The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 by The
When the Beatles catalog was first issued on CD in the 80s, an attempt
was made to standardize the releases (which often varied wildly in content
internationally) by using their original British format. But this confounded
many Fabs fans in the U.S. who now found CDs with track listings that
often differed dramatically from their original American LPs. More
maddening, the initial four releases were only available in not-so-glorious
mono mixes. This four-CD collection of the bands 1964 American album
releases finally addresses those concerns, and then some. Me et the
Beatles, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, and Beatles 65
have been digitally prepared from Capitols vintage album masters and
presented in both the original stereo and mono mixes released back in 64.
This set gives younger fans a chance to finally hear the bands epochal
early music in stereo--and should please an older generation by returning
massive hit singles like I Want to Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Shes a
Woman, and I Feel Fine to their original American album contexts. The
booklet contains a wealth of rare photos and concise notes by noted
Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. --Jerry McCulley
For my eighth birthday, my mother bought me Meet the Beatles, at my
official request. I had recently heard the band on WLS AM in Chicago
doing "Ticket to Ride." I'd been gifted with that single (which was backed
with the beautiful, sad "Yes It Is") along with "We Can Work it Out" b/w
"Day Tripper" by the brother of one of my mom's friends. I listened to
those singles incessantly, knowing nothing of the cultural impact for which
The Beatles had been responsible. I just loved those songs. As "Ticket"
played on, I thought to myself, "Gee, these guys are on the radio, so they
must be pretty good! From now on, they're my favorite band."
Anyway, back to that eighth birthday present, when "I Want to Hold Your
Hand" came blaring out of my little phonograph, it felt like the skies were
opening up. Little did I know that it was a duophonic, or "fake stereo"
version to which I was listening. Of course, then, I couldn't have cared less
about any kind of technical nonsense. I was much too into the actual
songs. Well, the skies have remained open to this day, thirty -six years
later, and one of the things I absolutely love to do these days is compare
the mono and stereo versions of these wonderful songs, because
sonically, they're VERY different from each other, and that "technical
nonsense" to which I just referred is treated by me now in a slightly more
open-minded fashion than before.
When Capitol released these US LP's on CD (in stereo AND mono, no
less), I couldn't have been more happy or excited. I could listen to, in
pristine form, what I remember these incredible songs sounding like, and
compare the mono versions to the stereo versions, which I hadn't been
able to do back in those heady days of the early '70's.
Meet the Beatles was the first US LP and, of course, the first CD I put into
my player, the which is connected to a sound system th at betters my
childhood phonograph just a bit (OK, maybe a LITTLE more than that). It
didn't disappoint at all. The clarity of the sound is a testament to the care
that the Capitol people put into this set overall. It was a little jarring to hear
"I Saw Her Standing There" come in in full, unadulterated stereo, but a
distinct pleasure, nonetheless. We're back to duophonic for "This Boy,"
then real stereo again for "It Won't Be Long." Interesting listening, to say
the least. On the following CD, entitled simply The Beatles' Second
Album, "Roll Over Beethoven" leads off with that layer of reverb to the fore,
which the US engineers back in '64 slathered on, and which has been
endlessly criticized by professional and amateur listener alike. Personally,
I love it. I think it's just the personal memory factor. It just sounds so BIG,
like it did back "in the day!" I remember hearing the UK versions of The
Beatles' output for the first time years ago (with which the '87 release of
the band's material was standardized throughout the world and remains so
for the current remasters) when my best friend shelled out the extra money
for the imported stereo UK versions, and being slightly put off by the
"reigning in," at least as I heard it, of the overall sound of the songs.
Anyway, back in the US, this "Second Album" also has more "fake stereo"
cuts on it than its brother recordings in this particular set. Both "I'll Get
You" and "She Loves You" are treated with duophonic, and again, it
sounds funny to today's more sophisticated ears, but I still get a great kick
out of them. The low frequencies in one channel and the highs in the other
-- now that's technology! Notice the significant variations between the
stereo versions of "Long Tall Sally" and "I Call Your Name" and their mono
renderings, particularly in the latter's lead guitar work.
Ready for Something New, the third US release? Notice how "I'll Cry
Instead" in stereo is shorter than its mono counterpart (the latter containing
a repeated first verse). Notice again the differences between "Slow Down"
and "Matchbox" from stereo to mono, again, particularly in terms of the
guitar solos, this time in both songs. Overall, bits are added and taken out,
and consequently make for fascinating listening.
Beatles '65, the final installment in Vol. 1, is relatively consistent until one
gets to "She's a Woman" and "I Feel Fine." I remember being bewildered
at the "mushy" quality of these two songs, even back when I first heard the
album. I can't help but wonder today who saw these versions as radio-
worthy. The mono versions are an ever-so-slight improvements over the
terrible stereo versions, but I must say that it's a relief to hear the "normal"
sounding "Everybody's Trying to be My Baby" after suffering through t he
mistreatment of two fine, fine songs. Even today, when I hear the "reigned
in" UK versions of these two classics, it's always surprising and refreshing.
I don't really prefer the mono versions to the stereo or vice-versa. I love
them both for different reasons. I still listen to this set often, even though
the UK versions are sonically superior, especially the recently released
remasters -- they're truly amazing! However, the work done on these US
versions is also quite impressive, and represent the deserved care that the
folks at Capitol are putting into these immortals. I'd like to thank them for
issuing this box set. It was overdue, but better late than never, which I
thought was going to be the case at one point. My hat's off to you, you
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