn't expect one, as this could be read as a “channel mix”, judging by the description - and it’s not! It’s a full length take without overdubs (except for a double tracked vocal by John) and also a different guitar is heard near the end plus John continues playing his guitar with more extra riffs. The track ends with John saying: ‘Can I just do the last verse?’.

  12. Let It Be (Unnumbered Rehearsal) 1:17

NEW. Undocumented track (second engineer John Smith wrote “Ad Lib” in his recording notes) during the ‘While My Guitar’ sessions with mister Slow Hand himself, we can hear George Harrison telling him at the end “Cans On Eric”.

  13. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third Version Take 27)

Partially NEW. George’s initial comments regarding his sandwich and coffee were already available from the "Rockband" and "Anthology" video intros and apparently comes from Take 1 (Third Version session), even the count-in is the same here and there. The breakdown is also available from the "Rockband" intros where George is referring to sing like Smokey Robinson but the rest is completely new and not heard before.

  14. (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care (Studio Jam) 0:42

NEW. Recorded during the session for the second version of ‘Helter Skelter’.

  15. Helter Skelter (Second Version Take 17) 3:39

NEW. The “keep that one, mark it Fab” comment that has been repeated over and over from "Rockband", "09 09 09" back catalogue, bootlegs, etc comes from this session and this take 17 although the group tried more takes until Take 21 became the actual master.

  16. Glass Onion (Take 10) 2:12

NEW. Full of alternate or unfinished lyrics. John can be heard at the intro asking George Martin's assistant Chris Thomas about his opinion so far.

Paul in the control room. Photo: © Copyright Apple Corps Ltd.

Disc 6:

  1. I Will (Take 13) 2:20

NEW. Starts with a breakdown so we don’t know if that could be Take 12?.

  2. Blue Moon (Studio Jam) 1:11

NEW. Played before Take 28 of ‘I Will’, according to the liner notes.

  3. I Will (Take 29) 00:26

NEW. A breakdown take, Paul finish it by singing ‘If you want me to- I won’t!” and John replying “Yes you will!”

  4. Step Inside Love (Studio Jam) 1:34

Partially NEW. Although it's the same as the bootleg version (also incomplete on the intro as there was a tape change) what’s new is part of the next track,  after John says “Los Paranoias” and Paul laughs, it seems that there is an edit on the bootleg as this improvisation starts immediately but here there is something new: John comment, Paul laughs and the tape continues three more seconds where we can hear John singing something unidentified and Paul adds “Ok” (and move to the next track as the two are linked).

  5. Los Paranoias (Studio Jam) 3:58

Partially NEW. (tape keeps rolling from previous track).. Paul adds “come on now chaps, swing A-la-Latina” and sang a little something like “Ya-ka-tan” while strumming his guitar not heard on the bootleg, then the song starts, that’s the only new thing here.

  6. Can You Take Me Back (Take 1) 2:22

Partially NEW. The version circulating on bootlegs for many years is an edited one and also runs slightly faster. This 2018 mix and the bootleg starts almost at the same time (one extra second longer on the bootleg), and also finish almost at the same time (a tiny bit longer on the bootleg where you can hear the tape being cut), but there's an unbooted segment in the middle. The underground version runs 1:56 and here we are having almost 30 seconds extra. The new segment starts at 1:11 and lasts until 1:37, while the edit on the bootleg occurs at 1:14. This song was preserved on the session recording notes as ‘Jam- Unidentified‘ (I Will Take 19).

  7. Birthday (Take 2 Instrumental Backing Track) 2:40

NEW. A very interesting backing track with some alternate guitar riffs (buried by the piano on the released version). Paul can be heard counting to eight during the break as well as shouting and guiding at some points.

  8. Piggies (Take 12 Instrumental Backing Track) 2:10

NEW. John starts chanting “I’m a fabulous fabulous vegetarian”, followed by George: “One More.. One More Time..” which is the exact phrase (“One More Time”) heard on the official version near the end of the song (not present here). This intro comes (possibly) from a different take. This is mostly a “channel mix” rather than an outtake. It’s Take 12, the master take with overdubs except for the animal noises and vocals, but if you use headphones you can hear the first verse sung by George buried in the mix -  possibly from a live vocal guide although it could also be from the final vocal track.

  9. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Take 19) 3:09

NEW and fantastic! It has an extra verse repeated twice, something that was later changed on the final version (‘I need a Fix’) and replaced by a guitar solo. John sings it in a very raw form at this stage.

  10. Honey Pie (Instrumental Backing Track) 2:40

NEW. This is just a simple instrumental mix, no outtake.

  11. Savoy Truffle (Instrumental Backing Track) 2:56

NEW. Contrary to the past track (Honey Pie) although this is also a channel mix simply erasing the vocal track, we can hear three extra seconds of actual session noises at the end: a tambourine and George’s ‘How’s that’?” comment.

  12. Martha My Dear (Without Brass And Strings) 2:29

NEW. Another good surprise where you didn’t expected based on the track description. We can hear Paul’s “Four” count in over the intro, plus his vocal is single tracked and there is also a noise made by his piano at the end.

  13. Long Long Long (Take 44) 2:54

NEW. Another highlight, it’s an incomplete take including a false start and after the 2 minute mark George starts singing one of his unreleased compositions: "Gathering Gesturing".

3CD edition

  14. I'm So Tired (Take 7) 2:29


  15. I'm So Tired (Take 14) 2:17

NEW. Take 7 is more interesting than the master Take 14 which only adds a few extra elements which were erased from the final version, one of them a very good three-vocal harmony part and a familiar guitar riff present on the "Monitor Mixes" bootlegs and extra gibbering from John. The intro chat from John is clearly edited from a different take. Why Giles opted to include two takes with not very much difference between them, and for other songs only went for a rehearsal or a backing track but no vocal outtakes is questionable.

  16. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (Take 2) 3:12

NEW. A different beat in Ringo’s drum is present here at some points, at the end we can hear the announcement for Take 3 as well.

  17. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? (Take 5) 2:03

NEW. Paul’s intro comments is a continuation of the speaking heard on "Anthology 3", a very similar take (quiet verse and loud verse) that ended up as the master to made overdubs.

  18. Julia (Two Rehearsals) 4:31

NEW. "Is it better standing, what’d you think?" John starts asking George Martin. As previous rehearsals presented on this box set, this is also a survivor that remained on the tape where the actual takes were recorded.

  19. The Inner Light (Take 6 Instrumental Backing Track) 2:47

NEW. Although “Take 5” circulates on bootlegs, it seems that is a so-called outfake made by the bootleggers by simply erasing the vocals, where close examination shows that at some point they are still present. Also, a “monitor mix” circulates from a very old bootleg but there too there's no evidence whether it's real or not. Here for the first time is Take 6, a copy-to-tape from Take 5, which was recorded in India. It features engineer’s announcement as well. A completely different alternate take (maybe take 2 ,3 or 4) is available as bonus track on the recent ‘Wonderwall’ CD re-issue.

  20. Lady Madonna (Take 2 Piano & Drums) 2:25

NEW. Starts with the engineer announcing “Two” and is simply the backing track. Take 3 was used as master for overdubs.

  21. Lady Madonna (Backing Vocals Take 3) 00:54

Although everything from this track is available on bootleg (one of the "Monitor Mixes" tracks), this mix has the voices so clear that is worth listening to. But it’s incomplete so you will still need the bootlegs for completion!

  22. Across The Universe (Take 6) 3:52

NEW. An unheard version, this is the take before the one that was used as master for overdubs, it has not been heard or released before, and is a simple take, only with John’s vocal track, his guitar and Ringo on tom-toms.

May 24, 2019

Beatles' "White Album" 50th Anniversary Edition Review: Part Three, The New Stereo Remix

In the first two parts of our review of The Beatles' White Album 50th Anniversary boxed set (coming out this month), we took a fairly in-depth look at the new Surround Sound mix and a relative overview highlights peek at the massive collection of outtakes, alternates and demos (in case you missed them, click on the underlined text to jump to them). In this portion of our review we will explore the sparkling new Stereo remix which populates two CDs and part of the Blu-ray Disc in the collection.

AR-WhiteAlbum7Up225.jpgFor those late to this party (#ICYMI for those who follow those sorts of social media inspired hashtag cues), we are discussing the fabulous new multi-disc collection celebrating The Beatles' legendary officially-eponymously-titled 1968 LP -- renamed by fans The White Album -- which gives listeners a mother-lode of 1968-era Beatle joys to explore. In addition to a CD of long sought-after demos produced at George Harrison's home by the band prior to heading into Abbey Road Studios you get an additional three CDs of session outtakes and alternate versions. You also get a pretty fantastic Blu-ray Disc containing the original Mono mix and the sparkly-shiny new 5.1 Surround Sound mix in high resolution 96 kHz, 24-bit fidelity. That Blu-ray also contains the fine new Stereo mix also in high res, created by producer Giles Martin (there are two standard resolution CDs containing it as well).

Now, unlike Sgt. Pepper where there was a pretty obvious need to present the music in a bigger manner than had been previously possible in Stereo, The White Album was already a pretty wonderful high fidelity listening experience in its original Stereo mix. Not perfect, but it generally sounded excellent (which you couldn't always say about its predecessors Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, at least here in America).  So, the producers had to have some very good reasons for trying to tackle this one in order to bring new light to a beloved and revered classic.

And for those of you who feel that remixing something as sacred as a Beatles recording is a bad thing, please remember that the original will always be the definitive mix. This is simply a new way to appreciate your favorites and it helps to preserve this music for the future before the tapes deteriorate and can't be salvaged (magnetic tape falls apart eventually).

AR-WhiteAlbumBoxExposed225.jpgBefore getting into the review, I have to share some thoughts that arose while listening to The Beatles' White Album 50th Anniversary boxed set with fresh ears for the first time realistically since the Beatles In Mono box set. I'm really taken with just how timeless this music remains.

Consider that just four years before The White Album The Beatles were wowing the world with "Mersey Beat" anthems like "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah..." Their sound launched a (likely) million imitators, beginning a brave new wave of pop music songwriting innovation the world arguably had never really experienced. It was a perfect storm of Baby Boomer generational ascension, widespread technological sophistication (radio, TV, etc.) and of course the right musicians (The Beatles) at the right time crafting the right songs supported by the right promotion (Brian Epstein).

Every band or artist who came up in The Beatles' wake pretty much had decreasingly progressive returns success-wise and for a good chunk of time everyone in the music world was judged against The Beatles' output (in some ways they still are!). The Beatles set the bar real high, so high that many still struggle to come up with anything close to their level of engagement. Few composers could match what they accomplished in that short span of time the band existed. So, it is all pretty remarkable when you stop and think about that.
Now, let us zip back to 1968 and once again The Beatles were signaling artistic sea change, both in production style, lyrical content and songwriting structure. Try to imagine what it might've been like to be a musician working in those times, a period when you've just gotten your head around Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour  and the whole psychedelic movement. And then just as you put out your fabulous new album inspired by that music, you discover that 1967 psychedelia has become almost passé as 1950s "Doo Wop" and music was again was shifting to new vistas that were both heavier and lighter. Heavy metal screamed its first scream around this time from the guitars of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles own "Helter Skelter." And yet, simultaneously there were some significant artists who were taking a much needed fresh breath of country air, finding their true roots:  The Band (Music From Big Pink, also celebrating its 50th Anniversary, reviewed here) and Dylan's John Wesley Harding. Richer production design became the new rising sun. Hendrix was right there with Electric Ladyland. And the Beatles were right on that cutting edge with The White Album.

Ok, enough societal and industry perspective, by now you are probably wondering just how the new Stereo mix sounds?
AR-ProducerGilesMartin225.jpgWell, the first and perhaps most important thing I can complement Producer Giles Martin on is that this new mix sounds like The White Album. Everything is no doubt clearer. There are some new details apparent you might not have noticed before or which were perhaps buried do to mixing circumstance of the times. But for the most part this new 2018 remix sounds like how The White Album should sound! It is akin to that leap many of us made the first time we watched a favorite movie on Blu-ray after seeing it only on DVD or VHS previously.

The thing that jumps out at me most on this new Stereo remix included in The Beatles' White Album 50th Anniversary boxed set is the rhythm section which appears much more vivid and dynamic. Ringo's drums are beautifully round and full, with attention to detail I never fully noticed before. Paul McCartney's colorful bass lines are buoyant, bouncy and bubbling over with purpose. All this was there on the original mix, but it wasn't as immediately evident.
Just listen closely to John Lennon's songs like "Everybody Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey' and watch (yes, watch, with your mind's eye) as you hear McCartney's bass rock in lock step with Ringo's kick drum and snare through all those quirky time changes. Listen closely for Sir Paul's little high-on-the-fret-board doubled-up little fills which propel the song along at key moments. Now you can really very easily make out that sort of detail. The instruments are extremely present.

It was all there on my earlier vinyl pressings for sure. In case you are wondering, I have several copies of The White Album including the respected 1978 UK white vinyl version and a very early, low serial number US edition. But now the details are much more apparent without detracting from the feel of the original album. If you are a Beatle fanatic like me in addition to being an audiophile, you can have some fun going back and forth exploring the differences between the Blu-ray and your original LPs.
AR-WhiteAlbumlabels225.jpgMcCartney and Ringo's rhythm work is perhaps at its finest on "Cry Baby Cry" where they are in tight sync on every stutter and stammer which makes this song unique in almost frightening synergy -- these guys were completely connected at the hip in that sense. Little colorations like McCartney's "whoop whoop" Bass punctuations which push the song along are now super apparent where as before they were just almost a sonic afterthought in the background.
Going back to a point I brought up in the first part of this review series -- where I quote a description of the album's genesis from the official press release -- I do think that details we are hearing now are not only the full recording but also more of the sound of The Beatles playing as a band in the studio.

Revisiting that quote: "The Beatles' approach to recording for 'The White Album' was quite different from what they had done for 'Sgt. Pepper.' Rather than layering individually overdubbed parts on a multi-track tape, many of the 'White Album' session takes were recorded to four-track and eight-track tape as group performances with a live lead vocal.... This live-take recording style resulted in a less intricately structured, more unbridled album that would shift the course of rock music and cut a path for punk and indie rock." 

That's a big deal and indeed that is one of the benefits of this new mix which arguably presents more of sound of The Beatles playing as a band in the studio than earlier versions.

I marvel over the iconic nature of Paul's Bass work on "Dear Prudence." Ringo's High Hat cymbals are right there to the point where you can hear them decay as he lets them ring against one another. There is an overall clarity which is appealing. On "Sexy Sadie" the backing vocals have never sounded so crisp to the point where you can make out every word they are singing. 
Again, to my ear -- and I've been listening to this album since I was about eight years old when my older brother first brought it home back in the day -- this new remix sounds like The White Album but with a layer or three of gauze removed from it. The guitars are fuller, the separation seems more distinct. And all of the Beatles' vocals are more up front. Giles Martin seems to have struck a very appealing balance because everything is more precise, yet it still has that rough hewn feel which made The White Album such a revelation back in the day.
AR-white album88.jpegAnother wonder in The Beatles' White Album 50th Anniversary boxed set has been my increased appreciation for George Harrison's now-classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."  Beyond all he went through to get this song shaped for the ages, this performance is one of the most legendary within the entirety of The White Album. The Beatles' playing as a band is spectacular and their guest lead guitarist, Eric Clapton, put his heart and soul into creating a solo of solos for the ages. It was an instant classic, channeling Harrison's emotions and on this new remix it just bleeds forth out of the speakers, sending a direct shudder down my spine.
I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the overall package you get with The Beatles' White Album 50th Anniversary boxed set. First off, expect to get a large form hardcover coffee table sized book which houses all the CDs and the Blu-ray in each of their own White Album-like slip cases.  You get terrific recreations of the original posters and photograph inserts. And in the book's 160-plus pages you'll get loads of information, track-by-track annotation and some incredible photos from the period.

Probably the only surprising thing that was missing, actually, was that there was virtually no information on the surround sound mix, which is... well... curious. But other than that, this is pretty near as perfect a collection as you could want about The White Album.  You get an inside look at how the album was made and you get to hear it in both the original Mono incarnation which The Beatles themselves worked on as well as the brand new Stereo and Surround Sound mixes. And all of these version are presented in high resolution fidelity, delivering a shimmering new look at this classic of the Beatles and of pop music in general.

Source: https://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/the-beatles-white-album-50th-anniversary-edition-review-part-three-the-new-stereo-remix.html