Other Players

2nd Gen Remix & Outtakes Make the White Album New All Over Again

26

Best re-mix fix goes to George’s “Long Long Long”. It’s finally clear, and it’s as lovely as I always wanted it to be.

– Bob Howard

My all time favorite George song too.

27

This may be my favorite comment about Ringo's sweet take "something like a vespers postlude," ever. Just perfect, Tim.

28

The White Album came out when I was right in the middle of high school, always been my favorite, this incarnation is truly amazing.

29

So which of the candidates wins the coveted Verbose Intelligentsia Award for Beatles Analysis Bathing-In-Reflected-Glory and Coat-tails Hanging?

30

Not me. I withdraw my ill-considered entries. Enough of my bombast.

31

Not me. I withdraw my ill-considered entries. Enough of my bombast.

– Proteus

Rats. That was the best part of this thread.

32

Not me. I withdraw my ill-considered entries. Enough of my bombast.

– Proteus

Tim, your comments are always, in essence, literate, informed, insightful, entertaining, colloquially-clever and sometimes poetic. What they're not, unlike some, is puke-ably pretentious. C'mon back, buddy.

33

sez jalexanderdixon:

Another major influence on the sound was plugging straight into the board. Of course these days there’s a pedal for that (the JHS Colourbox).

I really dislike the Revolution guitar tone - in any fidelity. It sounds like overdriven mixer preamps. (Yes I know, that’s what it is.)

In this case, Abbey Road was right to have a policy forbidding pushing needles into the red. The Beatles were notorious for having coerced engineers into violating these edicts on many occasions - with more musically useful results. This example pushed too far.

Yeah yeah yeah, that’s what revolutions are all about, creatively breaking things. I suppose it had to be done...well, of course overloading mixer inputs HAD been done before - by roughly every “engineer” who ever plugged something in to a board (including most of us). It’s just that everyone else recognized it sounded bad, the consequence of abuse.

We can of course say it was John Lennon’s genius to hear and make use of the resulting ugliness by making it the fanfare of a song about ... tada, wait for it ... REVOLUTION (with a lyric examining the debatable wisdom of breaking things to create something new).

So maybe it was the first time the noxious effect was intentionally invoked, maintained for a sustained period as a foundational part of a song, and recorded.

Audio metaphor or not, it’s still sonically ugly. (For introducing new versions of guitar distortion to pop music, "Satisfaction" and "No Time" walk away with the prize.)


I had the JHS Colourbox for a couple of days. The clean preamp “channel strip” functionality is fabulous - could be an asset to any signal chain, though other products do something similar and more, for less. Not exactly the same, because similar pedals are trying specifically to be guitar-amplike preamps, not the input pre of a solid-state mixer. I could find use for the Colour Box’s trick along with the fabulous preamp pedals I chose instead - but it’s pricey for the functionality and space is tight.

Yes, I tried the “Revolution” gimmick on the Colourbox, and it works right. It sounds bad.

34

I agree with Ade. There is much to be said for what you don't hear on these records.

35

Picasso's 'Guernica' Remixed For The 21st Century.

Pablo Picasso's legendary painting is being updated for the modern age. Laszlo Salazar, Head of Conservation at the San Theodoros Institute believes that the time is right to bring the painting into the present tense and to accommodate the expectations of today's society.

He explains, "The painting is a masterpiece, but it's a snapshot of a specific moment in time. When it was painted, newspapers, photographs, newsreels and cinema films were predominantly black and white- the contemporary monochrome imagery of mass media at the time. To truly preserve that vivid journalistic immediacy and not leave it locked in mid-20th century aspic, we must bravely confront the uncomfortable truth, just as Picasso did when he completed the work as it stands."

He continues, "The relentless black and white palette has to be addressed in order to bring this wonderful work to a new audience conditioned to modern news media delivery and for existing fans to appreciate it from an entirely new perspective. We will be applying rich, full colour to the painting. With sensitivity and respect. It will be a glorious remix for our times, making it seem like it was painted only yesterday. It's no different than taking an old musical recording and applying modern technology bringing new life to the music with shimmering, vibrant, compressed fidelity."

In the future, there may be opportunities for well-heeled fans of the work to mix the colours themselves and have their own bespoke version of the classic painting.

Mr Salazar concludes, "Picasso would certainly approve, given the context of the circumstances which inspired the work, in that it will be truly democratised for those few who can afford to do so in ways that he could never have envisaged."

'Guernica' will be colourised this winter.

36

I'm an enterprising young man

37

Picasso's 'Guernica' Remixed For The 21st Century.

Pablo Picasso's legendary painting is being updated for the modern age. Laszlo Salazar, Head of Conservation at the San Theodoros Institute believes that the time is right to bring the painting into the present tense and to accommodate the expectations of today's society.

He explains, "The painting is a masterpiece, but it's a snapshot of a specific moment in time. When it was painted, newspapers, photographs, newsreels and cinema films were predominantly black and white- the contemporary monochrome imagery of mass media at the time. To truly preserve that vivid journalistic immediacy and not leave it locked in mid-20th century aspic, we must bravely confront the uncomfortable truth, just as Picasso did when he completed the work as it stands."

He continues, "The relentless black and white palette has to be addressed in order to bring this wonderful work to a new audience conditioned to modern news media delivery and for existing fans to appreciate it from an entirely new perspective. We will be applying rich, full colour to the painting. With sensitivity and respect. It will be a glorious remix for our times, making it seem like it was painted only yesterday. It's no different than taking an old musical recording and applying modern technology bringing new life to the music with shimmering, vibrant, compressed fidelity."

In the future, there may be opportunities for well-heeled fans of the work to mix the colours themselves and have their own bespoke version of the classic painting.

Mr Salazar concludes, "Picasso would certainly approve, given the context of the circumstances which inspired the work, in that it will be truly democratised for those few who can afford to do so in ways that he could never have envisaged."

'Guernica' will be colourised this winter.

– ade

This is a joke, right? I remember a rich idiot (Ted Turner) who wanted to colorize old films. Blasphemy.

38

Picasso's 'Guernica' Remixed For The 21st Century.

Pablo Picasso's legendary painting is being updated for the modern age. Laszlo Salazar, Head of Conservation at the San Theodoros Institute believes that the time is right to bring the painting into the present tense and to accommodate the expectations of today's society.

He explains, "The painting is a masterpiece, but it's a snapshot of a specific moment in time. When it was painted, newspapers, photographs, newsreels and cinema films were predominantly black and white- the contemporary monochrome imagery of mass media at the time. To truly preserve that vivid journalistic immediacy and not leave it locked in mid-20th century aspic, we must bravely confront the uncomfortable truth, just as Picasso did when he completed the work as it stands."

He continues, "The relentless black and white palette has to be addressed in order to bring this wonderful work to a new audience conditioned to modern news media delivery and for existing fans to appreciate it from an entirely new perspective. We will be applying rich, full colour to the painting. With sensitivity and respect. It will be a glorious remix for our times, making it seem like it was painted only yesterday. It's no different than taking an old musical recording and applying modern technology bringing new life to the music with shimmering, vibrant, compressed fidelity."

In the future, there may be opportunities for well-heeled fans of the work to mix the colours themselves and have their own bespoke version of the classic painting.

Mr Salazar concludes, "Picasso would certainly approve, given the context of the circumstances which inspired the work, in that it will be truly democratised for those few who can afford to do so in ways that he could never have envisaged."

'Guernica' will be colourised this winter.

– ade

And this is relevant...how?

39

Picasso's 'Guernica' Remixed For The 21st Century.

Pablo Picasso's legendary painting is being updated for the modern age. Laszlo Salazar, Head of Conservation at the San Theodoros Institute believes that the time is right to bring the painting into the present tense and to accommodate the expectations of today's society.

He explains, "The painting is a masterpiece, but it's a snapshot of a specific moment in time. When it was painted, newspapers, photographs, newsreels and cinema films were predominantly black and white- the contemporary monochrome imagery of mass media at the time. To truly preserve that vivid journalistic immediacy and not leave it locked in mid-20th century aspic, we must bravely confront the uncomfortable truth, just as Picasso did when he completed the work as it stands."

He continues, "The relentless black and white palette has to be addressed in order to bring this wonderful work to a new audience conditioned to modern news media delivery and for existing fans to appreciate it from an entirely new perspective. We will be applying rich, full colour to the painting. With sensitivity and respect. It will be a glorious remix for our times, making it seem like it was painted only yesterday. It's no different than taking an old musical recording and applying modern technology bringing new life to the music with shimmering, vibrant, compressed fidelity."

In the future, there may be opportunities for well-heeled fans of the work to mix the colours themselves and have their own bespoke version of the classic painting.

Mr Salazar concludes, "Picasso would certainly approve, given the context of the circumstances which inspired the work, in that it will be truly democratised for those few who can afford to do so in ways that he could never have envisaged."

'Guernica' will be colourised this winter.

– ade

Great irony, Ade!

40

Good question Jeffed.

I think it's relevant because you really wouldn't accept a 'remix' of a painting. That would be a ludicrous notion. Yet we seem perfectly content to tinker with films and music. My little bogus press release, written with tongue firmly in cheek (at least I think it's my cheek. It might be my nose. Damn Cubists.) is inviting you to think about the remix phenomenon in a different way.

In just a few years, there will be so many different revisited interpretations of these songs, and yes, lets keep this conversation on The Beatles, that the original work will be lost. Lost in a sea of remixes. I listened to that new Helter Skelter and it's only because I remembered how it actually sounded originally that I could tell it was bogus. At some point, I'll forget.

I'm suggesting that we really ought not to revise, rework, edit or otherwise 'improve' art, music, literature, film. For by doing so we diminish it. It's as preposterous as colourising 'Guernica'.

Crowbone, love the T-shirt!

41

I must say...I can hear details in the new mixes of Revolution #9 that I never realized were there before...great harmonies....nice melodies...great guitar tones...and, the mic'ing of the drums...just WOW!

Naaahhh...just kidding.

I DID buy the vinyl set. I couldn't resist. I think it is very interesting hearing how the songs evolved into their final versions. As far as the less than stellar playing/singing that we sometimes get to hear...all I can say is that it gives me HOPE that somehow, I myself just might not be as "bad" as I think...I guess all I need is a good producer. (wink).

42

Light fades on the stopped wing. Lives were transformed and transfixed by the sheer diversity of the Beatles songs on the original White Album. As great as it was, that was then. Leave it there in the past lest microscopic scrutiny causes it all to lose its lustre and magic. Further examination, no matter how erudite in expression, kills spontaneity, regardless of the number of takes it took to achieve a facsimile of it.

– jeffed

If you'll forgive me for quoting myself, that was my reaction, too. Despite its defects, the brilliantly-diverse White Album deserved and still deserves to stay in its original form, but, by no means, is it forgotten. Irony. eh? You certainly reeled me in, Ade.

43

I'm an enterprising young man

– crowbone

Crowbone, you need to emboss "The BEATLES" on the front lower right corner of that.

44

I must say...I can hear details in the new mixes of Revolution #9 that I never realized were there before...great harmonies....nice melodies...great guitar tones...and, the mic'ing of the drums...just WOW!

Naaahhh...just kidding.

I DID buy the vinyl set. I couldn't resist. I think it is very interesting hearing how the songs evolved into their final versions. As far as the less than stellar playing/singing that we sometimes get to hear...all I can say is that it gives me HOPE that somehow, I myself just might not be as "bad" as I think...I guess all I need is a good producer. (wink).

– Toddfan

Yep, and a fellow named Todd could do that!

45

Yep, and a fellow named Todd could do that!

– J(ust an old Cowboy)D

If I only knew how to dance, then I just KNOW I could make it in today's music business!

46

Love ya like a brother, Ade, but I see this very differently, and question the comparisons.

In just a few years, there will be so many different revisited interpretations of these songs, and yes, lets keep this conversation on The Beatles, that the original work will be lost.

This seems a bit hysterical. Who’s going to make all these Beatles remixes, and how will they get access to the original studio tracks?

Even if they do, will you not still have access to the original mixes and masters?

I listened to that new Helter Skelter and it's only because I remembered how it actually sounded originally that I could tell it was bogus. At some point, I'll forget.

Do you mean that someone is going to confiscate your albums? Do you not control when and how you listen to which version of what music? How then could you forget? You would have to subject yourself to the blasphemous ‘new’ version repeatedly to do so - and why would you?

And if the original tracks are still present in the remixes, none are replaced, nothing new is added - if it’s the same musical performance - then isn’t the content still there? How could it be bogus? Seems more like listening to the same material from a different perspective - like from a different place in the room.

I'm suggesting that we really ought not to revise, rework, edit or otherwise 'improve' art, music, literature, film. For by doing so we diminish it. It's as preposterous as colourising 'Guernica'

Do conservators not painstakingly clean up paintings and movies, removing obscuring grime or returning faded low-contrast footage on deteriorating film to its original vibrancy, thereby better revealing original intentions and renewing popular interest in the work?

That’s more the intention here, I think, than to re-imagine the material in any way (as the Martins did for the Love soundtrack).

47

"Looky, Looky over here. They'll be new sounds for you to hear."

Money motivates.

48

I think you're being a bit disingenuous with selective quotes, Proteus. I love ya like a brother too and am assuredly not in a hysterical mood.

I'll be succinct. With a tidy example.

Star Wars Episode IV- A New Hope. You will have enormous difficulty in finding this film in its original form. George Lucas tinkered continuously with it by adding CGI elements over many years. You might well say that he has the right to, and until he sold Disney the property, he certainly did. Yet over the years he has diluted its magic even as he has tried to perfect it. He has also, more subtly, erased the young version of himself who fought to make a film on a laughably minimal budget, literally using scrap materials to make his groundbreaking visualisation of a used future.

I'm no particular fan of the film. It just passed me by, to paraphrase Ringo. Didn't hit the spot. However, it really was a game changer for the science fiction genre. And that the original version seems to have vanished seems rather sad. I present this example as a cautionary tale.

Conflating this concern that significant and historical documents are being altered with the legitimate conservation of deteriorating film stock, master tapes or stabilising an old painting is specious. I'm calling you out on that.

Never did I suggest that anyone would have their record albums removed. Nor that the Hooded Claw would pilfer the master tapes. I do posit that the way people find music nowadays is by Google/YouTube searches. If I was new to The Beatles in twenty or fifty years' time, how likely would it be that I would hear their music, or any other artist's work in its original form? The original mix of the White Album is harder work than the new and human nature will follow the easier path.

That's my concern.

49

But Lucas's additions of new sequences, and replacement of original ones, make the movie a different work. That's not what Martin has done; he's kept all the original material, in the same order (and even, he says, did his level best to maintain the relative levels of the tracks). He's just pulled them out of their mono-fied "reductions" and spread them across the stereo spectrum.

I don't think that's a parallel to Lucas's re-do.

And if I want to watch the original Ep IV, I still have the original.

Conflating this concern that significant and historical documents are being altered with the legitimate conservation of deteriorating film stock, master tapes or stabilising an old painting is specious.

I don't think so, or at least not in the sense I intended. In this case, one of the things Martin did was go back to pre-reduction multi-track tapes - which have NEVER been heard by the public before. In so doing, he removes the "grime" caused during the original production by repeatedly bouncing tracks to mono, just to overcome the limitations of the time.

The original mix of the White Album is harder work than the new and human nature will follow the easier path.

This is precisely part of my point. If the listener of distant tomorrows finds the original "harder work," he just may not listen at ALL. In which case, not only has he been deprived of the Beatle journey he might otherwise make, but the Beatles' legacy is prematurely stunted, and their music in greater danger of fading.

Most of us don't listen to baroque music on the instruments on which it was originally performed, and the first time we do it takes awhile to adjust to their iffy intonation and generally less refined tone. If the music hadn't continually been adapted to the technology of all the succeeding days, it may have faded.

As someone who has been recording (and working around technical limitations) for 50 years, I'm well aware of the extent to which the production itself is part of the art. But I still maintain there's a difference between the medium and the message - and that, ultimately, the message (in this case the melodies, the harmonies, the words, the arrangements, the performances) is more important than the medium.


To expand on this line of thinking - probably redundantly and too obviously, surely not succinctly, but with examples - I'll follow this post with one I've been working on all day. I'm not completely happy with it, and if I had longer I could make it shorter.

50

I'm surprised at the virulent antipathy to this project, and the acidic terms in which it's been expressed.

Of course there's room for all opinions. I’ll expand on mine. Several notions occur to me, in no particular order.

1 - No one has suggested that anyone's favorite version of White is going to be forcibly replaced by anything else. The world government is not coming for your vinyl, or your late-80s or mid-00s remasters on CD. Giles Martin (with the support of Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia) has offered another mix.

2 - Giles gets close to making a couple cogent points in the interview. I don't know if he intended the points I took, or if I jumped to different conclusions.

One of those was to recognize that most people now listen to music in a very different way than when the album came out. Even most older people listen digitally in one way or another, and young'uns who never knew the album as we did absolutely listen more fragmentarily - a song here, a song there, playlists either delivered algorithmically via an online service, randomized by the listener, or curated intentionally with little attention given to the original context or sequence.

(There's some irony here, because the White is by any measure the least cohesive, most random-playlisty of any Beatle recording. I doubt that was prescience on the artists' part, anticipating the way music would be consumed in the future. But TWA kinda already sounds like a randomized playlist.)

In any case, I think Giles was suggesting (and I'm saying it as plainly as I can) that Beatles tracks from 1968 may show at some disadvantage when interspersed with later and contemporary recordings – as consumed by young listeners who have no experience of the Beatles - simply because the sonic surface is so different from modern practice.

We can be haughty about that, and say the sound of the era is part of the precious point - and maybe it is, at least historically - but if the very character of the recorded sound puts a listener off the material, do we just say "well, they weren't going to get it anyway?"

Extreme Examples to Illustrate the Notion Hyperbolically
I think of the original recordings of blues from the 20s and 30s. Some of us luxuriate in the "atmosphere" and authenticity of the whole presentation - no bottom, no highs, low resolution, surface noise, etc. We develop some kind of nostalgia for an era we never knew, associate the sound with the times. (As the world used to be black and white.)

But unless the physical underpinnings of our reality has changed in the last 90 years, live music sounded as full and rich and vibrant then as it does now. I'm pretty sure that if the original artists could hear themselves recorded with contemporary standards, they'd much prefer it. They wouldn’t want their creative work to be hampered and diminished by the rudimentary technology of their time.

And for a contemporary listener who's not yet a musicologist, the surface of those early recordings is very hard to penetrate. That stuff is hard to listen to, especially at first.

It’s true, at least for me, that the longer I listen to (vinyl or digital) transcripts of those early recordings (oh yeah - cleaned up and expanded in the process to the extent possible), the less I hear the deficiency in fidelity and dynamic range. I don't know if my brain starts to filter out the noise and expand the missing frequencies, or if my perception compresses itself to suit the recorded range, but eventually I'm able to forget the shortcomings of the original medium and just enjoy the music.

But that's because I got motivated to listen to that music in the first place. And the first Robert Johnson song I ever heard was Clapton’s version of “Crossroads” (though it was years later that I got curious enough to search for the original).

It eventually emerged that Clapton was half-ashamed of his bowdlerization of the original Johnson material. He tried to redeem himself and do RJ justice with his Robert Johnson songbook albums (as did Peter Green). Both artists gave many of the songs combo arrangements rather than replication Johnson's solo renditions - but more importantly, they gave us that material in modern fidelity. I like those albums. A lot. I’ve listened to the original Johnson recordings many many times - but if I'd had the songbook albums in the 60s, I would have discovered authentic rural Delta blues much earlier than I did.

Had someone played Robert Johnson's original recordings for me in the 60s and early 70s, with the little (but current) stereo system I had, I would barely even have heard them. Their surface sounded like the 78s of band music and scratchy string arrangements my grandfather played on the wind-up victrola in the dark corner of his dank basement, where he kept his bottle. It was self-evidently old music, and to my ears had nothing to do with the music I listened to otherwise.

Modern artists respectfully reinterpreting original music - not just updating the recording tech - is obviously different from a remix/remaster. But the point I'm belaboring comes down, I think, to accessibility.

Another example: Ry Cooder's Jazz album, which gives us (along with some Cooderian takes) period arrangements of very early jazz compositions, some complete with tuba - but in exquisite, impeccable modern recording quality. That album was a revelation for me, because it let me hear for the first time how that "ancient" music of the first two decades of the 20th century would have sounded in the room where it was made.

It opened that music up to me in a way musicological study of the original wax cylinders never could have. Now when I hear original recordings, from the era, I'm better able to enjoy them.

These are extreme examples to illustrate what I think Giles Martin was talking about in wanting to bring TWA to a more contemporary presentation. He wants to make the Beatles sound current so they can compete sonically with contemporary music. His is a much less radical project than my examples - but I think it proceeds from a similar motive to make the music more easily accessible.

I don't need to be seduced into the Beatles by contemporizing the sound of their recordings - but I've been listening to them for 54 years. If inviting new listeners with a more contemporary sheen brings them the Beatles' music, draws them in as fans who will may eventually backtrack to the original versions - I guess I'm OK with it.

(And gosh. Don’t we remember first hearing ultra-compressed and megaphonic Beatles on transistor radios, then how much fuller they sounded even on 45 - much less when we got to throw the LP on Dad’s hi-fi? And how pleased we were with the first round of CDs which emerged belatedly in 1987? When for the first time we could hear the early basslines, the cymbal work, the layered details? Haven’t we always craved deeper immersion in this material?)

Accessibility.

3 - Gile's effort can be usefully (if unfairly) caricatured as trying to make TWA sound like it was recorded today. Again, I don't see the problem. Had the Beatles been recording that album today, they would use today's technology - and the results would sound different. Neither Abbey Road nor the Beatles would have insisted on remaining 4-track analog, with 4 or 5 generations of "reductions" in mixes, in a digital world of unlimited tracks and automated mixes.

We know this because McCartney and Starr have tracked right along with developments in recording technology - as have other surviving artists from the era. No surprise in that: for one thing, the trend has been toward ever higher recording fidelity, which many musicians seem to like; for another, having a contemporary sound helps the artist fit in to what's going on at the moment. They don’t want the way their music is presented to pose barriers. You guys remember when you were young, and music from even the previous decade sounded “old” to you - and therefore wasn’t taken as seriously, wasn’t as exciting as new music?

If the Beatles can be made to sound fresh and contemporary - without rearranging the songs, simply by a clearer and more thoroughly stereo, LESS compressed presentation - might they not draw unfamiliar listeners into the entire catalog and surprise casual listeners with detail they hadn’t heard before? (Not to mention giving long-time listeners a different glimpse into the material...and stuff to argue about.)

As long as the originals are not destroyed or suppressed, where’s the harm?

My point?

The Beatles themselves, had they continued as a band, would have kept pace with - would have pushed - the recording technology of every successive era. I think John and George, like the remaining Beatles, would welcome having their original recordings sound as vivid and vibrant to listeners as they did to the Beatles themselves in the control room.

And - as the commercial motivation has been introduced - sure: wouldn’t they like come to the forefront of pop consciousness again, see their legacy gain momentum, and make a buck?

Wouldn’t they like to show these kids today just how much better Beatles songs are than the stuff that passes as music today?


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