15 December 2013
OK, I have some questions that just recently occurred to me. They’re probably for those older than me that bought the U.S. Beatles albums when the originally came out but anyone can feel free to chime in.
OK, the whole deal with why there are different stereo, fake stereo, duophonic & mono releases in the U.S. is that, at the time, most average people listened to music on record players with one speaker, right? That’s why The Beatles focused on their mono mixes, right? Well, if that’s the case, why did Capitol spend so much time and energy on their pseudo-stereo/duophonic mixes? Who the heck were they making them for if most everyone listened on one speaker record players?
If most everyone listened to The Beatles on single speaker record players, and listened to them in mono, why is everyone always up in arms because this U.S. release package or that U.S. album package doesn’t have the duophonic music they grew up with? If most everyone grew up listening to mono, isn’t that what they should want to hear when reminiscing? Aren’t the mono versions what the average listener grew up listening to?
If Capitol took the U.K. master tapes and tweaked them to create their pseudo-stereo for the U.S. market, wouldn’t the mono versions be pretty much the same as the U.K. mono versions?
I’m sure there’s a lot I’m missing here through over-simplification but I keep running this through my head and something just doesn’t seem to add up. What am I missing?
20 December 2010
I will try to answer your questions:
1) Stereo was a new process in the mid-sixties. Though the focus was on the mono mixes, stereo was becoming popular as well. I remember back when each American album came out the mono version sold for $2.99 ea. and the stereo version was $3.99. Capitol wanted to take part in this new format and since they were sent mono mixes from the UK for many songs, they felt that they wanted to create a stereo mix from a mono take and so ‘Duophonic Stereo’ was created or ‘Re-Channeled Stereo’ if you will. It’s all about making money. Capitol always would include the hits to each album and kept the albums to 12 songs normally. The reverb was added by Dexter Jr. because he felt that the American public wanted reverb in the songs and I have to admit, some of them song great with that added reverb.
2) The American Beatles fans want to hear these US mixes the way they appeared here in the sixties without any tampering. The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 & 2 have these original stereo and mono mixes that were released in the US. The fact that EMI is remixing songs for this new set and leaving out the Duophonic Stereo and reverb added if wrong from a purist standpoint.
3) Not necessarily. Some of the mono mixes that George Martin prepared for the American release are different from the mono mix issued in the UK.
This all get confusing. One of my hobbies has been to collect all the different mixes from around the world. This has not been easy but my collection is pretty much complete. The mixes in the UK and US are the two countries that have the most changes. There are a few oddities from around the world that he unique mixes, countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil and Argentina. There are also ‘Fold Down Stereo’ mixes that were done. Most fans do not count those as a different mix though.
The further one travels, the less one knows
15 December 2013
20 December 2013
If I may, I will add this.
Stereo was a faster moving technology in the American market than in the UK which explains Capitol’s interest in it. Especially if, as Inner Light says, they were charging a dollar for the stereo version (something I am not aware happened in the UK).
Stereo equipment was more affordable in America at that time than in the UK.
Another point, maybe of more interest, is that several of the mono mixes were unique. Not just in the way that George Martin would create American mixes, but that when Dexter remixed UK stereo mixes, those Dexter mixes would sometimes be folded to create the US mono.
The best place I have found to go through the various mixes, and how they differ is
9 August 2011
I was a New York city kid when these albums came out, and my first recollection of stereo was Sgt. Pepper . It was EXTREMELY exciting to hear the instruments come out of one speaker or the other. (I could be off by an album…)
All albums were then released in ‘stereo’ going all the way back to Meet the Beatles. The strangest thing Capitol ever did was to retroactively put the vocals on one speaker and the instruments on the other. You could turn off one speaker and sing Karaoke with the Beatles as your backing band. You had turn off the stereo on your receiver (there was a switch for that) to get the mono sound back.
I think one of my “Meet the Beatles” features this odd concoction.
"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
29 November 2012
^I can imagine how the stereo US version of Sgt. Pepper blew your mind…when I finally heard the UK mono Pepper last year after a lifetime of only hearing the US stereo version, it blew mine!