Friday, October 23, 2009

Remastered "Help"

I recently gave the remastered edition of Help some listens and then recorded a few observations about the overall improvement in sound quality and also about how specific moments have benefited from the digital upgrade. As you'll notice, a number of the thoughts just ended up being fanboy praise for the wonderful LP that Help is and has always been.

- Especially on the title track, the Beatles' backup vocals now come through much more cleanly and identifiably. No longer do they seem to bleed into their surroundings. Instead, they have a distinct presence. Additionally, all of the vocal parts sound more fully formed. And by that I mean, it's like you can now hear the Beatles enunciate words from the first syllable to the last. The use of headphones really helps to bear out this improvement.

- On "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," John's vocal is perfectly centered. It goes to work right in the middle of your cranium, which helps to bring out its pained beauty even more vividly. Side-note: John's bracing delivery of "hey" just before the heart of the chorus has to be among the most memorable individual moments in the Beatles' entire catalogue. It's Dylanesque for sure, but it's also a classic Lennon display of eloquently fraught emotion.

- "Ticket to Ride" is a masterpiece. Both the conception and execution are inspired. Side-note: The song's rhythm is weirdly beguiling. Driven by Ringo's cascading drum part, it's so tangled and fractured, and it creates a peculiar effect: The song always seems to be stumbling forward while still being in control of its motions.

- "I've Just Seen a Face" is deserving of similar superlatives. The digital remastering accentuates one of its best features: the feel of a crisp autumn breeze blowing right through its core. And the thick tug-and-twang of the guitar solo easily makes for the most unexpectedly affecting moment on the album.

- And finally, "Yesterday" is still "Yesterday." What also hasn't changed, though, is my conviction that it's not the highlight of the album. It's probably the most significant entry, but I still connect more readily and deeply with "I've Just Seen a Face."

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