October 23, 2012

Beatles Stereo Vinyl Walkthrough – US Version (11.13.12) from EMI Music Canada on Vimeo.

All photos / videos from various online sources including www.thebeatles.com.

PRE-ORDER @ ELUSIVEDISC.COM for the sale price of $350 / free ship.  They were the FIRST seller to post this price when initial pricing was $450. I would not trust the big-box guys to ship this set securely in order to save a few dollars. (this blog and its author are not associated with Elusive Disc)

Pressing information: (Unconfirmed info from SteveHoffman.tv posts)
For US: Rainbo Records (Canoga Park, CA)
For EU/rest of the world: Optimal (Röbel, Germany)


London – 27 September, 2012
– The Beatles’ acclaimed original studio album remasters, released on CD in 2009 and in 2010 for digital download exclusively on iTunes, will make their long-awaited stereo vinyl debut on 12th November (13th November in North America).

Manufactured on 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl with replicated artwork,  the 14 albums return to their original glory with details including the poster in The Beatles (The White Album), the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’s cutouts, and special inner bags for some of the titles.  Each album will be available individually, and accompanied by a stunning, elegantly designed 252-page hardbound book in a lavish boxed edition which is limited to 50,000 copies worldwide. 

The book, exclusive to the boxed edition, is authored by award-winning radio producer Kevin Howlett and features a dedicated chapter for each of the albums, as well as insight into the creation of the remasters and how the vinyl albums were prepared.  The 12”x12” book showcases a wealth of photographs spanning The Beatles’ recording career, including many images which were not included in the 2009 CD booklets.

The titles include The Beatles’ 12 original UK albums, first released between 1963 and 1970, the US-originated Magical Mystery Tour, now part of the group’s core catalogue, and Past Masters, Volumes One & Two, featuring non-album A-sides and B-sides, EP tracks and rarities.  With this release, The Beatles’ first four albums make their North American stereo vinyl debuts.  In 2013, the remastered albums will make their mono vinyl debuts. 

Since it was recorded, The Beatles’ music has been heard on a variety of formats – from chunky reel-to-reel tapes and eight-track cartridges to invisible computer files. But there has never been a more romantic or thrilling medium for music than a long-playing twelve-inch disc. We ‘play’ records. The process of carefully slipping the disc out of the sleeve, cleaning it and lowering the stylus provides a personal involvement in the reproduction of the music.

When The Beatles’ albums were first released, the listener enjoyed a tangible relationship with the music in the grooves of a record. There was an emotional connection to the artifact carrying the sound, and this bond was strengthened by the LP sleeve. Rather than a merely functional object to protect the disc, it was elevated to a stylish accessory. Certainly, the cover of a Beatles album conveyed a message about the music it was wrapped around. For example, the dominant orange and brown hues and elongated faces on the front of Rubber Soul seem to embody the sound of the record. With the advent of the cassette tape in the seventies and the compact disc in the 1980s, album artwork was reduced in size and importance, losing much of its charm. That is partly why vinyl LPs have not, as predicted, been discarded.

None of that would really matter, were it not for the enduring power of The Beatles’ music. In September, 2009, The Beatles’ remastered albums on CD graced charts around the world. Seventeen million album sales within seven months was resounding evidence of the timeless relevance of their legacy. Through five decades, the music of The Beatles has captivated generation upon generation.

For producer Rick Rubin, surveying The Beatles’ recorded achievements is akin to witnessing a miracle.  “If we look at it by today’s standards, whoever the most popular bands in the world are, they will typically put out an album every four years,” Rubin said in a 2009 radio series interview. “So, let’s say two albums as an eight year cycle.  And think of the growth or change between those two albums.  The idea that The Beatles made thirteen albums in seven years and went through that arc of change... it can’t be done.  Truthfully, I think of it as proof of God, because it’s beyond man’s ability.”

The Stereo Albums

Available individually and collected in a boxed collection, accompanied by a beautiful 252-page hardbound book.

Please Please Me
“Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” are presented in mono
(North American LP debut in stereo)

With The Beatles
(North American LP debut in stereo)

A Hard Day's Night
(North American LP debut in stereo)

Beatles For Sale
(North American LP debut in stereo)


Features George Martin’s 1986 stereo remix

Rubber Soul
Features George Martin’s 1986 stereo remix

Original album

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Packaging includes replica psychedelic inner sleeve, cardboard cutout sheet and additional insert

Magical Mystery Tour
Packaging includes 24-page colour book

The Beatles (double album)
Packaging includes double-sided photo montage/lyric sheet and 4 solo colour photos

Yellow Submarine
“Only A Northern Song” is presented in mono. Additional insert includes original American liner notes.

Abbey Road
Original album

Let It Be
Original album

Past Masters, Volumes One & Two (double album)
“Love Me Do” (original single version), “She Loves You,” “I’ll Get You,” and “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” are presented in mono. Packaging, notes and photographic content is based on the 2009 CD release.
* * *


There has always been demand for The Beatles’ albums on vinyl.  Indeed, 2011’s best-selling vinyl LP in the United States was Abbey Road.  Following the success of The Beatles’ acclaimed, GRAMMY Award-winning 2009 CD remasters, it was decided that the sound experts at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios should create new versions of The Beatles’ vinyl LPs.  The project demanded the same meticulous approach taken for the CD releases, and the brief was a simple one:  cut the digital remasters to vinyl with an absolute minimum of compromise to the sound.  However, the process involved to do that was far from simple.

The first stage in transferring the sound of a master recording to vinyl is the creation of a disc to be used during vinyl manufacture.  There were two options to consider.  A Direct Metal Master (DMM), developed in the late seventies, allows sound to be cut directly into a stainless steel disc coated with a hard copper alloy.  The older, alternative method is to cut the sound into the soft lacquer coating on a nickel disc - the first of several steps leading to the production of a stamper to press the vinyl.

A ‘blind’ listening test was arranged to choose between a ‘lacquer’ or ‘copper’ cut.  Using both methods, A Hard Day’s Night was pressed with ten seconds of silence at the beginning and end of each side.  This allowed not only the reproduction of the music to be assessed, but also the noise made by the vinyl itself.  After much discussion, two factors swung the decision towards using the lacquer process.  First, it was judged to create a warmer sound than a DMM.  Secondly, there was a practical advantage of having ‘blank’ discs of a consistent quality when cutting lacquers. 

The next step was to use the Neumann VMS80 cutting lathe at Abbey Road.  Following thorough mechanical and electrical tests to ensure it was operating in peak condition, engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order.  He used the original 24-bit remasters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production.  It was also decided to use the remasters that had not undergone ‘limiting’ - a procedure to increase the sound level, which is deemed necessary for most current pop CDs.
Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records.  To rectify them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio Workstation.  For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any ‘sibilant episodes’ - vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds such as S and T.  These were corrected by reducing the level in the very small portion of sound causing the undesired effect.  Similarly, any likelihood of ‘inner-groove distortion’ was addressed.  As the stylus approaches the centre of the record, it is liable to track the groove less accurately.  This can affect the high-middle frequencies, producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals.  Using what Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.

The last phase of the vinyl mastering process began with the arrival of the first batches of test pressings made from master lacquers that had been sent to the two pressing plant factories.  Stringent quality tests identified any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing in the same place.  If this happened, it was clear that the undesired sounds had been introduced either during the cutting or the pressing stage and so the test records were rejected.  In the quest to achieve the highest quality possible, the Abbey Road team worked closely with the pressing factories and the manufacturers of the lacquer and cutting styli.

An additional and unusual challenge was to ensure the proper playback of the sounds embedded in the ‘lock-groove’ at the end of side two of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Requiring a combination of good timing and luck, it had always been a lengthy and costly process to make it work properly.  In fact, it was so tricky, it had never been attempted for American pressings of the LP.  Naturally, Sean Magee and the team perfected this and the garbled message is heard as originally intended on the remastered Sgt. Pepper LP.

Highly-skilled technicians have worked long and hard to make The Beatles on vinyl sound better than ever.  All we need to do is listen to the results of their dedicated labour on the remastered LPs.  Handle with care.  But most of all, enjoy the music.

The following is the press release for the remastered CDs in 2009. Because some of this info is relevant to the new vinyl, I'm posting it as well.

April 7, 2009

The Beatles' Entire Original Recorded Catalogue Remastered By Apple Corps Ltd. And EMI Music For Worldwide Release On September 9, 2009
Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated “The Beatles: Rock Band” video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles’ core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.

Within each CD’s new packaging, booklets include detailed historical notes along with informative recording notes. With the exception of the 'Past Masters' set, newly produced mini-documentaries on the making of each album, directed by Bob Smeaton, are included as QuickTime files on each album. The documentaries contain archival footage, rare photographs and never-before-heard studio chat from The Beatles, offering a unique and very personal insight into the studio atmosphere.

A second boxed set has been created with the collector in mind. 'The Beatles in Mono' gathers together, in one place, all of the Beatles recordings that were mixed for a mono release. It will contain 10 of the albums with their original mono mixes, plus two further discs of mono masters (covering similar ground to the stereo tracks on 'Past Masters'). As an added bonus, the mono “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” discs also include the original 1965 stereo mixes, which have not been previously released on CD. These albums will be packaged in mini-vinyl CD replicas of the original sleeves with all original inserts and label designs retained.

Discussions regarding the digital distribution of the catalogue will continue. There is no further information available at this time.


U.S. Media Contacts
For Apple Corps Ltd.:
Shore Fire Media
Matt Hanks
(718) 522-7171
Brendan Gilmartin
(718) 522-7171

UK Media Contact
For Apple Corps Ltd.:
Moira Bellas
0 20 7483 9205

For EMI:
Jennifer Ballantyne - EMI Music North America
(323) 871-5494 / jennifer.ballantyne@emicap.com

The Stereo Albums (available individually and collected in a stereo boxed set)
The stereo albums have been remastered by Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee
All CD packages contain original vinyl artwork and liner notes
Extensive archival photos
Additional historical notes by Kevin Howlett and Mike Heatley
Additional recording notes by Allan Rouse and Kevin Howlett
* = CD includes QuickTime mini-doc about the album
Please Please Me* (CD debut in stereo)
With The Beatles* (CD debut in stereo)
A Hard Day's Night* (CD debut in stereo)
Beatles For Sale* (CD debut in stereo)
Rubber Soul*
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band* (also includes 1987 notes, updated, and new intro by Paul McCartney)
Magical Mystery Tour*
The Beatles*
Yellow Submarine* (also includes original US liner notes)
Abbey Road*
Let It Be*
Past Masters (contains new liner notes written by Kevin Howlett)

‘The Beatles in Mono’ (boxed set only)
The mono albums have been remastered by Paul Hicks, Sean Magee with Guy Massey and Steve Rooke
Presented together in box with an essay written by Kevin Howlett
+ = mono mix CD debut
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help! (CD also includes original 1965 stereo mix)+
Rubber Soul (CD also include original 1965 stereo mix)+
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band+
Magical Mystery Tour+
The Beatles+
Mono Masters

Re-mastering the Beatles catalogue

The re-mastering process commenced with an extensive period conducting tests before finally copying the analogue master tapes into the digital medium. When this was completed, the transfer was achieved using a Pro Tools workstation operating at 24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter. Transferring was a lengthy procedure done a track at a time. Although EMI tape does not suffer the oxide loss associated with some later analogue tapes, there was nevertheless a slight build up of dust, which was removed from the tape machine heads between each title.

From the onset, considerable thought was given to what audio restorative processes were going to be allowed. It was agreed that electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and bad edits should be improved where possible, so long as it didn’t impact on the original integrity of the songs.

In addition, de-noising technology, which is often associated with re-mastering, was to be used, but subtly and sparingly. Eventually, less than five of the 525 minutes of Beatles music was subjected to this process. Finally, as is common with today’s music, overall limiting - to increase the volume level of the CD - has been used, but on the stereo versions only. However, it was unanimously agreed that because of the importance of The Beatles’ music, limiting would be used moderately, so as to retain the original dynamics of the recordings.

When all of the albums had been transferred, each song was then listened to several times to locate any of the agreed imperfections. These were then addressed by Guy Massey, working with Audio Restoration engineer Simon Gibson.

Mastering could now take place, once the earliest vinyl pressings, along with the existing CDs, were loaded into Pro Tools, thus allowing comparisons to be made with the original master tapes during the equalization process. When an album had been completed, it was auditioned the next day in studio three – a room familiar to the engineers, as all of the recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place in there – and any further alteration of EQ could be addressed back in the mastering room. Following the initial satisfaction of Guy and Steve, Allan Rouse and Mike Heatley then checked each new re-master in yet another location and offered any further suggestions. This continued until all 13 albums were completed to the team’s satisfaction.

New Notes/Documentaries Team

Kevin Howlett (Historical and Recording Notes)
Kevin Howlett’s career as an award-winning radio producer spans three decades. His music programmes for the BBC have included many documentaries about The Beatles, including 'The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes.' He received a Grammy nomination for his involvement with The Beatles’ album 'Live At The BBC' and, in 2003, produced the 'Fly On The Wall' bonus disc for 'Let It Be… Naked.'

Mike Heatley (Historical Notes)
Mike entered the music business via HMV Record Stores in 1970, transferring to EMI Records' International Division three years later. He eventually headed up that division in the early Eighties before joining the company's newly created Strategic Marketing Division in 1984. In 1988, he returned to International, where he undertook a number of catalogue marketing roles until he retired in December 2008.

During his career he worked with many of EMI's major artists, including Pink Floyd, Queen, Kate Bush and Iron Maiden. However, during the last 30 years he has formed a particularly strong relationship with Apple, and has been closely involved in the origination and promotion of the Beatles catalogue, besides solo releases from John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Bob Smeaton (Director, Mini-Documentaries)
Bob Smeaton was series director and writer on the Grammy award winning 'Beatles Anthology' TV series which aired in the UK and the USA in 1995. In 1998 he received his second Grammy for his ‘Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys’ documentary. In 2004 he gained his first feature film credit, as director on the feature documentary ‘Festival Express.' He subsequently went on to direct documentaries on many of the world's biggest music acts including The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John, Nirvana and the Spice Girls.

Julian Caiden (Editor, Mini-Documentaries)
Julian has worked with Bob Smeaton on numerous music documentaries including 'Jimi Hendrix: Band of Gypsys' and the 'Classic Albums' series, featuring The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Elton John and Nirvana among others. He has worked on documentary profiles from Richard Pryor to Dr. John to Sir Ian McKellen, Herbie Hancock and Damien Hirst and on live music shows including the New York Dolls and Club Tropicana.

The Abbey Road Team

Allan Rouse (Project Coordinator)
Allan joined EMI straight from school in 1971 at their Manchester Square head office, working as an assistant engineer in the demo studio. During this time he frequently worked with Norman (Hurricane) Smith, The Beatles’ first recording engineer.

In 1991, he had his first involvement with The Beatles, copying all of their master tapes (mono, stereo, 4-track and 8-track) to digital tape as a safety backup. This was followed by four years working with Sir George Martin as assistant and project coordinator on the TV documentary 'The Making of Sgt. Pepper's' and the CDs 'Live at the BBC' and 'The Anthology.'

In 1997, MGM/UA were preparing to reissue the film 'Yellow Submarine' and, with the permission of Apple, asked that all of The Beatles’ music be mixed for the film in 5.1 surround and stereo. Allan requested the services of Abbey Road’s senior engineer Peter Cobbin and assistant Guy Massey and, along with them, produced the new mixes.

Two years later, he proposed an experimental stereo and surround mix of John Lennon's song 'Imagine' engineered by Peter Cobbin. Following lengthy consultations with Yoko Ono, the album 'Imagine' was re-mixed in stereo and the Grammy award-winning film 'Gimme Some Truth' in surround and new stereo. This led to a further five of John’s albums being re-mastered with new stereo mixes and the DVD release of 'Lennon Legend' being re-mixed in 5.1 surround and new stereo.

Further projects followed, including The Beatles ‘Anthology', 'The First US Visit' and ‘Help’ DVD and the albums ‘Let It Be…Naked’ and ‘Love’ along with George Harrison’s 'Concert for Bangladesh' DVD and album.

For a number of years now, Allan has worked exclusively on Beatles and related projects.

Guy Massey (Recording Engineer)
Guy joined Abbey Road in 1994, and five years later assisted on the surround remix for The Beatles film 'Yellow Submarine.' This led to The Beatles’ 'Anthology' DVD and later, along with Paul Hicks and Allan Rouse, they mixed and produced 'Let It Be… Naked.' In 2004 he left the studios to become freelance and has engineered The Divine Comedy: 'Victory for the Comic Muse,' Air Traffic: 'Fractured Life,' James Dean Bradfield: 'The Great Western' and Stephen Fretwell’s 'Magpie,' co-producing the last two. Since leaving, Guy is still a vital member of the team, and has been the senior engineer for the re-mastering project and was responsible for surround and new stereo mixes for the DVD release of 'Help!'

Steve Rooke (Mastering Engineer)
Steve joined Abbey Road in 1983 and is now the studio’s senior mastering engineer. He has been involved on all The Beatles’ projects since 1999. He has also been responsible for mastering releases by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Paul Hicks (Recording Engineer)
Paul started at Abbey Road in 1994, and his first involvement with The Beatles was assisting engineer Geoff Emerick on the Anthology albums. This was followed by 'Yellow Submarine Songtrack,' 'Anthology' DVD and 'Let It Be… Naked.' Like Guy Massey, he has also become a freelance engineer and since leaving the studios he has been responsible for the surround mixing of Paul McCartney’s DVD 'The McCartney Years' and The Beatles' 'Love.' Paul has been in charge of the mono re-masters.

Sean Magee (Mastering Engineer)
Sean began working at Abbey Road in 1995 with a diploma in sound engineering. With a wealth of knowledge in analog and digital mastering, he has worked alongside Paul Hicks on the mono re-masters.

Sam Okell (Recording Engineer)
Sam’s first job as a member of the team was in 2006, assisting Paul Hicks on Paul McCartney’s DVD 'The McCartney Years,' and during that same year he was responsible for the re-mastering of George Harrison’s 'Living In The Material World' CD along with Steve Rooke. This led to him restoring the soundtrack to the Beatles film 'Help!' in surround and stereo, in addition to assisting Guy Massey with the song remixes.

Sam has re-mastered 'With The Beatles' and 'Let It Be.'

Simon Gibson (Audio Restoration Engineer)
Simon joined Abbey Road in 1990. He has progressed from mastering mostly classical recordings to include a much wider range of music, including pop and rock, with his specialized role as an audio restoration engineer. Apart from the re-mastering project, his other work includes George Harrison’s 'Living In The Material World,' John Lennon’s 'Lennon Legend,' The Beatles’ 'Love' and the 'Help!' DVD soundtrack.

October 22, 2012

Bonnie Raitt: Slipstream

2012 so far has provided with me so many new favorite albums, and this is one of them. Of Bonnie Raitt's catalog, I know 2 songs: Something To Talk About, and I Can't Make You Love Me. I didn't even care for the latter, having heard too many people cover it. While at Spoonful one day, looking for some kinda surprise in the Country section, Bonnie's colorful album cover demanded some attention. I started up iTunes on my iPhone for a sampling.. and with the first notes of the first song I said 'OH HELL YEAH!', clicked it off and grabbed the album.  When I got home I put disc one on, and Bonnie strutted right into my Blues-starved heart.

I'll be diving into Bonnie's back catalog soon, but for now this is a double 180 gram set in a beautifully colored gatefold with printed sleeves. No download or CD- but Bonnie belongs on a turntable anyway!

Bonnie Raitt online / On Facebook.
Slipstream on metacritic.

October 21, 2012

Drive By Truckers: The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities

Southern alt-country-rockers and vinyl lovers Drive By Truckers release their album outtakes, alt-versions, and a couple covers for 2009. 

Double 180 gram discs from RTI in poly-lined sleeves, housed in a heavy card gatefold featuring band posters on the inside cover as well as extensive track-by-track notes. The band always records in all-analog intentionally for vinyl releases.

As usual, all artwork is by long-time friend Wes Freed

Drive By Truckers online.

Drive By Truckers on Facebook.

The Fine Print on metacritic.

Wes Freed online.