Saturday, December 23, 2006

How many days until...

1. I am not ready for Christmas. Somebody else is.

2. Did I mention about The Beatles' LOVE thing? I can't stop listening to it.

I realized why it sounds as good as it does (then I went and verified by finding some interviews with George & Giles Martin...)

When this stuff was initially recorded, the technical limitations of the time meant that these songs were recorded to 4-track tape -- at least up through Sgt. Pepper's. By the White Album they were up to 8-track recording.

But the majority of this stuff is from 4-track masters. Since there are more than four things recorded, there was a lot of jockeying and jostling of sounds. Sometimes things were recorded at the same time though a mixer to one track on the tape. More often, The 4-tracks on one tape were mixed down to 1, 2, or 3 tracks of a fresh tape so that there was more room to put overdubs - like strings and vocals and other guitars.

All the past Beatles releases have been from the final 4-track master - after all the bouncing and combining had already been done. This tape could be three or four generations removed from the original tape. Meaning that whatever was recorded first -- likely drums, guitars and pianos and things -- has been COPIED three or four times.

How does it sound when you copy a tape on your stereo? How about when you copy a VCR tape? Then what happens when you copy it again? And again? At what point does it look too shitty to even watch?

Granted -- the equipment used at Abbey Road is a far cry from the home dual-cassette deck, but it's still a copy of a copy of a copy and by the nature of the medium it loses some gloss and sparkle with each copy.

NOT ONLY THAT -- but these final 4-track masters are what the original records were duplicated from, what the CD's were duplicated from... They have probably been played more times than any other tapes in the history of modern recording. Playing tape degrades tape -- plain and simple. It wears out.

So our good friends the Misters Martin went back to the ORIGINAL TAKES. Before the bouncing and combining.

They imported the four tracks from that first tape into ProTools. They went on to the next tape and added whatever overdubs it held. And the next tape. And the next tape.

This way, instead of only have four tracks to work with on say, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, now they have eight or ten, or more. And all the generation loss is gone. And it's very likely these tapes HAVE NOT EVEN BEEN PLAYED since the day they were recorded and then bounced to another tape. Sure, Mark Lewisohn may have played with some of them when he combinated all the Anthology stuff, but he tended to work with more completed things, so there's gotta be stuff that hasn't been touched since 1964 on there.

And it sounds AMAZING.

I want more.

Giles Martin's next task should be the creation of 5.1 mixes of the whole fucking catalog. Thanks. I'll be waiting for that right over here.

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