Beatles mix variations - WHY?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by BeatleJWOL, Jan 24, 2007.

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  1. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been browsing the Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations, especially since I've recently acquired a copy of the US Stereo versions of 1962-1966 and 1967-1970.

    WHY did Capitol/EMI/Parlophone/Apple/etc. elect to do so many different mixes of these tracks? It should have been a mono mix, and then a stereo mix - why dig out old mixes just to change them slightly and reissue it?
  2. Mike D'Aversa

    Mike D'Aversa Forum Resident

    Because were America, and those strange British people clearly had no idea what they were doing... :)
  3. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    Many well-written books have discussed this in detail. Even your scenario just mono and stereo mixes contain dozens of anomalies. Add to that, early mixes sent to the US for A Hard Day's Night and Yesterday and Today, and later stereo mixes done when preparing the Hey Jude compilation and the German Magical Mystery Tour LP and you have many more.

    The simple reason is that in the early days, stereo mixes were usually done quickly, after the mono mixes had been prepared, often days or weeks later. Occasionally, a fader would be left open when it shouldn't have... or vice versa or different edits were done for each each mix (I Call Your Name, Money, Please Please Me, Matchbox, Yellow Submarine, I'm Looking Through You and many others) have mixing differences for these reasons. Also, EMI sent Capitol many mixes that were later re-done for the UK. Almost every mix on Something New differs from its UK counterarts. And when Capitol asked for three new tracks in May 1966 for the Yesterday and Today album, Martin sent them mono mixes (later redone) of And Your Bird Can Sing, I'm Only Sleeping and Dr. Robert and these mixes were then treated to the dreaded duophonic process for stereo release. Ron
  4. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    One of many things that doesn't make sense regarding the Beatles catalog: There's absolutely no reason for having different edits done for mono AND stereo - start 'em in the same place, end 'em in the same places, don't do mono or stereo if the multitracks don't lend themselves to it.

    Sounds like a case of that was then, this is now; especially regarding the early '60s attitude towards stereo.
  5. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    As I said, sometimes the stereo mixes were done days, weeks or even months after their mono counterparts. Please Please Me for instance was mixed into mono on 30 November 1962, then mixed into stereo for the first time 25 Feb 1963. At this time, Ron Richards prepared the stereo mix, while George Martin and Norm Smith mixed the rest of their debut album, mono and stereo. Evidently, it was decided to try and fix the vocal mistake near the end by cutting out a section from earlier in the song. Unfortunately, this was not done that well, and the vocal and backing is out-of sync. Check out Lewisohn's Record Session books, Doug Sulpy's Guides to Outtakes series and John Winn's fine book series documenting mixing anomalies, outtakes and all manner of Beatles music. Ron
  6. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've got Lewisohn's book, but what's Winn's series all about?
  7. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    It's a three volume series that gets into amazing detail about the Beatles music. He's also a member of the forum and posts occasionally. No offense, but if you have Lewisohn's book why are you asking WHY there are Beatles mix variations? Lewisohn explains the why's and how's quite well. Ron
  8. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Forum Resident Thread Starter

    How's pretty obvious, but I guess the reasoning just doesn't make sense - I understand the part about a lot of the early stuff being mixed for stereo later, but a lot of the other why's just don't make sense to me.

    I can't exactly say I've got the same sensibilities as 1960s recording and mastering engineers - I see no need to fix mistakes when you have a band as good as the Beatles that can get it right the first time, I see no reason for mono and stereo mixes to differ, if the same stuff is on the session tapes, I don't even care that much about mono if a stereo version is available.

    I guess what triggered this was hearing the 1962-1966 US Stereo mix of I Feel Fine - reverb all over the place. There's NO logical reason for anything like that, and similar things happened all over the place in the Beatle catalog.
  9. dprokopy

    dprokopy Forum Resident

    Near Seattle, WA
    Actually, I believe what's going on there is that, apparently, the overdubbed harmonica only existed on a mono tape by the time they did the stereo mix. (Either it had only ever existed in mono - i.e., the overdub was done onto a full-track mono tape; or the stereo overdub worktape went missing). So in order to get the harmonica onto the stereo mix, they had to synch up the original twin-track along with the (mono) tape with the harmonica. Note that the weird, out-of-phase stuff happens anytime the harmonica appears on the stereo mix.

    The stereo mix also contains a vocal flub in the last verse that was fixed via an edit piece on the mono mix. Again, either the original twin-track of that edit piece went missing, or they didn't think it was important enough to fix on the stereo version. (Kinda like the "...was in vain" vocal mistake on "If I Fell," later on.)
  10. dprokopy

    dprokopy Forum Resident

    Near Seattle, WA
    Actually, there is some logic to why that wonky stereo mix is on the US 1962-1966 (vinyl) album. The US and UK "Red" and "Blue" albums had the same track listings, but they were assembled individually by Capitol in the US and EMI in the UK, using whatever available tapes they had handy. Capitol, at that point, apparently only had their weird echo-laden fake-stereo version, created for the Beatles '65 album from the mono single mix provided by EMI. (A true-stereo mix was created in 1964, but didn't get released until the UK 1962-1966 album in 1973, and not in the US until 1982.)
  11. posieflump

    posieflump New Member

    The stereo mix was issued on "A Collection of Beatles Oldies" in the run up to Christmas 1966.
  12. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Are you thinking of another album, Ron? While the mono mixes of I'll Cry Instead, When I Get Home, Any Time At All and And I Love Her differ from those on the UK AHDN LP, the rest are the same, as are all of the stereo mixes.

    I'm still not 100% clear on how the stereo mix was produced, but it was more than just an edit in mono - the mono and stereo mixes come from totally different takes. They are very close, but a sync-up reveals they are not the same.

    Also, FYI, the If I Fell fix wasn't just an edit. One *can* edit the stereo to "fix" that, but I believe the mono mix was "fixed" by fading down one of the two vocal tracks, while the opposite vocal track was faded down on the stereo mistakenly.
  13. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Forum Resident

    Dearborn, MI
    Ron, do you know if the cassettes of the Captiol albums have the original 60s mixes?
  14. Curiosity

    Curiosity Portable Audio Fan

    United Kingdom

    The cassette, 8 track and open reel tape issue of Yesterday and Today has has the true stereo versions (not the same versions as the UK Revolver) of And Your Bird can Sing, DR. Robert and I'm Only Sleeping.

    As far as I'm aware the regular cassettes of the other Capitol albums used the same mixes as the LP originals, so for example on Beatles '65, I Feel Fine has the Duophonic with echo.

    There is some speculation regarding the very last cassette issues having the Duophonics removed but I haven't heard any personally.

  15. storrs19

    storrs19 Member

    Louisville, KY USA
    Also, remember this was the 1960's and mixing eqiupment was rather simple compared to today. The best example is "Tomorrow Never Knows". The reason there are two mono versions and a stereo version and all are different is that they were mixed by hand. The tape loops and other sounds were done as a "one-off", that is a one-time thing for each mix and since you can't duplicate it exactly the seond time round it will be different.

    Personally, I love collecting and listening to different mixes of The Beatles catalogue. Most of the books tell that the mono mix was THE mix and often took days to assemble for an album while the stereo mix was done in a few hours. Having heard just about every mix out there (or so it seems) I can personally give my opinion that the mono mixes of their albums sound much better IMHO. I am referring to good masters of the first four albums (ie. Dr. Ebbetts versions and not the EMI crap out there).

    I have many books on The Beatles and this is one of my favorite topics to discuss with other Beatle fanatics.
  16. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    For accuracy sake, I should have said a special mixing session was held on 22 June 1964 that produced specific mixes for the US market. Including, unique mono mixes of I'll Cry Instead, Anytime At All, When I Get Home, And I Love Her and I'll Be Back (held until Beatles '65). Also unique stereo mixes of Matchbox and Slow Down were done. The stereo mixes of these were never used in the UK until the Rock & Roll Music compilation. Also, new stereo mixes of Long Tall Sally and I Call Your Name were done; these differ from the previous US stereo mixes used on Beatles Second Album. Finally, Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand has a different and unique US mix. So, not the entire album, but most of it. Thanks, Ron
  17. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    I never collected pre-recorded cassettes, sorry. I'm not sure what you mean exactly? The original US 60's mixes? I think the US cassettes used the US mixes until the UK configurations were released here. The true stereo mixes of the three Revolver tracks on Y&T were substituted at some point, but I don't know when. It is true the US reel-to-reel and Record Club LP had the true stereo mixes by late 1966. Ron
  18. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Vancouver, BC, CA
    Just to keep the terminology straight...Capitol did not do any mixes of Beatles material. They did not have access to the multitracks. Adding reverb to a master tape is not mixing. However, they often were sent unique mixes.
  19. toptentwist

    toptentwist Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    I've always strongly suspected that once a mix was done for
    a UK release (LP, EP, or single) it was considered "done."

    For example, if the song was a single in the UK, a mono mix
    was made and there was no attempt to make a stereo mix,
    because there were no plans to release the song on an
    album in the UK... LP songs would be given both a stereo
    and mono mix - because stereo and mono LPs were released
    in the UK. Songs on singles would be given a
    mono mix.

    Exceptions to this rule occured when a "greatest hits"
    type album was prepared (such as the 1966 "Oldies but
    Goldies" album).

    Because songs that were released on a single in the UK
    often ended up on an album in some other territory, there
    were numerous requests from EMI affliated labels around
    the globe for mixes that didn't exist - at least at the
    time the request was made...

    I strongly suspect that the standard practice at Abbey
    Road to accomodate these requests was to create
    a new mix... but instead of sending the affliate a
    copy of the mix... I believe the affliate was sent
    the actual mix.

    My reasons for this are tied to the fact that many
    times a stereo mix for a song seemed to have been
    repeated.... as if Abbey Road hadn't kept a copy
    of something they had worked on previously...

    "I Want To Hold Your Hand", for example, was
    mixed THREE times for stereo (the last time
    being for the "Collection of Oldies" LP)

    That and the fact that some of these mixes seemed
    to end up in certain parts of the globe and never
    appeared anywhere else....

    I don't have access to tape libaries or supporting
    documentation to conclusively prove that my
    theory is correct... but there sure appears
    to be a mountain of circumstantial evidence
    to support my theory - even if it defies what
    would seem to be common sense (common
    sense being "all mixes are kept at Abbey Road -
    and all affliates are sent COPIES of mixes)...

    I've floated this theory before and I've been
    laughed at (here).. but there wasn't any serious
    rebuttal... just a comment about how I
    can listen to as many albums as I want
    but that ain't listening to the original
    tapes... which is impossible to argue
    with - since I only have access to records
    and/or compact discs...

    If Ken Scott is still around - I think he
    might be able to shed some light in
    this area. There's no denying that
    the separate mixes EXIST - we just
    don't have any authorative reason
    WHY they were done...

    If we know WHY... we might be able
    to piece together WHERE things ended
    up... which would explain WHY some
    things were mixed - and mixed again -
    and mixed yet again...
  20. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Forum Resident

    Dearborn, MI
    It's a fascinating topic. Putting only mono mixes on the remasters wouldn't fly in the 2007 market. But the stereo mixes are wide with all the hard panning. Other bands like the Byrds, the Doors and S&G have had their stuff remixed. If the Beatles did that, people would cry and jump off tall buildings screaming "artists intent!" But if we're doing it by artists intent, it should be the mono mixes. They were the ones the Beatles cared about--and in mid to later years stuck around to observe. Sgt. Pepper stereo was done quickly without Beatle participation or presence, and that is the CD we've had these last 20 years. Hopefully at least in the case of Pepper, we get mono too.
  21. Pawnmower

    Pawnmower Forum Resident

    Dearborn, MI
    This is an interesting example. This might be more of what BeatlesJWOL is asking about. Why is this needed?

    basic recording- 2 Mar 1964
    additional recording- 2 Mar 1964
    master tape- 4 track

    [a] mono 4 Mar 1964. edited.
    US: Capitol T 2080 Second 1964.
    Canada: Capitol T 6063 Long Tall Sally 1964.

    stereo 10 Mar 1964. edited.
    US: Capitol ST 2080 Second 1964.

    [c] mono 4 Jun 1964. edited.
    UK: Parlophone GEP 8920 (EP) Long Tall Sally 1964, Parlophone PSLP 261 and PCM 1001 Rarities 1978-79.
    CD: EMI EP box set 1991.

    [d] stereo 22 Jun 1964. edited.
    UK: Parlophone PCSP 719 Rock and Roll Music 1976.
    US: Capitol SKBO-11537 Rock and Roll Music 1976.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 90043 2 Past Masters 1 1988.

    All versions have edits, but different edits. The take (7) used for the main part of the song has a cowbell track that distinguishes it from other takes. The cowbell track is itself mixed more or less loudly. Take 7 also has a double track vocal.

    Both stereo mixes [d] have a different, better guitar intro edited in, but done differently, so there are three versions of the intro. In the original intro as heard in mono [a] [c], the cowbell starts right away. The older stereo mix with the better guitar intro has no cowbell until the edit, which comes just before the vocal starts. In the newer stereo mix [d], the edit comes after the first line ("I call your name, but you're not there"), so it has neither cowbell nor the second vocal track until that point.

    A second, obvious stereo difference is that the older stereo mix has the vocal over on the right while the newer one [d] has the vocal and cowbell centered.

    All mixes have an edit for the guitar solo, but the edit into the solo comes at two different places. In the older mono mix [a] and the newer stereo mix [d] it comes after the vocal, evidenced by the cowbell through the words "I call your name", but in the other two [c] it comes just before that last line of vocal. The edit at the end of the solo is at the same place but there are slight variations in how well it was done.

    There was a March 3 mono mix for the film, but the song was not used in the film and United Artists did not use it on their LP either.
  22. tps

    tps Active Member

    Philadelphia, PA
    I mixed an album in a "basement" studio in the late 1980's. The original tracks were on a Tascam 8-track, which I believe is more tracks than were available when many of the Beatles albums were recorded. Even though we always did drum sub-mixes, we regularly ran out of tracks. On two of the songs, we had effects from an extra stereo tape recorder; on one song a backing vocal was sung "live" during the mix. Not to mention that all the mixes were completely manual. I did have little piece of masking tape alongside each fader with marks so I didn't have to remember exactly where to stop as I was moving the faders during the mix. But the point is that no two mixes were ever exactly the same. After recording what we thought was a good mix, we always mixed and recorded the song a second time, trying to repeat the performance as exactly as possible, just in case. Then, when we got to the sequencing stage, we picked the mix we liked the best. The sequence clone (Sony F1 format) became the official mix master. Not sure if I even still have the mix tapes that contain all the various mixes.

    But, having gone though this process, I can completely understand why various mixes exist. Were I doing it today, it would be different, because I would do everything on the computer, which would give me the ultimate in mix automation.
  23. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    This isn't true. The tape loops were all recorded on to one track of the 4-track tape. All 3 mixes have the loops in the same places, they just fade up and down faster or slower (fading up and down the track on the 4-track).

    Again, though, we're talking about differences on Something New. The only differences are the mono mixes I mentioned. Matchbox and Slow Down weren't issued in stereo at the time in the UK, so it's not really correct to say they were different. Long Tall Sally and I Call Your Name were not on Something New. And finally, KGMDH wasn't even issued in the UK at the time, so again, you can't really say it was different.

    So, yes, there are several mono and stereo mixes that were different in the US and UK, but other than those 4, not the case with Something New.
  24. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA
    Yes Luke I know... I said in my response to you I was thinking more of the mixing sessions done on 22 June, which I mistakenly attribued to the tracks ending up on Something New. The mixing anomalies indeed were spread out on Beatles Second Abum, Something New and Beatles '65. And of course, Slow Down and Matchbox count for this discussion, they are different mixes than the UK mono one's. Sorry for any confusion. Ron
  25. brainwashed

    brainwashed Forum Hall Of Fame

    Boston, MA

    I think you're missing the point a bit. It's not that they were needed, it's the time difference between mixing sessions and the urgency that caused these anomalies to happen. Capitol needed new tracks for Beatles Second Album so Martin did a mono mix, then a few days later did a quick stereo mix, both differing slightly. Three months later this song, along with Matchbox, Slow Down and Long Tall Sally were given new mono mixes for UK EP release. Why? One would think George Martin felt the rush mix jobs for the US could be improved upon. It's also one of the few examples from the early years that the stereo mixes seem to use the better guitar solo (Matchbox) and guitar intro (I Call Your Name). Again, why? I think Martin and crew were rushed to get all these done quickly. They were preparing the EP, mixing songs for A Hard Day's Night... just an incredibly busy time. with a stringent drop-dead date.

    It's possible, though not annotated, that Norm Smith could have done some of the stereo mixes, while Martin concentrated on the mono one's. If this is so, it's quite easy to see how certain instruments or vocals may differ on the two mixes. Even Martin himself may have thought one solo was better than the other and simply forgot he used a different one on the earlier mixing sessions. It's really time and circumstance that caused these things to happen. Ron
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