The Beatles - Beatles For Sale (1964) Stereo Remaster

Craig in Indy

Your cool Uncle
Oct 3, 2009
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Circle City
Beatles for Sale (1964)

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This is the Beatles' fourth LP in the span of 2 years, and the second one released in 1964. Some critics have suggested the cover photo shows four exhausted boys. And what's up with the depressing sequencing of material? Who in their right mind would start an LP with three songs in a row like these? Maybe they were exhausted. They did go back to recording a number of covers with this release, 6 of the 14, in fact.

Anyway, to the sound:

1 - "No Reply"

It may be just me, but this song, on both versions, seems lacking in high-end sparkle. If I didn't know better, I'd think I'd been out at a rock concert last night or I had cotton in my ears. Anyway, the dynamic range of the stereo remaster is much greater than the original mono CD, and the instruments can be heard a little more clearly. Ringo's rim shots are pretty clear, but John's vocal seems lacking in highs. Not only is there no sibilance, there aren't even any "s" sounds at all. On the other hand, there's definitely more weight to the heavily emphasized downbeats during the chorus ("I saw the light"). There also seems to be either more echo, or it's just more easily heard.

2 - "I'm a Loser"

On the remaster you can easily hear that the harmony vocal in the opening lines are Paul's, something I hadn't noticed before. Or at least that's what it sounds like to me. I'm also hearing for the first time a tasty little electric guitar lick right after the line "There is one love I should never have crossed." You can hear it at about 0:20 or 0:21.

3 - "Baby's in Black"

As with one opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night," here the opening electric guitar work is now heard as two different instruments, one in each channel.

4 - "Rock and Roll Music"

Much greater apparent dynamic range and a much more substantial bottom end. You can actually feel this one.

5 - "I'll Follow the Sun"

The wider spacing of the instruments lets you hear "into" the music better, as with just about all of these, but to my ear there's now just the tiniest bit too much reverb on the vocals. I'd have preferred them a little "drier." The little bit of echo that's been introduced muddies the double-tracked lines a bit.

6 - "Mr. Moonlight"

On this one it's a lot of fun to be able to hear the instruments more clearly and cleanly separate from one another. But what really caused a grin for me was the organ that comes in at about 0:16. I hadn't noticed it before now. Going back and listening again to the mono CD, it's definitely there, but buried pretty well. At least well enough that I had always missed it.

7 - "Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!"

Here Paul's vocal is at about the same general level as before, but the instrumental tracks are considerable louder than on the mono version. It was kind of startling, but in a good way, especially for a "roadhouse" kind of song like this. Once again, the ability to hear "into" the instrumental tracks is great. It's kind of like the same thing to the ears as clearing a stuffy nose is to your breathing, if you don't mind me stretching a simile to the breaking point.

8 - "Eight Days a Week"

It's easy to hear the guitar strum patterns in the left channel, and the hand claps are isolated in the right. The bass, while good, seems to me a little bit boomier and muddier than the mono version, but the difference is pretty minor on that.

9 - "Words of Love"

The chiming of the decidedly Holly-esque (it is a Holly song after all) guitars is nice, and it seems to me to lose the slight bit of harshness the guitars in the old version had.

10 - "Honey Don't"

Ringo's vocal almost sounds vulnerable now that it's there all by itself in the middle of the mix. Never a strong vocalist under the best conditions, he's now out there ***** for all the world to hear, with nothing but space around him. Still, at the same time that seems to add a little charm.

11 - "Every Little Thing"

I'm hearing a descending bass line on the piano I never noticed before. What I had assumed was a tympani in the chorus I'm not so sure about now. Before it was just kind of a muddy mess when it was struck. Now it's clearer, but it doesn't have the low-end weight a drum like that should have. I'm puzzled.

12 - "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"

Wow. While the acoustic guitar part was easily heard in the mono mix, I thought that's all that was going on. Now there's an electric guitar playing little single-note licks, measure by measure in the right channel, while the acoustic beats the rhythm in the left. That electric was something I hadn't noticed at all before, and now it's easily as prominent as the acoustic.

13 - "What You're Doing"

The opening kick drum finally has some air around it, and some extra weight in its beat. It comes pretty close to being visceral. It also provides a nice dark background for the chiming of the electric guitar to play off of.

14 - "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"

I've never been overly wild about this Carl Perkins cover, but it's actually interesting to listen to now, as you can hear the guitar work much more clearly than before. Of course, that might only be of interest to guitar players (or aspiring ones like me).

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