Friday, 30 November 2007

The Beatles - Great sounding vinyl Pt.1: 1962-1964

The beatles and I go back a long time from childhood growing up listening to their songs on the radio, being gifted various 45's and as I got a little older, buying my own records because their music makes me happy.
To me this goes beyond regular adult collecting interests being very much a part of  my child-like side, enjoying reading the lp jackets as much as singing along to their songs that gives me a great feeling of inner well-being being in a safe, carefree environment which I feel is what they as song-writers, entertainers actually wanted more for us than the more obsessive side you see on some websites.

Following on from the better sounding CD page, I thought I'd add my suggestions on the better sounding vinyl covering their work.
Currently, nearly all the in print vinyl is sourced from the digitally re-mastered catalogue of 1987 and the compilations added since. Because of the issues mentioned on the CD page much of this is of no use to you if you're wanting really good records. Simply issuing these versions on vinyl doesn't solve the basic mastering issues.

The 1962 - 1963 catalogue:
Three options:
UK catalogue: Stereo. Please Please Me Parlophone PCS 3042.
The track listing can be found from HMV as this album is available digitalized in poorly mastered mono if you need to.
This is quite easy to find in mid 70's to mid 80's re-issues from mainstream used dealers, record fairs and Ebay. I felt this sounded slightly thin in the mid band but is more complete than Early Years.

Canadian: Stereo. Twist and Shout Capitol ST 6054
Harder to find near relative of Please Please Me that trades 'I Saw Her Standing There' and 'Misery' for She Loves You' and 'From Me To You' originally issued February 1964.
Originally issued in mono only (T 6054) up to 1976, this one got a stereo make over in the late 70's when Capitol of Canada requested stereo tapes from EMI UK and with first rate cutting sounds superb as the weren't futzed with.
One thing you'll need to check is that some copies come with one side in mono - that incidentally feature the 'dry' singles version of 'Please Please Me'.
My current copy is like that but I have to say this is the best sounding one I heard.

North American: Stereo. The Early Beatles. Capitol ST 2309
Issued in both Canada and the States in March 1965, this has only 11 of the 14 tracks that made the UK Please Please Me album. Misery and There's a Place were not issued on US album until 1980's Rarities. Some tracks were re-mixed for US consumption.
This has been Stereo only since 1968 but most earlier copies sounded poor as Capitol in the US shaved the bass and upper treble off in an attempt to make it play on the cheapest phonographs!
The ones to look for should have a Purple coloured Capitol label with the dome on or the very last 'rainbow rims of 1983-88 by which time the stampers used to press them had been re-cut with much better sound.
I own a Canadian Purple copy which sounds very good.

Canadian. Stereo . Beatlemania with the Beatles! Capitol ST 6051
First issued in November 1963 - the first Beatles album issued in North American - this is identical to the UK With The Beatles album right down to the sleeve notes.
As with most Capitol of Canada albums until December 1964, this was originally issued as mono only and it received a stereo make over in 1976 where stereo tapes were requested from EMI UK, one consequence of this has none of the additional processing prevalent on the US inspired albums.
It did have some growing pains in being issued in stereo as two versions were done one with a very wide stereo image and another some what narrowed but still recognizably stereo.
See this link to identify what copy you have:
SH Forums - View Single Post - Beatlemania! With The Beatles Canadian stereo difference
The thing to note is even compared to the UK stereo this has no additional compression added to it and the actual mastering was done sympathetically.
I own both a Wide stereo and Narrowed stereo copy and even the narrowed copy has the best tonality I've heard on a re-issue and many swear by the Wide version.

UK With The Beatles! Stereo Parlophone PCS 3045
Widely available in mid 70's, mid 80's issues - this is good but I found it sounded thin.
For this track selection my preference is Beatlemania!

North America:Stereo. Meet The Beatles! Capitol ST 2047
Approved by Brian Epstein for release in the US in January 1964 and Stereo only from 1968, most copies were not good sounding.
This is an enjoyable album but would note two tracks - 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and 'This Boy' appear in less than good fake stereo and all have some compression compared to the other two choices.
Again you need a Purple or late Rainbow Rimmed copy if this selection appeals.

1964 North American:

Canadian. Stereo. Long Tall Sally Capitol ST 6063. May 1964.
The last unique Canadian issue, this is a gem as Capitol of Canada realized when taking this mono album to stereo in the late 70's mono only tracks were best left that way and oddly enough used mono versions of the title track 'I Call Your Name', 'This Boy' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' that are otherwise are hard to find in album form. It complements Twist and Shout well adding the missing tracks and unlike Second Album (see below) this has 'You Can't Do That' in true stereo rather than very echo-laden duophonic.
Some copies oddly enough have the first side in original mono only - as does mine - but this sounds superb.
Strongly recommended.

North American: Stereo The Beatles' Second Album ST2080
Originally issued in April of 1964, this has the five outstanding tracks of Beatlemania/With The Beatles issued on Meet The Beatles plus Long Tall Sally*, I Call Your Name* and a few singles.
This album has the only true stereo Thank You Girl and different mixes of the *EP tracks and generally is well compiled. The problem is the stereo version has loads of added echo which obscures the fine details and is fatiguing to listen too.
The CD version has the mono with is free from much of this.
Useful for different mixes - look for a purple label copy but not otherwise recommended.
The 1964 recordings:
North America.Stereo. Something New. Capitol ST2108.
This was the album that had the tracks from the Movie A Hard Days Night that hadn't been issued as singles on it and because of licensing issues doesn't feature three tracks ('Can't Buy Me Love', 'I Should Of Known Better' and the movies title track).
In it's favour the Purple Capitol sounds surprisingly good and is all true stereo throughout. You can supplement this with either the US Reel Music compilation or UK 45's (the stereo 'I Should Have Known Better' is on the UK Yesterday single issued April 1976.

UK. Stereo. A Hard Day's Night Parlophone PCS 3058
Easy to find a later issue of this album.
All seven of the films plus six other but minus the other two tracks from the UK Long Tall Sally.
Take your pick - I normally go with Something New having the other tracks on 45 and various albums - but you may prefer this set with it's first rate liner notes
The sound is generally of a high standard.
I'd recommend both as the only CD to offer decent stereo sound is the CD of Something New (Capitol Albums Vol:1 box).

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Rolled Gold and Styx Equinox & Crystal Ball

What comes around goes around, eh?
That was my first thought when I heard of the release of yet another Rolling Stones CD recently.
The original CD's were issued in Europe around 1984/7 and because of licensing issues were replaced by the US mastered (and somewhat inferior sounding) issues in 1995.
Then in 2002 it was announced that the were to re-mastered using new DSD techniques for the Super Audio CD (SACD).
In total 22 discs which included the US versions of the Big Hits and Thru' The Past, Darlkly compilations, Hot Rocks and Hot Rocks 2 Double compilations and the London Years ( All the singles and B sides on three discs).
And that's how everybody thought their Decca era output on CD was going to stay, so why issue this?
This album on LP and Tape was issued in 1975 and proved to be exceptionally popular because in one package it had the main singles and important album tracks, providing a good way into the bands 60's recordings.
In the CD age however this compilation is a surprisingly good choice.
First off, one problem with the US inspired Hot Rocks and Hot Rocks 2 sets is the material is scatted in no particular order across four CD's and in the case of Hot Rocks 2 not even in chronological order. Some of the tracks on Hot Rocks 2 are only really there because the original US LP's such as After-Math missed off tracks from the UK issues that never found their way onto other US 'albums'. That's why 'What To Do' ends up on disc two.
Equally if one was to consider the individual Big Hits and Thru' The Past Darkly discs these use US versions that miss off UK hit singles.
The re-introduction of Rolled Gold solves this problem at a stroke as it features all the UK singles issued from 1963 thru 1969 plus the US singles. It has notable tracks like 'Carol', 'Lady Jane', 'Yesterday's Papers' and 'Gimme Shelter'.
The tracks run in near chronological order so you can sense the musical development of the group from those early R&B sessions to what is the template for much of todays Indie rock.
It is little appreciated outside of Stones fanatics circles but there was a major problem in the last otherwise good re-mastered series.
On 'Ruby Tuesday' somehow they pulled the 'wrong' tapes and got a copy which misses off the multi-tracked vocals and some instrumentation and that is on all the compilations re-issued plus the Flowers album.
This issue puts it right not without some controversy as seemingly they 'cloned' the right version from the older CD! Never mind the sound is quite acceptable although had they used an actual tape it could have made to sound better.
'Time Is On My Side' is the UK version in stereo whilst 'Mothers Little Helper' uses the mono version issued on single in the US.
In a strange move they've added two recordings from 1971, 'Brown Sugar' and 'Wild Horses' to the compilation.
So at long last we have a decent Decca era CD compilation and a low price too. There also is a inexpensive 4 Lp version available from HMV and in the UK.
Strongly recommended

This came out a year back and I recently picked up a copy used.

It's the 1975 and 1976 Styx albums - the first two for A&M Records - after changing from Wooden Nickel. Featuring Lorelie, Suite Madam Blue and Crystal Ball this twofer remastered by Andrew Thompson at Sound Performance sounds great and can be recommended.
Catalogue number: BGOCD 724

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


I've been a bit busy this week not helped by a ropy session with my broadband provider so here comes this weeks entry.
Hey folks Did I ever mention to you all I really love porcelain?
Well the stunning figure above is the first annual Lady of the Year from The English Ladies Co. She is elegantly dressed in a summer gown and carries a delicate bone china parasol. The English Ladies Co. rose motif decorates her bodice and skirt. It's Beautifully modelled by Valerie Annand. Height 25 cm (10 ins).

I have and will be doing some further work on this blog over this month to tidy it up as well as generally improve it's appearance so you'll spot some diffferences of which there's a big one already.