Monday, September 14, 2009

Remaster Heaven

Listen readers, whoever you may be. I may be out of touch for a bit. Besides researching 4 stories for Maybe Baby (or, You Know That It Would Be Untrue), and screening 13 films as judge for the 3rd Annual Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival, I am ensconced in my carriage barn listening room, a prisoner of The Beatles remasters, stereo and mono. I am a happy captive, a willing sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome.

I may or may not write in depth about the remasters, so let me say a few words right now, based on hearing the first four stereo discs (Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale). It's an amazing feat to take the utterly familiar and make it brand new, but the remasters have done that. All four members are fab in ways that are fresh and revealing. John's rhythm guitar has never sounded so propulsive, an alternative energy source if ever there was one. George's lead guitar rings, the switch to the Rickenbacker so evident in ways I've never heard before. His fills are a joy. Paul's early bass work, while a couple of years from the groundbreaking inventiveness of Revolver and after, is not nearly as simple as once assumed. He's got his tricks that Macca, even in the most seemingly simple of songs. His tone is deep and flowing in a way that seemed to begin much later. And Ringo, let me tell you something about that Ringo. I never understand why conventional wisdom made Charlie Watts so sterling and Ringo so unskilled. Ringo may be the most redeemed of all via the remasters and Rock Band. His beat is unnervingly solid, his style unmistakable and now, rescued from the mire of the old mixes, it's clear that The Beatles would never have been The Beatles without him.

I won't go song to song - that would take forever, but I'll throw two at you. "Don't Bother Me" reveals a sizable debt to surf music in a way never before apparent. It could be a Chantays instrumental if George's curmudgeon-with-a-grin vocals were stripped away. The stops and starts in "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (boom -"hold me" - boom- "hold me") are punctuated by Paul's bass. I gotta say I never even heard it in their before.

Back to the barn. "Help" is next on the play list. And, by the way, you say it's your birthday? Well, it's my birthday too, yeah.

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