Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Search for Better Sounding Beatles

The buzz about remastered Beatles coming to a computer near you is getting louder and louder. It seems that the most persistent rumor is that the long-awaited remasters of the Beatles albums will be available on Valentine’s Day on iTunes and then on CD three months later. The exact format of the albums and the timing of the releases are unknown although one intriguing rumor puts the release of Sgt Pepper on the 40th Anniversary of its original release. Of course, with rumors it’s ALL unknown until someone actually makes an announcement. The rumor mill heated up when Steve Jobs featured Beatles music prominently on his announcement of the new iPhone.

I, for one, will wait the three months to buy the CDs but I have been searching for Better Sounding Beatles (BSB) for decades. I, of course, bought the American releases as they came out. I still have my original singles of “She Loves You” (on the Swan label) and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” As a high schooler I sold my Beatles singles to my brother only to get them back years later in trade for a guitar. He no longer has the guitar and I still have the singles. It was actually hard for me as a kid to keep up with all the releases since I would often find out that a new album was coming out by actually seeing it in the record store. But I have a clear memory of picking up my pre-ordered-and-held-behind-the-counter copies of the White Album and Abbey Road so I’m pretty sure I got them on the first day of release. I know that I got Sgt Pepper from my brother for my 13th birthday which was, like, one of the coolest birthday presents EVER. I remember getting Yesterday and Today with the cover that everyone knows – I didn’t get one of those ultra-rare butcher covers. I do, however, still have my copy of the Hey Jude album which was originally called The Beatles Again and my copy actually says The Beatles Again on the disc. (That album was a U.S. only release with a number of otherwise unavailable singles – the only way to get “Hey Jude”, “Revolution”, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, “Don’t Let Me Down” and others on an album.)

While I lived in Denver I discovered the joy of Japanese imports. Japanese imports sounded better than the US versions and followed the UK order so, for the first time, I heard the albums the way the Beatles put them together instead of their inferior US counterparts. (This is why Capital recently released the two volumes of The Capital Albums, so people could hear the albums the way they remember them.) So, I sold many of my original albums and replaced them with Japanese imports so that I had better sounding albums. Then when the CDs came out I was right there to buy them – literally. I lived a block away from Denver’s largest record store (Peaches, which later changed its name to Sound Warehouse) and was at the door when they opened the day the first batch of CDs went on sale. That year I got one “personal day” at school – a day when you could just take off for no good reason. I chose the day the Beatles albums went on sale. So I sold all my Japanese pressings and picked up CDs which sounded great. Those CDs have been in my collection now for a long time but I can now hear how amazing the Love sounds and I’m geeked about hearing the whole Beatles catalog that way. I hope the rumors are true and that remastered albums will be here by summer!

1 comment:

Ron Hatton said...

Just don't tease me, Bob! :-) I too was blown away by "Love" and hope the entire Beatles' catalog is remastered. Despite the purists, I love the remastered "Yellow Submarine" CD. I will definitely wait for the CDs to come out.
Thank you for reminding me that I broke the Swan 45 that Dad bought for us back in the day - it fell off the record rack suspended over the Hi Fi. I have never gotten over the loss of that 45!