The Beatles – The U.S. Albums…history re-written!

usbox2They’re gonna sound pristine!  And that’s precisely what’s wrong about ’em.

The U.S. discography of The Beatles is notoriously messy – different track listings, altogether different albums or takes, folded-down mono and/or fake stereo (“Duo-phonic”!) mixes with mountains of compression and EQ applied – all under the auspices of Capitol Records engineer Dave Dexter, Jr.

For many, however, those bastardizations are how those songs and albums are best remembered.  If you grew up in America in the age of Beatlemania, or if you’re a generation removed but raided your parents’ record collection, chances are good that these are the albums, configurations, mixes and masterings you heard.  Some of you learned about the original UK releases (or the German Magical Mystery Tour, or Japanese Abbey Road…) and hunted them down, or came up in the CD era where the U.S. versions and mixes were struck from existence and the UK releases became the worldwide standard.  But a decent-sized segment of Beatlemaniacs coveted these “Dexterized” treasures.

Apple Corp. finally recognized those under-served masses in 2004 and 2006 with the release of The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 – which returned the first eight U.S. albums (Meet The Beatles through a reconfigured Rubber Soul) to the marketplace.  These were all mastered from the original “Dexterized” master tapes, as they existed in the Capitol vaults.  A third volume should’ve followed in 2008, but Apple Corp. was busy working on another project.

That would be the 2009 remastering campaign, which included the Stereo and Mono Box Sets, and kept the UK releases and masters as the worldwide standard.

Now, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles invading America, we get the the U.S. Albums packaged again – this time adding what would’ve been included in Vol. 3, the horrible The Beatles Story audio documentary, plus the official release of the infamous “Butcher cover” of Yesterday…and Today.

Should’ve been reason to celebrate…but Apple Corp. decided to “correct” history and recreate the U.S. mixes, edits and running orders using the pristine 2009 remasters as their source – eliminating all traces of Dave Dexter, Jr.’s engineering handiwork.  And, of course, they’ve gotten much of it wrong.

They could’ve simply re-remastered the 2004 and 2006 sets, added on the Vol. 3 stuff, extras and deluxe packaging – all using the masters that currently exist in the Capitol vaults – and there’d be much rejoicing. Instead, they are rewriting history by eliminating all of the unique mixes and simply substituting and re-EQing the 2009 masters (but without the compression and reverb that made those Capitol masters unique in the first place).

For this, I’ll never give them my money.

Further reading:

The Beatles Rarity: Comparison of the new box against the original Capitol releases

The Second Disc: Feature on the box set, with dozens of angry comments