Best 10 Remastered Tracks (2010)

Remasters Series (1)

As part of reviewing the Remasters (YouTube playlist here), I am going to pick the ten tracks I think benefit most from Remastering; lets call them the most interesting rather than the absolute best. I might enter into the Mono v Stereo debate but I am a stereo boy, having been given a Philips Stereo Player and Sgt Peppers for my 16th birthday, but there are some discussions out there. I will try and pick one track per album, which might mean more than ten tracks but… So do we start with 1-2-3-4, or Boys (which benefitted from the Capitol Remasters), the larynx-busting first take of Twist and Shout, or Please Please Me itself as it is less known in the US and still disputed as being The Beatles first UK number 1. No, it is I Saw Her Standing There as we have a good Mono Remaster video; at last the Beatles live show! 1-2-3-4;

Please Please Me established The Beatles signature sound, a version of Mersey Beat that deployed a harmonica, rising vocal harmonies and a driving sound which unusually for Pop Music located the excitement in the music rather than the lyrics. Curiously when the second UK album, With The Beatles (Meet The Beatles in the US) was released they chose It Won’t Be Long as the opener as it was a reassuring reprise of this 1963 signature sound. It could have been been a single but they released the legendary I Wanna Hold Your Hand at the same time, and the rest is a lot of American history. With The Beatles was better recorded than the first album, more time in the studio and Lennon didn’t have a cold, so most of it sounds great, but this is NOT the single off the album but it sounds very 1963 and It Won’t Be Long;

Those of you who have been following my 9 after 909 blog will know that I rate Hard Days Night as the first classic Beatles album. The first two albums were structured like Beatles live shows, fast opener, take it down, mix it up and build to a sure-fire big finish with a rousing cover; Twist and Shout, and Money. But Hard Days Night was their first self-penned, album and contained other firsts; the first MTV video (I Should Have Known Better), their first single with a piano middle eight, and with an enduringly enigmatic multi-layered opening chord (check the chord construction here). A good, but not great, second side ending with the catch phrase “I’ll Be Back.” So good is Hard Days Night that Tim Riley selected one of its tracks, Tell Me Why, to provide the title of his brilliant book analysing all The Beatles songs; Tell Me Why

Beatles for Sale showed the downside of The Beatles popularity, no chance to bask in the triumph of Hard Days Night, back on the road again and with a new album to bash out for Christmas 1964, the biggest selling album that year in the UK. Possibly their weakest album but it still moved them forward, especially on the opening “Lennon Trilogy”, which shows the influence of Bob Dylan, acoustic guitars, Chet Atkin and is hallmarked by great bass from Paul McCartney. This was to be the single until EMI demanded something cheerier and got I Feel Fine, but this sounds finer. I’m A Loser;

HELP! caught the Beatles still in relentless mode and has more of a rushed quality to it than Hard Days Night, but saw the extension of the Dylan influence and contained the track on which George Martin said he became a collaborator with the Beatles, Yesterday. But I am going for I’ve Just Seen a Face as it is the only Beatles skiffle track so is probably the most like they were as The Quarrymen. Brilliant visuals in this great video here and if you haven’t seen Nowhere Boy you must, the section where the John meets Paul and The Quarrymen start to evolve into the Beatles is brilliantly done; I think Sam Taylor-Wood got this one right. But here is the light, airy and ringing remaster of I’ve Just Seen A Face;

On Rubber Soul, influenced by the Byrds and the second wave of English Beat Groups like the Who, The Moody Blues (when they were a great blues group) and the Stones, the Beatles suddenly sound like a rock band with college-level lyrics, except for the “tit, tit, tit”, chorus to Girl; hear it and weep. This is captured best on the opening track Drive My Car which rocks, but was left off the US release; what! So here it is with it’s cheeky upbeat tempo and a selection of Beatles driving car pix in the vid (Wot no Mal Evans?). Drive My Car remastered; 

Loads of possibilities off Revolver but for the quality of the sonics, it has to be Taxman. Geoff Emerick came on board as the 19 year-old sound engineer to his heroes (what a job) and is famous for his close-miking abilities; he was called “Golden Ears” as well as “wonder kid”. He close miked the brass on Got to Get You Into My Life, which some people have picked out as one of the outstanding remasters, and of course did all the tricky stuff on Tomorrow Never knows, but I am going for Taxman. Why? Because in order to improve the whuump on Paul’s bass he used a loudspeaker as a microphone; giving it that thick as brick wallop! So whilst Drive My Car was Beatles as Rock Band this rocks so much harder that Paul Weller nicked the riff for Jam’s Number One single Start. And the rest of the album benefits from Golden Ears too. Taxman;

And so to the Beatles psychedelic period. George Martin now says that he regrets pushing Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane out as a single ahead of Sgt Peppers, but it was smartly scooped up and added to the US Magical Mystery Tour Album. Strawberry Fields Forever is now officially the most “experimental” Beatles track, according to the soundscapes team, and this video is just brilliant. It is the original video, filmed in Knole Park near Tonbridge, with remastered sound. Whilst in Tonbridge for this shoot Lennon bought the circus poster which provided the basis for “Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite”. Strawberry Fields Forever;

So before we get to the White album we have a single to deal with; Lady Madonna. From the Past Masters CD, which has a wonderful range of top Beatles tracks spread out diachronically. Lady Madonna sounded like filler at the time with its riff off of Humph’s Bad Penny Blues but remastered now sounds like a forceful rocker ready for the Get Back project. I’ve included it along with Hey Bulldog so you can see the link. Whilst they were filming the official video, included here, The Beatles wrote and recorded Hey Bulldog because they found miming in the studio too boring. So Hey Bulldog is what they are playing but we see Lady Madonna;

The White Album, like Abbey Road, sounds wonderful remastered and I could include many of its tracks. The opening Back In The USSR (banned in the USA) is fantastic, but I got it at the time and my brief is to pick up on remaster discoveries. I’ve got two for you. The White album is full of songs with enough invention and definition for an album, it is the defining characteristic; “each song an entity to itself” as Allmusic puts it. Yet on Happiness is A Warm Gun Lennon, The Beatles, George Martin shoehorn four songs into a surreal masterpiece. Here’s some Happiness;

The scratchy grunge dynamics of George’s Long, Long, Long become much clearer on the remastered version, Ringo thumping up the volume from George’s wistful reflections over a Hammond organ drone from McCartney. Before I started listening to the Remasters I would have chosen Revolver as my favourite Beatles album, but after listening agian it is the smorgasbord of the White Album that impresses the most; Long, Long, Long

I’ve Got a Feeling is one of the Beatles great lost songs, let alone a remastered discovery. I didnt get how good it was until Let It Be…Naked was released. Possible Paul’s most impassioned and personal Beatles lyric and, in an inverse of their collaboration on Day In The Life, John supplies a middle section that lifts and deepens the song. I’ve Got A Feeling;

And in the end, THE END. The revelation of the Remasters is undoubtably Paul’s bass playing, so good; great harmonically and finally with real definition. However on The End we not only get Ringo’s only drum solo but also three guitar solos from each of John Paul and George; and another great rock performance. They were quitting but they were letting all the other rock bands know that they could cut it as a band. Take it away long-lost Beatlesband 4-3-2-1 & Carry That Weight until The End;

3 Responses to “Best 10 Remastered Tracks (2010)”

  1. […] This is part one of six posts on The Beatles Creativity. It is followed by parts 2) Beatles Singles 1962-64 3) Beatles Albums 1964-65 4) Beatles Psychedelia 1966/67 5) Beatles Apple 1968 6) Beatles Let It Be 1969 If you liked this post then you might like 10 Best Remastered Tracks […]

  2. top ten songs…

    […]Best 10 Remastered Tracks (2010) « A Beatles YouTube Album[…]…

  3. […] under-rated Harrison track would be probably be Long, Long, Long, but I highlighted that on Best Remasters so I am going for the fierce B-side Old Brown Shoe. Much is made of the bitterness of the Beatles […]

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