The Beatles "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" original 1965 stereo mixes?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by AlanDistro, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. AlanDistro

    AlanDistro Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Sandy, OR
    I recently bought the stereo remasters 2009 box. They're the only Beatles CDs I've ever owned. I mentioned the box to one of my (older) friends, who told me I had to get the mono box as well.

    So I was researching the mono box, and saw that Help! and Rubber Soul include the "original 1965 stereo mixes" in addition to the mono mixes.

    According to Wikipedia these original stereo mixes were replaced by updated stereo mixes in 1986 by George Martin for the first CD releases because he wasn't happy with the original 60s stereo mixes.

    Is that the full story? I mean, he was happy with all the previous stereo 60s mixes, but not those two in the middle of the discography? I know the albums were originally released in mono, and I've read that stereo was an afterthought. But still, if the previous albums' stereo mixes were all fine, what happened with these two albums?

    And when were all the other stereo mixes prepared that were used for the 2009 stereo box? Aside from the last three albums which were released in stereo from the start, were the rest the afterthought 60s stereo mixes? Or prepared at some other point?
  2. goodiesguy

    goodiesguy Boulful Sallad

    New Zealand
    I personally think that the original mixes should of been used for the Stereo set, and i'm surprised to see nobody has really complained about that.
  3. Mylene

    Mylene Forum Resident

    They used the '87 mixes in '09 because they didn't want to offend Sir George but he couldn't remember remixing them so they needn't have bovvered.
  4. Orion XXV

    Orion XXV Music Enthusiast

    George Martin may not have been happy with the mixes, but he ended up making a lot more people unhappy with his remixes.

    To summarize, George Martin took a lot of the vocals from Rubber Soul which are panned far right and simply shifted them to dead central. And now both Help! and Rubber Soul have reverb that wasn't originally there! He wanted these albums to sound as if they were more modern ...

    More info on those LPs and the 1987 changes here:

    Not sure why the others weren't touched. But yes, all the stereo mixes were simply afterthoughts that the Beatles didn't participate in.
    grandegi, SinnerSaint and vonwegen like this.
  5. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Digital reverb no less, which wasn't invented until many years after the original mixes.

    I have no interest in listening to those remixes.
  6. couchdave

    couchdave Founding member of Mystik Spiral

    Boston, MA, USA
    A couple of things: when the 4 albums preceding Help! were all originally released on CD in the 1980s, the mono mixes were used. This made sense for the first 2 albums, which were recorded to twin-track and have rather unnatural stereo mixes with the vocals panned hard into in one channel and the instruments into the other. It made a bit less sense for Hard Day's Night and Beatles For Sale, which had reasonably normal-sounding stereo mixes with vocals more centered (reflecting the fact that Abbey Road had moved to 4-track recording by that time). In fact, Martin says that if it had been up to him the stereo mixes of AHDN and BFS *would* have been used for the original CDs. But, for whatever reason, panning the vocals to one channel in stereo mixes came back into style in '65, which was one of the objections Martin had to the original stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul. So that's why two albums in the chronological "middle" came to be remixed in 1987. The 2009 reissues were the first time that the stereo mixes of the first 4 albums were issued on CD.

    As for the stereo mixes being "afterthoughts," it's true that mono LPs outsold stereo LPs until the late 1960s, and (mono) AM radio similarly dominated (stereo) FM radio during that time. For this reason, the general feeling is that the Beatles and Martin (along with other bands and producers of the era) spent more time and TLC on the mono mixes than the stereo mixes, which were at times viewed as something of a novelty. Anecdotes float around about the relative time spent on mixing to mono vs. stereo, or that the band and producer might not even show up for the stereo mix during the early years. That's what's meant by stereo mixes being "afterthoughts." However, the stereo mixes of Beatles LPs were, in general, done contemporaneously with the mono mixes, rather than long afterwards, and the stereo and mono versions of the albums were released concurrently. (There are some non-LP singles that were originally only mixed to mono, since the 45 RPM singles were mono-only until the late '60s, and were mixed later for stereo when they appeared on LP.)

    Whether the early stereo mixes are better or worse than the mono is a matter of no small discussion around here--even people who usually swear by the mono mixes, for example, often seem to prefer the stereo BFS. In general, it seems that the purists have a decided preference for the early stereo mixes over the remixes. Being neither a purist nor of the vinyl generation, I only possess--and, in fact, have only heard--the "inferior" remixed stereo versions of Help! and Rubber Soul. I can report with certainty that these mixes, whatever their problems, have not prevented me from loving the music therein.
    RobNeil, nasa09, superstar19 and 39 others like this.
  7. Adam9

    Adam9 Forum junkie

    Toronto, Canada
    I believe George Martin has stated Rubber Soul was mixed with the hard panning in order for it to sound good in mono playback so there would be no -3db loss of information mixed to the centre. Also, the limited stereo separation of the then-common stereo consoles may have been a factor in this decision also.
    Help! does not have the hard panning of Rubber Soul. Martin may have been unhappy with some of the mixes as he was not involved in some ot the mixing of the album.
    fallbreaks likes this.
  8. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Original Help stereo mix sounds great. No real reason to change it. Rubber Soul not so great but if they were going to remix why not go back and mix analogue. The problem with the 1987 mixes is they are done with 80's digital technology (16bit?). Makes no sense why they used these ancient digital mixes for a series based on hi-res digital transfers. However does not greatly affect enjoyment of the music. BTW I only have the digital remixes via the DMM vinyl. Best way to hear the original stereo at reasonable cost is via UK 70's vinyl or the oft recommended Blue box set.
  9. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Vancouver, BC, CA
    Wikipedia strikes out again, if he wasn't happy with the original mixes he wouldn't have mimicked them.

    From an old 2006 thread:

    gottafeelin, aarsonbet and vonwegen like this.
  10. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    The real lesson here isn't whether or not the original mixes were "bad" or whether or not the remixes were an improvement or worse----it is that you cannot please everyone.

    One school says that the mono mixes were and are superior, period, so the stereo discussion is moot.

    One school wants to obsess over miniscule differences in reverb.

    One school says the original stereo mixes on the 09 Box Set are inferior to the original stereo mixes that "accidentally" were released in Canada in the 80s.

    One school says that the first releases of the Capitol Albums Box Set that "accidentally" was released with fold-downs of Rubber Soul instead of true mono is surely a future collectible that you can sell in a decade and put your kids through college on the proceeds.

    Others such as myself have dropped out of school and simply play whatever cd is around and real---nothing to get hung up about. :)
  11. Oatsdad

    Oatsdad Oat, Biscuits and Abbie: Best Dogs Ever

    Alexandria VA
    Oh, plenty of people complained about it. At the very least, the standard stereo CDs should've included the old and "new" mixes - the original mixes shouldn't have been relegated to the mono set...
  12. Raf

    Raf Forum Resident

    Toronto, Ontario
  13. ad180

    ad180 Forum Resident

    Aside from the digital reverb, I was always under the impression that Martin's remixes were analog mixes, made from the original sessions tapes and mixed to analog tape. Is that not true?
  14. Batears52

    Batears52 Forum Resident

    Near Baltimore, MD
    There are some excellent posts in this thread! I will add that, as Classicrock pointed out, from a stereo "layout" point of view (i.e. the way the various instruments & voices were placed in the stereo spectrum) - there is very little difference between the approach used for Beatles For Sale and what was done for the original 1965 stereo mix of Help!. Vocals are in the center, drums left, guitars left & right, etc.

    However, the original stereo mix of Help! doesn't "feel" as good to me as BFS does. I can't put my finger on why. The recordings & the stereo mixes are very similar. But I positively love the way the stereo version of BFS sounds on the 2009 remasters. I prefer the original stereo mix of Help to the Martin remix - but it's not the same feeling I get from BFS. (What I really need to do is listen to both albums from my Blue Box - it's been a few years.)

    BTW, here are the songs from Help that were mixed to stereo by Norman Smith (on 23-Feb-65): "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away", "Tell Me What You See", "I Need You", "Another Girl", "Ticket To Ride", "You Like Me Too Much", "The Night Before" & "You're Going To Lose That Girl" ..... along with "Yes It Is", "If You've Got Trouble" & "That Means A Lot". (There were 2 attempts at mixing "You're Going To Lose That Girl" that day - the 2nd one was preferred. Martin tried a 3rd time on 2-April, but the 2nd mix from 23-Feb was still preferred.)

    George Martin mixed the rest on 18-June: "I've Just Seen A Face", "Yesterday", It's Only Love", "Act Naturally" & "Help!" ... as well as "I'm Down" & "Wait". (He did both the mono & stereo mixes of "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" & "Bad Boy" on 10-May - the same night they were recorded - so they could be sent to Capitol the next day.)

    Can you tell a difference between the songs Norman Smith worked on & the ones George Martin did? (Personally, I'm not sure - I'd have to scruntinize them again!)

    BTW...the idea that mono mixes were often labored over one song at a time was not always true. Martin did both the mono & stereo mixes of those 7 songs in one day. That may be one reason he wanted to remix in 1987 - he did not do the stereo mixes on 8 of the songs & the 6 he did do were rushed?

    Rubber Soul is an entirely different animal - the return to the old "hole in the middle", almost twin-track approach has one effect on me: namely, to go listen to the mono mixes I grew up with! Maybe I don't understand it completely, but I don't buy the whole "3db" reasoning for doing this. Stereo records were not being played on mono phonographs in 1965 - and the mono mixes were dedicated.

    For whatever reason, George Martin thought both albums needed to be remixed in 1987. I can understand RS - not Help. And as for the reason for why he did them the way he did, I believe that he was rushed yet again by EMI's desire to "catch up" to the CD format. Remember, The Beatles were considered to be "late" to the CD party in 1987. When they decided they were ready to do these, they wanted them out in a hurry.

    One reason why I think they kept the 87 remixes in 2009: they had been out & in the marketplace for as long as the original mixes had been - 22 years.
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    What I tell people is the imaginary reason for the difference in sound quality between BEATLES FOR SALE and HELP! is simply that it sounds like BEATLES FOR SALE was recorded and mixed on fresh, new equipment and HELP! sounds like it was mixed on tired, worn out gear.

    Now, we know that is not true but here is an example of something like that.

    I saw STAR WARS in 1977 (second day opening) at the Chinese Theater. This was the famous 70mm magnetic print. The sound in there was amazing! Saw it again a few more times that month. It was playing there in December of 1977 and we went back to see the old girl one more time.

    Well, same print but the sound quality and degraded so much it was unbelievable to me. Just worn out mag strips (from being played over and over again for 1/2 a year).

    Same type of thing between the two Beatles albums. Of course the gear was fine. I have to think that SOME type of change happened in there between the two albums. Something in the control room gear or the tape machines. Something made HELP! sound much crappier besides operator error..
  16. AlanDistro

    AlanDistro Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Sandy, OR

    I love this forum. Thanks guys for the insights and links to more info. Reading the track by track was interesting. Looking forward to picking up the mono box soon.
    vonwegen likes this.
  17. htbomb

    htbomb Hot Rod

  18. Joey_Corleone

    Joey_Corleone Forum Resident

    Rockford, MI
    Resurrecting for a quick question: do the 2012 vinyl releases use the 1987 remix or the original 1965 mixes?
  19. Jeremy Bunting

    Jeremy Bunting Forum Resident

  20. DrJ

    DrJ Forum Resident

    Davis, CA, USA
    This is interesting. I'd always assumed it must have been that the tapes for BEATLES FOR SALE were less "labored over" than for HELP! - done in a hurry, a very frenzied time for the band - particularly the stereo mixes (mono still being the focus) - and so, less tape wear and a "fresher" sound. But from your comments it sounds like perhaps that wasn't the case and it must have been something else.

    Whatever the difference, there sure is a very different sound between these two stereo mixes. BFS sounds so alive (I just needle dropped my EMI "one box" pressing, -1 matrices so tube cut - using the Shure V15VMR cart - sounds phenomenal, well for a Beatles recording anyway).

    By contrast stereo HELP! is OK but a bit dead/lifeless/lacking in punch - this is one Beatles LP where the mono mix has way more balls (IMHO).
  21. DrJ

    DrJ Forum Resident

    Davis, CA, USA
    I predict you'll love it. And for sure you will never ever have any desire to listen to the 1980s stereo RS and HELP! remixes ever again once you have the original mixes.
  22. crossroads69

    crossroads69 Forum Resident

    London Town
    BEATLES FOR SALE sounds alive and terrific in stereo! The album seems to capture a lot of live energy from the sessions. It was such a joy to finally hear the stereo version in 2009 after being stuck with mono since 1987.

    To me, HELP! sounds crappier than both BFS as well as RUBBER SOUL. I don't understand most technical aspects of a studio but something was definetly different for each of those albums.
  23. Joey_Corleone

    Joey_Corleone Forum Resident

    Rockford, MI
    Thank You! Now, in light of this information, I have a few other questions I'm hoping someone can shed some light on

    Obviously, in 1987 sir George had to go back to original (4 track?) tapes to do the remix. Was the remix in '87 done analog or digital? If it was done analog, he had to get the new mix tape into digital format, which from what I gather was just a (by todays standards) 16/44 transfer that gave us the flat garbage 1987 CD release sound. If the remix was done digitally...

    Well that's where I get paranoid. My ultimate question is - since the 2012 vinyl releases use the 1987 remix version, what is the source of that vinyl? Did they go back to remixed tapes from '87 and then digitally remaster from those using modern day technology, or are my precious new 2012 vinyl releases just pressed from 1987 based digital PCM files?

    Always something else isn't there hehe...Now I feel as though the closest thing I have to the "true" Rubber Soul stereo is the 1965 mixes on the mono CD box set. Of course, we all know it almost doesn't matter, as the mono mix is the "definitive" version of RS at least in my mind.
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

  25. Joey_Corleone

    Joey_Corleone Forum Resident

    Rockford, MI
    Hi Steve! Thanks for chiming in. Are you saying the source for the 2012 stereo vinyl pressings is a 1987 Rubber Soul CD? If you are not joking, that is a bit disheartening : )

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