Thursday, August 27, 2009

Preview of the remastered Beatles albums

From Pop & Hiss, the Los Angeles Times' music blog. Note how Randy Lewis mentions that this Sunday's Arts and Music section of the Times will feature more on the remasters as well as a look into The Beatles: Rock Band.

But here are a few observations from the preview session:

• “Till There Was You”: On the ’87 CD, Paul McCartney’s voice still sounds dreamily mellow, somewhat masked, on the Meredith Willson love song from “The Music Man”; the new version brings out more fullness in his voice, as well as more crispness in the percussion work.

• “Eight Days A Week”: This exuberant track sounded immediately compressed in the old CD master; the new one gains openness and adds noticeable presence to the signature hand claps.

• “Yesterday”: Remastering can’t alter the beauty of McCartney’s classic lament, but now the pluck of his fingers on the strings of his acoustic guitar is even more visceral.

• “In My Life”: As in many of the previewed tracks, it’s the drums and bass that are most immediately improved. Even though it’s not a powerhouse track, Ringo’s rhythmic accents are bigger and sharper.

• “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”: The opening guitar riff felt like it would rip through the speakers in Capitol’s Studio C with the added vibrancy Paul's lead guitar gets in the new version.

• “Good Night”: The closing track from “The Beatles,” a.k.a. the White Album, starts with string accompaniment that sounded canned on the old CD. I noted a slight harshness in the remastered version but also a fuller orchestral sound and an especially appealing purity in the flutes behind Ringo’s sweetly melancholy vocal.

• “The Long and Winding Road”: Paul may cringe at those sweeping strings that Phil Spector overdubbed onto his swan-song Beatles ballad, but they sound even broader and more spacious on the remaster than on the 1987 CD.

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