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Paul F "paulf" (Silly Isles)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than 'Let It Be', not in same league as '...Naked', 12 Mar. 2014
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First of all, this is a bootleg release, and should be treated as a companion piece to the official 'Let It Be' and 'Let It Be... Naked' releases.

John Lennon wanted to put this version of 'Get Back' out in order to bury the band once for all, viewing it as 'lousy', but Paul McCartney later argued that he genuinely preferred this to what Phil Spector did to the eventual 'Let It Be'. So who was right? The truth, as ever, lies somewhere in between.

Glyn Johns didn't necessarily pick the best takes for this version (I've Got A Feeling breaks up before the end - same version as on Anthology 3), but there's an honesty and warmth here that I find lacking in the proper album. It's no substitute for the 2003 'Let It Be... Naked' album, but I think it works as a nice companion piece.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Faithfully flawed, 12 Mar. 2014
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First of all, this isn't an official release. But only a selection of these tracks appeared on Anthology 3, and it's unlikely Apple will put this out until they have to (like they have with the recent 1963 Bootlegs album on iTunes)

The sound quality is as good as you could expect from a 1968 home demo, and all of the material here can be purchased on cheaper bootlegs, but it's definitely an album I'd recommend to hardcore Beatles fans. I actually prefer this version of 'Revolution 1' to the one on the finished album, for one thing.

The packaging (while not great) is similar to the mini-LPs in the Mono and US Albums boxes, and the tracks are of genuine historical significance. Plus this is the closest you'll ever get to a 'Beatles Unplugged' or 'The White Album: Live' album.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bootleg, 12 Mar. 2014
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In the absence of an official CD release for this 1977 Capitol album, I highly recommend this bootleg for any self-respecting Beatles fan.

The sound quality is great, and the packaging is similar to that of the 2009 Mono and 2014 US Albums boxes. The bass is very heavy, but the band play surprisingly well given they probably couldn't hear much over the screaming fans, and it stands up to repeated listening.

I'll buy this if/when it ever gets an official release, but this is more than adequate in the meantime.

The US Albums
The US Albums
Price: £107.03

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessarily imperfect, 19 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The US Albums (Audio CD)
First of all, let's clarify what this collection is NOT:

1) This is NOT a complete box set of the Beatles' output in America, and contains no material from 1967 onwards.
2) The mixes contained on here are those approved by The Beatles and George Martin in the 60s, and NOT the butchered, fake stereo, reverb-laden... etc... tracks issued by Capitol without their consent.
3) Aside from a few unique mixes and quirks preserved for this box (see below), there is no new music on here that you won't find in either the Stereo or Mono boxes released back in 2009 (Apart from a few instrumental tracks on the 'A Hard Day's Night' and 'Help!' soundtracks, that is)

To state the obvious, your interest in this set will largely depend on the level of your interest in The Beatles. This US Albums box is aimed squarely at the completist / collector audience who wants / needs it all.

If you haven't got anything by The Beatles, buy the Mono boxset first, and then get 'The White Album' in stereo, 'Let It Be... Naked' (instead of the original), the 'Yellow Submarine Songtrack' (again, instead of the original), the 'Past Masters' compilation and 'Abbey Road' to complete your collection. This box is just a happy bonus for Beatle nuts who can't get enough of them.

However, this is what you DO get with this set:

1) Well-crafted replica sleeves of the (cheesy) original US Albums listed above, sequenced as per the original Capitol releases, with all the surprising / baffling tracklisting choices associated with them.
2) Mono AND Stereo mixes of almost all of the band's material up to and including Revolver, together with the odds-and-sods, contract-fulfilling, stereo-only compilation 'Hey Jude', released in 1970.
3) Unique US mixes of tracks like 'And I Love Her' (Paul's vocal is single tracked), 'I'll Cry Instead' (20 seconds longer), 'Help!' (with Bond-style intro), 'I'm Looking Through You' (false-intro on stereo) and versions of 'She's A Woman' and 'I Feel Fine' that sound like they were recorded in an aircraft hangar.
4) Mono mixes that sound even better than those released in 2009. Certainly louder and (to my ears) perhaps a little bit punchier, too.
5) 'The Beatles Story' - only available with this set. This is an audio biography of the band released by Capitol at the height of Beatlemania. It often gets criticised by fans for being a bit lame (factual errors, overly sanitised, PR-friendly... etc...), but it's not intended as a rival to the Anthology films, and should be enjoyed as a piece of history.

This collection has been released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 'Beatlemania' sweeping America, but you have to understand that this almost happened in spite of Capitol, and not because of them. As the American arm of EMI, they had first refusal on the band in 1963, but seemingly had no faith in their music, leaving Brian Epstein having to arrange deals with small independent labels to get the boys' material released in the US.

However, when the band finally did hit America by storm, Capitol went into overdrive, repackaging the band's UK material, and releasing them all out of sequence, against the artistic decisions made by the band and their producer, even going so far as to rush-release tracks in fake stereo (yet to be finished in London), or adding echo to appeal to a US audience. John later said that the infamous butcher sleeve on 'Yesterday... and Today' was a comment on Vietnam, but it also (arguably) sums up Capitol's treatment of the band's art.

One of Brian Epstein's last acts as their manager was to renegotiate their EMI contract in 1967 so that the same albums went out everywhere from Sgt Pepper onwards. (Ok, so the Magical Mystery Tour album was a US creation, and is now recognised as part of the UK catalogue, but that's the exception).

However, Capitol still churned out Beatles compilations into the 70s and 80s (Love Songs, Rock'n'Roll Music, Reel Music... etc...), to the point Ringo complained at the time "Please let us know what you're doing with the records we made. We'd like it done, how do I say... nicely!". It wasn't until they struck a deal in 1989 that the surviving Beatles gained control over their own music, and could govern future releases.

In some instances, the crazy sequencing by Capitol works to the music's favour (eg. 'The Beatles' Second Album' is a revelation), whereas the needless chopping of 3 Lennon tracks from the US 'Revolver' album is barbaric by comparison. But this is how America experienced the band, and it's a fascinating history lesson for anyone who cares.

The decision NOT to remaster the original Capitol mixes marks the necessary imperfection of this set in my title. It won't please the purists, but this is the band preserving their art and their legacy by taking a stand and saying "THIS is the music we made and how we wanted it to be heard", correcting the historical wrongs carried out against their will.

This 2014 set is what Paul, Ringo, Yoko and Olivia signed off on, like it or lump it. Volumes 1 & 2 of the Capitol Albums are still available, and these albums are available individually if you want to complete your set. They probably should have put out a Volume 3, but since that didn't happen in 2007/08, it probably never will now.

Personally, I really enjoyed this set, and it compliments the 2009 stereo and mono boxes well.
Comment Comments (18) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2014 9:46 PM GMT

The Beatles In Mono
The Beatles In Mono
Price: £132.08

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you have ears? If so, then you really need this boxset in your life, 12 April 2011
This review is from: The Beatles In Mono (Audio CD)
If I had to sum up this boxset in one word, I would say "essential"... but then I'd probably still keep talking, and use lots of other words until you felt duty-bound to buy it. Put simply, if you haven't heard The Beatles in Mono, then you haven't really heard them at all.

There IS a certain insanity in paying more for smaller box containing less music than the stereo set... but this is the one item no Beatlemaniac can afford to live without.

However, I had to find out this the hard way, as detailed below.

Having grown up with only the 1987 CD transfers to go by, I spent an insane amount of time and energy looking forward to the release of the remastered Beatles catalogue in 2009. This was a great opportunity to bring The Beatles kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but the stereo boxset fell well short of my expectations.

The music was brilliant, of course, and the packaging was a vast improvement on the 1987 reissues, with great sleevenotes and new pictures, but it came as a huge disappointment to find that the engineers had simply spruced up the original stereo mixes, rather than creating new soundscapes, following the standards set by the 'Yellow Submarine Songtrack' (1999), 'Let It Be... Naked' (2003) and 'Love' (2006) albums. They had done a great job in improving the sound quality, but the earlier remix albums still sound so much better than the 2009 models.

The engineers responsible for remastering the albums obviously felt obliged to preserve the original recordings as best as possible, but as a consequence this meant no work went into trying to remix the songs for the benefit of modern sound systems. An epic fail for all concerned, especially given what little respect The Beatles had themselves for their own early stereo albums.

Stereo was still very much in its infancy during the 1960s, a novelty enjoyed by a minority of enthusiasts, and even The Beatles themselves didn't pay much attention to the stereo mixes until their later albums, preferring to devote more time towards working on the main format of the day - mono.

So if you want to hear The Beatles' music as The Beatles themselves wanted it to be heard, this boxset is the closest you will get to experiencing what they intended back in the 1960s. The mono mixes were not designed to be heard on iPods, but when you play them through a decent speaker system, it's the closest you can get to experiencing the band as nature intended.

By 1968, The Beatles paid closer attention to the stereo mixes on The White Album, and by 1969 they abandoned mono entirely in favour of stereo for Yellow Submarine, Let It Be and Abbey Road. But before then, mono is by far the best way to experience The Beatles.

...with a few exceptions, that is. To finish off my ramble, I thought I'd do a quick stereo vs mono comparison, and do a guide to creating the perfect Beatles collection:

1) Please Please Me
2) With The Beatles

Mono all the way. Quite why the original stereo mixes were dug up for the re-releases, I will never know. But avoid them like the plague. The mono versions are infinitely superior.

3) A Hard Day's Night
4) Beatles For Sale
5) Help!

The stereo effect was greatly improved by 1964. The mono mixes are still the best way to hear these albums, but the stereo versions of AHDN and BFS aren't bad at all. And George Martin's 1987 remix of 'Help!' is arguably better than the mono version.

6) Rubber Soul
7) Revolver
8) Sgt Pepper
9) Magical Mystery Tour
10) Yellow Submarine

The hard-panning on some of these albums, with the vocals coming out of one channel in many cases, makes me cringe. So mono all the way for albums 6-9.

However, if you can avoid the stereo mix of Yellow Submarine, do so, and try to get hold of the Songtrack remix album (from 1999) instead. There are also several Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour tracks on the Love album, far better than the original stereo mixes.

11) The White Album

The last of the mono releases, and the most difficult to make a decent call in favour of one format or the other. Some tracks benefit from stereo, whereas others sound better in mono. You really need both in your life.

12) Abbey Road

Meh, it's in stereo only, so you don't have a choice. Certainly the best sounding Beatles album, regardless what you think of the music itself.

13) Let It Be

Forget the original version - the '...Naked' remix is the ONLY way this album should be heard.

Until they remix the entire back catalogue, your only option is to buy the mono boxset, picking out the odd stereo exception as instructed above.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2011 10:35 PM GMT

Don't Believe the Truth
Don't Believe the Truth
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Believe The Lies (and idiot reviews below), 21 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Don't Believe the Truth (Audio CD)
Constructive criticism is one thing, but some of the scathing reviews I have read on here are nothing short of pathetic.

Quite what the hell people expect from Oasis in this day and age is beyond me. After years of relative underachievement, 'DBTT' should be celebrated not berated.

Between the release of 'Supersonic' in 1994 and the enormity of Knebworth in 1996, Oasis were untouchable. Two classic albums, nine fantastic singles (with phenomenal b-sides often topping them), a clutch of era-defining gigs... they weren't a band, they were living legends, and like many teenagers back then, Oasis meant the world to me.

But 'Be Here Now', for all its inspired moments (DYKWIM?, Fade In/Out, Don't Go Away) arguably pushed the formula too far, with a bored/arrogant Noel going through the motions, creating an overcooked monster built on foundations of feedback and rock cliches. The fact he denounces it so much now pretty much sums it up. I'd love to hear a stripped down/edited version of it, slimmed down by about 20 minutes or so.

'SOTSOG' was very much a transitional album, with Noel in reflective mood post-drugs, post-Creation... and, of course, the departures of Bonehead and Guigsy. It's a flawed record, sure, but there ARE good moments on there. You just have to stay awake through the rather bland production to hear them.

For me, though, I'd long since lost interest in Oasis, and I only bought SOTSOG out of habit/curiosity, as 'Go Let It Out' hinted Noel was striving towards new horizons, though the rest of the album never really caught up with it (that promise was arguably fulfilled on DBTT and maybe the new "groove-based" album, too)

I didn't buy Heathen Chemisty, though quite liked the (slightly Oasis-by-numbers) singles, and the interviews were still hilarious. I just didn't care anymore, and felt nothing they could do would live up to my earlier memories of them as a once-great band.

I had the same attitude towards DBTT, too, to be honest, and didn't buy it when it first came out. Liam's voice sounded shot to pieces on the live footage I'd seen of them, and I just assumed the music was just as poor.

But I was wrong! Yes! I admit it! I liked the new single, Shock of the Lightning, so gave DBTT a go on YouTube and was pleasantly surprised by what I was hearing, so I finally bought the album last week and haven't looked back.

Honestly, people, this album is A RETURN TO FORM. I say that in capitals because it's as cliched as it is true. The songs are tight, they sound like they're enjoying themselves again, the contributions from Liam, Gme and Andy add new depth to the music... and the only track I don't really care for is the most Oasis-sounding on there, Let There Be Love.

The music here is as honest reflection of where Liam and Noel are at now as any of their previous albums ( DM - mean, lean and keen; MG - confident, celebratory; BHN - arrogant, out of touch; SOTSOG - reflective, sober; HC - reborn, trying to move on), and that my friends is middle age.

They'll never produce another album like Definitely Maybe again, because they're no longer young, skint or living for the stars to shine anymore. Nor will they create another Morning Glory because you get the impression Liam and Noel have tired of trying to be The Biggest Band In The World anymore, and just want to make good music again.

They're acting their age, and have finally escaped the straightjacket of Beatledom, adding a more acoustic edge to their songs on DBTT, perhaps recognising that Liam has effectively had to shout through gigs for many years, and realising that sound of The La's wouldn't be a bad basis for future records.

But anyway, enough waffle. This is a good album, and proof (in my case) that you never forget your first love. After 8 years of indifference, I'm actually really looking forward to the new record.

But as for this record, listen without prejudice, appreciate for what it is (not what it isn't) and don't believe the lies.

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