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DCC Archive The Beatles-the stored masters at Abbey Rd

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Dr. Winston, Nov 12, 2001.

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  1. Dr. Winston

    Dr. Winston New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Simpsonville,SC
    I have a couple of questions concerning storage of the Beatles Master Tapes.

    1. How often are they inspected for deterioration?

    2. Have they been on a playback machine since the first Cd's were mastered?

    3. Are they stored in a master vault with all of the session masters?

    4. What type tape did they use for the final 2 track masters? How long can they last under ideal conditions?
     
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    LOL! Sounds like you're planning a heist! :D
     
  3. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Hmm, to me it sounds as if he wanted to effect a confiscation of the tapes. Maybe a court could rule that the tapes have to be remastered, because they are a precious cultural treasure threatened by deterioration. ;)
    We should ask a lawyer. This is a matter of common welfare !!!!

    [ November 12, 2001: Message edited by: Michael Beckmann ]
     
  4. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    My 2 shillings..

    1. From what I understand, they're not checked for deterioration, although cataloging was done about 7-8 years ago, and the masters were reorganized with better notation, numeration, as occasionally, there were things left on the multi's that were not documented. Some of those masters were "borrowed" by Lewishown, and it's rumoured someone else at a dub house (or courrier) had pocketed copies of some mixdown tapes. They're in good hands, though. Yes, EMI has them like a mother hen with eggs. Sitting 0n them.

    2. Yes. Both the multis and 1/2 tracks, for most of the catalog.

    3. Basically yes. From what I understand they are in several locations in the keep of EMI, in the UK. Not sure if the German master tape is still in its perspective country. Everything's behind seven layers thick of lawers and some afgan dogs. Note: There are some masters totally missing, some tape copies at Capitol. If you want to get to literals, including odd mixdowns, tape copies and masters for "Hollywood Bowl", it's a messy sitch.

    4. EMI at Saville Row always used their own products, as much as possible. EMI was a lot like Microsoft, up to the needles and record cleaner were sold by EMI. (check the net for what EMI stands for, if you've never knew, you'd be suprised on what markets they cornered in past) The tape used was called Emitape. Steve is best versed in telling us if it might (the 1/2 tracks) have the girth of Scotch 111 or the like (of the time). Steve, I'm not sure if you've had the opportunity of handling a box of Emitape? This might be very interesting, something I don't think anyone's talked about.

    Chances are though, I bet Emitape is bulk-purchased Scotch, but I'm merely guessing.

    If you're planning a heist, they're waiting for you. You're best off attacking Michael Jackson. Tell him Paul deserves a raise...big time.

    [ November 12, 2001: Message edited by: Sckott ]
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    EMI made it's own tape. I think it stinks, but at least it holds up over time.

    Please note, the Beatles four-track tapes are one inch not half inch! One of the reasons there ain't much tape hiss...
     
  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Oh? Why don't you like it?

    Keep in mind that a *handful* of sessions outside of EMI almost certainly used "standard" tape stock - Scotch or something.

    Yeah, 1" 4-track. Yet they *still* insisted on using NR for the YS "songtrack"...
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    "EMITape" from the 1960's seems to have more of a high freq. roll off than other tapes. Also seems to be more prone to dropouts.

    The tape boxes look neat, though.

    Same problem with RCA-Victor and their use of that really crappy RCA tape. The RCA tape is much worse, though. Breaks very easily. Just ask any open reel tape collector.... :mad:

    Mike, to answer one of your original questions, EMITape seems to be lasting wonderfully well. Right up there with good old Scotch 111.

    [ November 12, 2001: Message edited by: Steve Hoffman ]
     
  8. Dr. Winston

    Dr. Winston New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Simpsonville,SC
    Heist????I just want to borrow them for about three weeks--LOL. So Abbey Road is just a recording studio---does it have a master tape vault or do I understand that the catalog is housed somewhere else? I made it to the front door 4 years ago but didn't have the nerve to go in---LOL. :D
     
  9. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    South Plymouth, Ma
    If anyone has the Anthology videos, even taped off of the networks, there's some B&W footage of Ringo and John being interviewed outside of EMI's door while on the heels of Pepper. John has a record in his hand, and you can see 1/2 of the back cover in his hand. Always wondered what album he had in hand there.

    Geroge was rushed, and he cleverly avoided the same question, "Are the Beatles breaking up...dying....etc..." "No... NO...Noo...(poof)"
     
  10. JPartyka

    JPartyka I Got a Home on High

    Location:
    USA

    Yes, I've noticed that too. No idea what record it is ...

    But somewhere, in one of my many Beatle books or maybe even in one of my "Beatles Monthly" mags, I have a beautiful color of picture of John, circa the "Revolver" sessions, in the studio playing a lovely orange Gretsch ... with a fresh-looking copy of the Stones' "Aftermath" (UK sleeve, of course) propped up on the piano in the background.

    Must have been common for the guys to bring in LPs to swap, lend, or just discuss ...
     
  11. jkerr

    jkerr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    I think it was John Barrett thats the source of those tapes. He preceded Mark Lewisohn in cataloging the tapes. The story goes that he had cancer and was given that job as well as creating some mixes for the Abbey Road Show (the open house event with the multimedia show, in 83 I think). He also created quite a number of other mixes that eventually came out in a number bootlegs. The question remains on how they left his hands and found their way to the bootleggers.

    Of course this is just off the top my head, I may have some details wrong. But the mixes that are attributed to John Barrett are very nice and I think a lot better than what's on the Anthology cds.
     
  12. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Yup, you're just guessing.

    EMITape was manufactured by EMI for the specific use for EMI on their equipment. The tape is very good stuff. Geoff Emerik was amazed at how the tape has stood up through time when they did the Anthology series. The Beatles tapes are said to be in as good a condition as they day they were recorded.

    On the other hand, Scotch tape was manufactured by the American company 3M Corporation. In the 70s they, along with most other major American tape manufacturers used a binder made with whale oil. The tape has been disintergrating since it was recorded, and now our whole 70s musical heritage is in jeaprody. Thousands of tapes have been saved by the baking process or other methods, like wetting the tape as it rolled across the heads. But, if you've ever wondered why you still have not seen your favorite 70s album or single on CD yet, or why something doesn't sound like it's from a first generation tape, deterioration is likely the answer. Some tapes are so badly decomposed that they are literally a glob of smelly goo now. This is also why some reissue producers have gone to mastering the original vinyl LP or 45 of a title.

    [ November 13, 2001: Message edited by: Grant T. ]
     
  13. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Location:
    Toronto
    I was under the impression (from previous posts on the old board) that the whale oil preserved tapes are in great shape.

    However the replacement oil (synthetic whale oil? WD40? Something... this synth. stuff was used in the '70's, I think) does not hold up over time and THOSE tapes are deteriorating!

    Can anyone confirm this! Maybe my memory is shot?!? :confused: .
     
  14. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Unfortunately, in the past entertainment was seen only as a temporary release with a short shelf life. In the 50's/60's (even 70's) who thought consumers would care about quality re-issues or talk about master tapes? We're lucky that there were a few forward thinking people that had the common sense (in today's world) to protect a lot of our past. Desi was (I think) the first to talk about a radical idea of syndication rights for "I Love Lucy" in 50's TV. He even wanted the episodes shot on film! Everyone in the industry thought he was a nut for this and agreed. I wonder what we're over looking in our present world and what the damage/critism will be in the future?

    Todd
     
  15. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Media Doctor (& Video Gort) Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Gary:

    You're correct. Whale oil was used as a lubricant through the 50's and 60's.

    Tapes manufactured in the 1970's are those that are suffering from "sticky-shed" syndrome, caused by the synthetic binders used in the manufacture of the tape stock. In brief, those binders have proven over time to absorb moisture from the air, which results in them being virtually unplayable in some cases, unless **PROPERLY** treated beforehand. After treatment, the tapes can then be played/transferred normally, for a short period of time.

    It's a problem that archivists had had to deal with for a number of years. The good news is that if these "sticky-shed" tapes are not mucked with before being treated (i.e- someone tries repeatedly to play them, or separate the layers of tape themselves), the tape will usually be fully recoverable.

    -Joel Cairo
     
  16. Matt

    Matt New Member

    Location:
    Illinois
    Joel,

    Is Joel Cairo your real name or an alias? Just wondering, because I saw the Maltese Falcon the other night, and I think Peter Lorre's character has the same name.

    Nothing important... :p
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Great movie, wasn't it? Especially when Joel Cairo (our Joel's namesake) calls Casper Guttman "you, you fat, bloated idiot, you stupid fathead".

    I just love Peter Lorre in that part...
     
  18. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Location:
    Toronto
    Joel, that reminds me of the problems with Boston's 2nd album - when Tom Shultz went back to his earlier recordings for the record and found the tapes had adhered to each other. But I'd guess that was a storage problem, not a tape age problem :D .

    Maybe.
     
  19. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Actually, that was the 3rd album - Third Stage. My *guess* is it was good old sticky-shed syndrome, but you never know...
     
  20. Unknown

    Unknown Guest

    How about his character in "M"?
     
  21. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    Nope, you got that backward. He wanted the show taped on videotape. He also pioneered the use of multiple camera angles.
     
  22. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States

    My bad. I got that backward.
     
  23. Grant

    Grant Just chillin'!

    Location:
    United States
    That was actually Boston's THIRD album, "Third Stage", not the second one. Tom Sholtz specifically mentions the song "Cool The Engines". It wasn't the storage, it was the brand of tape and it was the sticky-shed syndrome. this was in the early to mid-80s. The story is in the liner notes of the album.

    [ November 13, 2001: Message edited by: Grant T. ]
     
  24. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Media Doctor (& Video Gort) Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Camarillo (& Steve H.):

    It's a "nom de net", alright. I've always liked the fact that it's just real enough that almost no one "gets it". :)

    "Falcon" is one of my "desert island" films, and Peter Lorre is also a particular favorite of mine. And, since someone mentioned it, I was fortunate enough to catch the restored version of "M" in the theatres, and highly recommend it to everyone!

    (If you can't catch it there, though, the DVD release of it on Criterion is quite nice, too!)

    And for those who might (for some unfathomable reason) care, my real first name is Kevin. :D

    -Kevin

    --------------------

    "Look what you've done to my shirt!"
    -Peter Lorre, in "The Maltese Falcon"
     
  25. Todd Fredericks

    Todd Fredericks Senior Member

    Location:
    A New Yorker
    Yikes, I always thought it was film (so it would look and last longer than kinoscope). The 3 camera set-up was a brilliant idea. TV Land recently started showing the episodes with the original credits (edited out sponsor logos/replaced with TV Land logos)...

    Todd
     
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