Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Abbey Road Remastered Review

If you are a hardcore Beatles nut like me then you woulda scored the ABBEY ROAD 50th ANNIVERSARY box set last week. I got the super deluxe edition with the big book, handwritten lyric scans, studio notes, outtakes, demos and of course, remastering of the album.

Most people when they hear "remastered," they don't take much stock in it. But with The Beatles, there is an exception. In 2009, all their albums were remastered and it was noticeable. I could hear the drums and bass higher in the mix and it sounded "warmer" from all previous CD ports.

*Note: I won't argue the sound of vinyl with this or other releases. I'm going to talk about CD only. Apologies to my sound nuts out there with a preference for wax. Much love. Also I won't debate the Stereo vs. Mono mix here. I'm just reviewing the CD box set. Choose your own preference.

So is this 2019 remaster worth listening to? ABSOLUTELY. Here is what I can say about it:

You've heard these sounds hundreds of times. But this time in headphones they sound fresher. Sunnier. Sparkier. Glassy. Just overall more shiny than ever before. The vocals are higher in the mix especially and you can hear the guys breathing in and out before singing more than before.

Also, the instruments are separated better. You can actually zone in and just listen to what Paul is doing on the bass or the enhanced deepness of the lower toms when Ringo hits them (Most noticeable in the SOMETHING intro and drum solo in THE END). You can hear little bass fills and playful things Paul does on songs more and guitars don't sound as fuzzy on songs like BECAUSE or I WANT YOU. Truly you can hear the song and think, "What is Paul playing" and can ignore the rest and zero in on just him and hear it! I've never heard it like this before. Truly wonderful.

One special thing I noticed is that HER MAJESTY starts and its full on in my right ear. Mid-song, its drifted to the center. By the end, its fully on the left ear! Just a little playful thing done for those who care to notice.

The song that sounded the best to me was SOMETHING. There are waves of sound there and they are completely separated. And George's vocal is higher in the mix and clear as if it were recorded yesterday.

I took the time to listen to the 2009 remaster and then switch to this new 2019 remaster and compare the first minute or so of each song just to see if there were differences, and truly there were. I must say I give G. Martin a big thumbs up for this mix. It might be my favorite way to hear my favorite Beatles album now!

I checked out the studio alternate takes and demos and its interesting to hear how these songs were formed. The real highlight is "THE LONG ONE," Which is the whole medley as one long 16 minute thing together, and with HER MAJESTY in its original spot between MEAN MR MUSTARD and POLYTHENE PAM. A glimpse of how we might have heard it had it remained that way. Personally, I like it taken out because it seems to lose momentum with it left in. But I'm also coming at that having it heard the same way for a long damn time.

Also, you hear a lot of laughing and chatting between the takes. Might help dispel the myths that they were super angry at each other during this period... unless they found the playful bits and put them in there to help sedate those old myths. But either way, it was nice to know and hear that the boys did have times of fun while making their final album together. 

Anyway, that is my review. Thanks for reading and go get that deluxe box set! 

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