The Beatles – The Beatles In Mono

beatlesmonoWhen it comes to The Beatles, I have almost no critical faculty. Readers of Exploded Goat know I am reluctant to write about the Fab Four, but only because other people say it all.

The band captured my imagination early on. I got their albums on cassette and I dove into Beatles trivia. They are out of time, a world I can dream through media extant.

And the music. The music is life.

Still, when the 2009 remasters were announced, I shrugged. These records have always sounded great. Word got round, though, about the Mono box set. I caved. I sensed I’d hear new things, gain new insight from an institution I love but take for granted. The set groups, after all, the band’s favorite mixes, and it is (7/31/10: was) a limited edition.

Mono proves the album-as-art form will never die. John, Paul, George and Ringo felt music should be experienced deeply.  They made records where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (packaging, instrumentation, track list). Each release is a living text. It’s tangible; it’s history you can hold; it’s something someone made by hand.

Soundwise, monophonic reproduction is compressed but pliant. And since most Beatles music was mixed for one channel, hearing the mono on a stereo system is a joy.  Songs feel more organic; you’re less aware of overdubs. The fop dread of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has more weight. “She’s A Woman” is fierce. On “Yer Blues” you can hear the room they’re in. Everything is more dimensional.

Now, MP3s are good share devices. They make it easy to rip music; to play music. Some even have a CD bit rate. Yet, for the purpose of collecting songs to tell a story or convey a mood, or to fashion a legacy, the LP model is best. I’m glad Apple confined these reissues to compact disc. The mono CDs have the warmth and depth of vinyl, not to mention slipcases that replicate the original sleeves. Down to the last detail, this box set is an opportunity to experience The Beatles as they intended.

We should celebrate.

Rating: A+

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