Abbey Road
(Apple / Parlophone / Capitol / EMI)


September 9th, 2009. Also known as, 09/09/09. That’s the day Capitol Records here in the USA unveils the first ever simultaneous release of the entire 14 album Beatles catalog in stereo on CD—all made right here in the USA. I still remember that special day, the date the first ever Beatles CDs were released here in the US. That date, Thursday, February 26, 1987 (2/26/87) was the day the first four Beatles CDs made anywhere were finally released in America. I remember the date exactly because that Thursday was the same day me and my brother drove all the way from NYC to Philadelphia to see The Kinks play music from their great, fantastic Think Visual album live at Philly's Tower Theater—with no heat in the car on the way back! Anyway, earlier that day, before driving to Philly for that fantastic show, I remember rushing home from Tower Records on 65th street in Manhattan, on a blisteringly cold afternoon, with the first 4 Beatles albums released by Parlophone on CD, in mono no less! Taking off the shrink wrap from the old longboxes (remember those?) and opening them up I still remember seeing the words, beautifully silk-screened prominently on the middle of the Parlophone disc label. The words, Made In Germany. Yes dear readers, that’s how unprepared American music business / commerce and technology was at the onset of the “digital revolution” during the '80s. Looking back over the past 20+ years, I gotta give good old Capitol Records a lot of credit. They did release two masterpiece collections for collectors—The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 1 & 2—back in 2006 or so. Each of those two, 4 CD box sets combined contained the first 8 “American only” CD releases of the famous Beatles Capitol Records 1960's Lp releases, with each CD represented in both mono and stereo versions. Sadly, a much requested volume 3 never appeared but lo and behold now in 2009, specifically on 09/09/09, Capitol is set to unveil their latest Beatles remasters—being sold as a stereo box set and available separately, but only as individual stereo remasters. A very pricey mono box set—not each individual mono CD—of all the Beatles U.K. released albums will also be released on this same 09/09/09 day. Now, this writer is firmly of the belief—and has been for at least the past ten years—that the Beatles on record often sounded superior in mono. Playing Capitol’s new 2009 stereo remaster of Abbey Road versus my rare Pathe Original mono CD edition of Abbey Road (PMCD 7088) bears that out at least to my ears. This rare Pathe silver disc, I believe a master off a Brazilian mono mix tape, and not a CDR mind you, version (released on Lp in mono in Brazil) of the mono Abbey Road is still to my ears the best way to hear the last fantastic musical work of art The Beatles recorded in 1969. Collector's have been trading the Brazilian mono Lp on Ebay for years. Capitol’s 2009 stereo remaster of Abbey Road is still pretty good and you can just about hear the Beatles as they intended the album to be heard. I A/B’d “Come Together” off the 2009 Capitol stereo remaster against my Pathe Original mono Abbey Road and the differences are pretty obvious. Even on much vaulted yet bootleged mono CD, "Come Together" and especially the album's greatest song "Here Comes The Sun" just hits you harder with Ringo's drums like an express train right down the center. To their credit, for the masses of Beatles fans, Capitol / EMI / Parlophone / Apple does a pretty darn good job on the sound of their 2009 stereo remasters of the original U.K. Beatles albums...for stereo that is. The sound is decent, pretty crisp and clear even as most of these albums feature the typical pattern of stereo mixing back in the '60s—vocals on one side (speaker) and various other instruments phasing in (and out) of the other speaker. As good as it can be (if you have the propensity for stereo), it’s not exactly the way the Fabs intended for their '60s music to be heard. Even George Harrison said that Sgt. Pepper's sounds better in mono! But those diehard stereo buffs and Beatles fans pining for the golden days of the 1960’s will lap up the individual stereo pressings anyway. Capitol sweetens the deal on their 2009 stereo Beatles remasters with spiffy new cardboard packaging, repacking each stereo CD remaster with eye catching artwork and excellently detailed booklets filled with classic period piece photos for each album, plus new liner notes written by a crack crew of Beatles buffs over in the U.K. Also included on each of these new stereo 2009 remasters are new mini documentaries about each release, presented in Quick time, that are easily playable on Mac and PC computers. Short but sweet, these mini-docs are a definite perk. But all things considered, these 14, 2009 stereo CD remasters of the original ‘60s Beatles U.K. releases—13 studio albums (including the Yellow Submarine soundtrack) plus a double stereo CD combining the two contentious and horribly packaged Past Masters sets—are still made in stereo. Beatles fans and those who’ve been waiting since 1987 for upgraded stereo versions, you remember, of the ones first made in good old Deutschland, will want these 2009 stereo CDs as keepsakes and for the price they are invaluable, attractive artifacts of days gone by. But for those with ears, the original teenyboppers now aging over 54 who remember the heyday of Beatlemania and the way Beatles music was meant to be better hope you can find Capitol’s 09/09/09 11 CD Beatles mono box set, (made in Japan and currently sold out and not containing needed mono mixes, or even new mono remixes of Abbey Road, the Yellow Submarine soundtrack or Let It Be on CD). An review of the mono box hopefully will follow. It better be good, right? Good night and good luck.


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