My Own Private Audio- Episode 3 Open letter to Paul, Ringo and Giles Martin
Dear Paul, Ringo and Giles,
Let's dispense with this straightaway, I am a huge fan of the The Beatles. There is no other music that I have heard more in my life, than the songs of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. Over the years, I have purchased and re- purchased and re- re-purchased their albums, as different iterations were made available. We're talking cassettes, to CD's, to vinyl, to Anthologies, to Let it Be Naked, to remastered Mono vinyl, to stereo remastered vinyl, and most recently to, Sgt. Pepper, remixed stereo vinyl.
But man, that last one was the one I was most excited about. The idea of an updated sounding mix, off the original tracks , remixed from the mindset of the original mono mixes was/is utterly compelling.
I was not disappointed in any way when I dropped the needle on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in its updated form. Truth be told, I actually got teary eyed. Such was the glorious, full bodied charge that filled my listening room. Drums centered, full bodied bass, roaring guitars panned and spread out over the whole sound spectrum. Vocals rich with wide imaging harmonies, and on and on. Sonically, from a mixing standpoint, it sounds modern. Big, full, everything sitting in its proper place. Simply put, it sounds incredible. But what's next?
Well, there is a lot of chatter about The White Album and Abbey Road, especially the former, as the 50th anniversary is next year, and so its probably as safe bet. But, I say no! Don't get me wrong, I love those albums. Abbey Road in itself is a production masterpiece. However, I have to insist that the next album that Giles should get his hands on is Revolver.
Before I get into the why, I feel a general history of the landscape of Mono and Stereo should be addressed. Stereo mixes were considered a niche market concept in the 50's and 60's. mostly relegated to classical music. The underlying reason being, that kids couldn't afford 2 speakers ( and wouldn't care) , but classical music fans were older and had more money, and a finer appreciation for " real" music which deserved a more spacious presentation. The engineers who mixed records in stereo were dipping into uncharted territory. Not to mention the fact that early recordings were done with 1, 2, 3, or 4 tracks, forcing engineers to bounce different tracks together, making separation impossible. So, you often hear hard panned mixes; drums and bass on one side, vocals guitars on the other (again this is a generalization). The Beatles themselves grew up on a diet of mono recordings of Rock n Roll from the 50's so naturally they too were more used to the idea of mono.
Which brings me back to Revolver. to me, Revolver would be the Beatles album with the greatest return on investment, at least from an audio perspective.
Lets just talk about the songs themselves shall we? Who wouldn't like to hear, Taxman, in all its furious rocked out glory? or Eleanor Rigby's delicate melancholy or what about, And Your Bird Can Sing? Oh, let me end the debate right here...Tomorrow Never Knows? C'mon?! That is the quintessential Beatles track. Imagine hearing Giles work his magic stick on that song.
Revolver is the summation of what made the Beatles great up until that point in their recording career and the gateway to what they would become. To me, it was a better album than Sgt. Pepper. The songs are all exemplary and the adventurousness of the arrangements , not to mention Geoff Emerick's innovations as an engineer are unparalleled in popular music. Now, the mono mix , (like Pepper) is a meticulous masterclass in mixing, but the original stereo mix is a hard panned drums and vocal affair that does little justice to the immersive intent of the mono. Contrary to this, The White Album and Abbey Road were actually mixed in Stereo, with the involvement of the Beatles.
I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at Abbey Road studios, where Ken Scott himself told stories of McCartney, personally assisting with the stereo mix of the White Album. So to me, those albums sound more like contemporary stereo mixes, in fact, I believe Abbey Road was never mixed in Mono, such was the domination of stereo at the time. But, since Revolver was mixed for stereo as an afterthought, with little to no input from the Beatles, then a remix would be a cleansing , if you will, of a piece of art that was never afforded the proper execution it deserves.
So guys, please do us all a favor and get with Revolver. Heck, I can add it to the 5 different versions I already own.
Keep on spinning
*Please note the version of Sgt. Pepper in the photo is not the remix version.