Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beatles Songs That Are Better in Mono - "Day Tripper" and "Eleanor Rigby"

By Jackson Weinheimer

When The Beatles got their start in the early 1960's, mono was considered to be the standard for music. The music that The Beatles listened to was in mono and almost all of their fans listened to their music in mono. At that time stereo was considered to be something for "high end audiophiles" who were usually more interested in classical or jazz music.

Because of this, The Beatles and their production team didn't spend much time on their stereo mixes. They really spent the majority of their time mixing the mono versions of their songs. In contrast the stereo versions were sort of "thrown together" in a rather "experimental" fashion.

Many of their stereo mixes (especially from the earlier songs) sound quite disconcerting by today's standards. Many of them have all of the vocals on one side and all of the drums on the other for example! This is particularly an issue when listening on headphones (another important point is that nearly as many people listened to music on headphones in the 1960s as they do today).

With the release of The Beatles in Mono Box Set many Beatles fans are able to hear their songs in mono for the very first time (up until now only the stereo mixes for many of their songs have been available on CD).

Two examples of songs that I think sound far better in mono than they do in stereo are 1965's "Day Tripper" (which can be heard in mono on the Mono Masters compilation included in the Mono Box Set) and 1966's "Eleanor Rigby" (which can be heard in mono on the mono version of Revolver included in The Beatles in Mono Box Set).

In the stereo version of "Day Tripper" the vocals are panned hard right and the drums are panned hard left. This is extremely annoying when listening on headphones. Obviously with the mono version, everything is mixed right up the middle. This gives it a much "powerful" sound.

In the stereo version of "Eleanor Rigby" the vocals on the verse are hard right while the strings are in the center (and basically nothing is on the left.) This is a very lopsided mix which is why I think it sounds better in mono.

"Eleanor Rigby" in Mono.

"Day Tripper" in Mono.

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