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Thread: Messing with music masterpieces

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

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    I'm Alex.

    Angry Messing with music masterpieces

    Imagine for a moment if, when last year Apple Corps. released the 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper's reissue, they decided to 'modernize' its iconic LP cover. They hired visual artists and designers to add pertinent and prominent cardboard cutouts of some contemporary celebrities behind the four Beatles, and maybe even removed some 'obsolete' elements from the image on the record sleeve.

    I'd bet you that the public outcry would be stupendous. Everybody and their uncle would vehemently protest the audacity of Apple Corps. taking such liberties with the iconic and seminal work of art, one of the most prominent masterpieces of the 20th century music.

    And yet... and yet! When Giles Martin took the liberty to mess with the recorded masterpiece, to re-imagine it and reassemble it to his liking (under the excuse of 'modernizing' it), no one protested, no one said a word.

    Why is it that we tolerate such revisionist blasphemy, while still being super touchy about the visual side of the package? To my mind, it is much bigger blasphemy to modify the Beatles original product (the originally mixed and mastered released songs), than it is to modify the visual packaging.

    Imagine if someone went and started rearranging the notes Bach or Mozart of Beethoven had originally written. If a budding young composer goes in and decides to 'modernize' Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by removing some 'dated' parts and adding some more modern sounding parts, people would form a lynch mob and go after that person's head. And yet, when it comes to the Beatles and their masterpieces, the crowd seems okay with this atrocious process of 'modernization'.

    People will say "but, but, but, you know full well that Sir Paul McCartney himself praised the new reimagined Sgt. Pepper's, so who are you to complain?" Well, my question is, why would McCartney say 'no!' to millions of dollars pouring into his coffers? Of course he and Ringo and Yoko and Olivia are going to be behind these re-imagining projects, because they all stand to profit from such gimmicks handsomely.

    But because the Beatles are not merely a commercial product, but are also one of the most important parts of our cultural heritage, we cannot let it all boil down to sales and marketing tactics.

    Off my soap box now, just wanted to voice my concerns regarding the possibly upcoming 50th anniversary release of the brand new and 'modernized' White Album'. I hope the travesty won't continue. Just give as the all analog stereo master of the White Album, the way you gave us the mono master in 2014. The 2012 remastered-from-stereo-digital-remaster pressing is atrocious!
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Nov 2008

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    There's a massive flaw in your thinking, Alex.

    The Beatles intended their work to be heard in glorious mono.
    The stereo version was almost throwaway stuff from the band's perspective (they never attended or had any part of any stereo mixdowns).
    And it was thus all the way up to the last couple of albums.

    So your copy of The Beatles, in stereo, and as it was at the time of release is unlikely to happen, unless of course you want to throw copious amounts of cash at it.
    I hear that Apple are waiting to start production, and as soon as they've received payment ....

    The Giles Martin remix stuff on Sgt. Pepper was an imagination on the younger Martin's part along the lines of "what if we could incorporate mix elements from the mono versions into the stereo versions", and the remaining Beatles agreed that it would be interesting.
    Nobody knocked on your front door, put a gun against your head, force marched you down to the record store, and forced you to part with your hard earned.

    A simple "I'm not so keen on it" would have sufficed, but instead we got an extended essay with things like "revisionist" and "blasphemy" in it.
    Why use five words, when two thousand, seven hundred and ninety one will do?
    If you don't like it don't buy it and don't listen to it.

    There are lots of different releases of The Beatles catalogue out there, and I assume that one of them must be sufficient to satisfy your desire.
    Chris



    Common sense isn't anymore!

  3. #3
    Join Date: Aug 2009

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    Quote Originally Posted by RothwellAudio View Post
    Your assumption is that the way the records sounded at the time was the way the artist wanted them too. That may not be the case. They had to work within the limitations of the equipment available to them and do the best they could. .
    There is a case to be made for arguing that whatever limitations the artist had at the time are intrinsic to the art they produced. I'm inclined to agree. Going back after many years to something now considered a classic and saying 'well we always wanted to do this but we did not have the time/money/technology' is usually the precursor to fucking it up royally a la the awful digital insertions in the updated Star Wars films, or the government agents having their weapons digitally transformed into walkie-talkies in 'ET: The Extra Terrestrial.'

    It's about money, that's all it is about. Let's not kid ourselves here. It's about making something that was timeless and great into a crock of shit, just for the money. But it will always carry on as long as there are so many mug punters in the world.
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  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    There is a case to be made for arguing that whatever limitations the artist had at the time are intrinsic to the art they produced. I'm inclined to agree. Going back after many years to something now considered a classic and saying 'well we always wanted to do this but we did not have the time/money/technology' is usually the precursor to fucking it up royally a la the awful digital insertions in the updated Star Wars films, or the government agents having their weapons digitally transformed into walkie-talkies in 'ET: The Extra Terrestrial.'

    It's about money, that's all it is about. Let's not kid ourselves here. It's about making something that was timeless and great into a crock of shit, just for the money. But it will always carry on as long as there are so many mug punters in the world.
    Amen.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2010

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stratmangler View Post
    There's a massive flaw in your thinking, Alex.

    The Beatles intended their work to be heard in glorious mono.
    The stereo version was almost throwaway stuff from the band's perspective (they never attended or had any part of any stereo mixdowns).
    And it was thus all the way up to the last couple of albums.

    So your copy of The Beatles, in stereo, and as it was at the time of release is unlikely to happen, unless of course you want to throw copious amounts of cash at it.
    I hear that Apple are waiting to start production, and as soon as they've received payment ....

    The Giles Martin remix stuff on Sgt. Pepper was an imagination on the younger Martin's part along the lines of "what if we could incorporate mix elements from the mono versions into the stereo versions", and the remaining Beatles agreed that it would be interesting.
    Nobody knocked on your front door, put a gun against your head, force marched you down to the record store, and forced you to part with your hard earned.

    A simple "I'm not so keen on it" would have sufficed, but instead we got an extended essay with things like "revisionist" and "blasphemy" in it.
    Why use five words, when two thousand, seven hundred and ninety one will do?
    If you don't like it don't buy it and don't listen to it.

    There are lots of different releases of The Beatles catalogue out there, and I assume that one of them must be sufficient to satisfy your desire.
    The problem, as I see it, is that people who were born long after the Beatles disbanded will get their first exposure to Pepper via this shitty anniversary fuckup. First impressions matter. And to make things worse, it is the bloody OFFICIAL release by the Apple Corps., not some experimental playful project. What Apple is saying is "this is how Sgt. Pepper really sounds!" Which is bullshit.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2008

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    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    The problem, as I see it, is that people who were born long after the Beatles disbanded will get their first exposure to Pepper via this shitty anniversary fuckup. First impressions matter. And to make things worse, it is the bloody OFFICIAL release by the Apple Corps., not some experimental playful project. What Apple is saying is "this is how Sgt. Pepper really sounds!" Which is bullshit.
    The record is marked up as an Anniversary Edition (there's a fcking great yellow stripe down the left hand side of the cover), and the notes state that it's a remix.
    No effort has been made to hide the fact.

    I think this review on Amazon sums it up nicely.
    leftywrote a review
    2017-05-29Verified purchase
    It just sounds like Sgt Pepper! - but it's still great
    Ok, firstly I need to get this out of the way, because I tried not to be bothered by it, but it has bugged me to be honest.

    My order of the Sgt Pepper Deluxe Box Set arrived by Amazon logistics in just the manufactures packaging with my address label stuck on. . .this seemed fine, because the packaging was really pretty good, however, on opening the box I seen straight away that the set wasn't shrink wrapped?. . .what?, a premium Beatles item not in shrink, this seemed strange.

    What also bothered me, was probably as a result of the none shrinkwrap, the top corners of the slip case are slightly bent and crushed in. . .this has really bugged me because I have since watched a good few unboxing videos online, and in each case the deluxe sets were all factory shrink wrapped, so what's going on with Amazons stock here?,

    Has anyone else had an unsealed copy?

    Anyway, it's a really nice set, it has a very premium feel to it, as for the 2017 Stereo remix. . .well, I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to be hearing that's really different?, I've heard this album so many many times, and this 2017 remix just sounds like Sgt Pepper overall. I feel it's always sounded pretty good across different releases.

    If anything, I will say that the overall audio is much more prominent, sometimes to the point where it actually sounds like it might start distorting, this is particularly true for the opening track (Sgt Pepper), which sound a little harsh here and there I think.

    What I definitely did notice was a few cool things I hadn't heard on over versions, including a phasing effect on Johns vocals on Lucy In The Sky, which is subtle but there, also on George's Within You Without You, there's an extra crowd clapping near the end, plus a few other things,

    So, overall the deluxe is a nice set, I still have the Mono mix and the blu ray to watch yet, but basically the stereo remix didn't blow me away like I thought it might, again, I realise that realistically, there is a limit to exactly what can be achieved and there must come a point where the human ear can't determine a big difference, to me, it just sounds like Sgt Pepper which at the end of the day is a fantastic album, whichever version you listen to. . .

    UPDATE!!!! - Since my initial review, i have listened on good quality speakers a few times and it sounds great, i mean really good indeed. Not only are the vocals crisp and clean, but Paul's bass is now kicking in the mix, as is Ringo's drums which are right up there. I have read a good few reviews that suggest the Vinyl is even better, due to being cut to the format untouched, where as the CD version has limiters applied!!. I'm about to buy a new turn table, so i have treated myself to the double LP. . . .which arrived today
    I made the bottom paragraph a bit more difficult to overlook
    Chris



    Common sense isn't anymore!

  7. #7
    Join Date: Mar 2018

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    Like when Lucasfilm re-released Star Wars etc. with all the awful extra bits, we always had the opportunity to watch the originals on VHS, we can also listen to the originals whenever we like. The new renditions need never sully our ears.
    I don't blame Macca etc al; they do own the music after all.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Nov 2008

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    I think the Let It Be album in its original form should be deleted.
    The Let It Be ....Naked album is superior in just about every way.
    If The Beatles hadn't been fighting and bickering so vociferously the album might have ended up sounding more like the reworking - that was their intention all along.
    Instead it was handed to Phil Spector to make a mess of .....
    Chris



    Common sense isn't anymore!

  9. #9
    Join Date: Aug 2009

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    I'm Martin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyrus View Post
    Like when Lucasfilm re-released Star Wars etc. with all the awful extra bits, we always had the opportunity to watch the originals on VHS, we can also listen to the originals whenever we like. The new renditions need never sully our ears.
    .
    A fair point.
    Current Lash Up:

    *Sony SCD XB790QS* Nelson Pass DCB1 / Krell KSA100 mkII * JM Lab Electra 926 *


    'You fool! To think that your ape-brain could contain the full knowledge of the Krell!'

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2010

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stratmangler View Post
    The record is marked up as an Anniversary Edition (there's a fcking great yellow stripe down the left hand side of the cover), and the notes state that it's a remix.
    No effort has been made to hide the fact.

    I think this review on Amazon sums it up nicely.


    I made the bottom paragraph a bit more difficult to overlook
    Thanks for the review. Like I said, my beef is that the promo and the marketing propaganda made it sound as if now, finally after so many years, we will be able to hear Sgt. Pepper's the way it should really be heard. But I disagree. I think the Beatles knew what they were doing 50 years ago, and if they released this LP the way it was released, it's the last word and the exact way they wanted it to sound.

    I'm not buying the "oh, but the technology they had at their disposal back then was so primitive!" argument. First of all, it wasn't primitive at all. I have some LPs from 1950s and 1960s that put to shame many of the modern day recordings. So what's so primitive about that?

    Furthermore, as Martin said, there's lots to be admired when it comes to how artists embrace the constraints of the medium and churn out a masterpiece. So even if we say that the technology was primitive back then, it is the beauty of what the lads did with it that really counts. I mean, just think about how "Tomorrow Never Knows" came into being -- by using primitive tape loops throughout the studio etc. Today's most sophisticated computers wouldn't be able to replicate that. So it's all in the artistic process of creating something out of nothing using whatever is at artists' disposal.

    I'm pretty sure that 50 years ago the Beatles and the crew were able to produce Pepper to sound exactly the way Giles made it sound last year. But they didn't. Why? Because that wasn't the sound they were going for.

    I think we need to recognize and admire such artistic choices.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

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