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What Giles Martin discovered when remixing Revolver


al mcguire
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A(nother) five-star review for the box set. From The Guardian:

 

The Beatles: Revolver Special Edition (Super Deluxe) review – experimental genius in real time

 

The Beatles’ career has been so exhaustively documented, chronicled and bootlegged, it can feel as if there aren’t many surprises left to uncover. But the footage in Peter Jackson’s recent documentary on the band, Get Back, certainly proved that assumption wrong … particularly the mind-blowing jam session where the band conjure the documentary’s title track out of thin air. Knowing the Beatles possessed unparalleled studio chemistry is one thing; seeing them nonchalantly chisel away at a musical idea and create greatness in real time is another thing entirely.

 

A bonus disc on the new expanded, remixed and remastered box set of 1966’s Revolver offers an even more transformative experience: a jaw-dropping sequence of Yellow Submarine work tapes traces the song’s evolution from a fragile, sad wisp sung by John Lennon to its later iteration as a Ringo Starr-directed psych-pop goof. That the band steered Yellow Submarine from morose folk trifle to boisterous stoner singalong seems improbable, but the tapes don’t lie: through a combination of focused acoustic woodshedding and whimsical studio risks, the band arrived at the more familiar, upbeat Yellow Submarine.

Iteration and fearless experimentation were always Beatles hallmarks, but Revolver found the band accelerating headfirst into innovation.

 

Rest of the review:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/oct/27/the-beatles-revolver-album-special-edition-super-deluxe-review

 

And those first thoughts of what became Yellow Submarine:

 

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Interesting stuff!  I might have to track down a vinyl copy to see how it compares to my original 1st pressing.  One Beatles remaster that definitely is better is the Live At The Hollywood Bowl.  I have an original pressing and it is damn near unlistenable given it's just mostly the audience screaming whereas the reissue did a better balance of it all.

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On 10/29/2022 at 4:18 PM, Johnny Karlsson said:

I listened to the 2022 mix of Revolver on Apple Music, and it’s very bright and clear. But I’m not sure that’s “better”, because to my ears it’s almost “too bright and clear”, making it  somewhat harsh sounding. Maybe the vinyl version will tame that a bit…

Your top end might be in better shape than Giles' eh?

 

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7 hours ago, jozzafunk said:

Your top end might be in better shape than Giles' eh?

 

Hahaha, that’s not what I meant to imply. 
 

The mastering stage is where this would have been finalized anyway (and no, I’m not saying my ears are “better” than Miles’ either).
 

Taste is a subjective thing. 


Others will of course disagree, but personally I don’t really get the obsession with remixing old recordings. To me they are documentations of what was going on at the time.  Honestly, was there really anything wrong with the original release? It sold more than a handful copies and I’ve never heard anyone complain about George’s mixes :)

 

 

 

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Johnny, 

5 hours ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

Others will of course disagree, but personally I don’t really get the obsession with remixing old recordings.

 

I have a few half-assed thoughts.

 

1) I agree that the 2022 remix sounds brighter than the 2009 remix (via Spotify "very high" audio quality, but though decent NFMs). Perhaps that's due to Giles Martin's 53-year old ears (ie-- I don't know the ages of the mastering engineers—Miles Showell and a couple others—but wouldn't they have to satisfy Martin?). And/or, if we consider the likely ages of consumers of the 2022 Revolver re-re-re-re-release, maybe having recordings mastered a bit brighter will keep them from sounding dull to a big chunk of the listening audience. So perhaps more bright is a reasonable business plan.

 

2) Maybe there are some copyright-extension issues going on, at least for the US. I'm thinking of the ABS vs CBS case, which was a big deal a few years ago. I don't know how things ended up after the likely appeals, but here's something from 2016 from Techdirt: This Is Bad: Court Says Remastered Old Songs Get A Brand New Copyright

 

3) Or maybe the idea is if we sold it once, we can sell it five times. 

 

4) The remixes sound good, but like you say, I wasn't really complaining about the earlier versions. OTOH, easier access to all the extras crammed into the Super Deluxe release is neat, though I will probably only listen to those once or twice. I am unlikely to drop $100-$200 on one of the box sets. But that's just me; totally cool if you have or will buy one of those bigger editions; they look really nice.

 

Jim "and I read all of Mark Lewisohn's Beatles Sessions book" Feeley

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I haven’t listened to the new remixes yet, but I bought the box set mostly for everything else. A good new copy of the album in mono, the bonus material, and the book. I’ll probably only listen to the actual remix a handful of times since it probably won’t sound “right” to me, like the other albums, because I’ve spent my whole life listening to the original mixes. 
 

kind of like when I could finally afford CDs, the first ones I bought were the Beatles. But to my surprise, they were the UK versions, so all the albums up until Sgt. Pepper had a different track lineup. This was mainly a good thing (especially in the cases of A Hard Days Night and Help!) but I really liked the US version of Rubber Soul over the UK version. 

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1 hour ago, Jim Feeley said:

Johnny, 

 

I have a few half-assed thoughts.

 

1) I agree that the 2022 remix sounds brighter than the 2009 remix (via Spotify "very high" audio quality, but though decent NFMs). Perhaps that's due to Giles Martin's 53-year old ears (ie-- I don't know the ages of the mastering engineers—Miles Showell and a couple others—but wouldn't they have to satisfy Martin?). And/or, if we consider the likely ages of consumers of the 2022 Revolver re-re-re-re-release, maybe having recordings mastered a bit brighter will keep them from sounding dull to a big chunk of the listening audience. So perhaps more bright is a reasonable business plan.

 

2) Maybe there are some copyright-extension issues going on, at least for the US. I'm thinking of the ABS vs CBS case, which was a big deal a few years ago. I don't know how things ended up after the likely appeals, but here's something from 2016 from Techdirt: This Is Bad: Court Says Remastered Old Songs Get A Brand New Copyright

 

3) Or maybe the idea is if we sold it once, we can sell it five times. 

 

4) The remixes sound good, but like you say, I wasn't really complaining about the earlier versions. OTOH, easier access to all the extras crammed into the Super Deluxe release is neat, though I will probably only listen to those once or twice. I am unlikely to drop $100-$200 on one of the box sets. But that's just me; totally cool if you have or will buy one of those bigger editions; they look really nice.

 

Jim "and I read all of Mark Lewisohn's Beatles Sessions book" Feeley

I think you nailed it with number 3 hahaha.

 

And, as you say the remixes DO sound good. No doubt.  Just… maybe…. a bit sterile?
 

We are all sound nerds here, myself included of course - but isn’t the whole  thing about The Beatles the songs and the performances? I mean, they were superstars even heard on a 2-inch transistor radio speaker!
 

A funny side note; when Giles did the first remixes years ago, he mentioned in an interview that he had at first tried to “correct” or quantize Ringo’s drums due to the timing not being “perfect”, but  discovered that doing so made it totally “suck”. 

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22 minutes ago, Johnny Karlsson said:

A funny side note; when Giles did the first remixes years ago, he mentioned in an interview that he had at first tried to “correct” or quantize Ringo’s drums due to the timing not being “perfect”, but  discovered that doing so made it totally “suck”. 

 

Oh geez. 

OTOH, he owned up to it. 

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Got a trial of Quboz and listened to it in 24bit/96khz lossless on my Yamaha nearfields + matching sub.  Sounds really good!  The strings especially pop more, then again, my Revolver copy is slightly crusty / "well loved" and from 1966.  Playing around with this Quboz thing is kinda neat although they don't have any sort of recommendation engine so you've got to build playlists or just listen to albums which is kind of a bummer as I've discovered really good music via Spotify's recommendation engine.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just got the double CD and for me, it's an interesting listen: it was the album that first got me really interested with what you could do with sound (I spent ages trying to work out ADT, for example) and Tomorrow Never Knows was just extraordinary. Many, many years later, I discovered that my father-in-law was one of the violinists on Eleanor Rigby, so that was an added bonus. My wife remembers him coming back from the session being somewhat grumpy. Oh, and Emerick's detailing of the session in his book is basically bullshit, by the way.

 

One of the things that the remix does is bring out much more details in the drumming, which is great in some tracks, such as She Said, She Said, when Starr is just nailing the fills, and Here, There and Everywhere where the tom-tom sound is perfect and the finger snaps actually sound like finger snaps. The remix of Rain is also excellent. 

 

I wore out my vinyl copy years ago, but am sorely tempted to buy the new version just to see how it compares with the CD. 

 

(Oh, and you can see my father-in-law in the A Day In The Life video, if you don't blink: he's the one wearing white-framed sunglasses and smoking a cigar.)

 

 

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We listened to the 2022 mix of Revolver last night. Liked it a lot (again). But after Tomorrow Never Knows, it just didn't feel right to listen to anything else for a while.

 

I didn't watch Mad Men, but I heard about this scene at the close of an episode, which really seems to capture something—transitions? uncertainty?—happening in the mid 60s. I'm too young to have experienced it and perhaps it's wrong or just simplified (duh). But there's something that seems to ring true. Ya? Nah?

 

 

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