While browsing, I found that I had replied to a question on an audio forum a long time back, and I thought it merited a place here, since I doubt I will ever be able to reproduce the cocky clarity with which I answered. The questioner had asked whether the 2009 remaster of The Beatles' Revolver was worth buying for a fan who already has the original vinyl...
|Surely one of the greatest album covers of all time, and among the top three Beatles album covers for me.|
Here is my reply.
Revolver is a landmark album for The Beatles in many senses. It is a point of departure from their earlier albums and contains all original tracks and no covers. It also sees them experimenting with electronically altered sounds, and unusual instruments. It also marks the beginning of their foray into psychedelia.
For the average Beatles fans, there is a great deal of romance attached to the George Martin mixes, in spite of their wooly and harsh sounds. The stark left/right divisions of instruments and vocal tracks have come to be identified with the classic Beatles presentation. What makes the remasters significant is the clarity given to the instruments, as well as the way the left/right mix has been tweaked to place the band in a spatially more real context.
The remasters were done by Allan Rouse of EMI and released in 2009. The crux of these remasters is that they give greater depth and clarity to the individual tracks, eliminate the technical shortcomings that were part of the original analog tapes, such as sibilance and tape drop-outs.
Are the remasters a better buy for a fan who already has Revolver on vinyl? The answer would be a resounding yes, since it opens up aspects of the album that are lost in the analog version. Though much of the tape loop effects and Harrison's experiments with guitar outputs sound the same, the remasters add life and presence to the tracks in a way that the original mixes are unable to. For the purists, however, there is little in the remasters to be excited about.
If you are a Beatles completionist like me and fuss over versions and recordings, I would love to hear what you thought of this in the comments.
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