While it’s always great to have some new Beatles product, some fans are only just starting to realise that the new The U.S. Albums set is making them purchase a lot of content they probably already own.
The plea for more information by Beatlesblog reader Alex in the comments section of this post is typical of the confusion buyers face over which versions are being used on The U.S. Albums:
Can anyone out there confirm if these cds are indeed the original mixes released by Capitol. Many folks insist that only the original lp covers have been included in this box set. Further, all the mixes are from other sources, hence don’t sound at all like the original unique Capitol releases. So many stories and I simply will not be able to verify this myself without committing to this purchase. It just should not be so difficult to get this information. All of the marketing sites that I’ve seen are very vague about this issue. Any help on this would be great!
Well, to answer Alex’s query the best description we can find so far detailing exactly what the tracks are (and how they were chosen) is on the very well-informed and researched Beatles Rarity site. Happy Nat writes:
“The new set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes. Apple has cited in a press release that this would not have created the best possible listening experience due to some fidelity limitations with the Capitol mixes. These include mixes made from second, third or even fourth generation tapes and many of the songs being in a duophonic mix instead of “true” stereo (duophonic, otherwise known as “fake” or “rechannelled” stereo is a means of simulating stereo from a mono source). For this reason and with a few exceptions that I will get to in a minute, the remasters that were issued in 2009 of the British mixes will be used and enhanced with a touch of additional echo to give them a more “Americanized” sound.”
And Beatles Rarity goes on to give specific information about the methodology used to select the source of these recordings:
- If Capitol’s original mix on a stereo album was a duophonic mix – the true stereo UK mix remastered in 2009 was used instead (e.g. “Ticket To Ride” but lots of others that were for the most part a & b sides of singles)
- If Capitol’s original mix on a mono album was a “Type B” mono (i.e. reduced to mono from stereo mix) – the original UK mono mix was used instead. This would cover tracks on the mono Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles Second Album, The Early Beatles, Help! and even “Drive My Car” from Yesterday And Today.
- In the few cases where there was no stereo mix to use and Capitol made duophonic mixes (e.g. “She Loves You,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do”) – the original UK mono mix was used instead.
- There are a few edits and mixes sent to Capitol by producer George Martin that make the US versions of certain tracks unique. Apple has confirmed that these will be remastered and included with the set. However, there is no confirmation on what specific tracks these are. I’ve annotated 5 possibilities and what’s different about the original US Capitol US mix vs. the 2009 remasters below:
- “I’ll Cry Instead” – extra verse on mono version of A Hard Day’s Night andSomething New
- “I’m Looking Through You” – false starts on the stereo mix of Rubber Soul
- “I’m Only Sleeping” – backwards guitar fading up and down in different spots than UK mixes on both stereo and mono versions of Yesterday And Today
- “Dr. Robert” – slightly longer fade on mono version of Yesterday And Today
- “Paperback Writer” – reversed right and left channels on Hey Jude
Of course the first two in this list were already released on the earlier Capitol box sets.
- For everything not covered in 1-4 above – the 2009 remasters will be used.
So, unlike the 2004 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 1) which included four of these albums in mono and stereo, and the 2006 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 2) containing an additional four of these albums also in mono and stereo, The U.S. Albums set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes – most of the time. And it’s this information which is getting some avid Beatle fans and collectors upset. As an example here’s an extract from an email we recieved from Bruce Hamlin who runs the Beatles Records Information Service here in Australia:
I have not received my box yet but according to all internet reports what you are getting is the American Albums artwork reproduced in 5″ format, with special attention given to ‘Yesterday And Today” having a removable cover. However the most important part of any musical format is the music, and it appears what has happend here is you end up with someone in the record company’s opinion of the best version of each song title. NOT in every case the original American Capitol mix of the songs as issued on the American original vinyl albums. Because basically we in Australia (and New Zealand) originally got the English sets of albums, the American ones had a special facination to them. Different album names, different and shorter track listings, funny sounding mixes in both mono and stereo version. Fake stereo on a lot of tracks (they called it Duophonic) and in lots of cases our singles appeared on their albums. Great mystical stuff. BUT what we now get under the misleading title of ‘American Albums’ is just the artwork, and tracklistings. NOT the music. I will be getting a copy in a few days, but I know although the music will be great, it will not be what I thought I was buying. All we will be getting is mono and stereo versions of the American Albums running order but with mostly the 2009 UK remixes.When will EMI/Apple/Capitol/Universal ask/employ some Beatles Fans to assist them with compiling new releases? I’m sure half a dozen fans from around the world would actually give the purchasing Beatles fans what they want and in doing so, increase the profits of the record company. God bless the bootleggers who have given us all of this stuff anyway in it’s correct format and correct sound. And at just a smidgen below the record company’s quality. No wonder people don’t buy the record company products. They are crap. It’s not the internet, or downloads or anything else. It’s the Record Companies fault.
So for once I will give a negative recomendation – ONLY buy this package if your are a completist. It is not the real thing, not what it’s title suggests.
I think you can hear the anger there.
Now, of course this cuts both ways. If the set did indeed use the original Capitol master tapes at least eight of the albums would already be in keen collectors hands because they’d most likely already have The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 from 2004, and The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 from 2006. We’d be paying again, but in a different way, for already released material. No doubt there’d be some angst around the internet about this as well.
We’re very interested in your views too.
Would you have preferred the original, nostalgic U.S. Capitol mixes, or the fresher 2009 re-mixes? Did you buy the box set (or individual albums) thinking you were getting something different to what you have?