Beatle EMI/Parlaphone releases on CD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Blake R, Aug 21, 2002.

  1. Blake R

    Blake R Stunt Coordinator

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    Does anyone know why the CD's of the Beatles EMI albums sound so bad? Most of them sound like they've been passed through a low pass filter that rolls off at 8 kHz. Yea, that bad.

    I have many of the Capital and EMI vinyl albums and the sound quality of the vinyl is much better than the current CD's of the EMI albums.

    Or am I alone in this observation?
     
  2. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    A lot of the first CDs made sounded poor because, as I understand it, they just didn't quite know what the hell they were doing. This is why we have so many remastered CDs. Unfortunately, the Beatles were never remastered.

    My dream is to have a SACD hybrid splash like there is currently for the Stones.

    NP: Jethro Tull, Bursting Out
     
  3. Paul D Young

    Paul D Young Second Unit

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  4. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    I remember reading an article that the CDs were prepared using vintage equipment in one of EMI's upper level offices (reproducing the sound using original mixers with valve preamps, etc.), and stayed away from contemporary (read 'digital') technology to create the CD's.

    They could do the same again, and let the current state of high resolution digital technology bring out the life in these recordings, before they decompose.
     
  5. Blake R

    Blake R Stunt Coordinator

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    OK Thanks. I never heard that before. If it's true, it might explain a great many things. It's a shame that Capitol can't just transfer their original American releases to CD.

    I guess I'll just dust off the old turntable
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    The botch-job Capitol "U.S. Beatle albums" were officially discontinued when the DVDs of the Parlophone "real Beatle albums" were released in 1986. EMI decided then to make The Beatles's U.K. albums the "universal" product.

    Also, the first four albums were downmixed to mono.

    And, true, the vinyl Parlophone albums sounded better.
     
  7. Blake R

    Blake R Stunt Coordinator

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    I've never heard the Capitol releases described as "botch-job" before. I own most of the Capitol releases and many of the EMI/Parlaphone abums which we purchased as "imports" in the 70's not knowing at the time that these were the actual original Beatle albums.

    Having listened to both the Parlaphone and Capitol vinyls I never found the Capitol albums to be disappointing. But that's what I grew up listening to in the 70's. I do note however that the early Capitol albums were noticeably brighter and appear to have a distinct reverb enhancement. It's almost as if they were being remixed with AM radio play in mind.

    At any rate the Paralaphone CD's are very disappointing. One of the worst Beatle CD's I've heard (and I don't know who puts it out) is Beatles Past Masters 1. I have seen this CD praised in print before, obviously by someone who has never heard the "records." "Long Tall Sally" sounds great but "Thank You Girl" and "I Call Your Name" have been butchered senselessly.

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback.
     
  8. Frank_S

    Frank_S Supporting Actor

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  9. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Capitol did remix the records, adding reverb and echo. The Beatles themselves hated what Capitol did for the U.S. releases, and often mixed up which "album" was which. During a 1965 U.S. concert, John introduced one song as a "number from Beatles VI" when it was actually from Beatles '65.

    I saw The Beatles live, and I grew up with the band's music. In addition, I was lucky enough to have access to the Parlophone imports--and even then preferred them to the U.S. releases (which I also purchased).
     
  10. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Er, did I say "DVDs"? [​IMG] (Well, I have The Beatles' First U.S. Visit, the Maysles' documentary on DVD--which, I believe, is sadly out of print.
    The U.K. albums are what The Beatles recorded--they are the albums as the band envisioned them. Those things Capitol Records released were hatchet jobs designed to extend the amount of "Beatles product" in the U.S.
     
  12. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    According to the Book "The Beatles Story On Capitol Records", it is true that the first year, they had little control over the albums. If you notice on the UK ones, they had none of the hit singles on any of their releases, which is not the standard in the US. The only alternative was to buy 45, so this gave the buyers in '64 more incentive to buy LPs instead of just 45s. Also copyright laws were different in UK and US. UK had flat rate per LP, while US has a per song royalty. The reduction was capitol's way to reduce the overall price of the album.

    I don't agree with all these practices, I'm just telling you why they did it.

    The Beatles did have creative input in 1965, they had creative control over the artwork used for album covers for Beatles '65 and Beatles VI ('65 if you note, had a seasonal theme in it). They even had to quickly record some songs that were requested for Beatles VI, those were Bad boy and Dizzy Miss Lizzy. Tell me what you see and You like me too much were not enough to fill the rest. And if you recall, they had control over the cover art for Yesterday and Today (another US product), which was pulled and replaced because of the infamous Butcher Cover. It wasn't until 1967 that their new contract extension gave them control over both album cover and content. The only good thing to come out of Capitol was the Magical Mystery Tour LP. The bigger book combined with all the hit singles that year turned out to be a great combination.
     
  13. Frank_S

    Frank_S Supporting Actor

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  14. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  16. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    I've always had some Beatles recordings around but only recently got around to assembling all the US albums on CD.

    In the late 80's a friend stopped by with the complete MFSL vinyl set and we had some fun comparing them to the CD's. I wasn't an audiophile then (or now) but for the first time had some decent gear in a Luxman receiver, B&O turntable, Sony CD player & Snell speakers. My impression was the vinyl sounded great as I recorded most of it to tape on a Nakamichi deck.

    Surprisingly, the CD's I had sounded close to the vinyl and feel my current US set sounds quite good. What the hell is everyone else hearing that makes them think they are garbage? I sat down and listened to several of them finishing up with MMT which I thought sounded great.

    Hey, I would love to hear them remastered onto sacd just like the next guy but I don't get why some "can't listen the current CD's". I just wasn't blown away comparing them to the MFSL set.
     
  17. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Here comes a long read...

    The US Magical Mystery Tour was an abomination on vinyl - The stereo release b-side was faux stereo because EMI did not provide any stereo mixes of the singles in time. The German LP was the first true stereo release of these songs, and it was miles above the quality of MFSL's "Original Master Recording" release, which just used the same Capitol Stereo LP banded master tape.

    More care and attention was taken in mixing mono LP's as they were the dominant format into the late sixities.

    Capitol's album structure prior to Sgt Pepper was usually 10 songs per LP, and singles were used to help sell albums. In England, the Beatles gave the music buying public their money's worth - singles were singles, and albums had their own content (except fot the tie-ins of AHDN and Help! with some a-sides included). 4-song EP's were generally used to re-issue some singles and highlights of their LP's - the notable exceptions being Long Tall Sally and MMT.

    The 10 song LP format helped to exploit the Beatles catalogue by expanding the UK LP tracks and including singles. This also led to The US release of Yesterday And Today getting early mixes of tracks meant for the UK Revolver LP.

    When the Beatles renegotiated their EMI contract they were adament that all LP's and singles released worldwide were identical to the original UK releases, which started with Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane and Sgt Pepper. The US MMT was fleshed out to a full LP because the EP format had never really been successful there. Hey Jude was simply made to release stereo mixes of mono singles that had already been released, including Can't Buy Me Love. Remember, United Artists still had the rights to the tracks for the US Hard Day's Night (stereo and mono LPs featured early mono mixes meant for the film) until Capitol bought out the United Artists record label and re-released it themselves with all-new stereo mixes of formerly unavailable songs.

    Excessive reverb was applied to "Full Dimensional Stereo" releases such as The Beatles Second Album because Capitol execs didn't think too highly of the two-track separation dupes that were used for the Britsh stereo LPs. The Beatles were signed to Capitol In Canada before they were signed in the US, and the 3 Canadian LP's (Beatlemania! with The Beatles, Twist And Shout, and Long Tall Sally used clean versions of the same stereo tracks that were overprocessed for the early US albums.


    The Early Beatles was simply the tracks that were acquired after the cease and desist that was put on Vee-Jay Records in 1964 which ended the opportunity for VJ to release any new Beatles album after Oct. '64 using the material the acquired in signing the Beatles in 1963 - tracks from the British Please Please Me and several early singles. Capitol's resulting album was introduced with no publicity, because the VJ LP Introducing The Beatles had already sold like wildfire once the Beatles hit America in Feb. '64 (the album was a poor seller before then, and the tracks would be repackaged several times by Vee-Jay, each album selling progessively worse, before their rights were taken away).

    In England, Bad Boy saw release on the filler Christmas release A Collection Of Beatles Oldies, which essentially was an album of singles newly mixed for stereo by Geoff Emerick, but tracks like Love Me Do, Please Please Me and She Loves You had been simply electronically equalized by Emerick to create a stereo feel (more bass on one side, more treble on the other), because stereo tracks no longer existed - it was common practise to erase tapes once the mono singles were finally completed - there was no stereo mix made.

    If you want the best sounding releases, track down the MFSL issues of the first 7 British LP's, issued around the time of the initial CD's, or if you're luckier, the UK album box sets (The Beatles Album Collection blue box and The Beatles Mono Album Collection black box).

    Recommended Books:

    Songs Pictures And Stories Of The Beatles On Vee Jay
    The Beatles On Capitol Records - The Singles
    The Beatles On Capitol Records - The Albums
    The Beatles Recording Sessions
     
  18. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I guess I'm lucky, since the only Beatles I've heard are the US CDs, so I can't compare and therefore can't complain.

    And for those of you who say they are so awful... well, what are we supposed to do? I'm not going buy a turntable and stereo system just to listen to the Beatles.
     
  19. Frank_S

    Frank_S Supporting Actor

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    Very nice post keith!
     
  20. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I agree that most of the CD releases sound rather crappy when compared to good Vinyl pressings.
    Revolver sounds pretty bad but I thought Rubber Soul & Abbey Road were passable and I thought The White Album wasn't as bad as it could have been, BUT the tragedy that is Sgt.Peppers is made only worse when you listen to the re-mixed & re-mastered versions of a few Pepper songs on the newer Yellow Submarine CD from a few years ago and the re-mastered/cleaned up songs on One.
    I assume they will get around to re-mastering all the original Beatles albums eventually, perhaps sooner than you think considering how well One sold....nothing like the promise of cash to kick a record company in the ass and get them to act.
    I hope.
     

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