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Author Topic: The Capitol Boxes  (Read 1197 times)

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Chris

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The Capitol Boxes
« on: December 03, 2007, 10:54:56 PM »

Finally got both of these. It took me a while to order them from the local shop, because I wanted to wait until the proper mono mixes were finally included in the second box (i.e. until the warehouses had depleted their supplies of the erroneous discs).

The sound is just as I remember it -- vastly superior to the dry, low-bass UK mixes. I don't think I've ever heard an original English mix that sounded nearly as good as its American counterpart. No wonder the Beatles themselves preferred the American versions (of the songs themselves, that is....too bad Capitol made up for this excellence by obliterating the original LP sequences in order to get more cash out of the fans).

Of course, if you don't like reverb as much as I do, you probably hate the US versions.  ;D

Where would I look online to find a list of differences between the stereo and mono versions? I'm interested in that sort of thing. I'm not sure why, exactly. I suppose it's just a lot of fun. :)
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BlueMeanie

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2007, 11:03:07 PM »

Quote from: 911
No wonder the Beatles themselves preferred the American versions (of the songs themselves, that is....too bad Capitol made up for this excellence by obliterating the original sequences in order to get more cash out of the fans).

Of course, if you don't like reverb as much as I do, you probably hate the US versions.  ;D

Where would I look online to fine a list of differences in stereo versions vs. mono? I'm interested in that sort of thing. I'm not sure why, exactly. I suppose it's just a lot of fun. :)


Not doubting you, but where did you read The Beatles prefered the American versions?

Here's some articles that might interest you:

The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:
http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/beatles/var-format.html

Steve Hoffman's Music Forum Thread about The Beatles in mono:
http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/archive/index.php/t-1054-p-2.html

1987 interview with George Martin:
http://abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/kozinn.htm
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Chris

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2007, 11:28:45 PM »

Solid. Thanks! Great links! I appreciate it.

In a couple instances in Recording the Beatles, two of the engineers are quoted as saying that "the lads" (which one(s)? They don't specify) always used to ask them why they couldn't get the "great sound" of the American versions. Malcolm had to patiently explain that the mastering equipment in Hollywood was better than anything EMI would spring for at home. Not surprising, I suppose, since it took them until 1968 to buy an eight-track machine! The louder bass sound in "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" was a result of Paul complaining enough to provoke Geoff Emerick into getting a nice low-end. He wound up recording Paul's bass by, believe it or not, using another huge amp as a microphone.

Anyway, why would the mastering equipment (i.e. cutting lathe and associated EQ boxes) affect the mixes themselves (on tape)? Because while mixing, the engineers had to take care not to make the sound too rich, especially at the low end of the frequency spectrum. The needle would jump right out of the grooves if the song wasn't EQ'd to take the lathe into account.

In An Oral History, the US Capitol guy says the same thing about how the Beatles liked the American sound better, but of course detested the "butchered" albums themselves.

It makes sense, when you think about it; even if one disagrees with the Beatles' taste in sound reproduction itself, they'd been potty over Motown and other American music, which was almost always drenched in reverb up to that point. That's not to mention Elvis records. They probably heard themselves as sounding more genuinely rock'n'roll with the American trappings in the mixes.

I might be weird in the extent to which I prefer the American stuff. I always think rock music sounds best when it seems to have been recorded in a big cave.  ;D
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BlueMeanie

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2007, 11:39:43 PM »

Quote from: 911
Anyway, why would the mastering equipment (i.e. cutting lathe and associated EQ boxes) affect the mixes themselves (on tape)? Because while mixing, the engineers had to take care not to make the sound too rich, especially at the low end of the frequency spectrum. The needle would jump right out of the grooves if the song wasn't EQ'd to take the lathe into account.

The third time I've had a similar conversation in 2 days. It all depends which master it's being cut from, as there was always more than one. The original master was never used in the preparation of vinyl. So a second, third or fourth generation 'master' would be used instead. Most people didn't have a system that could tell the difference in those days.
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Chris

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2007, 11:52:53 PM »


Excellent point, of course, depending on how many generations were involved in the trip down the hall (not many, I'd wager; everything was in-house at Abbey Road). I'm just reiterating what I've read. ;)
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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 01:11:45 PM »

I agree with you on a lot of your points, Chris. In my opinion though, I don't think all the American mixes are better that the UK counterpart. For example the US stereo versions of She's A Woman and I Feel Fine are dreadful and as are some of the "stereo" mixes from the A Hard Day's Night album sessions - "stereo" versions were created from mono masters by tweaking the EQ/volume in time with the vocals or instrumental breaks! However, other tracks taken from AHDN kick arse, such as Any Time At All (US Something New LP).

In 1976 I was a well-established 10 year-old Beatle fan - I had most of their original albums and singles by this time, mostly donated by my family (sometimes unsuspectingly!). For Christmas that year I was given a copy of The Beatles Story - originally released in 1964 on Capitol, this re-issue on Apple contained extracts of many of their songs in glorious stereo. They sounded fantastic, so much better than the UK versions I had, and I remember being particularly impressed with Slow Down, Little Child and I Want To Hold Your Hand. So then I started saving my pocket money so I could buy their stereo albums!

When eventually I did get a few of The Beatles UK stereo albums, I noticed that there was a sonic gulf between what my Beatles Story LPs produced and what I heard from my newly acquired stereo LPs.

Now I can appreciate both! I know there were only a few of us singing the praisies of the Capitol Boxes when they were released and I still strongly believe that it is a valid project. :)

BlueMeanie

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 01:36:02 PM »

Good points. I agree on Anytime At All, real balls. Big hairy ones at that! With most of it though I have trouble with the overall sound. I guess it's because it's just not what I've been used to over all those years. But they're certainly a valid release for the American market, though I'll never understand why some Americans still prefer their old Revolver vinyl to the English version, when it's lacking three of the best songs on the album!
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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2007, 02:24:47 PM »

Quote from: 483
I'll never understand why some Americans still prefer their old Revolver vinyl to the English version, when it's lacking three of the best songs on the album!

I agree 100%! The US album looks as if John Lennon didn't turn up for the sessions!

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2007, 06:26:37 PM »

I agree with that, certainly; it's still hard to believe, above all, that the Rubber Soul over here started with "I've Just Seen a Face," and that American fans didn't hear that album or Revolver in all its versatile glory. Were I a fan in 1966, I would've been more impressed with Yesterday and Today!

I was lucky, having managed to hear the proper sequences when I asked for the Beatles Collection for Christmas. It was a blue box containing of all the Parlophone and Apple LPs (stereo), as well as the UK version of Rarities. I'd already had Something New and Beatles '65 on vinyl, as well as Alpha-Omega without the packaging (remember that weird boxed set? Terrible sound quality).

That whole box of records was $50 new in 1986! Can you imagine? I've wondered since if it was an import, or if UK Beatles Collection boxes were officially released over here for some reason.
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Chris

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2007, 07:03:05 PM »


WOW. This Usenet Guide is really something.  :o

Joseph Brennan's a regular hero. This serves my pedantic trainspotting marvelously. Thanks again for the link!

(Did anyone write Beatles stuff when they were kids? I had a carefully hand-printed collection of notebook sheets entitled Games Beatles Play when I was 12. Sneaky little vocal things and recording tricks; "tit tit tit," "Frere Jaques," etc. The ultimate reference works at the time were The Long and Winding Road and the Beatles Forever.  ;D)
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Chris

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2007, 10:20:52 PM »

Is Brennan correct in all of his entries specifying "mock stereo" for 1964 Capitol albums? The separation (i.e. guitar only in one speaker, bass only in the other) is quite distinct. Perhaps they had so much differing tone control between the left and right channels in those days that they were actually able to bury whole instruments in one speaker or another?

I've used the separate-channel-EQ trick many times myself, but the examples on Meet the Beatles, for instance, seem especially extreme. That's a great job, if it's true. "Mock" is almost too disparaging an adjective in that case.

What's really confusing is that the same American mixes as those on the boxed sets are different (less reverb, etc.) on Capitol's red double. Maybe the only difference lies in the remastering done for the boxes. Any insight?

One more annoying question, while I'm at it -- did the 1966+ albums (Y&T onward) have such eye-poppingly different mixes between America and England as those in the first couple years? If so, I sure wish the third box would come out. The reason I don't know this is that the most recent American album I've owned has been Beatles '65, which I had on an Apple reissue when I was a kid, sort of inherited from an older cousin. (I still love the noisier American "I Feel Fine." It really boosts the energy! The dry U.K. mix always struck me as a real shame. I think I'm alone in this case. :))
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BlueMeanie

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Re: The Capitol Boxes
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2007, 12:16:33 AM »

Quote from: 911
Is Brennan correct in all of his entries specifying "mock stereo" for 1964 Capitol albums? The separation (i.e. guitar only in one speaker, bass only in the other) is quite distinct. Perhaps they had so much differing tone control between the left and right channels in those days that they were actually able to bury whole instruments in one speaker or another?

I've used the separate-channel-EQ trick many times myself, but the examples on Meet the Beatles, for instance, seem especially extreme. That's a great job, if it's true. "Mock" is almost too disparaging an adjective in that case.

The first 3 (I think) albums were only mixed into mono, so EMI would only have sent mono masters to Capitol. So Capitol would have had to do mock stereo. Don't ask me how though.
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