Forward Into The Past: The Beatles Remastered


Sometimes it seems like they never left: the world momentarily stands still every time the Beatles release a new album.  Did you notice that the lads have been in the media lately? You can thank “The Beatles: Rock Band” for that, as well as the release today of meticulously remastered stereo and monophonic versions of the Beatles’ albums.  The group’s 12 original studio albums – plus a few newly created collections of singles – were issued on CD in 1987, but this new package has a sonic heft that benefits from two decades of technological improvements.

You can buy ’em as a pricey box set ($260 for the stereo, $298 for the mono) or you can purchase the individual CDs (stereo only) but unless you’ve never owned a Beatles album before, it may not be worth your money.  You don’t need a sophisticated stereo system to hear the difference – Paul McCartney’s bass rumbles, Ringo Starr’s drums take on a new sophistication, George Harrison’s guitar work stings and rings, and John Lennon is revealed to be one of the finest singers in rock and roll.  These boys were pretty good.  But you already knew that – so it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it to hear that all again.

Now the mono albums are a different story – until 1969 or so, the Beatles and their producer George Martin actually made albums primarily to be mono.  Stereo was still a novelty for most people at the time, and even then mainly classical music albums appeared regularly in that format.  The mono mixes were the ones that the Beatles signed off on, and in some cases they are a bit different than their stereo counterparts.  “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” from the mono Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, becomes even more psychedelic in its chorus as Lennon’s voice swirls through trippy sound effects.  “Paperback Writer,” from the Past Masters singles compilation, and some of the songs from the “White Album” have discernible differences.  And the early stuff takes on new urgency and ferocity in mono – “I’m Down,” for example, almost explodes out of the speakers. (Compare the stereo and mono versions below of “She’s Leaving Home,” from Sgt. Pepper’s.)

As I said at the outset, some things never change – Beatles music has endured because it’s just so damn good.  The best songs on Rubber Soul still rock, moments from Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour can still cause goosebumps, and listening to Abbey Road all the way through (especially the concluding “suite”) remains a seminal rock and roll experience.  Maybe soon we can download Beatles music, but that would be a sonic step backward.  If you’ve ever hummed along or tapped your foot to a Beatles song, this may be your opportunity to hear them as you never have before.

MP3: “I Saw Her Standing There” (mono)

MP3: “She’s Leaving Home” (mono)

MP3: “She’s Leaving Home” (stereo)

The Beatles official website

4 Responses to “Forward Into The Past: The Beatles Remastered”

  1. I realize that the times we live in are just too damned weird to focus any degree of attention on a rock ‘n’ roll band that released its final recording forty-years-ago last month – two of whose members are gone from our midst. Think about it. In 1969, at the height of all that was going on then, any columnist who would have devoted a entire page to the greatness of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra would have been laughed out of the business. But this isn’t just any band we’re talking about here. With the exception of the President’s address to a joint session of Congress last night, I didn’t spend much time yesterday focusing on affairs of state. September 9, 2009 belonged to the Beatles.

    Yesterday marked the long-awaited release of a box set containing all fourteen albums recorded by the Fab Four between the years 1962 and 1970. What makes this package different from what has previously been available is the fact that the engineers at EMI (the studio in London where they did most of their work) have digitally remastered the recordings from the original multi-track tapes. It was like listening to them for the first time all over again. The Beatles have never sounded better – I didn’t even think that was possible!

    Let me attempt the impossible and sum up the Beatles’ message in one sentence: We are the makers of our own dreams. That works for me.

    Dream. Dream away.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  2. I will have to find some time to compare the two on my stereo downstairs or on my Shure headphones. I am sad that I have to buy the whole box set to get a taste of the Mono recordings.

    My first 4 remastered CDs are very good. [Stores sold out of them.] There are some big differences in the quality of the recordings on Beatles For Sale. This probably has nothing to do with the engineers who worked on these remasterings and more to do with the source material. The later albums are all impeccable.

  3. plz sent me the info to get the albums it s so worth it!!!

  4. Actually, Lennon didn’t sing anywhere near as much as McCartney did. Just a minor point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: