Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review- The Beatles/ The U.S. Albums

The Beatles/ The U.S. Albums (Capitol, 2014)
I hate my money. Fucking hate it. There is no other explanation why I do this shit to myself. I have bought these albums multiple times in multiple configurations, but was only too happy to do it again. Why? Because I am mentally ill and I hate my money. Allow me to explain.
I own the original CD releases, but was always a sad panda that they were the UK versions and not the versions that my older brother played endlessly when we shared a room growing up. Beatles '65 will always kick Beatles For Sale's ass in my opinion. Imagine my delight when The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 box set was released in 2004 to cash in on The Beatles' fortieth anniversary of invading America. This delight continued when The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 box set was released in 2005. While I was dismayed that A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) and The Beatles' Story were omitted from these collections I was pleased as punch by the real fake US stereo sound.
Word of this box hit me like a ton of bricks. Wait, you mean that I have to buy all of these again to get A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), The Beatles' Story, Yesterday And Today, the US version of Revolver, and Hey Jude on CD? No, they were releasing these all as individual discs. Hooray! Except for the fact that they were issuing the infamous butcher cover for Yesterday And Today exclusively in this box set. Motherfucker! You greedy bastards got me again! I decided to eat a hamburger in protest of this and then pre-ordered this box set. 160 bucks that I will never see again.
The worst part of all of this? While the packaging of the original US LPs is flawlessly reproduced (including authentic first pressing paper sleeves) on dull matte cardstock, the UK mixes from the 2009 remasters are substituted for the “real” fake US stereo mixes found on the two aforementioned CD box sets. What does this mean? It means that OCD completism wins again! USA! USA! What it means for the fan who didn't buy those boxes but picked this one up is that most of the American elements that you would buy these albums for are missing. Here is what you won't find in this box set, to the best of my ability. Beatles experts can likely find a few more flaws, but this is what I came up with:
Meet The Beatles- 9 of the 12 mono tracks have UK mixes, while 10 of the 12 are stereo versions are the US ones.
The Beatles' Second Album is stripped of the original Capitol reverb. Buy The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 box set for the real deal on CD. Every single album has variances from the original US versions. Just buy those boxes now before they go out of print and spare yourself an aneurism. Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is 100% wrong for the non-instrumental tracks. It is presented in a correct gatefold sleeve here at least.
A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), like all of the early albums, includes the mono and stereo mixes. Problem is, there was no stereo version of this album, aside from the instrumental tracks! So you get a free stereo mixtape from the 2009 remasters I guess. The mono is spot on though.
Yesterday And Today contains five of the eight unique US stereo and mono mixes while curiously omitting the original US duophonic mixes of I'm Only Sleeping, Doctor Robert, And Your Bird Can Sing. Doctor Robert in mono is the original US mono mix but cuts off Lennon's spoken word outro. The 1987 remixes for the original CD pressings are used on Act Naturally, Yesterday, Drive My Car, What Goes On, and If I Needed Someone are used rather than the 1965 ones.
Revolver is correct as far as I can tell. Hey Jude has the proper US stereo. Paperback Writer had reversed channels on the original US release but has the correct/wrong UK ones here. The Ballad Of John and Yoko has the ending slightly faded. This album was originally called Beatles Again, and as such should have been labeled that here. Or maybe they could have included a sticker of that as well.
The box itself is quite nice. Each mini-LP style card sleeve comes in a resealable plastic sleeve. Each CD has a clear plastic sleeve to protect it from scratches going in and out of the cardstock sleeve. There are also replica paper sleeves that you could use if you dared.
A handful of songs throughout the box have curious, unknown to me mixes that sound like neither the US nor UK versions. I defer judgment to more qualified Beatles experts on a lot of this stuff. It is daunting compiling these lists. I despise the fact that these CDs don't automatically load the name on my car CD player. I can burn CDs that do that, why can't Capitol do this in 2014? Cripes. It's annoying to me. Not as annoying as wasting time comparing this CD to that or reading a hundred reviews and compiling a consensus of Beatles experts, but pretty damn annoying nonetheless.
All of this aside, the bottom line is The Beatles still rule. Yesterday And Today is the best Capitol designed album. And Beatles '65 will always kick Beatles For Sale's ass.

Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I had no idea there were such shenanigans going on with the various Beatles releases over the years. Your knowledge of all the versions of each track is very impressive, and also very helpful. (I am the same way when it comes to Bruce Springsteen, so I know how much brain-space this kind of thing takes up!)