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Customer Review

84 of 92 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Impressive on first look - but in the end frustratingly flawed, 22 Jan. 2014
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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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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jan 2014 17:50:19 GMT
tony1001 says:
Referring to the 'Revolver period' unique US stereo mixes you mention, do you know what the difference is between the US and UK stereo versions of 'Dr Robert'?

I've done a straight comparison of the song using a UK 'Revolver' stereo vinyl and a 1980's 'Yesterday and Today' stereo vinyl and can't hear any difference.

I have no such problems identifying the variations in backwards guitar on the US and UK stereo versions of 'I'm Only Sleeping'.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2014 12:26:43 GMT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jan 2014 12:26:59 GMT
C. Kelly says:
To my ears it's impossible to tell the US/UK mixes of Dr Robert apart. But we know they are different mixes from the documentation available from the time. As the mix on the US Albums is a bit-match (timing wise) from the 2009 remasters, we know it's the UK mix they used. (Thankfully the other mixes are easy to spot.) Actually there is some evidence that the stereo 'And Your Bird Can Sing' was also a unique mix which hasn't been replicated in this new set.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014 13:50:34 GMT
Thanks for this review. It's frustrating, although sadly not surprising that things have worked out this way.

Posted on 31 Jan 2014 22:07:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jan 2014 22:08:08 GMT
Michael K says:
This isn't so much a comment on your review as a question:
You say '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. '

Could you provide any further details on this superior mix?

I am fairly new to all of this mix controversy concerning The Beatles and the only comment I could give on it, being as I have 'innocently' enjoyed the US Box Sets is that it seems to get very confusing once America enters the picture in 1964 and that it seems pretty damn simple if you ignore the US side of things, which, to date, I have through sheer ignorance of any complications. I will say that I briefly consulted a serious Beatle expert in my vicinity on the subject of these U.S. Variations and the word I got was 'Strictly for trainspotters'

However, I am interested to find a superior stereo mix of 'I want to hold your hand'.

With thanks for any help

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Feb 2014 09:02:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Feb 2014 09:06:23 GMT
Marc B says:
Not sure what earlier mix he's referring to as there are 3 stereo mixes in total. The 1963 stereo mix was only released in Australia in 1976 and is a instruments left vocals right mix with some lead guitar fills in the centre. There was a second mix done in 1965 for a German release, if I remember correctly and is similar to the 1966 stereo mix which is the standard one used today. This was done for the Collection Of Beatles Oldies compilation.
Issue is there was no true stereo mix released in the US until until 1988 so releasing a 1966 mix on a 1964 album makes no sense to me. But worse still the stereo mixes on the Rubber Soul and Help tracks that aren't unique US mixes are the 1987 remixes.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2014 10:31:12 GMT
Prodigal Son says:
I am pretty sure that on the original US "Meet The Beatles", both "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "This boy" are actually duophonic, that is, the original mono mixes have been artificially made into mock stereo versions. This was done by removing the high frequencies from one channel of the tape and removing the bass frequencies from the other (see the 910's Guide to the Beatles Outtakes). There also appears to be a 1963 stereo mix for "This Boy" that may be unreleased to this day. P.S.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2014 11:01:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Feb 2014 11:02:01 GMT
Marc B says:
You're correct they were duophonic, however Apple made a decision not to include duophonic mixes on this release for some reason. So rather than replace IWTHYH with a contemporary stereo mix from 1963 they used the standard stereo mix from 2009 remaster that was originally done in 1966! I just don't get the logic.
The stereo version of This Boy on Past Masters is the 1963 mix but was never released in the UK until 1988. It was redone again in 1966 for the collection of Beatles Oldies by mistake... Should have been Bad Boy.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2014 22:37:11 GMT
Prodigal Son says:
That's right, I got it wrong. The 1966 remix of "This Boy" remains unreleased.
What I find really interesting is that somebody just found out that the 2009 UK remaster of "I Call Your Name" is actually a 2009 creation - the cowbell sets in a bit earlier than on the original stereo version in order to mask a bad edit (I've heard that the tape actually disintegrated while it was being remastered). It is this 2009 "remix" of "I Call Your Name" that we get on the new "Second Album". I wouldn't have noticed if I had not been told - and I thought I knew the different mixes... P.S.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Feb 2014 00:10:14 GMT
Marc B says:
The fix occurs just before the solo on the 2009 remaster and was done digitally, it's still the original mix. A remix would be going back to the original 4 track elements and creating a whole new stereo mix.
There is a unique US stereo mix of I Call Your Name that wasn't issued on the US Albums for some unknown reason. Neither was the US stereo mix of Long Tall Sally. Both use the 2009 remaster from Past Masters.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Feb 2014 01:58:39 GMT
John Doe says:
Marc B, question, would either these unique US stereo mixes of Long Tall Sally or I Call Your Name on the Capitol Albums from 2004? Thanks in advance.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

C. Kelly
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Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 627,067