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Author Topic: how PAST MASTERS could be better  (Read 1503 times)

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dbone828

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how PAST MASTERS could be better
« on: June 18, 2009, 03:20:06 AM »

Back in the Beatles heyday, they eventually decided that they wanted to make their singles and B-sides exclusive to the 45s their fans were buying, and not have them appear on albums.  This may have been the case for (most) of their UK albums, but when Capitol released the Beatles' music, they managed to shuffle up the 14 album tracks, the A-side singles and B-sides, and make multiple 10-track LPs, and definitely got their moneys' worth (much against the Beatles' wishes).

One of these re-hashed albums was the 11-track Magical Mystery Tour, which featured all of the 1967 released songs that weren't featured on Sgt. Pepper.  Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the only American Beatles album to consist entirely of tracks that do not appear on any traditional British Beatles album.  Because of this, the import of the Magical Mystery Tour LP became very popular in the UK, and eventually, in 1976, it was released officially in England.

When the Beatles' catalog was released on compact disc form, it was decided (and wisely so) that only the British catalog would be released, leaving albums that had become familiar to American listeners' ears something of the past.  A decision had to be made about how to go about releasing single-only tracks (as well as EP tracks).  Should they be included as bonus tracks on the albums, thus potentially re-writing historic albums? It's nice to know that the originals stayed intact, and it was decided that the remaining studio recordings would be bunched together in a 2 disc collection called Past Masters.

The concept of the compilation is great.  The only problem is that it has a giant hole in the middle of Volume II.  We jump from 1966's "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" to 1968's "Lady Madonna," skipping over all 3 non-LP singles (and their B-sides) released in 1967.  Why? Because it was also decided that Magical Mystery Tour had taken a Musical History Rewrite and apparently became an official album in the Beatles' catalog at some point in time.

Now this may sound very hypocritical, but if you're going to induct Magical Mystery Tour into the back catalog, why not get rid of Yellow Submarine, since it only had 4 new tracks, and just throw them into the Past Masters collection?

Shortly after the release (and heavy backlash) of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album in early 1969, there were actually plans to release a double EP of the new songs as an alternate (and cheaper) way of purchasing these new tunes.  But this release never did happen.

With all of this being said, I must say, I am overall quite satisfied with how the release of the Beatles' music has been handled.  Thankfully we didn't have to experience an Elvis Presley-like re-hashing of the same hits every year in a slightly different packaging.  I am glad that there are essentially only two options fans have for hits compilations (the one-disc 1 or the four-disc Red and Blue albums)...it's terrible when an artist has more compilations than studio albums.

But, I must say, I probably would have taken a different approach to the release of Past Masters.
1) Forget the idea of splitting them into two separate albums.  Keep 'em together.
2) The album artwork is incredibly boring.  Even those useless '70s and '80s vinyl compilations Love Songs, Reel Music, 20 Greatest Hits, The Beatles Ballads and yes, even Rock 'n' Roll Music had much more interesting covers.  We don't need an all-black album cover.  We have With the Beatles and Let It Be. And we don't need any more white album covers. We have Revolver and (obviously) the White Album.  Give us something colourful and exciting.
3) Include the 1967 singles, their B-sides, the Magical Mystery Tour EP, and the four songs exclusive to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.  This makes for a better historical representation of their career.  Past Masters contains all of their non-album singles and EPs, and let's face it: Magical Mystery Tour is a non-album.
4) And even though we don't REALLY need it, the Beatles did manage to have a Top 20 hit in the early '80s with "The Beatles' Movie Medley." It might not be an actual song, but why not include it as a bonus track?

So, here is my suggestion of what Past Masters should have been:

PAST MASTERS

Disc I
1. Love Me Do [Original Single Version]
2. From Me to You
3. Thank You Girl
4. She Loves You
5. I'll Get You
6. I Want to Hold Your Hand
7. This Boy
8. Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
9. Sie Liebt Dich
10. Long Tall Sally
11. I Call Your Name
12. Slow Down
13. Matchbox
14. I Feel Fine
15. She's a Woman
16. Bad Boy
17. Yes It Is
18. I'm Down
19. Day Tripper
20. We Can Work It Out
21. Paperback Writer
22. Rain
23. Strawberry Fields Forever

24. Penny Lane

25. All You Need Is Love

26. Baby, You're a Rich Man

27. Hello, Goodbye

28. I Am the Walrus
Disc II
1. Magical Mystery Tour

2. Your Mother Should Know

3. The Fool on the Hill

4. Flying

5. Blue Jay Way

6. Lady Madonna
7. The Inner Light
8. Hey Jude
9. Revolution [Single Version]
10. Only a Northern Song

11. All Together Now

12. Hey Bulldog

13. It's All Too Much

14. Get Back [Single Version]
15. Don't Let Me Down
16. The Ballad of John and Yoko
17. Old Brown Shoe
18. Across the Universe [Wildlife Version]
19. Let It Be [Single Version]
20. You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)
Bonus tracks:
21. The Beatles' Movie Medley

22. Christmas Time (Is Here Again) (only on post-1995 pressings; song was the B-side for "Free as a Bird")


note: songs marked with an asterisk
  • were not included on the original version of Past Masters
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Revolver42

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2009, 07:28:20 PM »

I see where you are going, but I like the way it is w/the MMT EPs being issued together as one disc (even though it confuses some who believe that it is an actual official LP).  I even like the artwork of the Past Masters.  It is simple, classy and timeless.  I do like that in the upcoming remasters that the 2 discs are being packaged together!
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BlueMeanie

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 01:32:10 PM »

Hmm...this is a tough one. The basic premise behind Past Masters was a good one - collect together everything that does not appear on an official album release during The Beatles lifetime as recording artists. Fine. Why it needed Mark Lewisohn to compile it, I don't know, as it compiles itself. Where it falls down is with the omission of the MMT songs, as in the UK and Europe (at least) this was an EP.

I was going to say that if they'd omitted the filler material - the German stuff - and a few others like Get Back, Let It Be, Across The Universe etc. (slightly different versions, I know), they could have got it all on one CD. But I just did the maths, and they couldn't.

I don't agree with putting any Christmas stuff on there, as they were never officially released during their lifetime as a band, and are throwaway anyway. As is the movie medley. And the Yellow Sub songs were officially released on an album at the time.

I'd include the MMT songs, and omit the German stuff. I also hate the covers. I have no big problem with the Beatles 'logo', but Ringo only used it on his drum for a few years and now it seems to be their official logo. And it's just not that good.
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Bobber

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2009, 09:54:29 PM »

Testing one two.
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dbone828

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2009, 05:50:53 PM »

Yes, the movie medley and the Christmas song definitely don't need to be there (not released publicly in their recording career).  For completest sake (sp?), it's nice to have the lousy German recordings, the nearly redundant single versions, and those bleccchy cover songs all in one place (I for one never thought the Beatles made a good cover band, save for their rendition of "Twist and Shout"...all other non-original tunes they played get on my nerves).

I just thought of a few more versions of Beatles songs that actually missing from their catalog and the Past Masters, and they're all from the CD version of 1967-1970 ("A Day in the Life" without the audience intro or the Inner groove at the end; "Back in the USSR" with the clean fadeout that doesn't cut into "Dear Prudence"; and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" without the "eh up!" at the beginning).  These may seem unnecessary, however, I must say, whenever I am making a new playlist, or mix CD, and I include any of these songs, I use the Blue Album version.

I think the release of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack in 1969 was very un-UK Beatle like, and seemed like a scheme Capitol Records concocted (only a handful of new songs, a couple of old songs, and a lot of George Martin scoring), and that an EP would have been a better idea.
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BlueMeanie

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2009, 06:28:10 PM »

Quote from: 1628
I think the release of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack in 1969 was very un-UK Beatle like, and seemed like a scheme Capitol Records concocted (only a handful of new songs, a couple of old songs, and a lot of George Martin scoring), and that an EP would have been a better idea.

Trouble being that EP's were well and truly on the way out by '69, and they'd never been that popular in the States (hence the MMT album.)
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alexis

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2009, 03:27:05 AM »

dbone828 - nice thread idea!

I must say my eyeballs popped out of my head when I read that you intensely dislike all the Beatles' cover versions of other songs (save Twist and Shout)! I love all the Beatles covers (OK,  except maybe Mr. Moonlight, and maybe Devil in Her Heart too; and Honey Don't - well it doesn't, at least for me; and maybe Three Cool Cats is a little lame ...).

What I like about the covers maybe the most is that you can hear them developing their band style, learning how to groove together without stepping all over the other guys - become an awesome band. And then you can hear them develop their harmonies on things from "To Know Her is to Love Her", to the "Bop Shoo Wops" in Boys (a good argument can be made these are the same George/Paul harmonies they took to "Please Please Me"), to ....

... well, sorry, I got carried away. I guess it's easy to tell, I like the covers! Even stuff like "How Come No one Loves Me", or whatever it's called, and "Please Don't Ever Change".

Blue Meanie, maybe they chose that logo because to most of the rest of the world (except the UK perhaps), that is how we first met the Beatles - Ed Sullivan show, and the '64 tours, etc. Only a snapshot in time, but kind of like how the "Moptops" and "AHDN" define the Beatles to many.
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Alexis

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2009, 04:10:03 PM »

I personally appreciate the way Past Masters is. When I read that in the remasters that it was being packaged as one set, I wholeheartedly thought it was a great idea.

As you stated making the UK albums the world standard, I do not think history should be re-written. Your argument towards adding the MMT "singles" to Past Masters is possibly a good argument. I disagree with changing 'Yellow Submarine'. If MMT was to be issued as a EP, you would have to take 'Long Tall Sally' EP and issue that separately as well and remove it from 'Past Masters'. I understand, and think you make a good case to changing 'Magical Mystery Tour'. It seems however that by adding the 1967 (Magical Mystery Tour) singles complicates things.

As far as the cover, I think the only thing that might be an improvement would be to do a collage of singles covers. But that could cause issues as well as many of the singles originally did not have a graphic. Bringing back the idea of a plain cover.

In short, I say leave it as it is.
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BlueMeanie

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2009, 04:13:34 PM »


I must say my eyeballs popped out of my head when I read that you intensely dislike all the Beatles' cover versions of other songs (save Twist and Shout)! I love all the Beatles covers (OK,  except maybe Mr. Moonlight, and maybe Devil in Her Heart too; and Honey Don't - well it doesn't, at least for me; and maybe Three Cool Cats is a little lame ...).

I meant the physical covers, not the cover versions.
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Nelson_Wilbury

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Re: how PAST MASTERS could be better
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2009, 02:45:15 PM »

It's true that MMT was an EP and the 67's singles must be in Past Masters, but think in this: If you go to a record store in UK to buy a CD of MMT, in what format you find it? CD or EP? Maybe this is the reason to not include this material in the PM
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