Friday, January 15, 2010

Deconstructing The Remasters : The White Album Edition...

You may remember that I mentioned my darling mother (HI, MA!) got me the Beatles Stereo remasters for Christmas... you may also remember that I talked about spending five hours with The White Album not too long ago.
You guessed it, we're going to be talking about that today. It's long overdue, but here it is!

Of the thirty songs making up the two disc set (or four vinyl set, however you want to look at it), here's how everything ranks:

German Stereo - 2
2009 Mono - 11
2009 Stereo - 17

And here's me thinking I didn't need the stereo!
It really is like having different versions of the exact same song. There's something that sets each version apart, or brings new light to something you may not have heard otherwise. It's amazing!
I have also found that the mono versions sound better with regular headphones, while the stereos sound better with Allan, and it depends on the track with the full-size Bose.
The problem, then, is finding out which version sounds best overall. THAT'S why it's taken so long to do even just one album! How do you pick? Usually, I go with what sounds best to me... which almost always means clear vocals, and bright electric guitar (everything else can come second, so far as I'm concerned, although, with the remasters, Paul's bass lines can be heard loud and clear, which is refreshing).

When listening with the Bose headphones, it seems that the acoustic songs sound better in mono (excluding Blackbird... in stereo, you can hear Paul's double main vocal as though there was a Paul on each ear... and I don't mind that one bit!), whereas, when more voltage is added, the stereo comes in quite handy (excluding I'm So Tired, which has that wave effect to the vocals... and I have witnesses!).
When listening with regular headphones (these are similar to the kind I used to use) EVERYTHING sounds better in mono.
When listening with the full-size Bose, all the rules are thrown out the window (where they belong, if you ask me!). For example, when comparing Helter Skelter, the mono version sounded as though Paul was singing into a tin can on a string, while the guitar, bass, drums, et al, were in another room... the stereo brought all the sounds together, creating a cacophony of glory (I don't care WHAT my mother says).

So, with all this being said, when all is said and done, what does this waffle mean?
Well, following the format used when we talked about the mono versions, I've picked my favorites of every version, and I'll share a few of them with you (I promise, you can leave now, if you wish).

You may have noticed that two of the German versions made the cut, so we'll start with that.
Neither the mono or stereo remasters had quite what I was looking for from Back In The USSR, so I improvised! The German version had every quality I liked from the remasters, so it was like I got to combine the two to make one awesome track.



When compared to the stereo version, the mono of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is hands-down mind blowing. A good example of what I keep in mind with the bright electric guitar, the mono makes your jaw drop. When you remember that the lead guitar was played by none other than Eric Clapton, who was recording with Misters Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney, you keep thinking to yourself "there was rock greatness in the room that day"...


I complained about this with the mono versions, but, on some of the tracks, it left that feeling of a half-nelson locked in a drawer. The guitar, vocals, bass, etc, were watered down (which should never have happened), swimming about in a leaking paddle pool. Yer Blues was one of those tracks, but, with the stereo, John's Eddie Cochran vocal shines, the bass rattles your fillings, and the guitar reminds you you're listening to the cream of the crop.
Even if the fadeout is a little shorter (fourteen seconds between the stereo and mono), it's worth the difference for the boost...


My favorite remaster of all, however, has to be Helter Skelter in stereo. I don't know why, but it just is...

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