Friday, November 06, 2009

It's Getting Better All The Time

It's been almost two months since the newly remastered Beatles albums have come out. Wow. In a word, awesome. If you're a fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up the boxed set. The audio quality is nothing short of amazing. In their previous incarnation, the CDs were fine, but always sounded like distant relics. The new CDs sound crisp, sharp, deep and modern. This isn't just about removing tape hiss. This is about restoring the most important musical body of work in the world.

Vocals are sharp, bass is deep, quality is pure. They now sound like modern albums. I've always thought Abbey Road could stand up against any recent recording and kick its ass. That is never more true.

Being the completest that I am, I purchased both the stereo and mono boxed sets. Why mono? Well, to make a long story short, the mono versions of most Beatles albums are the definitive versions. It was a while until the technology and savviness of stereo caught up. Mono was THE format. The Beatles were present for their mixes and left the stereo to George Martin and crew. George Martin has even said up until Abbey Road the stereo versions were mostly experimental and learning-on-the-fly. So what's the difference? Sgt. Peppers is nothing short of amazing in mono. John's vocals on Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is much more dreamy, the speed of She's Leaving Home is great, the rooster-to-guitar transition from Good Morning to Sgt Peppers Reprise is more effective and the distracting counting in A Day In The Life is gone and so much more. In some ways it's a different album. The white album also holds some significant differences with a shortened Helter Skelter (sans "I've got blisters on my fingers"), a too fast Don't Pass Me By and more. A casual Beatles fan won't care about these, but a diehard fan will.

The packaging is very well done. While I'm not a big fan of cardboard, Apple & EMI did a nice job. The mono boxed set has all the original liner notes, record sleeves and artwork. The CDs slip into exact replicas of the record sleeves from the 60's. A nice touch. The stereo set isn't quite as fancy but includes mini-documentaries of each album on a DVD which are definitely worth a run-through.

Diehard fans must pick up the stereo and mono boxed sets. Casual fans will want to pick up their favorite albums and revisit the others. It's rare when something meets my expectations. This not only met, but blew them away.

Mono Boxed Set
Stereo Boxed Set
Individual Albums

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