Last month I announced here that on January 20, 2014 (Jan. 21 in U.S.), Apple will release The US Albums – a new Beatles 13-CD box set that contains mono and stereo versions of all of the unique Capitol albums released by The Beatles. Since then, The Beatles Rarity Headquarters has been inundated with questions about this new release – mostly concerning the mixes used. I thought an update was in order but first a little recap.
The set will contain mono and stereo versions of all Capitol Beatles albums between 1964 and 1966 to include (click for album art and track listing) Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, The Beatles Story, Beatles ’65, The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help!, Rubber Soul, Yesterday And Today and Revolver. It will also include the 1964 United Artist US soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night that Capitol obtained the rights to in 1980. Additionally it will include the 1970 US-only Hey Jude album which compiled 10 tracks not previously issued on an American Capitol LP. The Beatles Story, a spoken word documentary originally issued as a double-LP will only be issued in stereo. Hey Jude was originally released after mono was phased out in the US and will also only be issued in stereo. All of the other discs begin with the mono version of the album and then follow with the stereo version. Each album will also be sold individually and released on the same dates given above with the exception of The Beatles Story which is exclusive to the box set.
The discs will be housed in a thick box similar to The Beatles in Mono box set issued in 2009 (see photo above and below). A 64-page booklet is included with liner notes and photos of The Beatles and promotional art from the era. A decal will be included that has the re-issued trunk cover for Yesterday And Today and fits right over the “butcher cover” version of the artwork in which the album was first packaged.
Unlike the 2004 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 1) that included 4 of these albums in mono and stereo and the 2006 Apple box set (The Capitol Albums Vol. 2) containing an additional 4 of these albums in mono and stereo, the new set will not be using the original Capitol master tapes. Apple has cited in a press release that this would not have created the best possible listening experience due to some fidelity limitations with the Capitol mixes. These include mixes made from second, third or even fourth generation tapes and many of the songs being in a duophonic mix instead of “true” stereo (duophonic, otherwise known as “fake” or “rechannelled” stereo is a means of simulating stereo from a mono source). For this reason and with a few exceptions that I will get to in a minute, the remasters that were issued in 2009 of the British mixes will be used for the majority of the tracks. In most cases where a U.S. mix differed from the U.K. mixes now included on the 2009 remasters, most – but not all – U.S. mixes will be used.
Here is a summary of the methodology on selecting the source of these recordings:
- If Capitol’s original mix on a stereo album was a duophonic mix – the true stereo UK mix remastered in 2009 was used instead (e.g. “Ticket To Ride” but lots of others that were for the most part a & b sides of singles)
- If Capitol’s original mix on a mono album was a “Type B” mono (i.e. reduced to mono from stereo mix) – the original UK mono mix was used instead. This would cover tracks on the mono Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles Second Album, The Early Beatles, Help! and even “Drive My Car” from Yesterday And Today.
- In the few cases where there was no stereo mix to use and Capitol made duophonic mixes (e.g. “She Loves You,” “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do”) – the original UK mono mix was used instead.
- There are a few edits and mixes sent to Capitol by producer George Martin that make the US versions of certain tracks unique. Apple has confirmed that these will be remastered and included with the set. However, there is no confirmation on what specific tracks these are. I’ve annotated 5 possibilities and what’s different about the original US Capitol US mix vs. the 2009 remasters below:
- “I’ll Cry Instead” – extra verse on mono version of A Hard Day’s Night and Something New
- “I’m Looking Through You” – false starts on the stereo mix of Rubber Soul
- “I’m Only Sleeping” – backwards guitar fading up and down in different spots than UK mixes on both stereo and mono versions of Yesterday And Today
- “Dr. Robert” – slightly longer fade on mono version of Yesterday And Today
- “Paperback Writer” – reversed right and left channels on Hey Jude
Of course the first two in this list were already released on the earlier Capitol box sets.
- For everything not covered in 1-4 above – the 2009 remasters will be used.
So in all cases above except “4,” the 2009 remasters will be re-sequenced to “fit” the track listing of the original Capitol LPs.
Finally, for those of you who prefer to have the digital versions of the original Capitol mixes, if you don’t already have the two earlier box sets – The Capitol Albums Vols. 1 & 2 – you better get them soon because this set will replace them and they will undoubtedly be out of print in the near future.
Here are some Amazon links to read more on, or purchase, some music related to this post:
1) The U.S. Albums – Commemorative 2014 13-CD box set of original Capitol Beatles Albums reconfigured from the 2009 UK remasters.
2) The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 – 2004 remastered 4-CD box set containing mono and stereo versions of Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles Second Album, Something New and Beatles ’65. All use the original Capitol mixes. This set will soon be out-of-print.
3) The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 – 2006 remastered 4-CD box set containing mono and stereo versions of The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! and Rubber Soul. All use the original Capitol mixes. This set will soon be out-of-print.