Tuesday, 9 September 2014

"The Beatles In MONO" by THE BEATLES (2009 EMI/Apple 11CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Is There Anyone Wants To Hear My Story…" 

In truth - when the Beatles 15-strong album catalogue finally went on worldwide sale in properly remastered form on the 9th of September 2009 - the Stereo box set not only looked flimsy and naff - it containing little inside to aesthetically please once opened. Inside a matt black and red lanky card wrapper - you got the 15 piddly gatefold sleeves of the albums (as per the individual releases - no repro artwork) and a booklet. For the money it always felt to me like a presentation let down. But the smaller hard-card MONO variant was an all-together different beast - not just sonically - but especially visually. Here are the one-channel details...

Released 9 September on Apple 5099969945120 - "The Beatles In MONO" by THE BEATLES contains the following 11 CDs (one is a double):

1. "Please Please Me" - March 1963 UK debut LP on Parlophone PMC 1202 (33:19 minutes)
1. I Saw Her Standing There
2. Misery
3. Anna (Go To Him)
4. Chains
5. Boys
6. Ask Me Why
7. Please Please Me
8. Love Me Do [Side 2]
9. P.S. I love You
10. Baby It’s You
11. Do You Want To Know A Secret
12. A Taste Of Honey
13. There’s A Place
14. Twist & Shout

2. "With The Beatles" - November 1963 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 1206 (33:55 minutes)
1. It Won’t Be Long
2. All I’ve Got To Do
3. All My Loving
4. Don’t Bother Me
5. Little Child
6. Till There Was You
7. Please Mister Postman
8. Roll Over Beethoven [Side 2]
9. Hold Me Tight
10. You Really Got A Hold On Me
11. I Wanna Be Your Man
12. Devil In Her Heart
13. Not A Second Time
14. Money

3. "A Hard Day's Night" - July 1964 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 1230 (31:01 minutes)
1. A Hard Day’s Night
2. I Should Have Known Better
3. If I Fell
4. I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
5. And I Love Her
6. Tell Me Why
7. Can’t Buy Me Love
8. Any Time At All [Side 2]
9. I’ll Cry Instead
10. Things We Said Today
11. When I Get Home
12. You Can’t Do That
13. I’ll Be Back

4. "Beatles For Sale" - December 1964 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 1240 (35:09 minutes)
1. No Reply
2. I’m A Loser
3. Baby’s In Black
4. Rock And Roll Music
5. I’ll Follow The Sun
6. Mr. Moonlight
7. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey
8. Eight Days A Week [Side 2]
9. Words Of Love
10. Honey Don’t
11. Every Little Thing
12. I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
13. What You’re Doing
14. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby

5. "Help!" - August 1965 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 1255 (with Stereo PCS 3071) (69:14 minutes)
1. Help!
2. The Night Before
3. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
4. I Need You
5. Another Girl
6. You’re Going To Lose That Girl
7. Ticket To Ride
8. Act Naturally [Side 2]
9. It’s Only Love
10. You Like Me Too Much
11. Tell Me What You See
12. I’ve Just Seen A Face
13. Yesterday
14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy

6. "Rubber Soul" - December 1965 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 1267 (Stereo PCS 3075) (72:50 minutes)
1. Drive My Car
2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3. You Won’t See Me
4. Nowhere Man
5. Think For Yourself
6. The Word
7. Michelle
8. What Goes On [Side 2]
9. Girl
10. I’m Looking Through You
11. In My Life
12. Wait
13. If I Needed Someone
14. Run For Your Life
Tracks 15 to 28 are the 1965 STEREO MIX of 1 to 14

7. "Revolver" - August 1966 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 7009 (35:33 minute)
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]
9. And Your Bird Can Sing
10. For No One
11. Dr. Robert
12. I Want To Tell You
13. Got To Get You Into My Life
14. Tomorrow Never Knows

8. "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" - June 1967 UK LP on Parlophone PMC 7027 (39:50 minutes)
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
8. Within You, Without You [Side 2]
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning, Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

9. "Magical Mystery Tour" - first released as a 10-track album ONLY in the USA in November 1967 on Capitol MAL 2835. It was a Mono and Stereo double 7" single 'EP' in the UK released in December 1967 with only 6 tracks. "Magical Mystery Tour" finally made it onto a 10-track album in November 1976 in the UK (37:07 minutes)

1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. The Fool On The Hill
3. Flying
4. Blue Jay Way
5. Your Mother Should Know
6. I Am The Walrus
7. Hello Goodbye [Side 2]
8. Strawberry Fields Forever
9. Penny Lane
10. Baby You’re A Rich Man

10. "The Beatles" [aka "The White Album"] - November 1968 Double-Album on Apple PMC 7067-8 (Disc 1: 46:20 minutes/Disc 2: 46:37 minutes)
1. Back In The U.S.S.R. [Side 1]
2. Dear Prudence
3. Glass Onion
4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
5. Wild Honey Pie
6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9. Martha My Dear [Side 2]
10. I’m So Tired
11. Blackbird
12. Piggies
13. Rocky Racoon
14. Don’t Pass Me By
15. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
16. I Will
17. Julia

1. Birthday [Side 3]
2. Yer Blues
3. Mother Nature’s Son
4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Helter Skelter
7. Long, Long, Long
8. Revolution 1 [Side 4]
9. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Good Night

What's missing? Although issued in MONO in the UK - only 4 tracks from the "Yellow Submarine" album are included (see 9, 10, 11 and 12 on Disc 2 of "Past Masters" listed below) because the other mixes were essentially a 'fold-down' of the Stereo version (not true mono in other words). Both "Abbey Road" and "Let It Be" were only ever issued in STEREO - hence their exclusion. Fans will also notice that the "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" CDs listed above also feature (as bonuses) the 1965 George Martin STEREO MIX of those albums - mixed presumably from Mono sources. The "Past Masters" double CD compilation mops up the British 7" single and EP sides and any other stragglers and is laid out as follows...

11. "Past Masters"
Disc 1: 42:39 minutes (black and yellow Parlophone label on the CD)
1. Love Me Do (Original Single Version)
2. From Me To You
3. Thank You Girl
4. She Loves You
5. I'll Get You
6. I Want To Hold Your Hand
7. This Boy
8. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (German sung "I Want To Hold Your Hand")
9. She Liebt Dich (German sung "She Loves You")
10. Long Tall Sally
11. I Call Your Name
12. Slow Down
13. Matchbox
14. I Feel Fine
15. She's A Woman
16. Bad Boy
17. Yes It Is
18. I'm Down

Disc 2: 56:26 minutes (Apple label on the CD):
1. Day Tripper
2. We Can Work It Out
3. Paperback Writer
4. Rain
5. Lady Madonna
6. The Inner Light
7. Hey Jude
8. Revolution
9. Only A Northern Song
10. All Together Now
11. Hey Bulldog
12. It's All Too Much
13. Get Back [with BILLY PRESTON]
14. Don't Let Me Down [with BILLY PRESTON]
15. Across The Universe
16. You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

Some rumours have said that the box is a limited edition of 10,000 - but EMI has never confirmed this - and in 2014 - it's still available to buy. The beautiful card repro sleeves contained within ape the British original vinyl albums with tasty details like inner EMITEX bags, black and yellow Parlophone Records labels, flip-back laminate sleeves and the full 'white album' compliment of fold-out lyric poster and the four gorgeous photos. The 44-page booklet explains how The Beatles recorded in MONO and why (their preferred sound) - it's a sweet read. The sturdy hard card white box was done in Japan so the attention to detail is magnificent. GUY MASSEY, PAUL HICKS and SEAN MAGEE - Grammy nominees for their beautiful and sensitive handing of such a precious catalogue - carried out the remasters at Abbey Road from original master tapes - and what a job they've done...

Right from the opening bars of "I Saw Here Standing There" - the raw power and central channelling of the MONO mix slams in the solar plexus. It's like hearing these overly familiar gems anew. It continues that way to a point where "Taxman" on Revolver and "Getting Better" on "Sgt. Peppers" are almost different animals to their Stereo counterparts. In fact to my ears it's "Revolver", "Peppers" and especially "The Beatles" that benefit the most. The White Album always had a 'weedy' weakassed mix in Stereo - here "Back In The U.S.S.R" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" come at you with unbelievable power. Particular favourites of mine are the delicate and lovely melodies of "Mother Nature's Son" and "Blackbird" and the sheer balls-to-the-wall menace of "Revolution" (released as a single around the album). Not to be outdone by the later years - the three-part harmony vocals on those gorgeous B-sides "This Boy" and "Yes It Is" are so direct too and the jangly guitar on "Ticket To Ride" sounds so clear. "Yesterday" and " Norwegian Wood" are startling in MONO too. And what a tune "Don't Let Me Down" is (B-side or not)...

A wonderful listen, beautifully presented and finally in 2014 - we got the sensational VINYL equivalent that has been rightly heaped with praise. What a band and what a great way to celebrate their enduring legacy...

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