The Beatles – Vinyl Reissues (review)

The Beatles – Vinyl Remasters (Capitol) review Old School meets New School as the Beatles’ albums return to vinyl, taken from digitally remastered sources

The Beatles catalog is available once again the way nature intended it – on vinyl LP.  Just in time for the holidays, you can purchase any one of their 13 albums individually, or grab them all in a handsome box set, which also features an exclusive, 252-page hardbound book, chronicling the journey of these historic albums.  For the first time, these classic records have been pressed using the recent digital remasters on 180-gram vinyl – allowing for warmer bass, richer high end, and an overall improvement over the original recordings

Abbey Road – Remastered Vinyl review As an audio purist, I will tell you that nothing beats vinyl.  Sure, it’s great to be able to take CDs with you in the car, and I love the convenience of being able to travel with 15,000 songs on my phone.  But, if you’re going to listen to an album for the pure enjoyment of it, you gotta have the vinyl LP.  I own everything the Beatles’ ever recorded on vinyl, CD and mp3, and was eager to do this comparison.

I was skeptical about this new reissue series at first, because I heard that they were using the digital transfers from the 2009 remaster run to press these new records.  My analog-loving brain immediately cried “foul!” thinking nothing could beat those original 1960’s pressings.  Well, I admit, I was wrong.

When I dropped the needle on this new version, I was immediately surprised at how full everything sounded.  Volume-wise, everything is louder all around.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  In a side-by-side comparison, I can’t believe how tinny my original, 1960‘s LP sounds – there’s very little bass, and honestly, even the high end sounds lousy. So much for the original LP being the benchmark…

After listening in headphones, you realize just how much empty space there is on Abbey Road, especially on side one.  There are a lot of times where there’s just a piano and bass, or vocals and light cymbals.  The entire album breathes very well in this vinyl format.  The biggest improvement is in Paul McCartney’s bass – his inventive playing benefits heavily from this new remaster.  On “Come Together,” Paul’s bass is panned hard left, and jumps out of the speakers, while John Lennon’s vocals have more presence.  With “Something,” George Harrison’s light guitar occupies one channel, while McCartney adds a counter-point melody in the other with his fluid bass lines.

There’s also a crispness to the high end not present in the original version.  The horns (or synth horns?) at the end of “Because” really blast out, while McCartney’s double-tracked vocal on “You Never Give Me Your Money” sounds more human.   And, the interplay between Harrison, McCartney, and Lennon, all trading off guitar solos during “The End,” is a thing of beauty.

The vinyl itself is heavy and quiet, and comes in a static-resistant paper/plastic sleeve.  And, it’s so great to see that iconic photo in its original size.  Can there be a more classic cover in all of music?

Here’s your chance to own a piece of history – all these vintage albums in their original format.  Even if you already have all these records, these new vinyl versions will blow away your old copies.  Get ready to be amazed.  –Tony Peters