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4.0 out of 5 stars "...The Day Breaks...Your Mind Aches..." - Revolver by THE BEATLES (2009 EMI CD Remaster), 10 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Revolver (Audio CD)

Did you know that the Beatles don't actually play an instrument on "Eleanor Rigby" (it's a six string ensemble with Paul's vocals)? Or that George Martin plays the piano on "Good Day Sunshine"? Or that George Harrison doesn't play Sitar on "Love You To" (it was a session man) - but does on "Tomorrow Never Knows? Did you know that the stereo catalogue number for the original British LP of "Revolver" on which this CD is based is Parlophone PCS 7009? Well you do now…

All insufferable smartarse remarks aside - why do I mention these factoids at all? Because you're not going to learn any of these interesting and relevant facts from the woefully weak booklet that accompanies this CD...

Let's get this straight from the start – the AUDIO QUALITY on this 09/09/09 CD Remaster (EMI/Parlophone 0946 3 82417 2 – Barcode 094638241720) of The Beatles 1966 album “Revolver" IS MAGNIFICENT - it really is - and for many people that will be enough. But for fans that have waited 22 years for EMI to get this right - the description of this CD Reissue as being endowed with deluxe packaging is frankly laughable. I mean only EMI could forget to include the album's original catalogue number. Or how about supplying the lyrics or an interview with the Producer George Martin, the engineer Geoff Emerick? Or how about picturing the differing worldwide picture sleeves that accompanied the singles that came off the album?

Or how about even adhering to the original issue of the LP? With a playing time of 34:47 minutes – why don’t we have BOTH the Mono and Stereo mixes as it was originally released? The laughable "historical notes" last 2 whole pages - the recording notes a page and a half - the rest is pointless pictures of the boys that give absolutely no sense of event or any knowledge of the album and its monumental impact. The three-way card digipak is pretty - it is - but it has a matt cover and the second you get it out of the shrink-wrap it starts to mark and pick up grease. Infuriatingly the BEATLES in MONO box set has the repro British LP sleeve in all its laminated hard-card flip-back rear-sleeve glory - a far sturdier and prettier effort - but it's £200 to acquire such a privilege.

I know it's a bit of a cliché to whine on about packaging, but can you imagine what Ace Records of the UK, Bear Family of Germany, Rhino of the USA or Light In The Attic of the USA (proper reissue labels) would have done to a catalogue of this importance and stature? They would have shown this extraordinary band and one of its greatest recorded achievements the respect and affection it deserves - instead you get the distinct feeling of a corporate organization just doing what it can get away with (there's no download variant of it available as yet either). But let's get back to the music…and how it now sounds…

1. Taxman
2. Eleanor Rigby
3. I’m Only Sleeping
4. Love You To
5. Here, There And Everywhere
6. Yellow Submarine
7. She Said She Said
8. Good Day Sunshine [Side 2, UK]
9. And Your Bird Can Sing
10. For No One
11. Doctor Robert
12. I Want To Tell You
13. Got To Get You Into My Life
14. Tomorrow Never Knows

"Revolver" (their 7th album) was originally released 5 August 1966 in the UK on both Parlophone PMC 7009 Mono and PCS 7009 Stereo. The American issue followed 3 days later on Capitol T-2576 Mono and ST-2576 Stereo. The UK variant had 14 tracks (as listed above), the US issue had 11. The three missing from the American LP (same artwork) were "And Your Bird Can Sing", “I'm Only Sleeping" and “Doctor Robert" which had appeared on the June 1966 US album "Yesterday And Today".

Worldwide released 9 September 2009 - this CD reissue on EMI 0946 3 82417 2 0 (Barcode No. is the same) follows the UK release with the full compliment of 14 tracks. The label also reflects the black and yellow lettering of the original British LP as does the rear cover artwork which advertises the use of an "Emitex" record cleaning cloth. The enhanced CD track called "Mini Documentary" (broadcast last weekend on the BBC preceding the worldwide release of their catalogue) is largely black & white in-studio shots featuring the voices of the Fabs and George Martin discussing songs and techniques on the album - it's directed by BOB SMEATON and is nice, but disappears way too fast (and we've already seen it). There's a link to the official website, but naught else of any real worth... So the supposed bonus track turns out to be two and half minutes of video footage we've already seen and something EMI has blatantly used as a sales device…

Sound - hearing this 2009 remaster is a SONIC BLAST from start to finish. Both GUY MASSEY and STEVE ROOKE have remastered the first generation stereo master tapes and to say they've done a good job is like saying the Great Wall of China is an o.k. building project. Their work here is fabulous – monumental almost - it really is. The sound quality is glorious throughout - clear, warm, detailed - every single track a revelation. My only complaint would be that some songs are very loud - "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Here, There & Everywhere" in particular, but George Martin produced them that way. The hiss level is barely audible on any of the songs, but what is subtly audible now is the new instrument flourishes you can hear almost everywhere. The brilliant Harrison guitar playing on the New York Drug Pusher song "Doctor Robert" is at last to the fore, the lone horn work of ALAN CIVIL on "For No One" is suddenly so pretty, while Ringo's superlative drumming on "Tomorrow Never Knows" is now absolutely huge to a point where the clarity and sheer whack of the Remaster brought me to tears. The strings on “Eleanor Rigby” are beautifully full and shock your senses even now - some five decades after the event. If you love this record, you're in for a treat.

So there you have it - an absolute wow 10-out-of-10 on the sound front - but could have done so much better on the rest.

But my God - what a band - and what a recorded legacy they left behind. Float downstream indeed...
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Sep 2009 09:16:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Sep 2009 09:53:32 BDT
Terry Wilson says:
You're right, the notes are completely pointless and may as well not be there. The whole packaging is sub-standard.

What might they have done instead?

In George Martin's "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" there is a brilliant account of the recording of Tomorrow never knows, with tape loops being played simultaneously in several closed rooms on different floors all over the Abbey Road building, each being held in place by a lone tape op with a pencil. Meantime down at the mixing desk, all four Beatles were listening in to all these external feeds, and moving the faders and mixing in the effects live into the finished track - what a great story. They could have reprinted that story in full, instead of skipping over it. They give the merest account, as if divulging the full details is just too much effort.

Or how about some recording dates? How about contextualising "Good Day Sunshine" with the Summer of 1966 - c/w "Sunny Afternoon", "Summer In The City", and during the summer that England won the World Cup in London. What about that guitar solo in "Tomorrow Never Knows"? It's Macca's solo from Taxman cut into bits, reassembled and spooled backwards, to bookend the album with "Taxman", so the same guitar runs in both directions. None of this is deemed worthy of a mention.

What about these pictures - when were they taken? Who took them? What were the boys doing? Why is Paul in Japanese clothes? What are they doing in Tokyo? What are the guitars they are holding? And the amps? Which songs are these used on? - you ain't gonna find out.

What you get is stuff like this. This is the FULL documentation for "Eleanor Rigby": "The double string quartet scored by George Martin was recorded onto all four tracks and then while being copied to another tape, the instruments were mixed onto one track. This left three tracks available on the second tape for vocal overdubs." That's it. The full story. Nothing at all about how the name "Eleanor Rigby" was devised, the purpose of the narrative, how and when it was written, who features on the recording, how it was received, how much input Lennon had - and so on. But if you turn to page 4, you will find out that Lennon-McCartney wrote it. Wow.

In general the documentation is lamentable, and littered with lazy, vague words like "experimental" and "complex". As for the cover, the design "marked another step forward in the execution of LP artwork". What does this mean? why "another" step? "forward" in what context? Do they mean "sleeve design" rather than "execution"? Why not tell us about Klaus's work - when he did it, who commissioned him, how he set about it, his previous art, where elements of the photo montage come from, draft designs, etc. Too much bother? It really does seem like it.

The greatest album ever? Probably. Packaging? literally rubbish.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Sep 2009 20:38:55 BDT
TheJonesBoy says:
Agreed - rarely has a record company been seen to be so backwards and so disrespectfully inept at taking care of collectors and the legacy they seek to excite themselves about. The mono box set is a joke - packaging and supporting info-wise.

PS - where does one grab the George Martin book of which you eulogise? ta!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2009 10:49:45 BDT
Terry Wilson says:

Oops! In my haste I gave the wrong title. Martin's book is called "Summer of Love: The Making of Sgt Pepper" (MacMillan, 1994). Where to get it? Amazon!

His fantastic account of "Tomorrow Never Knows" can be found on pages 79-82 of the 1995 paperback edition.

I'm sure he would have approved an extract in the CD of "Revolver" which would have been far better than the rest of the notes put together.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2009 11:00:37 BDT
Mark Barry says:
I this the Terry Wilson who wrote "TAMLA MOTOWN The Stories Behind The UK Singles" published this year (I did a review)?

If t is, will you pop into the shop on Berwick Street if you can - love a chin-wag on your stunning book.

And thanks for the positive on the review. Regards. Mark

Posted on 19 Sep 2009 11:41:10 BDT
doublegone says:
Outstanding review. I think the best I have ever seen on Amazon.

Posted on 24 Oct 2009 09:01:09 BDT
David Terrar says:
Superb review! Thanks for adding some of the mising info and highlighting what a sorry job the record company has done. I purchased PCS 7009 for 37/6 from a market stall in Petticoat Lane on my 10th birthday in September 1966 - the first record I ever owned. A rather good start to a record colllection really.... I'll ignore the packaging and buy it for the sound on your recommendation. Looks like I might need a handkerchief.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Feb 2010 10:44:22 GMT
If you like indulgent waffle

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Oct 2010 19:20:15 BDT
Terry Wilson says:
Yes it is. I know your shop - hope to stop by some time! Cheers for your review of my book too.

Posted on 17 Nov 2012 15:31:59 GMT
Cream1968 says:
Many of these comments and in particular the review from Reckless Records/Mark come across as Beatles followers trying to outdo each other on who can find the most obscure fact about Revolver. As yet I have not seen anyone refer to the vinyl XEX 606 -1 copy and how much it is worth and so on and so forth. Seems to be a failing with people who work in 2nd hand record shops : they automatically think they know more than their customers by virtue of being there. I remember going into RR once and there on the wall was a copy of "Seastones" (Grateful Dead related LP) with a sticker written by them on it saying "We dare you to find anyone who has a copy of this". I thought "How arrogant an
attitude to have about your customers". Needless to say I went up to the counter and enjoyed telling the rather miffed bloke there that I had one.

Posted on 18 Nov 2012 11:04:02 GMT
Cream1968 says:
All that needs to be said is that this is the most consistently good Beatles album. I personally don't like reviewers/reviews that go out of their way to impress readers with obscure facts that they assume the rest of us don't know. Yes I do know all those facts in your first paragraph. I know all about XEX 606 - 1 as well. Too many reviewers also post their Top 50 Albums You Have Never Heard Of But Should Buy lists. The arrogance. I have consulted many of these lists and I always have every one of the albums on them (on vinyl as well I might add). A review is not meant to be a self - aggrandising statement
about your knowledge of obscure musical facts that you think sets you above other people.
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