Please Please Me Studio Sessions (2011)
With The Beatles Studio Sessions (2011)
A Hard Day’s Night Studio Sessions, Vol. 1 (2011)
A Hard Day’s Night Studio Sessions, Vol. 2 (2011)
The Best… Just Doing What They Do.
The beauty of these original session tapes (available for many years in different incarnations, but meshed here with obscure mixes) is the opportunity to hear The Beatles playing live in the studio, unconsciously making up all new rules for the music industry, and all while the tapes were rolling. That they had such a fresh approach – both inventively and commercially – for virtually all their sessions is an accomplishment that still mystifies students of the arts to this day. This kinetic, spontaneous live sound is a joy, and it makes you wonder why you’d ever wanna listen to those official albums again (especially those old American LPs… some of which are included here to remind you). There are, of course, non-essential tracks that weigh down the flow – crappy monitor mixes are the worst offenders – but the live stuff is worth the fat. The old collector in me perversely appreciates the mixture of original studio tapes and eventually lost mixes (from LP sources like Reel Music all the way up to Rock Band). It’s a smart organizational trick, too, maintaining a consistent listening experience across decades of versions and releases. Historically speaking, these are the days, aren’t they? How great is it to be able to immediately access the nervousness in George Harrison’s voice as he records his first, solo composition (“Don’t Bother Me”)? Listen to the ease with which the band is able to count off, and nail, a middle eight whenever George Martin wants an edit piece. It just confirms that these guys were already club-worn pros when they walked through Abbey Road’s doors, and they sound it. Their adaptability is amazing. Listen for the years of pent-up club versions in McCartney’s first vocal take of “I Saw Her Standing There,” one of the few in the series where Lennon gets his ‘when’s, ‘and’s & ‘since’s straight. In another session, Lennon laments that things aren’t written down, illustrating his ongoing lyrical issues – from the first sessions all the way to the rooftop concert where Yoko can be seen holding lyrics for him. There are four discs of A Hard Day’s Night variations, for you gotta-have-it-all types, while the multi-take evolution of McCartney’s powerhouse vocals for the title track’s bridge are worthy of University study.