Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Today is 9/9/9, and the Beatles Remasters are finally available to the music listening public. What's the big deal? Are they any different from the albums we already have? Are these remasters better than those mixed by Dr. Ebbetts or Purple Chick, superior versions that have been passed around by collectors for years?

Jem Aswad writes on MTV online:"The recordings have been meticulously reprocessed with technology I couldn't hope to explain (involving '24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter'), but the remastering team has been just as meticulous in retaining the original mixes and feel of the recordings. Thus, the closest analogy here is a restored painting: The songs are the same — they even retain mixes that, in the strange logic of the early days of stereo, can have all the vocals and the bass in one speaker and all the other instruments and no vocals in the other — but it's as if a cloak has been lifted from them, bringing forth sounds and details that were obscured on earlier releases. You can hear breaths being taken before verses are sung, previously muffled instruments (usually percussion or keyboard parts), mumbled asides in the backing vocals, enthusiastic shouts in the background (usually from Paul McCartney), and even subtleties like the group seeming to fight off laughter as they sing the final 'Mee-ee-ooooo' of 'Help!'"

"Songs that once seemed to make up the numbers step into the spotlight in bold new colours, or, rather, the old colours revealed anew," says the London Times. "On Revolver, the dissonant tug of Paul McCartney’s piano on George Harrison’s I Want To Tell You sounds discombobulatingly urgent, while on the 1964 A Hard Day’s Night album Any Time At All swings zestfully between the canine eagerness of John Lennon’s vocal and a guitar part from Harrison that fleetingly foretells the jingle-jangle mourning of the forthcoming folk-rock boom."

"No less startlingly," says the Times, "songs long since dulled by ubiquity suddenly burst into life again. Yesterday in particular is a revelation. Free of the reverb that blights the 1987 CD version, McCartney’s voice radiates a damp, autumnal proximity that foregrounds the brittle bitterness of loss. No less affecting is Penny Lane, a song in which McCartney pauses the videotape of memory on a moment to which he knows he can never return, now revealed in more tantalising detail than ever."

Here's the complete story from the Times Online, including some wonderful A/B samples comparing the remasters with the original 1980s CD mixes. Times Online.

MOJO has posted their Beatles coverage online here.

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