Ready for remix: Revolver etc
There’s a good, new Q&A with Giles Martin in Variety, where journalist Chris Willman adresses the question of remixing the rest of the Beatles catalogue:
Variety: There are people who insist a transformative remix couldn’t be done on the pre-4-track Beatles albums because of so many elements being blended into the two basic tracks. But of course, Beatles fans do speculate pretty much across the board: Is there an opportunity to do something with “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul,” now that you’ve gone through the Beatles’ timeline from “Sgt. Pepper” forward?
Giles Martin: –I think there is. I think we have to do it, and I’ve said this before… If you take something like “Taxman” from “Revolver” [a track often cited for its bizarre stereo separation], “Taxman” is guitar, bass and drums on one track, and vocals and a sort of shaking and guitar solo (on the right). And it sounds good; they’re amazing recordings, and amazing mixes. You know, we have to look into what technology we can do to make things de-mixed and all this kind of stuff, which I’m looking into. So I’m looking for the technology to do it with, to do something really innovative with “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver,” as opposed to just a remastering job, because it’s been remastered already. So I think we will. I think we also will look at outtakes as well.
–There’s such an overwhelming desire to do something with them, by fans. And at the same time, there’s the thing in the back of your mind: There’s no point in just doing this to make money or as a sales thing, or because we’d done the others. It’s more important that we do it for the right reason. So there’s your answer: yes. If, the same as “Sgt. Pepper,” I can find a reason to do it, then yes. An actual experience reason to do it, as opposed to just because we’ve done it.
After that, Martin says he is not doing this at the moment, and that one obstacle is that technology hasn’t yet gotten to the stage where separating everything from four or two track tapes is possible without artefacts. But he thinks technology will eventually make this possible. This is a little bit confusing to us, because when someone actually managed to crack the code on The Beatles Rockband game, they found that Martin had indeed already separated most instruments. Hence, remixing “Rubber Soul” became a favourite passtime for wannabe mixing engineers.
One thing is remixing from the bounced-down tapes, but then you go back to the original session take for a particular track and get the tape before it was bounced down (mixed together) onto a track on a second tape. Yet, that first tape can still contain more than one instrument and/or vocals together on one of the two or four tracks available there.
Another thing Martin can be interpreted to say, is that Peter Jackson’s team is better at cleaning up and remixing the mono Nagra tapes than what he is:
Giles Martin: –It is what it is, and yeah, we throw as much technology at these things as you can, but you have to be careful when you’re doing restoration work. And that’s why it’s been good collaborating with Peter and his team, because they’re really, really good at this stuff. I thought I was good at this stuff, and they’re way better than I am. The audio stuff as well — it’s really remarkable what they can do. It’s a collaboration process.
Another quote from the interview deals with remixings becoming dated:
Giles Martin: You don’t want to want to change the sound, because (remixes) actually can date very quickly, as we’ve experienced on legacy stuff in the past. …
Is he perhaps talking about all the Lennon albums Yoko had remixed and released in 2000, only to revert to the old mixes for later reissues of the albums, and now remixing them again for so-called “ultimate remixes” these days?
Go check out the interview in full (edited down for publication) at Variety.com