We don’t usually feature compilation albums, especially one which has been re-released three times in my lifetime (CD in 2003, remaster in 2010 then Giles Martin’s new remix last Friday) however this one is special. I’m sure there must be many Beatles fans who explored the band’s music through this and its companion 1967-1970 album. It might have been allegedly compiled by the band’s arch-villainous manager Allen Klein but it is a superlative collection of the music in their early years. One great complement to the band was always in reviews of this collection which pointed out that despite filling two double albums with ‘greatest hits’ there were still some absolute crackers left off. That has now been rectified in this new release which now justifies two CDs in running time and has added some notable omissions such as “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Twist and Shout”, “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Here, There and Everywhere”. Some of the others strike me as ‘political’ additions to increase the presence of George Harrison or correct a perceived lack of tracks from the Revolver album – as creative and revolutionary as it was I don’t feel “Tomorrow Never Knows” sits nicely on a greatest hits collection. But those are quibbles.
In any case the interesting thing isn’t the additional tracks, its the remixes. These aren’t just yawnworthy tweaks for uber fans (bringing the bass slightly forward in a song for example) but dramatic reworkings of songs whose stereo mixes suffered from early ideas of what a stereo mix should be. These were more designed to show off the novelty of the technology and featured quirks such as all the vocals being located far off to the right and the drums on the left. Additionally four early songs couldn’t be properly mixed in stereo due to their original multitrack tapes being lost. Giles Martin has now reworked these songs with lovely spacious mixes with much more ‘realistic’ soundstages, locating the vocals and drums near the centre and spreading other sounds around. It is quite a revelation and for me will be the definitive version going forward.
Enjoy these absolute classic songs with us this week and hear this incredible band develop in their early years.