Saturday, 7 May 2016

"Revolver" by THE BEATLES (2014/2015 Japan-Only SHM-CD Mini LP Reissue/Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...The Day Breaks…Your Mind Aches…"

When "Revolver" was finally given the Remaster it deserved as part of the 09/09/09 total BEATLES catalogue CD reissue campaign – Fab Four nutters the world over rejoiced. They got the UK 14-track variant of the album in glorious STEREO – and man did it sound good. But the glossy easy-to-smudge 3-way foldout card digipak lacked the aesthetic feel of the 1966 album artwork (short playing time too with no Mono mix which could easily have been included) and the 24-page booklet was big on colour photos but short on actual album history or place.

Well far be it for the Japanese to let that get in the way. Once again they get the last word – because this 2014 reissue campaign of Mini LP Repros for THE BEATLES on their patented SHM-CD format (Super High Materials) is truly gorgeous stuff and ups this already sonic wonder a further notch. "And Your Bird Can Sing" is too damn right. Here are the loaded details...

Released 17 December 2014 (reissued 15 April 2015) and using the 2009 Remaster done at Abbey Road Studios - this Japan-only SHM-CD of "Revolver" by THE BEATLES on Universal/Apple UICY-76972 (Barcode 4988005867490) is a straightforward transfer of the UK 14-Track STEREO album. It’s presented in a limited edition 5” Mini LP Repro Artwork and will be deleted in June 2016 (total playing time 34:47 minutes).

1. Taxman
2. Eleanor Rigby
3. I’m Only Sleeping
4. Love You To
5. Here, There And Everywhere
6. Yellow Submarine
7. She Said She Said
8. Good Day Sunshine [Side 2, UK]
9. And Your Bird Can Sing
10. For No One
11. Doctor Robert
12. I Want To Tell You
13. Got To Get You Into My Life
14. Tomorrow Never Knows
"Revolver" (their 7th British album) was originally released 5 August 1966 in the UK on both Parlophone PMC 7009 Mono and PCS 7009 Stereo. The American issue followed 3 days later on Capitol T-2576 Mono and ST-2576 Stereo. The UK variant had 14 tracks (as listed above) - the US issue had 11. The three missing from the American LP (same artwork) were "And Your Bird Can Sing", "I'm Only Sleeping" and "Doctor Robert" which had appeared on the June 1966 US album "Yesterday And Today".

Using the 09/09/09 STEREO MIX of the album – this Japanese SHM-CD reissue also decides to keep it simple and loses the enhanced CD track called "Revolver Mini Documentary" that came with the 09/09/09 releases (two-and-a-half minutes of video footage - largely black & white in-studio shots featuring the voices of the Fabs and George Martin discussing songs and techniques on the album - it's directed by BOB SMEATON). The Super High Materials CD (SHM-CD) does not require special audio equipment – it will play on all devices and Toshiba claim that it offers a better form of disc with increased retrieval details. As someone who owns about 20 of them - I've found that claim to be true. The audio on this sucker through my Marantz CD/AMP combo (paired up with Tannoy Mercury V4 speakers) is just beautiful. The accumulative effect is to have even the most jaundiced ear sit up and take notice. Then there's the sexy artwork...

The EMI 24-page colour booklet returns as a separate entity - but there's also the usual 20-white-page Japanese booklet too that features some unreadable Japanese liner notes followed by the lyrics in English and a back page that pictures all 16 titles in this SHM-CD Reissue series. The attention to detail on the actual 1966 album sleeve is delicious. You get a hard card repro of the UK STEREO LP artwork complete with its glossy front sleeve and matt rear and 'flip back' flaps on the back cover (how did they reproduce this!). The label reflects the black and yellow lettering of the original British LP on Parlophone Records as does the rear cover artwork that advertises the use of an "Emitex" record cleaning cloth. They've even repro'd that Emitex inner bag too. There's an OBI strip – mine is Blue in colour for the 'Encore' reissue series of 2015 (see list below).

The Audio Quality on the 09/09/09 CD Remaster was and is magnificent. Both GUY MASSEY and STEVE ROOKE remastered the first generation stereo master tapes and to say they've done a good job is like saying the Great Wall of China is an ok building-project. Their work here is fabulous – monumental almost - it really is. The sound quality is glorious throughout - clear, warm, detailed - every single track a revelation.

The SHM-CD amplifies the punch in the brassy "Got To Get You Into My Life" and the delicate "Here, There & Everywhere". The hiss level is barely audible on any of the songs - but what you do hear are new instrument flourishes. The brilliant George Harrison guitar playing on the New York Drug Pusher song "Doctor Robert" is at last to the fore, the lone horn work of Alan Civil on "For No One" is suddenly so pretty, while Ringo's superlative drumming on "Tomorrow Never Knows" is now absolutely huge to a point where the clarity and sheer whack of the Remaster brought me to tears. The strings on “Eleanor Rigby” are beautifully full and shock your senses even now - some five decades after the event. If you love this record, you're in for a treat. I love the wallop and anger in "Taxman" – guitars filling my speakers with venom. Another winner is the huge sound from "She Said She Said" where John feels like he's going to kick your speakers in (kick something in anyway). Ringo has his ditty moment with the mad "Yellow Submarine” with those strange engine noises half way through somehow now more bizarre and creative than I remembered. And the riffage of "Doctor Robert" is equal to the splendor of "Paperback Writer".

Between this series of 16 SHM-CDs, the American Capitol Records collection and the white Mono Box set - I'd have to say that these three are the pinnacle of Fab Fourness - and Beatles collectors will quite rightly lust after and covet all three.

What a band and what a recorded legacy they left behind. Float downstream indeed...and if you do...do it with this SHM-CD as your raft...

PS: For info purposes - there are 16 STEREO titles in THE BEATLES Japanese SHM-CD Reissue Series. The first wave came in December 2014 and then a repress in April 2015. Purchasers should note that 'both' issues have the same catalogue numbers and barcodes. The way to recognise the difference is the sticker colour on the front plastic. 1st Issues come with Red Stickers and were released 17 December 2014 - 2nd 'Encore' Reissues come with Blue Stickers and were released 15 April 2015. I’ve provided Barcodes but to locate the right pressing CD on Amazon - but you will need to check with your seller first to see which pressing you're getting (most sellers will identify as either 1st or Encore so there’s no confusion).

1. Please Please Me (Universal/Apple UICY-76966) – Barcode 4988005867438
2. With The Beatles (Universal/Apple UICY-76967) – Barcode 4988005867455
3. A Hard Day’s Night (Universal/Apple UICY-76968) – Barcode 4988005867452
4. Beatles For Sale (Universal/Apple UICY-76969) – Barcode 4988005867469
5. Help! (Universal/Apple UICY-76970) – Barcode 4988005867476
6. Rubber Soul (Universal/Apple UICY-76971) – Barcode 4988005867483
7. Revolver (Universal/Apple UICY-76972) – Barcode 4988005867490
8. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Universal/Apple UICY-76973) – Barcode 4988005867506
9. Magical Mystery Tour (Universal/Apple UICY-76974) – Barcode 4988005867513
10. The Beatles [aka The White Album] (Universal/Apple UICY-76975 & 6) - Barcode 4988005867520
11. Yellow Submarine (Universal/Apple UICY-76977) – Barcode 4988005867599
12. Abbey Road (Universal/Apple UICY-76978) – Barcode 4988005867605
13. Let It Be (Universal/Apple UICY-76979) – Barcode 4988005867612
14. Past Masters (Universal/Apple UICY-76980 & 1) – Barcode 4988005867629
15. 1962-1966 (Red Album) (Universal/Apple UICY-76982/3) – Barcode 4988005867636
16. 1967-1970 (Blue Album) – (Universal/Apple UICY-76984/5) - Barcode 4988005867643

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