Posts Tagged ‘remaster’


beatles reissues

on+a+streetWhy is it we don’t have decent sounding CDs of the greatest band of all time? The Beatles, whose music is unarguably better than Wolfgang Mozart’s on his best day, have been heard for the last 30 years on tinny, crappy CDs rushed to market in the late 1980’s.

I’ll spare you the whole story, which has been recounted at length on other parts of the internet. Suffice to say The Beatles CDs sound way worse than those of their contemporaries. It galls me that The Monkees, began as a cheap cash-in on The Beatles’ early style, have remixed, remastered CDs that sound as good as the day a boatload of studio musicians piled into some recording booth in the 1960’s.

There are a few recent releases that offer fans a taste of what The Beatles actually sounded like: the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, comprised of songs from the film Yellow Submarine (itself no longer in print), the horribly titled Let it Be…Naked, and Love, the soundtrack to a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show. These three releases sound really good: full, loud. Listening to Love made me realize how much “Revolution” rocks. On “I Am the Walrus,” I heard the band playing together, something that gets lost on the murky-sounding Magical Mystery Tour CD. I would never trade the Love album in for any reason, but at the same time I’m angry that I had to wait for Cirque du Soleil to put on a show to hear The Beatles remastered.

The Apple website shows us how companies still don’t get the internet. The 40th anniversary of the White Album came and went with no remaster, but we can buy a $500 White Album pen. Imagine that! A white pen! People should be getting fired over this. I imagine the Apple corporate headquarters is a rundown farm, with a sickly horse wheezing in the stable, two cows too old to give milk, chickens wandering listlessly in the driveway, and a constantly quarreling farmer and his wife.

In whose interest is it to not release commodities for sale? When you eliminate the logical reasons, all you’re left with is laziness, incompetence, or insanity. All three must be at work in Apple.

I can’t imagine either Paul or Ringo cares very much at this point. They’re pretty well set financially, and if they ever want to hear the recordings they can just pop into Abbey Road studio to hear the original tapes. But it is in their interests to push for better sounding CDs – this is, after all, their legacy. As long as we are stuck with facsimiles of facsimiles, thin carbon copies of the real recording, the world’s impression of The Beatles is less awe and more “eh.”


today you can hear john lennon sneeze

Beatles remasters came out today.paul-john
I’m not sure who picked the date (9.9.09) to release these, but I do know John really liked the number 9. Songs he wrote: One After 909, Revolution #9, #9 Dream. Was this release date a coincidence or exceptionally good marketing? Only the Sun King knows.

There are lots of reviews floating around the internet, but probably my favorite is the one done by Bob Boilen at All Songs Considered. He and his show producer listen and comment on the remastered Sgt. Pepper.

For the record, I’m more of a White Album guy. It’s sprawling and sure, I rarely listen to Revolution #9, but there’s a lot to be discovered on that double album. I’ve been wondering for weeks which song or album I should listen to first. I might take Bob’s advice and listen to Sgt. Pepper.


listening to the beatles remasters

I bought the world’s biggest, most inefficient ipod.josh-beatles2
Just kidding!

The Beatles remasters are out on CD, and this blogger has been listening intently for the past week.

Everybody knows the band: Liam Gallagher on vocals and rhythm guitar, Noel Gallagher on vocals and bass, Liam Gallagher on lead guitar, and Noel Gallagher on the drums. Everybody also (should) know the songs. But what this blogger, and millions of people my age and younger, don’t know is how the Beatles themselves wanted the music to sound.

You see, I’m 29. 22 years ago, the Beatles released their albums on CD. Before that, they were on records and cassette tapes. In order to listen to an album, I had the choice of hearing my parents’ records, a cassette, or the tinny, terribly mastered CDs. Records sounded good but they had been played for the past 30 years or so and sounded a bit worn. Also, you couldn’t play them in the car. Cassettes played just fine in my Dodge Aries but they never sounded good, even in the best of circumstances. And the CDs, like I said, were rushed to market and sounded like it. But no worries, right? Every band was re-releasing their albums in the 90’s. Except, of course, the only band that really matters.

So for my entire life, I’ve never heard the sound the Beatles intended. I heard either worn records (not too bad, but also not portable), cassettes, or the hastily-produced CDs. Mainly it was the CDs.

And so it was with much anticipation that I put on the newly remastered White Album to hear While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Just for comparison, I first put on the version with which I was familiar. Then I popped in the new CD and was amazed, amazed I say, at the clarity of this 40-year-old recording.

I suddenly heard the Beatles themselves. I heard musicians playing the instruments. I could feel the presence of Ringo at the drums, rather than just a drum-sound. I heard the sound of Paul catching his breath in Paperback Writer. I heard John (at least I think that’s John) coughing in a quiet section of Norwegian Wood. Sometimes I can hear them putting down their instruments at the end of a song. The Beatles are closer now, the songs I’ve heard thousands of times more exuberant, more human, and more dear.

The sound quality really makes a difference. Dear Prudence really sounds like the band playing in a room together. It made me wish they could have performed it live. When they sing harmonies I can actually make out the separate voices. The bass is more present, as are the drums, but not overwhelmingly so. The comparative levels of the songs haven’t changed, it’s all more clear. The Beatles no longer play in a room full of gauze. There’s air there.

My earlier trepidation has been removed. The Beatles CDs finally sound as good as the music recorded onto them. Now I’ll get back to my Beatles ipod.josh-beatles