The Greatest CDs Ever Made


I made mention of the new Beatles CD remasters in the comments today, so I thought I might as well make a formal post here on the blog.  A bit off-topic?  Ehh, whatever.  The Beatles are my absolute favorites, and these new CDs are spectacular.  Absolutely spectacular.  I haven't been this excited over digital music since the '90s, and that means a lot when coming from a turntable junkie.  These are the greatest CDs ever made.  Period.

Now you may be surprised, but it's pretty difficult to find good Beatles records on vinyl.  The biggest problem is that the American Capitol pressings are almost uniformly bad.  Perhaps "bad" is a bit harsh, but they are all too often flat, muddy, and somewhat dull.  The "Apple labels" are the best, and I have an early-press of Abbey Road that I adore, so there are exceptions to the rule.  But I would personally rank the Capitol versions of Rubber Soul, Revolver, and The White Album poorly.

The UK Parlephone albums are spectacular, the Gold Standard (especially the "yellow and black" label pressings from the 1960s).  You've never heard The Beatles until you've heard them on the UK records, and I think it's worth the investment of a solid turntable, phono cartridge, and stereo receiver just for these albums.  The Japanese reissue pressings are also fantastic (I've been lucky enough to score a Japan White Album...wow!), and they have the added benefit of being more affordable.

However, for the average person on the street, you're not going to hear your favorite Beatles albums on those records.  New Beatles vinyl LP's are scheduled for release, but the expectation is that they will be pressed from the new digital masters, sadly.  The UK and Japanese analog masterpieces will forever remain a holy grail for collectors and die-hard fans.  If that describes your situation, these new CDs are the perfect substitute.

Oh, and Capitol chopped up The Beatles' albums with shamefully padded out records like Something New, Beatles VI, Beatles '65, and Yesterday and Today.  I actually enjoy their version of Rubber Soul, which swaps in a pair of folk songs at the start of each side - "I've Just Seen a Face" and "It's Only Love," respectively.  But Revolver had its heart and soul ripped out for no good reason.  Yuck!

Hmm...I only meant to write a few words on this subject, so I'll be wise to stop now before this turns into a 1,000-word manifesto.  Feel free to talk about these albums on this thread all you want.  We'll be back to our regularly-scheduled Ghibli blogging when the sun rises.  I'm off to sleep.

4 comments:

Doug said...

I sold all of my vinyl when I was in college for book money (many moons ago). I have yet to totally replace all of my Beatles albums but this may be the excuse I've been waiting for. I will say, the Cd's that I have don't sound near as good as my old vinyls records did.

Funny you mention that you have an Apple label Abbey road, that was the only original I had but it never sounded good by the time I got to it as it was scratched to death. It had innumerable listenings in my house growing up!

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

I can't tell you how much attention I get when I'm walking around outside or riding the bus with a stack of records under my arm. I'd say they rank just below babies and puppy dogs as attention-getters. :P

The 1987 CD masters were terrible, just awful. Even the muddiest Capitol pressing could whup it. These new CD remasters are a whole new game. They really do give the UK pressings a run for their money. I still prefer the vinyl, but as I wrote, it can be tough to get the goods.

Dedicated Beatles fans who want their vinyl fix are often advised to score a copy of the "blue box" set from Ebay or Audiogon. That was a large box set of all Beatles albums, except Magical Mystery Tour, analog UK press. You'll pay $200 easily, but that's for 12 or 13 albums that sound spectacular.

I checked back at the downtown Minneapolis Target this morning (grabbing Sgt Pepper, making this my third copy, after the UK stereo and US Capitol mono), and the Beatles shelf was cleaned out. These puppies are going to sell like hotcakes.

Good luck collecting the vintage analog vinyl.

BionicVapourDude said...

How is the packaging?

Chris Sobieniak said...

Having read one YouTube comment about how the new Beatles Rock Band game will introduce the group to a young generation of people, I had to think back to how I first heard of The Beatles, and I feel a little silly saying it was due to the cartoon series that used to air on MTV in the 80's. That show of course was produced by King Features (though animated in several countries like England, Australia and Canada) and was aired on ABC for most of the mid 60's. Aside from the cooky and campy plots and cliches, I enjoyed the music that was used and the singalong moments during the show. There were apparently others like me who had been introduced to The Beatles via this show, one even made a book about it.

Sometime later, I had saw Yellow Submarine on PBS and was impressed at that too, and even started noticing records in my mom's collection that included several Beatles 45's like "Love Me Do", "Twist and Shout" (of which I first heard from Ferris Bueller's Day Off), "She Loves You" and "Paperback Writer", and the Capitol mono LP "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (still has the cut-out sheet inside).

Still haven't got my box set though, but if I have a chance to, I would get the mono set, but my money is tied up on several other bills at the moment.

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