Beatles remasters: Engineer’s goal was to get back

Here is the story on the Beatles remaster project I wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. If you’ve read my previous blog posts on the subject, you’ll recognize this as a much tighter take. It includes interviews with Abbey Road engineer Allan Rouse, the head of the four-year remastering project, as well as Geoff Emerick, the original balance engineer on Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s and Abbey Road.

You can also find by clicking above a quick guide to some of the differences between the mono and the stereo tracks. For those of you wondering which to purchase, I hope this helps. I reproduce it below:

BEATLES IN MONO

Wednesday’s release of the mono Beatles mixes allows fans to hear the mix that, in most cases, the band itself worked on. These mixes sometimes include sounds that aren’t on the stereo versions. For example:

• From “Revolver”: The liquid, buzzing, backward guitar starts early, when John Lennon sings “Lying there and staring at the ceiling” in the second verse.

• From “Revolver”: The tape loops — sped up or otherwise distorted sounds the group looped in and out of the mix — are considerably different, seeming to fade up and down more quickly. Also, the guitar solo sounds more distant.

• The entire “White Album”: By the time this album was recorded in 1968, the group was spending more time on the stereo mixes, and there aren’t as many different sounds in the mono mix. But throughout the album, the mono mix enhances the instruments, putting the lead vocals a bit farther down in the soundscape, according to Brian Kehew, author of “Recording the Beatles” and an engineer and producer himself. “The mono version has a more ‘rocking’ sound to it — louder drums overall,” he said.

• “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise),” from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Paul McCartney’s voice can be heard scatting over the final chords, as the song leads into “A Day In The Life.”

• “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” from “Sgt. Pepper.” Lennon’s lead vocal is treated to automatic double tracking, an effect that gives it a more ethereal, ghostly sound compared with the stereo version.

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