84 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Impressive on first look - but in the end frustratingly flawed
, 22 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The US Albums (Audio CD)
The set on initial inspection looks fantasic. A collection of mini lps with original artwork, inners and disc labels, on heavy card stock containing mono and stereo versions of the albums where applicable, from the best sourced and cleaned up master tapes, all designed to mimic the original unique Beatles 60s US releases as faithful reproductions
However a closer look reveals some frustrating flaws which for something which seems to have been designed and created so meticulously - is unforgivable.
Firstly - packaging - the early to mid sixties US Beatles albums had 2 part covers pasted onto cardboard stock. The back sheet also contained top/bottom and spine info and was pasted to the back first and then wrapped around the sides. The front cover square was then pasted on to complete the cover. These new releases are the opposite way about with the front covers wrapping round to the back. A small observation - but important to those looking for authentic reproductions. Evidently the Japanese version of the box set does does it 'right'.
Secondly - music - Most Beatles mixes were standard the world over but, as with some other countries, the US occasionally got unique mixes and edits. The US also reformatted some of the standard UK supplied mixes to suit american tastes by adding reverb, or converting stereo mixes to mono and vice versa when the correct type of mix wasn't to hand.
These new releases promise to use the correct mono/stereo mixes so in most cases the approved 1st generation UK masters are now used, the US tapes only being used where the mix/edit is unique. All sounds good right? Not Quite...
Again due to factors unknown the set doesn't quite deliver what it promises. Any US versions which are essentially UK mixes with added reverb have been replaced with the standard reverb-less UK mixes, meaning that to some folk these won't just sound 'cleaned up', but substantially different and 'dryer' compared to the originals.
The UK approved mixes include some questionable decisions which have carried forward to these releases. For instance 1964s stereo 'Meet The Beatles' album now includes a mix of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' made nearly three years later, overlooking a superior stereo mix made at the time of recording. Also 26 stereo tracks across the US stereo versions of Help, Rubber Soul and Yesterday and Today have had their original 60s mixes replaced with versions done in the late 80s.
Worst of all, four unique stereo US mixes (Long Tall Sally, I Call Your Name, I'm Only Sleeping, Dr Robert) have been completely overlooked, the standard UK mixes being used instead for some unknown reason. This is despite claims that all unique US mixes and edits would be included.
There are smaller niggles such as some of the US mixes having their starts and ends slightly cropped off. The list of woes seems to go on and on......
All in all the set falls short, where it could have easily been the last word in the often overlooked but nonetheless important part of the Beatles recorded history. Joe Average might not notice or bother about the set's shortcomings, but it's not the type of set I see Joe Average buying. It seems aimed at the diehard fan, but these are the very same people who will ultimately ponder about how easily this set could have been perfect instead of ending up as a lesson in George Lucas-esque revisionism.
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