Beatles albums (remastered), by The Beatles
Who isn't a Beatles fan? Even the outspokenly anti-rock 'n roll Frank Sinatra recorded a couple of their songs (Something and Yesterday). Now, the Fab Four were a major part of the soundtrack to my adolescence and over the years, I have subjected all of their albums (excluding Let it Be, which I never cared for*) to aural exegesis. I have spent hours trying to decipher who is playing which guitar part** or even distinguish between guitar parts on a track; a task made more difficult by the original mixes which were great at conveying excitement, but not so great when it came to sonic subtleties. Not surprisingly, this was particularly true of the earlier albums. Consequently, I was pretty excited when I learned the entire Beatles catalog had been remastered and was due to be released. The advance reviews I read whetted my appetite further, with accounts of astonishing detail, clarity and presence. I have now listened to the entire batch (excluding Let it Be) and can affirm the raves. If you think you know this music well, you will be startled by what you have been missing. To my ears the major beneficiary of the new mixes is Sir Paul, whose bass playing throughout is even more of a wonder than heretofore. His 16th note repetitive pattern on The Word (Rubber Soul) for instance, had me laughing out loud at its sheer funkiness. Ringo's playing on the other hand, while still amazingly propulsive on the earlier cuts like Can't Buy Me Love (Hard Day's Night), seems to have been demoted in the new versions from idiosyncratic to sloppy in places. I doubt this will detract from your enjoyment, however. Of course, the truly important artifacts, the songs themselves, remain icons of popular music in the 20th Century. Revisiting this body of work, pretty much in its entirety, brought home to me, yet again, the caliber of songwriting inspiration and craft that set a standard of consistency unmatched since.
* Thanks, for the treacly string arrangements, Mr. Spector.
**Chances are, if you find a Beatle guitar part particularly interesting, it's not George Harrison. For example, the solo on Taxman (Revolver) was played by Paul and the cool rhythm guitar triplet figure running through All My Loving (With the Beatles) is John Lennon. That said, what would life be like without chiming Rickenbacker 12 strings?