Once again* every other reviewer and music writer has been beaten to the draw by US critic Michael Fremer of Analog Planet website fame.
Fremer has not only the first review of The Beatles new The Singles Collection box set, but also the first unboxing video showing in detail what the box, the 23 seven-inch singles and booklet look like. This box set is not officially released until this coming Friday (22 November), but Fremer uploaded his unboxing video on November 16:
The review, which followed the unboxing, is not kind.
Fremer, who had hoped the laquers for the singles had all been cut direct from the original analogue tapes, says: “The new box sounds dry, flat and boring. All of the voices reside on a flat plane, attack is stunted, sustain minimized and decay almost non-existent—all of the telltale signs of bad digitization—obvious even on the early “primitive” tracks. After comparing a few I moved forward to “Baby You’re a Rich Man” and after that comparison I stopped to write this.”
He went on to compare these latest singles with those from the 1978 World Records/EMI box set containing 25 Beatle singles. These he writes “…sound alive, exciting and packed with transient details and depth. The top end sparkles where appropriate—like on “Ticket to Ride”, where the guitar jangle is intense and Ringo’s toms have depth and texture.”
“To say I’m disappointed with the sound [of this new box] is an understatement. It’s as weak as the packaging is strong. As a souvenir or attractive shelf item this set gets an 11. As something you’d want to play it gets a 5: middling. I don’t know what happened here but it produced a dull top, rubbery bottom, congested midrange, flat, dry perspective and heavy dynamic compression.”
This has re-ignited the hot debate about whether or not these new singles are indeed all analogue (AAA), or if they have been digitised and then cut to vinyl. You can read Fremer’s full review here.
* Fremer did the same with the 50th anniversary re-issue of Abbey Road in September this year, and The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) in October last year.