Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meet The Beatles

In the fall of 1980 I bought my first stereo system and record player with my bar mitzvah money. It was a Lloyd’s system I bought it from my uncle who worked for the company. I’m not actually sure if my mom let my uncle take my money or not, I remember her arguing with him about payment. My mother went out and bought me a few album albums as gifts, one was John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” the other was “Meet The Beatles”. I was not yet born when Beatlemania hit the shores of North America but I knew who the Beatles were, and understood their place in history. I grew up hearing their songs everywhere. I remember my friend Victor playing their anthology songbook on guitar and singing along. Playing that 33 1/3 vinyl record in my living room for the first time was like being transported back to 1963, my enthusiasm for the recording industry only grew from there.

29 years later on September the 9th 2009 I went to my local record store, they were having a Beatles party and picked up the new remastered edition of “With The Beatles”. The nostalgia happened all over again. You might notice that while the picture on the album sleeves is the same the title and track listing is different, it’s almost a different album. When Capitol Records released the Beatles in North America they amalgamated some of their earlier original UK albums to create hybrid collections. Their first Capitol album in North America had songs from both the “Please Please Me” and “With The Beatles” LP, and the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which was not on any LP at the time. The US version “Meet The Beatles” was released on CD for the first time in 2004 as part of “The Capitol Albums, Volume 1” box set.

As I was writing this blog I was made aware that Canada had it own version called “Beatlemania With The Beatles” It has the same tracklisting as the UK version but the cover had added text on the front and it was only released in mono. Canada didn’t get any Beatles albums in stereo till 1965.

I’ve been hearing many people ask recently what is the difference between the Beatles mono and stereo LP’s? Is one better? To answer that question I referred to one of the Beatles biggest expert and fanatic my friend Andy G., here’s what he had to say....

“Neither is better, they’re just different. The thing is that unlike most bands, the Beatles didn't just use mix downs of the stereo versions for the mono releases, George Martin made completely different mixes. So the mono isn't just "like adding the two sides of the stereo together", some of them have different instrumentation, different speeds, different takes of the song even. For example on "With the Beatles", "Money" has a different intro in mono, and parts of the mono are from take 6 while the stereo is all take 7.

Some albums (or songs even) I prefer the mono version, some the stereo. There's no real "better" overall though. The mono and stereo versions of "With The Beatles" were actually originally released (in the UK) on the same day, the mono wasn't first.”


I’m happy that the Beatles are getting the remastered treatment, they deserve it, it sounds great and the photos and liner notes are superb, my only is gripe is that over the years I’ve collected many of the Beatles CD’s which were originally released in 1988. I don’t suppose that Capitol/ EMI Records would create an exchange policy? I guess not.

It is still fun to know that in this day of digital download and throw away electronics that buying and listening to an album originally released in 1963 can still be exciting.

With The Beatles
Side A
It Won't Be Long Lennon/McCartney
All I've Got To Do Lennon/McCartney
All My Loving Lennon/McCartney
Don't Bother Me Harrison
Little Child Lennon/McCartney
Till There Was You Wilson
Please Mr. Postman Holland

Side B
Roll Over Beethoven Berry
Hold Me Tight Lennon/McCartney
You Really Got A Hold On Me W. Robinson
I Wanna Be Your Man Lennon/McCartney
Devil In Her Heart Drapkin
Not A Second Time Wilson
Money Berry/Gordy/Bradford

Meet The Beatles
Side A (LP)
I Want To Hold Your Hand Lennon/McCartney
I Saw Her Standing There Lennon/McCartney
This Boy Lennon/McCartney
It Won't Be Long Lennon/McCartney
All I've Got To Do Lennon/McCartney
All My Loving Lennon/McCartney

Side B (LP)
Don't Bother Me Harrison
Little Child Lennon/McCartney
Till There Was You Wilson
Hold Me Tight Lennon/McCartney
I Wanna Be Your Man Lennon/McCartney
Not A Second Time Wilson

1 comment:

  1. On reread of my quote, I'm realizing that my wording may have been a bit misleading from a technical point of view. Most bands in the 60s did in fact do *separate* mixing of the mono and stereo versions of their albums. What I meant to say is that in the final results, the mono versions were generally identical to being just as if they were mixed down versions of the stereo mixes.

    There was a definite elitism about stereo in the 60s, because many artists considered stereo to be a "fad" or a gimmick, and felt that mono gave the artist more control over how the mix was heard - no matter where in the room you were when you listened to the mono mix, you heard the same thing. Not true of the stereo version.

    Mono vs. stereo is a really interesting thing to learn more about. Did you know that Brian Wilson never did a stereo mix of "Pet Sounds" when it was released - it was mono only all the way until 1997!

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