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Past Masters – The Beatles

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Past Masters – The Beatles

The classic original Beatles studio albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the Beatles catalogue has seen since its original release.

Within each CD’s new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. The newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.Although they were probably the band that most transformed rock from a singles medium to an album-oriented form, the Beatles also released many singles and EP tracks that never made it onto albums. In the U.S., Capitol turned the group’s early LPs, through Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, into compilations, more or less, throwing the hit singles onto the vinyl to augment the album tracks. When the label later released the U.K. albums on CD, it posed a problem: What to do with the non-LP singles? Past Masters, Volume 1 compiles 18 of those singles, including some of their best-known tracks, running from “Love Me Do,” “She Love You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “This Boy” to “I Feel Fine” and Paul’s homage to Little Richard, “I’m Down.” Essential stuff. –Bill Holdship

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MurrayTheCat says:

Companion to the British albums through HELP! When EMI decided to release The Beatles’ output on CD in the late 80s, they chose to issue the albums in their British formats and supplement them with two discs of non-album material called PAST MASTERS.PAST MASTERS VOLUME ONE gives us a mix of things, mostly singles–some A-sides, some B-sides–including “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” sung in German. But there is a serious downside to this release: We are given the stereo versions of 11 of the 18 selections, and this is sad because, with the exception of “Bad Boy,” they were originally issued on vinyl (and sounded fantastic!) in mono.Mono was the standard for years, but in the late 60s there was a major push within the record industry to make stereo the standard. And the industry did its best to brainwash the public into thinking that stereo was better than mono in all cases. Though the industry was surprisingly successful with its marketing tactics, the truth remains that much pre-1969 stereo rock ‘n’ roll sounds gimmicky at best, presenting severe and perverse channel separation that often saps the music of its power and realism. It is well documented that until 1969, George Martin spent the majority of time working on the mono mixes and comparatively little time on the stereo; stereo was just not deemed as important. Sadly, today the term “mono” is associated with inferior sound in the minds of most people. This myth is so ingrained in consumers’ thinking that the word “mono” does not even appear on the outside packaging of PAST MASTERS VOLUME ONE (lest it deter anyone from a purchase), even though the mono tracks are marked with an asterisk. The four-letter word appears only in fine print and somewhat hidden within the booklet.”Love Me Do” differs from the well-known version found on the PLEASE PLEASE ME album. This is the recording that was the original British single in 1962.”From Me To You,” “Thank You Girl,” “She Loves You,” and “I’ll Get You” are in mono and can be found on other compilations. (But this British version of “Thank You Girl” differs from the one we got on the American LP of THE BEATLES SECOND ALBUM. The American version had harmonica in spots where this one doesn’t.)These stereo versions of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “This Boy” are not the versions that were released as the single, as the notes deceptively imply. The single was in mono and did not have the ridiculous left/right channel separations that we have here. The original versions–in glorious-sounding mono–can be found in THE BEATLES SINGLES COLLECTION boxed set.”Long Tall Sally,” “I Call Your Name,” “Slow Down,” and “Matchbox” were released together as an EP in England but were scattered across three different albums in the U.S. “Slow Down” and “Matchbox” were also released together as a single in America. In particular, the stereo mix of “Slow Down” sounds mutilated and severely saps the performance of its delirious intensity and power. It’s plain and simple: Whereas the stereo versions found here sound disjointed and undernourished, the mono versions found in the BEATLES EP COLLECTION boxed set sound full, focused, and realistic.”I Feel Fine” is another song that sounds far more realistic in mono. We are given the stereo version here, which has the drums and bass far left, the guitars far right, and the vocals–sounding abnormally detached and somewhat cavernous–in the middle. “She’s A Woman” doesn’t sound as bad. The mono versions of both, however, can be found in the BEATLES SINGLES COLLECTION boxed set.During the HELP! sessions, they recorded two songs by Larry Williams, “Bad Boy” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” specifically for Capitol in the U.S. Both songs appeared on BEATLES VI (and, for some reason, “Lizzy” was spelled “Lizzie” on that album.) Though “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” was included on the British release of HELP!, “Bad Boy” was not released in the U.K. until the December 1966 compilation A COLLECTION OF BEATLES OLDIES. I have always thought that both songs sound lackluster compared with the white-hot “Slow Down” (another Williams tune), recorded the previous year. In the spring of 1965, the band was beyond that style of music anyway.”Yes It Is” was the B-side to the “Ticket To Ride” single and also appeared on BEATLES VI. Many Beatles fans who owned the stereo version of that album are used to the version we get here. But many of us infinitely prefer the richer and more focused sound of the mono version.I would have been much happier had Paul’s delightfully raucous “I’m Down” ended the HELP! album instead of “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” Oh well. This stereo version of “I’m Down” is no match for the exhilarating mono mix issued as the flip side of the “Help!” single. Furthermore, the version of “Help!” released as the single differs significantly from the album version. One wonders why the single version did not…

L. Power "nlp trainer" says:

Classic desert island rock This features rare Beatles classics, mostly pre 1965. I remember this was released in the UK and called Rarities, because most of the songs are not on any other Beatles albums, and were either B sides or EP tracks.This is early Beatles at their rocking best. Almost all these songs are uptempo, with the exception of Yes It is and This Boy which are slower and feature excellent harmonies.I can listen to this album without even thinking about pressing the skip button.There are too many highlights on this album to number, but here goes:1. Paul McCartney doing his Little Richard impersonation on Long Tall Sally.2. The German versions of She Loves You and I want to hold your hand.3. Lennon and the beautiful 12/8 rhythm on This Boy.4. Lennon on I Call Your Name5. McCartney singin She’s A Woman.6. The cover version of Bad Boy7. The Little Richard style screamer I’m Down8. Those B side rockers Thank you girl, I’ll get You9. From Me To You.If I couldn’t take the White Album to a desert island this would be a good second choice.I hope this review was helpful.

"bman20k" says:

Excellent collection of Beatlemania tracks. Past Masters 1 is a very helpful compilation that fills in the gaps for those Beatles fans that want all the official studio recordings. Because the Beatles from 1963-1965 (which is the span of this compilation) were putting stuff out in a singles era, some of these “stray” tracks are of exceptional quality and of the utmost importance to the band’s history.


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