I’m still blown away with the Beatles remasters. I put Sgt. Pepper’s on in my car on the way into work. Every sound on every song sounds better. I can hear each reverb trail on each vocal track. I can hear each string on some of the guitar parts. The “outside” instruments especially sound amazing: the horns on “Good Morning Good Morning”, for example…the woodwinds on “When I’m Sixty-Four”…and the strings…ah, the glorious strings…I’ll get to them in a minute.
If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the most dramatic improvement to a song is to “Within You, Without You”…although literally EVERY SOUND on EVERY SONG is better. On “Within You, Without You”, the Indian instrumentation (both the stringed instruments and the percussion) sounded like they were in the car with me. George’s vocals are so clear that I noticed things I hadn’t known were there.
As each song rolled by, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How can the remastering process make the disc sound THAT much better???
This post is not intended to be a full review, but I can’t let this brief summary of Sgt. Pepper’s go unmentioned without commenting on “A Day in the Life”. The symphony ascension sections actually made me forget what I was doing. Literally! My body seemed to react palpably to the tension as the orchestra swirled. The skin on my arm tightened as Mal Evans faintly counted out the measures…I moved up to the edge of my car seat, edging closer to the steering wheel and squinting every muscle in my face as the drama built to a swirling, chaotic crescendo. As the song ended with that famous chord on those grand pianos, I kind of snapped out my trance…and found I had exited the highway! I looked down the road each way and I had no clue where I was. You know THAT’S a real recording accomplishment if you make a man forget how to drive to work. I shook my head and thought my best bet at figuring out what happened would be to get back on I-77 and look for the next sign. As it turns out, I had exited the highway 10 exits too early! The orchestra sounded so alive that it increased the tension of that section to the point where my body actually tensed up. Unbelievable.
There was actually one tiny moment that I would have changed had I been in the remastering session. (A man can dream, can’t he???) On “Good Morning Good Morning”, there was a washed out, dull sounding “Sploosh” cymbal crash that ends the lines like: “Nothing to do to save his life call his wife in…Sploosh”. The remastered version made this sound too clean and precise for my taste which doesn’t seem to match the feeling that the line gives me…I guess I’m saying the prosody is off a bit. I would’ve changed the engineer’s “motivation” on that sound…but it’s a real nitpick…
In all, I’m still COMPLETELY dumbfounded with what they’ve done…yet again. The remasters sound better than I imagined they could have. I’ve fallen in love with the recordings all over again…and I still haven’t even watched the movie that comes with it…or listened to the other 14 remasters…I’m drooling.
If you want to pick up a copy, good luck! You may have to travel to a store or two. Hopefully, everyone will restock soon!