Editor Eats His Words!: Capitol's Fab Four Are!

I was wrong. These four Frankenstein monsters created by Capitol in 1964 out of parts stripped from various UK originals sound fantastic and yes, revisiting them after decades of neglect and dismissal opened a floodgate of intense memories-for me my freshman year at Cornell- of my roommate at University Halls #3, of a dorm band fronted by a kid names Ozzie Ahlers, and their big hit “Master the Bate,” and especially where and when I bought each of these albums, and how I reacted upon hearing them. When I heard the fake stereo version of “I Feel Fine” for the first time in 3 plus decades I flashed on the first time I ever heard the song: on WKBW, Buffalo, which was a clear channel we could pick up on the AM radio at night in Ithaca. I remember who I was with when the song aired, what he was wearing and even how the dorm air smelled. Hearing these songs strung together in this order creates a totally different vibe than the one you get listening to the UK originals: more muscular, and justd plain more American. That's both the problem and the pleasure, however.

Ted Jensen did a brilliant mastering job. The clarity, delicacy, transparency and three-dimensionality he's managed to transfer from the tapes to the CDs will keep you mesmerized and in your seat throughout, even during the “Duophonic” disasters like “I Feel Fine.” Listening to how good these sometimes diddled with tracks (added reverb, compression and different EQ) sound, will remind you that the original UK catalog is in desperate need of a redo. The sound easily rivals and in many cases bests Capitol original LPs. I could make a case for either these CDs or Japanese EAS series mid-70's pressings-that's how good Jensen's mastering is.

On the downside here are terribly designed, cheap packaging and aside from Mark Lewisohn's essay and some great photos, haphazard, scattershot annotation that gives the musical history the middle finger. Oh, well: it is the American version so what else to expect? Instead of a real box, you get a tall, flimsy cardboard receptacle within which is a double CD sized innard, unfolded. Remove it from the outer package and without warning all 4 mini-LP sleeved CDs fall out, and you can bet a few of them will become separted from the sleeve and land unprotected on the floor.

The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 makes a strong case for the legitimacy of Meet The Beatles, The Beatles' Second Album, Something New and , musically and sonically. The inclusion of both stereo and mono mixes adds another layer of attractiveness to the package. One play through and I've gone from skeptic to convert. Highly recommended.

sophia123's picture

Eating our words is never going to be a fun experience. However, if you are humble enough, then it will be a good learning experience. - Mallory Fleming