Some Fans Angry About The New U.S. Albums Set

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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 AlbumThe Early BeatlesHelp! and even “Drive My Car” from Yesterday And Today.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. 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?

Beatles US Albums Box
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17 thoughts on “Some Fans Angry About The New U.S. Albums Set

  1. According to my knowledge and some sources that already have the box there should be about 20 tracks not using the 2009 remasters (instead of only five you mentioned). Those were tracks that Capitol got specific mixes from the EMI that were not used for the UK releases (and thus not available in the 2009 remixes):

    Second album: three unique mixes
    Something new: four unique mixes
    Beatles ’65: three unique mixes
    Rubber soul: two unique mixes
    Yesterday and today: five unique mixes

    The complete list can be found here: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/beatles-capitol-cds-part-11.340887/

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  2. My wife bought this for me for a birthday present. Since this is NOT the music I was expecting, I would not have wanted this. They should have just released volume 3 of the Capitol Records box set. As is, this box is just a misrepresented money grab. VERY DISAPPOINTED!! If Universal wants to know what to release; ASK THE REAL FANS!!

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  3. I’ve listened to enough of this new set to draw these conclusions:

    — This is a superb collection, even though it obviously relies little on the original Capitol masters. (I’m a first-generation American fan.) For me, the highlight is “Yesterday and Today,” which knocked me out with its warmth and clarity in both mono and stereo. I’m no audiophile, but the mono mix of this album may be the best I’ve heard.

    — The major disappointment for me is “The Beatles Second Album.” It’s startling to hear the remastered stereo without the reverb. Doesn’t mean it’s bad, just startling, even though I was expecting it. When I listen to “Money” on this set it seems like those distorted, ramped-up guitars disappear. Am I imagining this?

    — As I’ve said on a couple of other forums, Apple could certainly have noted in the track listings which songs were taken from the Capitol masters. Was that too much to ask? Thanks to Steve Hoffman for his list.

    — Apple surely could have included, say, five “bonus tracks” on each disc of original Capitol mixes. That might have stemmed some of the controversy about this collection.

    — Not everything about the original Capitol mixes was great. This set corrects perhaps the two worst mixes the company ever put out — the echo-ladened “She’s A Woman” and “I Feel Fine” in which the vocals were buried in the back of the speakers. Having said that, the stereo of “I Feel Fine” in this collection lacks the punch of the mono.

    — I’m a mono guy. I didn’t buy the 2009 stereo box set mainly because I didn’t have the money, but I was saving my pennies for the “Beatles In Mono,” which I got about a year after it was released and at a great price. Great as that set is, the mono of the U.S. Albums seems better to me. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I find it has a warmth and crispness that the U.K. albums sometimes lack. While this collection is based on the 2009 remasters, would Abbey Road have done any upgrades in the ensuing five years? It also occurs to me that some of the American tracks, even as presented here, have different tape speeds than the U.K. originals. Any thoughts?

    — Another point about this collection: If you didn’t buy the 2009 stereo box set, this is a helluva deal because you’re getting both the mono and stereo on each disc except for “Hey Jude,” where no mono mix was done. You can supplement it with purchases of Sgt. Pepper and other individual albums from the U.K. originals.

    — Glaring omission: No “Introducing the Beatles,” which should have been included here for its historical significance even though it would overlap with “The Early Beatles.”

    — For that original Capitol sound, hang onto your Capitol box sets from a decade ago. Or buy them now because they will surely go out of print.

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  4. I’m not angry, because I learned years ago to resist Apple’s propensity to try to separate me from my money with releases that are of no interest to me. Once I quit trying to collect EVERYTHING, then I was able to pass on 1, the Red and Blue sets, the EP box, etc. When Apple does it right–the BBC sets, ANTHOLOGY, YELLOW SUBMARINE SONGTRACK and even LOVE–I’ve forked over my money for their product. Even when I didn’t really think it was that good–the two Capitol boxes, LET IT BE…NAKED–I still eventually bought them. But these? I can make a CD-R of the two I kinda sorta maybe want–YESTERDAY AND TODAY and HEY JUDE (the latter purely for nostalgia reasons, as it was a present for my 12th birthday in 1970)–and be perfectly content with leaving these in the store at the price they are asking. Now, if I see this box for under $100, I might spring for it, because doing so wouldn’t make me angry. I avoid that!

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  5. Thanks, BeatlesBlogger! You may be happy to know that you’re my Go-To spot for all Beatles-related info! Keep up with the nice work, you’ve raised the bar! 🙂

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  6. They should have used the US mixes, remastered for best possible sound but otherwise unaltered. Otherwise, why even issue these? Bad, bad call.

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  7. The mania that (very) grown adults have for pedantic completism puts the mania of screming 13 year old girls in the shade. The bulk of complaints about this set amount ‘Oh look what Apple’s making me do!’ with a variation of ‘Oh look what Apple’s making me do!’

    It’s enough to make you put in earplugs but as it is, I’ll just ramp the volume on my US Albums box set.

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  8. Mixes aside, at least they seem to have got the packaging right this time. Back when the original US album boxsets came out, there was much angst online about the shoddy nature of both the cover artwork (which appeared to come from a poor scan of an album sleeve in average condition, in some cases), and the flimsy cardboard sleeves. This was further compounded by the fact that, if you bought the equivalent domestic Japanese sets, you got (a) much sturdier sleeves, and (b) in the case of Volume 2, the gatefold cover of “Help!”. From what I recall, this was part of the reason that it was decided to have the mono remasters boxset manufactured in Japan for worldwide consumption – those guys just seem to know their miniaturisation, particularly when it comes to mini-LPs. And yes, I know it should be all about the music, but it *is* The Beatles we’re talking about here, and fans can get pretty riled up about the smallest ancillary details.

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  9. I am a Beatles Fan just like the rest of Ya out there. I started with my mom’s Capitol Vinyl Albums and then started listening to the 1987 EMI/Parlophone CD Releases. I have listened to the 2009 Re-Releases in Stereo and Mono and they sound excellent but I have always been pissed about why Michael Jackson never gave permission to release the American Albums back in 1987.

    After learning recently that the Capitol Records Master Tapes were not used again like they were with the original Capitol Collection in 04 and that the UK Stereo Masters were used in place of the Capitol Masters I felt and still feel robbed totally of the Capitol Records Sound that I grew up with.

    I am not going to buy any of the official cd’s from over the years. I intend fully on going to http://www.jagamart.com and buy The Dr. Ebbetts Sound System Bootlegs of both the American and UK Albums. Doc is a real rebel in the eyes of EMI/Parlophone and Capitol Records. His Needle Drop Vinyl to Digital CD Transfers have over the decades proven themselves by way of Beatle Fan Purchases to be vastly superior sounding to the Official CD’s. Doc’s vinyl library condition of Beatle Studio Albums is Cherry Mint Condition and Unmolested by Time. I have listened to the Ebbetts CD Transfers on Youtube and believe you me I would rather buy them than some over priced cd set that sounds like shit and does not give me that vintage feel.

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  10. I’m thrilled with the U.S. box set. It is what I’d hoped for, and created playlists of, from THE BEATLES IN MONO. I’m old enough to have bought each U.S. Beatles album the day it was released, so this is the sequencing I wanted.

    And I am so glad they used the 2009 remastered sound. I don’t understand why anyone would want the crappy Capitol sound. By the time I invited the Internet into my life, I had been an audiophile for a few years, and I used to hear people joke about how bad the Capitol LPs sounded, especially in Stereo. After buying a nice turntable, I played the stereo version of RUBBER SOUL, and it sounded horrid. I can’t believe anyone would want to revisit that, especially given that it had been available in the Capitol Albums box sets.

    I could not be happier.

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  11. It’s depressing that some people might be getting, for instance, an incomplete REVOLVER without knowing it.

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  12. The “original Capitol masters” truly sound like crap, especially when compared to the 2009 remasters. Stereo or Mono, I say let the original UK albums stand as the artists intended to have their work presented and leave well enough alone.

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  13. If they had used original mono and stereo mixes for all of the albums, this would have been a great set. Instead they messed up four albums by substituting the 1987 remixes of songs from Help and Rubber Soul.

    Supposedly, that this was done out of respect for George Martin, who couldn’t have cared less.

    Apple doesn’t care about American Beatles fans, they only want the money.

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