REVIEW: THE BEATLES MONO MASTERS –mono mixes in stereo (Mirror Spock) –Released April, 2010
By Beatle Bob
A must welcomed surprise from Mirror Spock arrived a few weeks ago, THE BEATLES MONO MASTERS – (mono mixes in stereo) and I must say this has been one of the most delightful remix CDs that I’ve had the privilege of cranking up on the stereo. Headphones do not do these discs justice. As with the original mono mixes he worked from, these remixes have more snap and punch; more so than the true stereo counterparts from EMI. The remixes bring out subtleties buried in the mono mixes or enhance the bass, drums and rhythm guitars. There is actually more clarity in some of these remixes than I ever expected to hear. It’s like a breath of fresh air and honestly, I’m amazed at what can be done by a non-professional outside of a studio environment. I know Mirror Spock has been working on perfecting these for quite some time now. I think the wait was worth it. Are they perfect? Most are. Some tracks do exhibit artifacts, but I believe it’s mostly unavoidable. The Beatles original recordings were never perfect anyhow.
I have no idea if anything but the mono recordings were used but they certainly match up with the original mono mixes in terms of where oddities come into play or where they contained noticeable differences vs the original stereo mixes. There is nice stereo separation. It feels natural and not contrived. Obvious care was taken to make these remixes as palatable as possible. As noted by some collector’s, “She Loves You” seems a bit problematic, but I never liked the way the backing track comes off on this studio recording. It always sounded cluttered to me. It’s certainly played to get attention. I think it gets enhanced in this mix. Songs on the first disc like “I Call Your Name”, where in original mono the cowbell seems to jump out of your speakers--now it jumps off them but in stereo. The cowbell in the original stereo mix never felt this distinct. “I’m Down”, John’s guitar comes alive. The power of this song will knock you out. On the 2nd disc Ringo’s drumming on “Rain” is more pronounced and forceful. When the bass drum kicks in on “Lady Madonna” you’re literally knocked off your seat. “The Inner Light” never sounded so appealing before. A few of the later tracks, such as “Revolution”, “It’s All Too Much”, “Across the Universe” seem a bit harsh. These later period recordings are denser. I guess this makes it more difficult to make it free of artifacts. The bonus tracks on each disc are centered vocals and for disc #2, Mirror Spock centered the guitar on “Revolution”. I like it. It makes a powerfully recorded song that much more powerful.
There are two additional discs in this series by Mirror Spock, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. I’ve only given them curiosity spins so far. They appear to be just as well executed.
Overall this is a commendable remixing effort by Mirror Spock. It must not have been an easy remixing job working from mono recordings -- and I’d never be one to explain how it was done even after someone explains it to me!
I think his effort paid off and is worth seeking out.