The Beatles "1"-- Giles Martin Remixes the Singles

Music re-mixes may not be as complicated or as critical as brain surgery but when it comes to The Beatles, you could make the case.

If you're of a certain age, these songs are hard-wired into your brain, so that any changes jar. The reviews were not positive when, for the first CD issue, George Martin remixed Help and Rubber Soul to correct some glaring panning mistakes and to "modernize" the stereo imagery.

Martin also added reverb not found on the originals. Few fans were happy with them and they were even less happy when those same CD resolution mixes were used again for the box set that was otherwise sourced from 192/24 bit flat transfers and then "dumbed down".

Giles Martin was tasked with producing the music for The Beatles Cirque du Soleil show that's still running in Las Vegas at The Mirage Hotel and if you've not seen it and you are a Beatles fan, you must—and more than once! For that project he was mixing, mashing and using his imagination to paint Beatles onto a blank palette. He succeeded.

Here, the assignment was to re-mix the 1 album for release on Blu-ray and DVD to accompany the newly compiled and restored videos in which the group had participated. The assignment included a surround sound mix.

Fortunately, Mr. Martin was not interested in panning instruments around the room. Instead he set up big speakers in an Abbey Road studio and using the original microphones, recorded the songs being played back through the speakers, but with the microphones aimed at the studio walls not at the speakers.

Let's be honest: the vinyl version is of secondary concern in all of this. The point was a re-mix to go with the videos. Watching and listening on a home theater was/is an eye and ear opening experience. The mixes don't try to re-imagine the songs "Love"-like.

Instead, Mr. Martin re-mixed the hard left/right of the early 'stereo' songs to near-mono, which makes complete sense. We also know that up through Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band the group and the producer paid full attention to the mono mixes and left the stereo mixes to others. Martin quipped to a BBC reporter last year: "And you have what I call the socks and sandals brigade saying: 'The only way to listen to Sgt Pepper's is in mono.' To be honest, they're probably right, but no-one does that any more."

Well of course we do, (most of us not wearing socks and sandals) but we also understand his point. So he produced stereo remixes that better spatially integrate the movable elements and he re-equalized the results, giving the bottom end far more weight and solidity than was found on the originals. It also sounds as if he's tamped down some high end sparkle to produce a richer midrange.

One aspect of the mono mixes that those of us who prefer them like, is the punchy solidity that gets diluted and softened in stereo.

What Martin has done here is sort of split the difference between the mono and original stereo, maintaining separation but also incorporating the mono's "crunch" and solidity. This works better on some tunes than on others. For instance, "Something" from Abbey Road sounds too dark and thick for my tastes, but maybe not yours. However, McCartney's bass line definitely flaps your pants legs as never before.

Martin has achieved the overall goal of not messing too much with your head in the macro-sense, but he definitely makes micro-moves that produce subtle "brain-rewiring" without disturbing or jarring your long held Beatles sensibilities.

"Yesterday" has a pleasing clarity and the added bass gives the strings a rich, woody sheen, especially the celli but as with every song here, some transparency is lost, the bass EQ is somewhat heavily applied especially if you have a full-range system (though whatever your system you'll love the kick drum on "Yellow Submarine") and Mr. Martin has definitely applied dynamic compression. Though it's generally modest, it's too much for me.

Compare "Ticket to Ride" here with an original U.K. original pressing. Even though on the original it's the last of seven songs on the side, the original kills the new version in terms of spaciousness, stage width and depth, dynamics and of course transparency. The digits still destroy the 'breath of life'.

Two final points: I'd rather hear this version of 1 than the thin, bright, unpleasant original two LP set, and while for the most part I still prefer the original mixes, misguided panning and all, these mixes alway surprise in the best sense of the word as the younger Mr. Martin consistently manages to pull subtle musical surprises out of his mixing bag of tricks, leaving you to wonder if he did it using the fader or the EQ knob or both.

In the end, you come away admiring Martin's steady but understated hand, but more than that, you'll find new appreciation for every song, even if, like me, you are somewhat disappointed by the dynamic compression and perhaps overdone bass.

Miles Showell cut 1/2 speed and on side 4 pays tribute to the master of the 1/2 speed cut, Mr. Stan Ricker. "RIP Stan Ricker and Thank You" he scribed into the inner groove area. The funny thing is, as much as I loved Stan and many of his cuts, he was a bass player and sometimes overdid the bass. Though here it's more likely the EQ was Mr. Martin's choice.

The packaging is outstanding and includes nicely reproduced 45rpm single sleeves from around the world, many of which you may never have before seen. The credits are also unusually complete with recording release dates as well as engineering credits for each song.

Music Direct Buy It Now

Rudy's picture

Are your sound quality comments regarding the new 2-LP version, or the BluRay/DVD version...or both? Not a big Beatles fan myself but this does sound interesting.

Michael Fremer's picture
This is the vinyl review. I'd previously covered the Blu-ray. Search under "Beatles"
rakalm's picture

Don't forget the Richard Avedon photo's which are included. I haven't played mine yet but can't wait. I did enjoy the mixes on the Blu-ray. Glad I waited till this edition to purchase 1.

StonedBeatles1's picture

Pure Shite. Cut Giles hands and ears off for Christ's sake. The no talent inherited his job from daddy.

As for the Love remixes. Although pristine they suck as well. DJ Danger Mouse does a better mash up..

Jenn's picture

The Love thing didn't do much for me either until I saw the show. In that context, Love is the cat's pajamas. I drive to Las Vegas every three months or so now from CA Central Coast, just to experience the show again. Three times so far.

firedog55's picture

I like the remixes, except for the added volume compression. For DVD and Blue Ray hi-res releases, they should have included the remaster without the added volume compression. So called "audiophile" releases aren't intended for the earbud market,so they should have a higher quality release.

McCartney, for instance, has done this with some of his solo albums - CD and mp3 releases are much more highly volume compressed than the hi-res download.

I'd actually like to hear a remix of the entire Beatles catalog - but without the added volume compression, please.

Michael Fremer's picture
But I think we're going to get them compressed.
firedog55's picture

John Lennon once said - only half seriously - that "Ticket to Ride" was the first heavy metal song.

I never knew what he meant until I heard the mono version - there you can hear that he wasn't making just an empty boast. But this version totally loses the feel of the song - all the power is gone. Even on the 2009 Mono CD the "heavy metal" aspect of the song comes across - not here.

azmoon's picture

The Love remix was understandable as to why they did it - it's for a stage show. But these remixes should only be released with the video. Not as a standalone album. Giles Martin should not be allowed to revise the holy grail. Shame on Paul, Ringo and the widows. ALso don't care for the result sonically. Go away Giles.

Michael Fremer's picture
I like the mixes he's done. They are carefully done and add rather than detract from the recordings. I just don't like the dynamic compression and to a lesser degree the amount of bass boost.
mraudioguru's picture

...I quite enjoyed this new 2LP reissue. Haven't heard/seen the Blu-Ray.

Paul Boudreau's picture

Is that the same as the "wear a Hawaiian shirt and tuck it into your pants" brigade?

Kirby's picture

You can only wear the Hawaiian shirt while listening to your Mono Beach Boy albums....

Paul Boudreau's picture

...but not tucked in, I hope. Dude.

Kirby's picture

If ya dont like the idea of this remix, just get the Red & Blue albums.

Puffer Belly's picture

Michael, how about a review of the AAA Red and Blue albums?

Macman007's picture

I have 1's from the 2000's and find it better than average in listen-ability. Sonic's are decent, low end grunt is there but (gasp) some tracks beg for the bass knob to be twisted slightly clockwise or (gawd forbid), the sub gain turned clockwise should you have such a thing on your 2 channel rig.

The Red and Blue set I own is from the 70's on Apple, an early pressing from 1973/4. The vinyl is thick for the time it was pressed, the mix is great being in stereo and American, and the overall packaging and quality superb. The pressings are quiet and well done on all 4 albums. plenty of low end grunt with the tone controls either out or neutral, same applies to the sub. Highs are crisp without mid-range glare or sibilance separation and sound stage excellent.

These are my go-to collections when I want to listen to the Beatles in their glory, without pulling out multiple Lp's. Provided they didn't re-engineer, re-master, re-,EQ, cut the lacquer from digital files or any of that nonsense, it should be a sonic tour de force. Of course, if they did do any of the above on the new 1962-1966 & 1967-1970 coloured pressings, then lord help us all and someone should be shot.

What say you Mike?

JC1957's picture

and forget about this new vinyl set. I probably wouldn't have the urge to listen to it much and I'm a huge Fab Four Fan.

Here's Mikey's blu-ray review:

Paul Boudreau's picture

Like the previous vinyl version, it might be worth picking up just for the presentation. It's basically an homage to the "White Album," or so it seems to me: Gatefold, four portraits & poster.

vinyl listener's picture

listening to the included audio-only cd did not raise any enthusiasm for the new mixes sans video.

Jack Gilvey's picture

Maybe you can have a special 12 just for Beatles reviews?

This was one I bought for my bro to play on the Pro-Ject Elemental I bought him. But I just grabbed the BluRay for myself as, well, it's digital anyway.

Long live Andy White, Jersey Beatle.

javabarn's picture

If you have the Mono/Stereo reissues if the REAL deal, the what is the point of this LP? Just enjoy the DVD IMVHO...

javabarn's picture

If you have the Mono/Stereo reissues of the REAL deal, then what is the point of this LP? Just enjoy the DVD IMVHO...

Sorry, I WILL have to pay more attention to the "PREVIEW" opportunity and correct my hasty spelling errors.. haha

Ed Zepelin's picture

Since I already have the new mixes on bluray in hi-res, is there any point to buying this LP? Does it sound different than the bluray? Better? Worse? Less compressed? And what is the benefit to half-speed mastering a digital file?

Static's picture

Ok. So I guess I am late to the game here. Because I initially purchased the DVD/Blu Ray/CD set. The Blu Ray was/is fantastic and sounds amazing IMO. But the cd was just one of those things that stayed in the booklet. Now I finally purchased the "1" record. I have to say that I am impressed. It is way better than the cd and an enjoyable listen. I do agree the bass guitar is bloated and mixed in with the bass drum giving it that terrible live "arena" mix sound that most recordings sound like today. As a bassist it is frustrating and insulting and I dont allow that on my recordings. Overall. As I own US Brit and Japanese copies of every album as well as the 2012 versions the 2014 mono's and some releases from Holland and etc. Phew... I can say that this vinyl version is really enjoyable to listen to. I just turned off the sub woofer and I am listening on my bookshelves. As the sub was not needed. I appreciate what Giles has done. This version is way better to listen to in headphones and in the car. It is obviously designed to help the Beatles music stay up to date and is helping to entice new fans who will probably do the same thing I did as a 2nd generation Beatles fan...get the other versions too...LOL. Overall Im not selling my other versions ...but enjoy this one very much. BTW. I agree that the packaging itself is beautifully done. Exciting for a (hopefully) new and budding Beatles fan and informative. Well done.