So, here I am, almost 40 years into my obsession with the Fab Four, getting to know the band as if it were for the first time – and loving it.
For Christmas this year, I received the Beatles Remastered Stereo Box Set. The set includes 13 remastered Beatles’ CDs, plus Past Masters, a collection of Beatles’ singles and other recordings that were never included on their LPs. It also contains a DVD documentary on the making of each Beatles’ album.
Listening to the remastered discs is somewhat like discovering the Beatles all over again. The new clarity of these recordings peels back the layers of each track and allows the listener to hear each instrument and vocal part individually. I’m hearing instruments that I never knew were there, because on previous releases everything just blended together.
For example, Paul doesn’t use his bass guitar on “I Will,” he sings each note instead. For all these years, I had no idea, but with the use of earphones, I heard it distinctly (and then did internet research to confirm my discovery). Crazy.
Having gone through the discs once, here are some things this experienced Beatles connoisseur discovered:
In Glass Onion, John sings “here’s another place you can go – where everything froze.” I had always thought it was grows.
During a rest in Don’t Pass Me By, Ringo gives himself an audible eight count.
Another lyrical correction from Happiness Is A Warm Gun: “…lying with his eyes while his hands were busy working overtime.” I had it as flying.
Also in Happiness Is A Warm Gun, in the line “…down to the bitch that I left uptown,” I thought it was just John double-tracked, but now I hear someone else singing backing vocal, too.
Paul shouting “wooo…” and “come on…” in the background of Birthday is much more noticeable.
In Yer Blues, “…girl you know the reason why” is not just John double-tracked, someone echoes John in the background. Other unidentifiable background shouting. There’s also a overlaying of two different lead guitar solos in this song.
The background laughter, talk & shouting is much clearer on “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey” and “Helter Skelter.”
The end of “Long, Long, Long” is really eerie.
There are strange sounds on bass side early in “Cry Baby Cry.”
The voices and sounds in “Revolution 9” are much more easily distinguished.
The use of echo on Sgt. Pepper is much more obvious.
Ringo plays maracas on a lot of Beatles songs.
I became aware of the use of drumsticks as a percussion instrument on “Do You Want To Know A Secret?”
Ringo’s overdubbed Arabian drum accents are easily noticed on “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You.”
McCartney’s walking bass on “Honey Don’t” really comes through.
I’m sorry, John, but it sounds even more like “I Buried Paul” on Strawberry Fields Forever now.
“Baby You’re A Rich Man” is a lot of fun to listen to.
Someone says something at :22 of “All You Need Is Love.” I could make out the word “change.”
Listening to George Martin’s film score from Yellow Submarine really brought back memories. I had forgotten how beautiful “Pepperland” is.
Everything about the “Let It Be” album sounds better remastered. The ever-present studio chatter is much clearer – for example, after “Dig A Pony” (one of the rooftop numbers), Lennon can be easily heard saying “My hand’s getting hurt…too cold to play a chord.”
When I was copying the Past Masters CD to iTunes, for some reasons, the titles of disc 2 were imported in Japanese. Strange.
A final note: the DVD documentary is only about 40 minutes long, but it’s very well done. It covers the making of each Beatles album and includes the recollections of John, Paul, George, Ringo and George Martin. It’s stylishly produced, and interesting to watch.
So, now I’m heading back for more doses of Fab Four. You should, too. After all, a splendid time is guaranteed for all. And on this promise, the Beatles always deliver.