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Beatles in Mono.

Discussion in 'Music' started by Ockeghem, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Ron,
    Check out the mono mix of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" again. There is a flanging effect applied to Lennon's vocal that is absent from the stereo version. "She's Leaving Home" is also faster and (as a result) pitched slightly higher compared to the stereo.

    As for your question, the only thing the stereo set is missing is the mono mixes. For songs where there is no proper contemporaneous stereo mix (such as "Please Please Me", "P.S. I Love You", "She Loves You", "Its Only a Northern Song", "You Know My Name [Look up the Number]" and the "no tambourine/Ringo on drums" version of 'Love Me Do"), they are presented in mono on the stereo releases. The only instance of reprocessed/"fake" stereo left in the catalog is "I Am the Walrus" which goes from real to fake stereo a couple of minutes in when the radio voice overdubs start and stays that way until the end of the track. The mono "Love Me Do" on Past Masters (as well as on Mono Masters) is actually from a needle drop as there is no tape source left to use as a master.

     
  2. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    Ron,
    The mono set is missing Abbey Road and Let It Be because by that time, all mixing of The Beatles recordings were finally done in stereo only. The final mixing sessions were all stereo, no mono anymore. Yellow Submarine had a mono version, but it was just a fold-down of the stereo, so its mix was not unique, except for the four tracks in the mono master set that was meant for a never released EP.
    The stereo set includes some mono cuts as mentions, as those songs are not available in stereo, and the goal was to have every Beatles song in the stereo set, even if there is only a mono version of a particular song. The mono set contains only mono mixes that were done specifically for mono LPs, with mono singles compiled onto Mono Masters 2CD. The idea is that all the Beatles were present during these mono mixes and the stereo mixes only had George Martin and the recording engineers and tape operators present. Basically, the Beatles approved the mono mix and then based on that mono mix, they created a stereo mix after that on their own without the fab four. I don't mean to conclude that the fab four were not audiophiles, but if you know their history they were always looking for new sounds, not necessarily the best cleanest sounds. They also listened to their day's work on an acetate, to play at home, usually on a home record player. I don't recall that they had exceptional hi-fi equipment at home. Perhaps they had conventional record players at home so they can hear how the average fan would be listening to it. They may have also felt that they can trust George Martin and the engineers to make the stereo version appeal to the more audiophile fans. As I said, they were more concerned with a sound than it's quality. Like the guitars on songs like Rain, She Said She Said or the mellotron sound on Strawberry Fields, or changing the sound on Eric Claptons guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps to sounds more Beatle-y.

    As for re-doing the stereo mixes, if Paul felt they could be better by re-mixing them, he would have said to re-mix them. However, the recordings belong to EMI and it becomes a political battle. Remixing has been done in cases such as the Beatles Love, or the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, Let It Be Naked and Anthology. All the original albums have maintained their original mixes. I think for historical reasons, the Beatles albums mixes should be kept the way they are, warts and all. It shows how amazing these recordings were made with outdated equipment. If you go back and re-mix everything, the magic of that is all gone. What made the Beatles so amazing was a combination of the songwriting, the musicianship and the recording techniques employed at the time. What makes Sgt. Pepper so amazing is the fact that they used only four-track tape machines to create everything. It took over 20 years before the Beatles recordings were remastered, and IMO, they did it right this time.
    I'll post another thread later with my comparison of Sgt. Pepper mono vs. stereo, some of which was mentioned by previous posters, but there are more differences.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Anthony and all,

    Very much appreciate the replies you are giving here.
    I am enjoying the read.

    Truthfully, I am not especially diggin' the mono mixes.
    Yes, I do hear nuances in the songs that I never did
    before. However, they just sound too flat to me. I
    suppose I have been spoiled by the stereo versions
    for most of my life.

    That being said, I don't regret buying the boxed set.
    I do think there is something to be said about the
    historical significance of this set. Then, there is the
    simple fact that I am a Beatles fan and collector of
    their music. If they released a boxed set of all their
    music played backwards I would probably consider
    it as well.
     
  4. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Because this is a Home Theater Forum, I thought I'd toss in one more thought.

    As Anthony has posted above, the original intent of the pre-Abbey Road and Let It Be releases was Mono. As I understand it from how Anthony explained it, it is the originally intended version they; John, Paul, George and Ringo approved. And they didn't mind how the engineers went about doing stereo.

    It's like OAR. If the director had intended a 4:3 aspect ratio, and wanted it released that way. Then that was how it was released originally. Now that everyone has a 16:9 monitor (Or the emerging stereo sound systems in the home back in the 60's, early 70's), the engineers went back to the source materials and revealed more image on the sides to take advantage of the new format. (Or as it was back in the 60's, the home stereo sound systems)

    And then since stereo became the defacto standard, we all got used the stereo versions. So it seems that little distinction is what is missing in everyone's understanding of the Mono mix release. It was limited originally because it was meant for the uber fan who understood this.

    The Mono set is not strictly about audiophile quality, which it is. It's about preserving a release in it's originally intended aspect ratio, if you will accept that analogy.
     
  5. Zack Gibbs

    Zack Gibbs Screenwriter

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    The listening environment is very important too. I don't think mono or stereo sound particularly good with headphones-- perhaps that's just not how music was heard at the time. I'd stick with the stereo versions on an iPod or for car listening. But give the Mono's another chance in a proper set-up at home.
     
  6. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    The real differences come out between Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. The rest of the Albums from Revolver on back may have a benefit of not hearing some tracks that are wide stereo with vocals right, instruments left, etc.

    Here is a rough breakdown of the Sgt. Pepper mono tracks and how they differ from the stereo versions:

    Sgt Pepper (opening track) - the brass band comes in very clean and up front, as opposed to the stereo, which is panned slightly and an echo sound as if they are playing in a hall, while the mono is clean and dry sounding. The lead guitar where Paul sings "the singer is going to sing a song..." stand outs in front with the vocal, not so much in the stereo.
    With A Little Help From My Friends - the segue is not as clean as the stereo version, Ringo's vocal and some of the instruments have slight phasing throughout the song.
    Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - phasing throughout the song
    Fixing A Hole - rhythm section is up front with the vocals, fade out has additional vocals just as it ends
    She's Leaving Home - plays faster than the stereo version
    Within You Without You - George's count-in after the orchestral bridge (1-2-3-4-1-2...) is missing before the vocals. The laughter at the end of the song is slightly different.
    Lovely Rita - the vocal effects heard in the songs ending section are pushed back behind the piano, not like the stereo where they are up front on one side, piano on the other.
    Good morning Good Morning - animal sounds at the end are slightly different, segue to Reprise sounds like a tape drag where the chicken cluck is located.
    Sgt. Pepper Reprise - audience sounds in the start are different, vocal chatter is more noticeable. Rousing finish vocals by Paul proclaiming "the greatest band of all time"

    The white album has many differences, but the most noticeable ones are:
    Back In The USSR - jet plane noises in slightly different parts of the song
    Blackbird - different bird sounds
    Why Don't We Do It In The Road - hand claps missing in the intro (?)
    Helter Skelter - sound effects once hidden in the stereo version are not up front. Song does not fade back in at the end, less production at the end of the song, so the drumming section comes out louder.
    Honey Pie - slightly longer guitar solo by John revealing more of a jazz style guitar playing.
     
  7. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    Yes, that's a great way to put it. And that's exactly as I have heard it explained for years now.
     
  8. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Also, the lead vocal on Don't Pass Me By sounds considerably different (sped/pitched up) and the fiddle outro is less polished.

    Of note circa 1968, I believe the mono mixes of Revolution 9 and Hey Jude are fold-downs of the stereo mixes, although a lot of heavy eq moves were performed to get the mono Hey Jude to sound the way they wanted it.

    Also as a bit of trivia, the stereo mix of The Inner Light was created in early 1970 (almost two years after the mono mix and single release on the B-Side of Lady Madonna), but never appeared anywhere until a UK compilation in 1981. The US "Rarities" album from 1980 included the mono mix with liner notes about no known stereo version ever being released, and then the authentic stereo mix showed up less than a year later. It did not show up in a US release until the "Past Masters Volume 2" CD in the late '80s.

    Regards,
     
  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    All this renewed discussion of the mono mixes is getting me anxious. My set arrived on Saturday, and my wife has already hidden it, since it's a Christmas gift.
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    [carly simon]An-ti-ci-pay-ay-tion...[/carly simon]
     
  11. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I've been waiting since the week they first came out, but fortunately it is for a birthday present for this Thursday. In the meantime, I've got my mono records and needle drops to keep me warm. :)
     
  12. Steve Y

    Steve Y Supporting Actor

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    The early albums sound really great in "mono remastered", although Sgt. Pepper is fun to hear in a giant mono wall-o-sound as well. The song that really stood out for me on SPLHCB was "Lucy" - John's vocals are just so phased that it really gives a psychedelic feeling that is just missing when the phase is stripped away from his voice in the stereo versions. For me it was the most dramatic "mono version" effect.

    The stereo effects in the early and early-middle albums were always distracting to me - particularly on "Rubber Soul" (which I've always preferred over "Revolver", I know, blasphemy!) ... especially when I'm listening on a stereo and not sitting in one place. I wouldn't quite say "revelatory", but certainly "better than I've ever heard it."
     
  13. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Steve,

    I realize you're joking, but your preference of Rubber Soul over Revolver is not blasphemy. I've never heard nor read convincing arguments that one is better than another. Both albums are fabulous, and each contain diverse compositions that have been studied seriously by scholars over the years. In my all-time top-five [] albums list, Rubber Soul and Revolver have (and probably always will be) tied. I have never been able to decide which I prefer, and thankfully such a decision is not (in any larger scheme) really necessary.

    As far as legitimate releases of Beatles albums are concerned, my list (British releases) is as follows:

    1) Please Please Me
    2) A Hard Day's Night
    4) Rubber Soul / Revolver
    5) Abbey Road
    6) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
     
  14. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    Rubber Soul has always been my favorite Beatles album. Love Revolver too, but whenever someone has asked me which is my favorite, I have never hesitated saying Rubber Soul. It's one of the greatest albums anyone has ever made. I love how it bridges the periods in Beatle history from that garage rock/pop sound (Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale) with the more experimental album-as-art period (Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery, parts of Revolver). To me, it embodies all of those sounds and is the quintessential Beatles record.
     
  15. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Sam,

    Not to mention, both albums (Rubber Soul and Revolver, among several other albums of theirs) ain't too shabby in the cover art department, either.
     
  16. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    It also happens to include the greatest song of all time. In My Life.

     
  17. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I love Rubber Soul, too. It's really the first true cohesive "album", as opposed to just a collection of songs, by the group, IMO.

    Listening to the stereo remasters has put me on a Beatles kick. I've been re-watching The Anthology DVD's, which I have not viewed since they were originally released. I also pulled out Love -- I do not think I ever listened to the DVD-Audio disc before. Next is the DVD-R dub of The Compleat Beatles documentary I made from my VHS copy. The video quality is lacking, but this still my favorite Beatles documentary. It's a shame this title was never released on DVD.
     
  18. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Scott,

    I too appreciate The Compleat Beatles documentary. The Complete Beatles documentary also features my favorite non-studio performance of She Loves You. On the downside (and it's only a minor quibble), Hippy Hippy Shake is lip-synched (as stock footage) with real footage of Some Other Guy, since I don't believe there is any other film footage from The Cavern.

    Incidentally, I also own the two-volume The Complete Beatles collection of musical scores (same cover art as the documentary) for virtually all of their music prior to the release of Anthology. The reason I picked this up many years ago was because the songs are in just about every case transcribed in the original keys, and when they are not (most often for ease of playing for the performer), the actual key a given song was truly produced in is given in a note (e.g., Yellow Submarine). Before I bought the collection, I opened up to I'm Only Sleeping, and when I saw six flats (= E-flat minor), I knew that this collection was going to be quite impressive.

    Our oldest daughter is currently learning Eleanor Rigby (E minor) and In My Life (A major) from these scores. Surprisingly, the Baroque-esque keyboard solo of the latter tune is included almost verbatim in the collection. :)
     
  19. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Originally Posted by Scott Merryfield

    The audio fidelity is absolutely exciting and makes me wonder how good the original master tapes can sound in lossless audio. And I'm not averse to the idea of surround mixes.
     
  20. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Scott-

    When you get to watch the Anthology DVD set, I think you'll enjoy Paul's recounting of how Rubber Soul's album art happened. I always enjoy that disc during that middle portion of their Beatles career.

    I happen to find a used copy of The Compleat Beatles on Laserdisc in great condition many years ago. I think that's a very well done documentary too.
     

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