The Beatles: 1
After The Beatles stopped touring, and because travelling around the globe to promote new releases was impossible, the band increasingly made what could be described as “mini movies”. These pioneering promotional films and videos helped to define the way we have come to watch music, not least because The Beatles approached filming with the same ease and innovative spirit they brought to the recording studio, exploring new creative possibilities with infectious delight. Showcasing the band’s filmed work to accompany their 27 No.1, U.K. and U.S. singles, The Beatles 1 is newly restored and expanded in multiple configurations for global release on November 6 by Apple Corps Ltd/UMG.
The 27-track CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray pairs beautifully restored videos for each song, with new stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS HD surround audio mixes. The brand new Beatles 1+ celebrates their career in over 200 minutes through 50 promotional films and videos. This includes the 27 No.1s, with the restored videos, along with a second disc of 23 videos, including alternate versions, as well as rarely seen and newly restored films and videos; all include new audio mixes in deluxe CD/2-DVD and CD/2-Blu-ray packages. The 27-track audio CD is also being made available with new stereo mixes. A 2 LP, 180-gram vinyl package will follow.
The new editions of The Beatles 1 have been made possible following extensive research, and restoration of the original promo films, classic television appearances and other carefully selected videos spanning the band’s history. Apple Corps dug deep into The Beatles’ vaults to select a broad range of films and videos for their rarity, historical significance and quality of performance. An 18-person team of film and video technicians and restoration artists was assembled by Apple Corps to undertake painstaking frame-by-frame cleaning, colour-grading, digital enhancement and new edits that took months of dedicated, ‘round-the-clock work to accomplish.
The result is a visual run down of The Beatles’ number one records, as well as the additional tracks on the bonus disc of Beatles 1+ that show the band in previously unseen standards of clarity and quality; many of the films and videos have never before been commercially released, in whole or in part.
Beatles 1 and Beatles 1+ offers the restored films, including 35mm negatives scanned in 4K and digitally restored with new stereo and 5.1 surround audio remixes, produced from the original analogue tapes by the GRAMMY® winning team of Giles Martin with Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios. For four of the videos, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have provided exclusive audio commentary and filmed introductions, respectively. The 1+ Deluxe Edition, presented in an expanded 124-page illustrated hardcover book includes ‘an appreciation’ of The Beatles’ ground-breaking films and videos by music journalist and author Mark Ellen and extensive, detailed track/video annotation by music historian and author Richard Havers.
“These videos and films are spectacular reminders of the era we lived in. They also rock!” – Paul McCartney
"I think it’s really interesting to see the videos we made, some of them incredible and some of them really incredible. How else would we have got to sit on a horse?" – Ringo Starr
Between 1962 and 1970, The Beatles released 27 No.1 hit singles in the U.S. and the U.K. In 2000, these timeless songs were collected for The Beatles 1, which topped the charts in 35 countries and became that decade’s bestselling album worldwide. 15 years later, 1 is revisited for this entirely new, visually-inspired presentation.
It’s The Beatles, as you’ve never seen them before.
1. LOVE ME DO
2. FROM ME TO YOU
3. SHE LOVES YOU
4. I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND
5. CAN’T BUY ME LOVE
6. A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
7. I FEEL FINE
8. EIGHT DAYS A WEEK
9. TICKET TO RIDE
12. DAY TRIPPER
13. WE CAN WORK IT OUT
14. PAPERBACK WRITER
15. YELLOW SUBMARINE
16. ELEANOR RIGBY
17. PENNY LANE
18. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE
19. HELLO, GOODBYE
20. LADY MADONNA
21. HEY JUDE
22. GET BACK
23. THE BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO
25. COME TOGETHER
26. LET IT BE
27. THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
Review by Rick Kosmick - December 5, 2015
In assessing the Blu-ray of “The Beatles 1“, the pre-release marketing indicated it was primarily aimed for the mass market as a video feature in high resolution (2K) that is supported by high quality audio (24Bit 96k) with options for listening in stereo or 5.1 multi-channel. As such, it was my decision to focus on the overall ‘presentation’ of video and audio to properly assess the calibre of this release.
"The Beatles 1" contains a series of classic short films (promotional clips for songs) or live performances providing a historical document for a visual experience of The Beatles as their music grew in complexity during the period from 1962 to 1970. This is state-of -the-art video technology with results that are quite extraordinary. It has been restored in 2K through a high definition digital transfer with phenomenal picture quality considering film of this vintage. The work undertaken for repair and restoration turns into fabulous product with vivid colourization and sharp images.
Giles Martin and Sam Okell remixed the audio of the original recordings in 5.1 multi-channel and 2.0 Stereo. They chose a respectful remix of the originals placing attention on 'detail'. The Beatles spent more time recording in mono as opposed to stereo (or at least until "The White Album") so it is understandable the new remixes would mimic this approach for spatial qualities (think detail of mono coming out in stereo remixes). Instead of panning hard left or right with vocals or instruments as in the original stereo mixes, the vocals are more centred and Ringo Starr’s drums for example, although panned somewhat to the right, are better balanced in the stereo remix. When you hear the surround sound version, the concept remains for symmetry across the front channels with rears used mainly for ambience. I am sure many multi-channel enthusiasts would prefer to have discreet use of the rears for guitars, bass, drums, piano, etc., but this is contrary to maintaining the integrity of these original recordings.
My review covers the one disc Blu-ray for 27 No.1 hit singles mirroring The Beatles 1 RBCD release from 2000 that has sold a staggering 31 million copies worldwide. Yes, the No.1 songs have the same running order and yes these are all original recordings of The Beatles. But the ‘audio’ resemblance stops here. The Blu-ray substitutes live recordings and alternate versions as replacements for some of the original single release studio recordings that has a significant impact in regard to the presentation of the audio.
So what about the audio? Many audiophiles had high expectations based on the excellent 5.1 surround sound on the DVD Audio release of The Beatles: Love. Well, if you look at the early Beatles recordings on two-track and four-track, it would not take long to surmise the fidelity would be limited on earlier studio recordings. On the opening track “Love Me Do” , this original studio recording is followed by live performance recordings including Track 6 of “A Hard Days Night” .....choosing to use these audio versions to synchronize with the videos. If your are use to high quality audio standards, it is startling to hear the live recordings in such inferior fidelity. However, in listening to these early live recordings, I found the 5.1 multi-channel preferable as the sound has a more ‘full’ effect and gave a better sense of presence in the listening room (the live stereo versions sound somewhat muffled).
In comparing the choice between the 5.1 surround and stereo versions, the multi-channel did not end up as my preferred option. Interestingly, the 5.1 presentation offers many examples of excellent fidelity such as “Love Me Do” where you hear the acoustic guitars resonate and stand out in tone (as I never heard before) but they are buried in the mono mix (first 3 tracks on Blu-ray are mono not stereo). Generally, however, the surround sound is more dispersed lacking the stronger focus in stereo. The stereo imaging is excellent for the remixes particularly on the later studio recordings. Furthermore, the stereo versions exhibit better transparency and balance for both vocals and instruments.
Starting with the Rubber Soul sessions in 1965, The Beatles set out to incorporate the studio as an instrument in their recordings. In 1966 the Beatles recording sessions underwent some fundamental changes. The recording technology in the studio was upgraded and the audio engineer changed to Geoff Emerick who replaced Norman Smith. The Beatles were becoming much more experimental in the studio and Emerick utilized different recording techniques. On track 14 “Paperback Writer” (recorded in April, 1966), Paul McCartney’s bass is quite pronounced (loud) with a rich and deep tone. The backing vocals from John Lennon and George Harrison have this wonderful echo in the chorus refrain (using ADT-automatic double tracking) that has a reverberation effect significantly enhanced by high resolution. And remember, this song is a four-track recording.
A vital characteristic of The Beatles, at least in my estimation, was their adventurous nature to constantly improve the sound of their recordings. For their time, they were studio wizards. In 1968, The Beatles moved to record using eight multi-tracks starting with “Hey Jude”. By the time you hear track 25 and “Come Together”, the huge benefits of the 24Bit 96k audio resolution are evident in McCartney's heavy bass riff that vibrates with an unusual yet beautiful deep tone and dominates this recording ....to use a cliche, 'it just rocks' in the exceptional fidelity. As an aside to "Come Together", you may notice considerable variation in the bass on some songs from the Blu-ray leading me to reduce my subwoofer by -3.5 dB as an adjustment for bass management.
This Blu-ray release of “The Beatles 1” slides comfortably through the group's musical history with exemplary visuals. The audio is extremely important as you hear The Beatles experimentation with sound as it progresses by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately the quality of the early live recordings are of a very low fidelity that do not improve in high resolution audio. The early original single releases from the studio, instead of live recordings, would have provided an effective continuum in historical scope. The uneven approach to presenting the audio is a drawback to both performance and sonics. In my listening experience, the Stereo version is a much better option in terms of high quality audio. Foremost, it is recommended to consider the video and audio as a joint presentation. Otherwise, the audio alone may disappoint.
Copyright © 2015 Rick Kosmick and HRAudio.net