Fave Fake Fabs

Sidebar 1: Fave Fake Fabs

For those of us who wish the Beatles had kept on making records beyond 1969, here are nine Beatles-esque tunes of note by other artists:

1) "The Mole from the Ministry," The Dukes of Stratosphear
2) "My Train Is Coming," Andy Partridge
3) "The Minister," The Move
4) "Now You're Gone," Jeff Lynne
5) "Pandora's Box," Procol Harum
6) "When the Damsons Are Down," Martin Newell
7) "Only a Broken Heart," Tom Petty
8) "From a Window to a Screen," The dB's
9) "She's the One," World Party


deckeda's picture

This audio interview and other pages from MF's corner will also be of interest: http://www.analogplanet.com/content/abbey-road-studios-sean-magee-talks-about-mastering-beatles-lp-box

There are a few cringe-worthy things the engineer asserts (limiting the cutter head to 16kHz is "necessary") and reveals (the USB stick's files usage, the consumer DAC) as well as some pleasent surprises such as the fact these LPs are less dynamiclally constrained than the originals.

My takeaway since November is that for those that haven't heard them this good previously, they'll be happy with their purchase because they do sound better than any of the CDs and few people bought the USB stick. For the rest of us, we know they could have done better on a few blindingly obvious fronts.

My reaction to reading AD's column here was cathartically wonderful. I wanted to scream, "YES ART GO AND KICK EMI'S ASS!"

WillWeber's picture

I've been on the fence about this purchase, your review is to be quite helpful in my decision. Unfortunately. But fortunately I did not already spring. I have also read rumblings about pressing quality (the lack thereof) from many purchasers' reviews, poor fill in the grooves presumably. You did not mention this problem so it may not be too widespread, per a very limited statistical sampling.

If I may be cynically speculative, I might suspect that the reason the master tapes were not used is that these may have been secretly sold to the highest bidding collector, at circa $60M, with a vintage Ampex thrown in for good measure. It only makes sense, since the digital "master copies" are probably considered "good enough" for any next generation of profits. Do you really think these guys give a hoot on a strawberry field about audiophiles, or art, Art?

I had similar hopes for the remastered cd issues, but these sound oversaturated to me, in a photoshop image processing kind of way. It may make them a sort of vivid, but so are cartoons.

Oh well, was so hopeful that these would be special, alas perhaps no. Maybe by some miracle, in the future...


dalethorn's picture

I never was a huge Beatles fan, preferring the dark side haunted by Stones, Yardbirds, Animals et al. But I have a few digital Beatles tracks from circa 1964: And I Love Her, Things We Said Today, I'll Be Back, I'll Follow The Sun ... most of these in a minor key not coincidentally ... and the recorded quality seems unusually good to me - better in many ways than their later recrdings. Then by an amazing coincidence, a few Stones tracks I have also from 1964: I Can't Be Satisfied, Around and Around, Confessin' The Blues, Empty Heart, It's All Over Now, 2120 South Michigan Avenue ... also have better recorded quality than most of their later recordings.

Worse yet, many of the downloads on albums like Let It Bleed have obvious tape dropouts, something I don't hear on these 1964 recordings.

BTW, my copy of 1959's Time Out is a 'K2HD' disc from Sony Japan. I don't know how it might compare to the hirez downloads, but it is good.

Paul Luscusk's picture

Just like xrcd.

volvic's picture

I read this article twice; once when I got my subscription and yesterday online.  It is obvious Art loves this band (who doesn't) and reviewing and critiquing each record was I suppose a labor of love.  I might still buy the box set but I have a clearer understanding as to what I am buying thanks to Art's review.  



ElizabethS's picture

The theoretical complaint aside. the sound of my new White Album rocks. When i heard it I started dancing. Something I have not done to my Brit copy, nor my US numbered copy.

So a big thumbs up from me for the remastering.

jastrup's picture

Strange, A Hard Day's Night is one the most natural sounding albums from the Beatles IME. This is based on a box called Beatles Collection (which are UK pressings, probably made somewhere around 1980) AND the USB reissue. I have found this to be consistent on the various iterations of my system, even in the AAC files I have made for my iPod. 

PeterHH's picture

I had most of the Fab Four's lps when they first came out. The word on the street was that the German pressings were best, then the Japanese, then the British, and finally the American. There was also some difference in song selection e.g. the American Rubber Soul led off with "I've just seen a face" and did not include 'Nowhere Man.'

Since my boyhood lps went up in a fire decades ago, I have bought a number of Beatles and Stones CDs over the years. The earliest CDs were kind of flat and faded sounding, while recent ones sound 'thin' and 'cool' but at least have good dynamics and pretty good detail -- the timbre is a bit monchromatic but it's hard to say how much of that is due to playing them though solid state amps and modern speakers. The Chess Chuck Berry double CD sounded heavenly when I played it through KLH Sixes driven by a Rotel poweramp fed by a Dyna PAS2 with the tone controls goosed (it is a mistake to remove them, campers!)

For a while I used to rifle through used record bins looking for lps I had as a kid, as an alternative to buying them on CD. In this way I discovered that modern equipment is brighter (duh!) and more dynamic. Timbres are less vivid but dynamic contrasts a lot more dramatic, as compared to our old Scott-Fisher-Weathers system.

I wonder whether sixties master tapes are still good enough to permit a genuine AAA release. Listening to recent vintage digital remasters I do seem to hear flaws in the analog masters, and in some cases they may have been there all along but often they are so egregious that I suspect deterioration. The flaws I have in mind do not sound like they are of digital origin.

Which gives me an idea: Where the tapes have deteriorated, why not locate a mint copy of an original lp and digitize it either with a laser turntable or simply play it through a great analog front end and digitize the preamp output? i.e. use an lp in top condition as your 'master.'

Parting comment: the worst effect of the proliferation of digital reissues is that the customer is forced to guess which one is the most faithful. I don't want to have to buy several versions of A Hard Day's Night to find the one that sounds as I remember it. On iTunes I get sick of fishing around to find the original version of a beloved Top Forty tune. Looking for the original version of She's Not There with the snare drum flams intact has been a living hell! There are all sorts of not-what-you-wanted versions of everything now. Maybe there's a guidebook out there that sorts these version issues out but I doubt it.

rdubya73's picture

"[A]n analog pressing of a digital recording is still a digital recording"

Of course this makes sense, and as a relatively new vinyl collector, these words have haunted me as many of the titles I'm after are produced/recorded after the advent of the CD/digital tamepring. New vinyl enthusiasts contributing to the resurgence of the format are faced with this paradox.