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HELP! | Hot Air | Mike Stock Blog | Thursday September 17 2009
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I realise it's both a difficult and simple task. Sell the Beatles again - simple.  Add something new to the sound - difficult.  Never mind, would be their comfort, we'll make lots of money. By ‘they', of course I mean EMI in its new ownership arrangement, and by ‘money' I mean £170 a throw.

In a previous ‘Hot Air' entitled ‘'Sepp Blatter of Football as Culture', I confidently predicted not only a new Beatles package soon  but also that I would be mug enough to rush out and buy it.

I was right on both counts.

But I'm not happy.  At this point, I would urge EMI to make available all the Beatles albums and singles  mastered from the original tapes, undoctored or ‘improved'.  We need to preserve the sound untainted by modern computer software.  They should do this now as a matter of some urgency.  What I don't want is for this latest package to be the version that is automatically chosen by broadcasters or online users, just because it is new.  I do not want this to be the version by which we will all judge the Beatles in future.

Just because technology exists which makes it possible to do something new, doesn't mean that you should do it.  I suppose the people that re-mastered the whole catalogue thought they were doing something to improve the sound of the recordings.  But they weren't.  They have made them worse.

By comparison, the art world would worry if they announced that there was a new version of the Mona Lisa on display in Le Louvre.  Proudly explaining that the boffins had re-touched the painting with their computer programmes and had improved the colour and cleaned up her smile.  The real picture is stuck in the vaults but this new version, they think we'll agree, is much better.  Well it ain't.

I could be technical and explain what they've done to the sound of the Beatles.  I could explain why the original mixes are more satisfying and cannot now be improved.  But this will lead me into jargon that only a few people truly understand.  Just test it for yourself.  Pick one song in this new version and the same song on the old CD.  The difference is subtle, but compelling.  One is the Beatles and one is the Beatles plus software intrusion.  Just because you can do it, they did it.  It wouldn't matter if it was Lady GaGa, or Kanye West, but this is The Beatles.  Help!

(c)2009 M Stock 

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