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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Beatles In 5.1

To the persons who make the decisions regarding the The Beatles back catalogue,

Today I wanted to listen to The Beatles and to my own surprise, I dusted off my version of Love and listened to the DVD containing the 5.1 surround sound version for the Cirque du Soleil show.

Putting aside the almost sacrilegious and frankly gimmicky notion of taking signature sounds from one track and dropping them in another, for an hour or so, whatever misgivings I originally held about this release were blown away as I was totally transported into another world: all thanks to the glorious sounds emanating from every corner of the room.

It made me want to hear more but apart from the recently released blu-ray of Yellow Submarine, there's nothing available.

It made me think: isn’t it time to get The Beatles Blu-ray special edition 5.1 editions out now?

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first album I bought (Christmas and birthday money in 1968). Since then I’ve purchased it in every available format.

Here’s my suggestion for what would be on the Blu-ray edition:

5.1. mix (more likely 7.1 but hey, let’s have both)
2009 Stereo and Mono mixes
Extras to include all of the working versions of songs previously collected on Anthology
Plus full alternate takes where they exist

Unreleased work in progress / demos / alt mixes etc.  

For all of the above - dressed in special CD-sized packaging (so it sits nicely next to the rest of my Beatles releases, please) - I’d part with £20 of your English pounds, as my pal Mr.CBQ might say.

That's £20 - at the drop of a hat. A price tag of £25 would make me hesitate a moment, but, if I'm honest, only for a moment. Well, you get the idea.

In this world of admittedly declining physical product, how many other Beatles fans would part with twenty notes?

Lets say it's only 5000 worldwide (but in reality likely to be many more times this).  

You, as the saying goes, do the math!

As someone who has involved (albeit tangentially) in the reissuing of an artists back catalogue in 5.1 surround sound, I understand co-ordinating such a project can be a complex and occasionally fraught process.

And that's not even taking into account the politics between various camps and estates who have an opinion to express.

I don’t think the average punter realises just how many time-consuming and costly hoops that all have to be jumped through before the wished-for album is ready to be released.

So while I completely understand the scale of the task involved, I think the artistic rewards (coupled with the not-insubstantial financial returns for all concerned) make this project a no-brainer.

Let's be clear: the mono / stereo mixes remain the definitive way of hearing this music.

However presenting The Beatles catalogue in the very best available audio format, whose resolution is simply stunning, is surely the very least it deserves.


Will said...

You should contact Giles Martin and see if he has any clout. This would be a great idea... if only we could think of someone to write the sleevenotes.

Sid Smith said...

To be fair to the folks behind the scenes Will, I think the 5.1 stuff has existed for some time but who knows what kind of wrangles have put the kibosh on a release. A shame, I'd really love to get more of the same.

The guy to do the notes for such releases would be Mark Lewisohn of course!

CBQ said...

Hi Sid

Nice piece re the Beatles...

I like the Beatles too...

If only much of the other excellent music of the late sixties could achieve such a wide audience...

The Beatles' status as "greatest group ever" will never be superceded I think...

This is despite my annoying habit of winding up Beatles fans by asking them to listen to mid sisties work of Simon & Garfunkel and then tell me the Beatles were better (and I'm not even a huge S&G fan)...

A big difference between how they are seen now - following concerted marketing and media campaigns from the early eighties onwards (probably started with the 20th anniversary re-releases of all their singles) - and how they were viewed in the 70's - a decade during which, I believe, Wings easily outsold them...

I recommend Gary Halls' book "Living Life Without Lovong the Beatles" for people who need some perspective on the Fab Four...

Speaking of late 60's stuff, I picked up Jack Bruce's debut for just four of your English pounds yesterday...

I have to thank you for, through your blog, leading me to re-evaluate my thinking on both Mr Bruce and indeed another of your faves, Van der Graaf Generator...

The light has been seen...


Sid Smith said...

Hey there Mr.CBQ
many thanks for the book tip - heard of it but not ever read it.

The Beatles were such a MAJOR part of my childhood for all sorts of reasons, it's impossible for me not to want to hear this music in the best possible format. So, hope against hope, I'm rooting for the 5.1 versions!

Glad to know the blog has been helpful in turning on the CBQ ears to other sounds.


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