Beatles red and blue is AAA
|The Beatles 1962-1966 aka “the Red album”.|
Analog Planet has had a word with Abbey Road mastering engineer Sean Magee, who told them that the two upcoming Beatles compilations, the “Red” (1962-1966) and “Blue” (1967-1970) albums were cut from the original analogue tapes used to produced the original LP sets—with a few exceptions. The tapes originally used to produce the two double LP sets back in 1973 were again used, but with a couple of changes: mono versions using EQ from the mono box set replaced the few faux stereo tracks originally used.
Apart from those, whatever differences there were between those versions and the ones on the original albums remain. Analog Planet quotes Magee, who said:
“The cutting notes made by Harry Moss were followed to the letter except for overall levels, which were a touch quieter, but cleaner. All analogue too”.
So, as far as hype goes, AAA is the new DDD these days.*
We presume that it’s the original British masters that were used, as you know there were a few differences between the US and the British original releases of these.
“Help!” on the American edition includes the same pseudo-James Bond intro as the mix found on the American Help! soundtrack LP, while the same song on the British edition does not. Also, the British LP uses the stereo “whispering intro” mix of “I Feel Fine”, while the US LP uses the mono mix from Beatles ’65, which is drenched in additional reverb. Here’s a comparison:
US vs UK 1973 Red Album
|From Me To You||stereo mix, reversed channels||correct channels|
|She Loves You||1964 US fake stereo||1966 UK fake stereo|
|I Want To Hold Your Hand||1964 US fake stereo||1966 stereo mix|
|A Hard Day’s Night||1964 mono mix||1964 stereo mix|
|I Feel Fine||1964 US mono mix||1964 stereo mix|
|Ticket To Ride||1965 mono mix||1965 stereo mix|
|Help!||1965 stereo mix, “James Bond” intro||Same mix, no intro|
|We Can Work It Out||1965 stereo mix||1966 stereo mix|
|Paperback Writer||1966 stereo mix, reversed channels||Correct channels|
Note: Day Tripper uses 1965 stereo mix on both US & UK.
Love Me Do is 1963 fake stereo on both.
US vs UK 1973 Blue Album
|Strawberry Fields Forever||1966 stereo mix||1971 stereo mix|
|Penny Lane||1967 mono mix||1971 stereo mix|
|I Am The Walrus||1967 US stereo mix||1967 UK stereo mix|
|Hello Goodbye||1967 mono mix||1967 stereo mix|
For a full comparison of mixes used on the original US release, the original UK release and the 2010 new CD masters, we refer you to the table in this Wikipedia entry.
|The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka “the Blue album”)|
By the way, did you notice that before the photo session that ended up on the front of the blue album cover, George and John must have made a mutual agreement to show up in their 1966 tour tan striped stage suits? Paul and Ringo have also been coordinating their clothes, but where are those threads from? The 1966 “dark” stage suits were actually green, but these look positively blueish.
* The three letter so called SPARS code AAA and DDD was implemented in 1984 and refers to Recording, Mixing and Mastering of a track or an album. The code denotes which parts of the recording process were completed using analogue equipment and which were completed using digital equipment. The first two positions, representing recording and mixing respectively, may be either an “A” for analogue or a “D” for digital; the third position, representing mastering, is always D on digital CDs, but can be A on LP records.
In 1979, the first digitally recorded album of popular music now with vocals, “Bop ‘Til You Drop” by guitarist Ry Cooder, was released by Warner Bros. Records. Dire Straits’ 1985 album “Brothers in Arms” was one of the first albums to be directed at the CD market, and was a full digital recording (DDD) at a time when most popular music was recorded on analogue equipment.
Of course, from the beginning, all recordings were analogue all the way in the process towards the finished record. When Compact Discs were launched, all the old Beatles albums kept their first A, since they were all recorded in the analogue era. When The Beatles’ first four CDs were released in 1987, they displayed the code ADD on the cover, which was actually a mistake. They used the old analogue mixes, only the mastering was done digitally, so it should have been AAD. The mistake was corrected by putting a sticker on the CD plastic case, noting “ADD should read AAD”. As we know, George Martin went in and remixed “Help!” and “Rubber Soul”, and he was mixing them digitally. So these two CDs are correctly labeled ADD. For the remainder of the catalogue, the old mixes were deemed good enough back in 1987, so they are all AAD. Vinyl records from this era were also pressed from digital masters, so they will also be AAD (except, of course, “Help!” and “Rubber Soul”).
|With The Beatles 1987 CD. Note SPARS code and correcting sticker.|
Starting with “Brothers in Arms”, it became fashionable, especially among high tech CD collectors to have as many totally digital (DDD) CDs as possible. Starting with this year’s new Beatles in Mono vinyl releases, having an all-analogue process (AAA) seems to be trending. Their 2012 stereo counterparts were made from digital masters based on analogue mixes, making them AAD (except, of course, “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” still being ADD, because of their respect for George Martin’s work).